Liberal Jewish Rabbi Leah Jordan is part of the UK Liberal Judaism’s Outreach Team working with university students and young adults. She’s obviously involved in the University system. So she just had to react to the election of Malia Bouattia, the new NUS President who can’t figure out why she only boycotts Israel and justifies Palestinian
This popped up in my Facebook feed, I’m not sure why. I’m going to put the whole thing here because it’s just such a classic example of what’s wrong with this branch of Jewish thinking. Hoping against hope that Jew hatred isn’t really Jew hatred.
With her history of commitment to anti-racism activism, the election of Malia Bouattia as the first black Muslim woman president of the NUS is exciting for what it represents for liberation politics in the student movement.
Liberal Judaism, and the Jewish students I work with around the country as a Progressive Jewish chaplain, share many of her passions.
However, those same students are disturbed by Bouattia’s language over the past few years.
Reports in The Tab and Daily Telegraph, quote her speaking of “mainstream Zionist-led media outlets,” “Zionist outposts” and “all manner of Zionist and neo-con lobbies”. These are all classic anti-Semitic tropes.
When asked about these concerns in an open letter from 57 Jewish Society Presidents, Bouattia’s letter in reply was not as understanding or comprehensive a response as one would hope. On my reading, it felt slightly dismissive and defensive.
Of course, neither anti-Zionist nor anti-Israel views are inherently anti-Semitic.
However, in speaking about the just liberation struggle of one people, Palestinians, Bouattia must confront the fact that in the view of many Jewish students some of her language unfortunately reads as a dog-whistle to anti-Semites.
As someone so impressively invested in inclusion, equality, and liberation, Bouattia must work to understand how age-old racist tropes about Jews are a danger to Jewish students, one of the many student minorities she now represents.
I would hope that her past choices in wording reflect an ignorance of the history of anti-Semitism in left-wing activism, rather than racist intent.
By that same token, I also hope that other students’ lack of solidarity regarding Jewish students’ concerns about Bouattia’s candidacy also stem from this place of ignorance.
I would direct her and anyone else involved in liberation politics or radical, progressive social justice movements to the excellent “the past didn’t go anywhere: making resistance to antisemitism part of all of our movements” as a primer. It can be read at here.
As the Progressive Jewish chaplain for Jewish students, I invite President Bouattia to meet with me and other Jewish student leaders further, so we can share our perspectives and hear her self-reflective and robust responses to these concerns – and I look forward to working together with her for a strong, transformative student movement.
In her letter the Rabbi links to a rebuttal document written by Malia Bouattia. This contains the following paragraph:
I want to be clear that for me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish. In fact, Zionist politics are held by people from a variety of different backgrounds and faiths as are anti-Zionist politics. It is a political argument, not one of faith. We should be allowed to disagree on politics without this being a threat to the solidarity of the student movement. Debate and disagreement are vital to any healthy democracy.
“Zionist politics”. What is that? Here’s the Internet’s definition of Zionism:
a movement for (originally) the re-establishment and (now) the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. It was established as a political organization in 1897 under Theodor Herzl, and was later led by Chaim Weizmann.
So Bouattia is against (now) the “the development and protection of a Jewish nation” unless she’d like to turn back the clock, destroy Jewish Israel and then oppose it’s “re-establisment”. And somehow that position isn’t racist towards Jews. Does she want to return India to the British or Africa to the Portuguese, French, Dutch and (again) the British?
As we’ve shown time and again here at Israellycool, Israel is the first modern success of an indigenous people (Jews) returning to their indigenous lands. Jews are the only people who were largely forced off their lands, suffered unimaginable tragedies, remained a highly coherent and recognisable people despite being scattered and have returned to gather in the place where the genesis of their culture and tradition took place on their ancestral land. And the movement for this Jewish return is what Malia Bouattia opposes.
There’s only one real question someone should ask Malia Bouattia (though I’m sure she’s smart enough to evade). Do you think the establishment of a Jewish Israel on Jewish indigenous land was a mistake that should be reversed? I know what I think she’d answer (if she were honest).
Oh how dearly this Rabbi doesn’t want to believe that the Jew hating woman hates her. Oh how she wishes there was some explanation for the Jew hating woman’s Jew hating words except the obvious one. The Jew hating woman hates Jews.
Except the Jew hating woman might like weak and servile Jews who want to give up our long dreamt of national revival.
Well sorry not sorry to both the Rabbi and the new President of Students. The Jews have come home and have big tanks.