Guardian

3 questions for Malia Bouattia in response to her Guardian op-ed


Student groups across the UK have launched efforts to disaffiliate from the NUS following the election of Malia Bouattia as president, due to her support for terrorism and use of antisemitic tropes, and her Guardian op-ed seems unlikely to stem the tide of criticism.

First, here’s a brief summary of her controversial views:

  • Bouattia supports BDS against Israel, but opposed an NUS resolution condemning and boycotting ISIS, partly due to fears of stoking Islamophobia.
  • Bouattia ‘accused’ the University of Birmingham of being “a Zionist outpost in British higher education”, citing her concerns about their “large Jewish Society”.
  • Bouattia condemned “Zionist-led media outlets”.
  • Bouattia (beginning at 1:10 of this video) seemed to characterize Zionism as a form of “white supremacy”.
  • Bouattia expressed support for Palestinian terrorism and was critical of those who support ‘merely’ non-violent forms of resistance to occupation.

In her Guardian op-ed responding to the criticism (I’m the NUS president – and I’m not an antisemitic ISIS supporter, April 24), Bouattia refuted a charge that was never actually leveled (that she “supports” ISIS), failed to substantively address one of the main charges (her support for terrorism), and inadequately addressed the other main charge (that’s she’s used antisemitic rhetoric).

ISIS

Here’s the relevant passage in her op-ed concerning ISIS

…newspaper reports this week still depict me as a young Muslim who supports Isis. This is simply not true.

However, the charge against her is not that she actually “supports” ISIS, but that she supports BDS against Israel yet opposed a resolution to boycott ISIS – citing the fear of stoking Islamophobia. (NUS later passed a watered down motion condemning ISIS “atrocities” that didn’t call for a boycott of the group.)

Antisemitism

Here are the relevant passages in her op-ed concerning charges of antisemitism.

I am deeply concerned at accusations of antisemitism. In an open letter last week in response to concerns raised about my candidacy by Jewish students, I sought to allay their fears, and answered all points put to me honestly.

I want to be clear, again, that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is in no way me taking issue with being Jewish. In fact, Zionist politics are held by people from a variety of different backgrounds and faiths. For me it has been, and will always be, a political argument, not one of faith or ethnic identity. Zionism, religion and ethnicity must not be seen as one and the same. If the language I have used in the past has been interpreted any other way then let me make this clear – it was never my intention, although my political ideologies and beliefs remain unchanged.

There is no place for antisemitism in the student movement, or in society. If any of my previous discourse has been interpreted otherwise, such as comments I once made about Zionism within the media, I will revise it to ensure there is no room for confusion. I was being critical of media outlets that unquestioningly support Israel’s actions and maltreatment of Palestinians, I was not talking about the media as a whole, or repeating despicable antisemitic prejudice. The first thing I did on being elected was to hold a meeting with the Union of Jewish Students, and these meetings are set to continue.

First, Bouattia fails to address why she evidently believes that a “large Jewish society” on campus is a problem.

Additionally, though Bouattia pledges to be careful about the language she uses in the future, it’s stunning that someone so sensitive about words which stigmatise minority groups and stoke racism didn’t recognise the antisemitic connotations of the term ‘Zionist-led media’ – and how “Zionism”, in that context, is typically a euphemism for “Jewish”.  

Further, she evidently fails to understand that all “Zionism” means is the right of Jewish self-determination in their historic homeland. In other words, the word she uses in the pejorative means merely: the right of Israel to exist. When you oppose ‘Zionism, yet don’t oppose any other expression of nationalism, you’re denying a fundamental right to Jews and only Jews – a position which is fundamentally antisemitic.  Before 1948, you could oppose Zionism in theory, because the Jewish state (the ultimate expression of Zionism) didn’t yet exist. However, Zionism is no longer an abstraction. When you oppose Zionism today, you’re supporting the destruction (or radical reconstitution) of an actually existing state and the likely displacement (or much worse) of millions of Jewish citizens of that state. 

Support for terrorism

Though she claimed in her op-ed that she’s “not an extremist”, she didn’t even address clear evidence that she supports terror attacks by extremists.

