Edinburgh University’s Students Association (EUSA) has been accused of anti-Semitism after it refused to reschedule a debate on boycotting Israel timed for the day before Passover.
The university’s Jewish Society president Emma Dubin registered a strong protest at the last-minute arrangements to hold the debate on Thursday, pointing out that most if not all of the 50 Jewish students belonging to the society would be traveling home to prepare for the festival and thus unable to speak against the BDS resolution.
Having been notified of the forthcoming debate only on Monday, Dubin was told by EUSA that the only way the date could be moved was by agreement with the proposer of the motion, Fatima Osman of the student body’s Black and Ethnic Liberation Group (BME). However, Osman refused and declined a compromise suggestion to hold the debate later this academic term.
Dubin told the Jewish Chronicle that she was not just worried that the BDS motion might pass, “I am worried that this is a framework that makes it impossible for Jewish voices to be heard. It is an anti-Semitic process to not have Jewish students’ voices being heard at this stage.”
EUSA vice president Eve Livingston explained that student council dates were set a year in advance, with agendas set a week in advance based on policy proposals received from students within a set time period in a prescribed format.
She added that the BDS motion had been correctly submitted in time for this week’s student council and was added to the agenda as per procedure.
“Upon being alerted to the clash with Passover I have talked extensively with the proposers of the motion and with the president of the Jewish Society to try and reach a satisfactory conclusion. Nobody in EUSA has the power to override democratic process as defined by our regulations, and so the motion will be debated on Thursday, though we have extended the offer to the Jewish Society to read a statement on their behalf or discuss other adjustments to compensate for their lack of representation.”
A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews told The Jerusalem Post that staging a vote when opponents can’t be present is a pretty low tactic which reflects very badly on EUSA.
“In this case their conduct is far worse as they are taking cover behind the refusal of the proposer of the motion, Fatima Osman, to move the date, when Ms. Osman has reportedly made a disgracefully racist comment against white people.”
Bigoted views, whether on BDS or race, should have no place on a university campus and the EUSA should show some leadership and override her, the spokesman added.