I have spent my life opposing racism. Until my dying day I will be opposed to racism in any form."
“I’ve fought extremism all my life”
I’ve always been a strong campaigner against racism and fascism in all its forms.Malia Bouattia.
All these people are spending their lives fighting racism and extremism, so there's nothing to worry about. Move along.
“In 2011 she claimed, for example, that Birmingham University had become something of a Zionist outpost”
said Jo Coburn, introducing a short clip of Malia Bouattia addressing the NUS conference last week.
“I know that many of you will have seen my name dragged through the mud by right-wing media. You’ll have read that I’m a terrorist, that my politics is driven by hate. How wrong that is. I know too well the price of terrorism; the consequences of violence and oppression. I saw a country ripped apart by terror and was pushed into exile by (indecipherable) I know too well the damage done by racism and persecution I faced it every day.......and I will continue to fight in all its forms whoever its target, whether it’s antisemitism Islamophobia, Xenophobia or any other bigoted idea and I’m so glad we passed a motion (indecipherable)
said the newly elected president of the NUS in trembly voice, and towards the finale, a little stilted arm-waving.
I’m not sure who from the right-wing press (the Telegraph?) accused her of being a terrorist but I suspect it was no-one. Someone might have impudently mentioned that she blocked a motion condemning ISIS, which might be Islamophobic.
I understand that she experienced “a hail of gunfire” as a child, but her by her own admission it doesn’t look as if she was exactly “pushed into exile”.
“It wasn’t the bombs and the bullets, it was the fear for our education that drove them to leave everything behind” “They taught me that education is key to liberation, that it would give me the power to change the world.”
Not necessarily in a good way;
In the studio with Jo Coburn were Nadhim Zahawi MP (Con) and Chris Bryant MP (lab) and Jonty Leibowitz of Cambridge University.
Jo Coburn turned to Christy McMorrow, president of the Sheffield University Students' Union, whose face appeared on a screen. He was speaking from Sheffield.
“Why do you think Malia Bouattia called Birmingham University something of a Zionist outpost?”said Jo Coburn
“Well obviously a lot of this ties up with campaigners for the rights of Palestinian self-determination and Palestinian liberation. Malia probably thought that on campus there was a lot of support for the state of Israel and in her campaigning for the rights of Palestinians and for Palestinian self-existence she found a lot of opposition, and I think that is where that came form. Perhaps the language could have been better.”
If Christy McMorrow is representative of your average student, as I suspect he is, I think the message is that he means well, but doesn’t have much of a clue. He knows next to nothing of the situation in the Middle East, besides the deafening racket made by Malia’s friends from the PSC and their ilk.
“Zionism. That is used to explicitly mean right-wing Zionism or support for the current State of Israel. That’s not always accurate but I think Malia has already come forward and said she wants to talk to students”
Jonty Leibowitz; Cambridge University Society, said:
“everyone knows that antisemitism isn’t anti Zionism and anti Zionism isn’t antisemitism....but sometimes they do conflate”
Everyone doesn’t know that, though. Jonty is an unapologetic lefty, and sadly not a very impressive spokesperson for any Jewish student who happens to support the State of Israel, current, past or future.
Nadhim Zahawi said:
“if we mean by Zionist someone who wants to protect the State of Israel it should not be a negative [...] the implication there is that Zionism is a bad thing” “Malia would be wise to dissociate herself from these comments.”
Chris Bryant tried to play down the Labour Party’s dalliance with antisemitism.
“Antisemitism is always wrong. It was wrong when the Tory party was advocating it in the 30s, it’s wrong when people in the Labour party espouse antisemitic views - or near antisemitic views - today”
“And is this what this is?
“I’m not quite sure. It’s bordering on the edge, and that’s why i think she’d be wise to...”
“Look at different ways of expressing herself, because - look, I think we do bandy the word Zionist around so it almost sounds like a kind of pejorative term, and that’s the real danger here - I mean incidentally I think this applies to how we treat Muslims in politics as well. [... ]Sadiq Khan[.........]
“I count myself as a Labour friend of Israel and a Labour friend of Palestine in the Middle East and I want the two-state solution to succeed. It pains me that we are now in a situation where Israel, partly thanks to Netanyahu’s government, which I dislike
(brief shot of Jonty nodding)
and I think people on the left should be perfectly free to criticise Netanyahu’s government, that doesn’t make you antisemitic. My anxiety is that there seems so little prospect of peace.”
The entire group, bar one, seemed to hold the view that Jewish students couldn’t be held responsible for the ‘current’, (extremely disagreeable) state of Israel, and we’re supposed to think that’s magnanimous, liberal thinking.
The only participant in that discussion who seemed to know what he was talking about was the least likely of the lot, even if it would be deemed racist of me to say so.
(It was, of course Nadhim Zahawi MP.)
Chris Bryant is smug enough to describe himself as a friend of Israel. Superficial brownie points for that. But he blames PM Netanyahu, solely, for the absence of peace. He’s proud of himself for uncoupling Jews from the Israeli government he dislikes so much, and thinks everyone should do likewise. Do not conflate the two, he warns. At the same time he thinks mentioning Sadiq Khan’s links with extremists is racist and we should not be ‘perfectly free ‘ to criticise him for such things.
In other words we’re free to criticise the Israeli government, but not, somehow the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas. We can’t criticise the real obstacle to peace in the Middle East. We can’t mention the elephantine problem of antisemitism amongst the Muslim and Muslim-sympathising student bodies, let alone criticise it.