So, in light of the inadequate reply in her op-ed, here are three simple follow-up questions for Ms. Bouattia:

  1. Will you renounce your previous support for terror attacks against Jews in Israel?
  2. How can you claim to support minority rights, yet fail to support the most fundamental right of Jews (one of the smallest and most historically persecuted minorities in history) to have a national homeland? 
  3. Do you seriously maintain that Zionism is a form of “white supremacy”?

Let’s hope that British media outlets will hold the new NUS president accountable to these questions. 

75 replies »

  1. This being Pesach and all, I thought Adam would take it to 4 questions. For even the youngest tyke at the table could see that Moulala is a pathetic example of diplomacy.

    Noticing the tweet by Naz Shah in the right rail, it’s clear that Arabs who have ascended Western Society feel they have an obligation to set the rest of us straight about their need for supremacy over the Jews. These people are vile individuals who, unfortunately, are secure in the knowledge that other people hate the Jews, too. Even some Jews are going to hate Jews, ain’t that right Miranda?

    • You don’t think that accusing “Arabs who have ascended Western society” of collective wrongdoing and of all being “vile individuals” is itself slightly racist? (As it would be if someone said the same thing about Jews.)

      • I will further conclude that by pointing out 2 people as an example of “Arabs ascending Western society”– you know, first ever black Muslim NUS president (sounds pretty official) and a Labour MP– isn’t generalizing an entire who are, apparently, guilty of being Jewish.

        Go fuck yourself, Gabby.

        • I think they’re both anti-Semites. But that doesn’t justify what you said, which was: “[I]t’s clear that Arabs who have ascended Western Society feel they have an obligation to set the rest of us straight about their need for supremacy over the Jews. These people are vile individuals.”

          So you weren’t talking just about Malia and Naz. You said, of Arabs in Western society, “these people are vile individuals”. That makes you a racist.

          And you can say “go f*ck yourself” as many times as you like; it doesn’t make your argument any stronger and it doesn’t make you look any more sensible.

          • So you get to remove context because this is what you do? Nazis remove context all the time. The Klan removes context. Hamas removes context.

            You can’t spew hatred and stupidity without removing context.

            I called out 2 people who posted vile anti-Semitic accusations, and I used them as an example of other people spreading disinformation about people like me (that’s right, fuckhead, I actually am a Zionist and can define it for you but won’t because you’re such a pathetic asshole) and you claim that I’m the racist.

            And that, Dear Reader, is why the MIddle East conflict will never end. Not because the Zionists offered multiple peace deals, but because the people who hate Jews and Israelis don’t give enough of a fucking shit to save lives by actually LISTENING TO THE POINTS MADE.

            Got it, Gabby. You demand respect by demanding respect. Instead, you get the offer to choke on a bag of dicks. Weird how that works.

              • Bellend if anyone needs “a motherfucker” all they have to do is pull on your chain and drag you out of your swamp and they have you.
                Our very own resident “motherfucker”

                Now off you slither, you’ll be sent for if you are ever needed.

  2. National Union of Students? What’s it for? This is an honest question.
    I went to university. I never had a union. I never even thought about it, as I was too busy with my studies and working to support myself.
    How is it that this woman is “black?” She doesn’t look it. Is she of sub-Saharan African decent?
    Why should her ancestors’ genetic and/or cultural makeup matter more than her disgusting views? Perhaps an “identity” maven can explain it me.

    • Malia’s an anti-Semite but I don’t see why that means you have to/ get to question her identity. What’s it to you whether or not she identifies as black?

      • I identify Gabby as a self-centered poster who hates Israel and votes himself up all the time. I further identify Gabby as needy of attention as Miranda and Migraine, two people who seem to post here for only one reason.

        Does it mean anything? Not really. IT’S JUST AN OBSERVATION, GABBY, but we’re not allowed to do that. Because Gabby says so.

        • I don’t need to go away. If you don’t want to read comments you disagree with, probably a discussion thread isn’t the right environment for you, John.

          • You don’t need to go away Webber. Exactly the opposite, you should keep up demonstrate here the moral and intellectual depths of your kind of “antiracist” Israel haters, together with Miranda and Margraine. This is exactly the right environment for you Webber, you can demonstrate your laughably fake moral superiority and king size turbo-narcissism without being your arse put into the fire. Instead you send in the Palestinians to fight and die for your good feelings and some terror victims on the way is not an especially important matter.

