The role of President at the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) is a one-year job. There is much to do and never enough time.
UJS works closely with local Jewish Societies to ensure that the needs of Jewish students are met on every campus. Most students have a perfectly normal time at university. They do not experience antisemitism or even hostility towards Israel. However, when problems do arise, we take them very seriously and work with other communal bodies to safeguard the welfare of Jewish students.
When I reflect upon my first five months as President, I can already see some considerable successes. During Freshers' Weeks we were delighted to sign up a record number of Jewish Students – possibly helped by the increase in tuition fees next year. This was an energetic time involving myself and all the members of my team, travelling around the country meeting new students and supporting local J-Soc Committees. We regularly visit students in higher education institutions all over the UK. I have already made over 20 campus visits this term and will continue to be on campus as much as possible.
Here at UJS we have been demonstrating our political strength. In September we achieved sufficient support to overturn a hostile Israel policy at the National Union of Students (NUS) and replace it with a "two states for two peoples" policy. We believe that NUS remains the only significant union with a moderate Israel policy thanks to many years of hard work by UJS.
Our latest Israel campaign has been the subject of considerable debate, if not controversy, in the community. We are delighted that we have initiated this open and honest discussion about Israel from a pro-Zionist and pro-peace standpoint.
Unfortunately, UJS and Jewish students continue to face challenges. For example, over the past few weeks a number of hate speakers including Norman Finkelstein, Gilad Atzmon and Ilan Pappe have featured on UK campuses.UJS values the support of the JLC whether in political battles, offers of social action, volunteering opportunities or simply publicly voicing support for UJS in times of need.
I look forward to my next seven months as President of UJS, and developing relationships with all the groups represented on the JLC in order to benefit Jewish students and the wider community.