          • Well, when you know how to discuss things intelligently, Webber, which may be when you hit 16 (intellectually speaking), you could usefully join the adults here.

      • “Malia’s an anti-Semite but I don’t see why that means you have to/ get to question her identity. What’s it to you whether or not she identifies as black?”
        What? I’m not allowed to question her identity? Maybe in your world, but I have absolutely no idea who she is. Consider it my ‘academic freedom.’

        • Of course, you didn’t answer the central question which is, why does her racial/ethnic background negate her abhorrent views.

      • “What’s it to you whether or not she identifies as black?”
        Webber if someone has been the Black Students’ Officer of the NUS for the last two years and is using this as the springboard to launch their campaign for the Presidency of the NUS. It is perfectly legitimate to question any and all aspects of their platform as it demonstrates their credibility or lack of it.

        From Bouattia’s own campaign website;
        “Hi, I’m Malia Bouattia and I’m running to be your next national president at this year’s NUS conference. I am the current NUS Black Students’ Officer and have been for the last two years.”

      • Webber,
        Her being an antisemite had absolutely nothing to do with my question. Now we have a new question – what lead you to make that assumption?
        Of course, there is still my initial question about her hanging in the air awaiting an answer from one of the identity mavens in the house – just how is she black? I’ll add another to that. Just how is she muslim, other than her hatred for Israel? It has also come to my attention (ht/fiveminutesforisreal) that according to the Times, she claims to have come to Britain at age 7, but her birth was registered in Norfolk in 1987.
        This brings up a suspicion that perhaps she is a rather ambitious fraud trading in on various fashionable victim statuses to get ahead. Or is that something else I’m not allowed to consider?

          • Webber, as I wrote, if anyone is standing for election to public office you have every right to question their identity as well as anything else they use as part of their platform for election.
            It is called ‘credibility’.

          • “As I said, I don’t think you have the right to question someone’s identity, no” – you are an idiot. She herself, loudly and obsessively, exhibited this (highly doubtful) ‘identity’ as part of her political platform. It is entirely legit, therefore, to question it.
            Is this joker Webber really a ‘journalist’?

          • “As I said, I don’t think you have the right to question someone’s identity, no.”

            Well, you happen to be wrong on that. I have a perfect right to ask any honest question. And let’s be clear. I was asking a question ABOUT her ‘identity.’ (which was really an aside). And you would rather throw up a firewall than simply answer the question. Perhaps you have no good answer.

        • It’s not an advert, it’s an identity. Whether or not she’s black literally does not affect your life. Maybe try getting off your high horse and relaxing?

          • “It’s not an advert”
            Cute, but off the mark.
            “Whether or not she’s black literally does not affect your life.”
            It affects my ability to sort through the issues of this world.
            But perhaps now you, Gabby, can tell us how the “I/P” conflict directly affects Londoners? Perhaps they should stop questioning it. In fact I’m buying into your view and now think that they have no right at all to question it. Time to wrap things up. Time to cut the funding of those NGO’s practicing their stealth imperialism into Israel’s affairs. It’s none of their concern. They have no right.

    • @Jeff21st –

      RE: ‘How is it that this woman is “black?” She doesn’t look it.”

      Wonder what your reaction would be if someone wrote about a Jewish Society Officer: “How is it that this woman is ‘Jewish’? She doesn’t look it.” …?

      • 1. Toots, I am an American. I’ve grown up with black people. Lots and lots of black people. I’ve lived with black people, eaten with them and slept with them. Fuck you.
        2. What I am hearing now is that someone doesn’t actually need to be black to identify as black.
        3. I don’t know this woman from a hole in the ground. So I’m asking a question to clarify the issue.
        4. Why is her vitriol acceptable? Is it acceptable because she identifies as black? “Hi I’m the black _______. I hold disgustingly one sided views. But that doesn’t really matter because of the color of my skin and ethnic background. Help me advance my career anyway. I am a victim.”
        5. I have a right to ask even if you think I don’t. I hope that offends you.
        6. “Wonder what your reaction would be if someone wrote about a Jewish Society Officer: “How is it that this woman is ‘Jewish’? She doesn’t look it.” …?”
        Keep wondering.

        • 1. I realise that you’re a greater expert on ‘Who Counts as Black’ than, er, people themselves, but just for the sake of argument, how about replying to Miranda’s question, ie. would it be acceptable for someone to say, “That JSoc officer doesn’t look Jewish, how come they’re allowed to call themselves Jewish?” Yes or no?
          2. What do you mean by ‘to be black’ in that sentence? Our point is that if someone identifies as black then they are black. There’s no separate objective standard (as in, nobody literally has skin that is literally black so that’s clearly not what the term means).
          3. If you don’t know her from a hole in the ground, why does it matter to you how she self-identifies? How does her defining as black affect your life in any way at all?
          4. Her vitriol is unacceptable. She’s an anti-Semite.
          5. So you’d not complain if, similarly, Malia questioned whether or not officers of the Union of Jewish Students were really Jewish?
          6. See #1 and #5.

          • “I realise that you’re a greater expert on ‘Who Counts as Black’ than, er, people themselves” – yes, it is possible to be a greater expert on this than, er, people who are not, you know, actually black.

          • “Our point is that if someone identifies as black then they are black. ”
            Our?
            No Gabby, that’s called “cultural appropriation” and it’s brought to us by the same people that insist that “self-identification” is inviolable.
            Here is a glimpse of the world you and Miranda are planning:

            Beautiful, isn’t it?

          • ” I realize that you’re a greater expert on ‘Who Counts as Black’ than”
            Take you sarcasm and shove it. You are the one who is defining “black identity” as anyone who “feels” that they are black, and even black people are apparently not allowed to question it.

        • @Jeff21st –

          1. ” I’ve grown up with black people. Lots and lots of black people…”

          In that case, you ought to know by now that “black” is no more a literal description of skin colour than “white” describes yours or mine. Quite apart from anything else, the pigment ranges WITHIN each so-described group are pretty huge.

          2. “What I am hearing now is that someone doesn’t actually need to be black to identify as black.”

          To “identify as black” all that’s needed is an understanding, or even perception, that those who identify as “white” see (and treat) you as being racially different from themselves, and/or that you regard them in much the same differentiated light. On a more formal level: Those who qualify for NUS Black Students’ membership are “of African, Arab, Asian or Caribbean heritage” (i.e, various groups with a shared UK experience of “not being white”.)

          3. ” I don’t know this woman from a hole in the ground. So I’m asking a question to clarify the issue.”

          Did you seriously expect your “knowledge” of her to be improved by replies ranging from, “Yeah, I don’t think she looks black either” to “Well, she looks pretty black to me”…? If so, you were doomed to remain just as ignorant as when you started.

          4. “Why is her vitriol acceptable? Is it acceptable because she identifies as black?”

          The only ones MAKING that suggestion are you and other like-minded posters here. What you call her “vitriol” has either been condemned without reservation, or her remarks have been defended as “not vitriolic”. No-one as far as I’m aware has ever argued, “Yes, she’s vitriolic, but that is acceptable because she is black”.

          5. “I have a right to ask even if you think I don’t. I hope that offends you.”

          Yes, you had that right – and I had an equal right to answer you as I did. Were you offended? Oh, dear, how awful of me…

          6 “Keep wondering.”

          Guess I’ll have to – as long as you think only YOUR questions need answering while you remain free to duck and dive as you please.

          • “To “identify as black” all that’s needed is an understanding, or even perception, that those who identify as “white” see (and treat) you as being racially different from themselves” – beyond unhinged. That would make the Navajo, for example, ‘black’.
            You don’t really have a better understanding of the world than the average 3-year old, do you?

          • Of course, Miranda. I understand that from your point of view anything is more preferable than simply answering a simple informational question. I must assume you have no good answer for this off the rails nonsense. You would need to question the lunacy behind and you can’t because it isn’t to be questioned in your post democratic world.

            I am now a Palestinian Arab. You will address me as such and never question my identity. Now that I am a Palestinian I am authentic to you and my views are authentic Palestinian views. You are never to question them either.

      • And another idiot joins the Webber bandwagon.
        She exploits her supposed ‘blackness’ as a political tool. It is perfectly legit to call her on it.

  3. Remember, folks. Zionists are war mongers because they signed onto 2 peace deals since 2000, and the Palestinians love peace because they rejected these peace deals and immediately began blowing up pizzerias and bus lines.

    More importantly, though, Gabby is a great guy because he stands up for all of Arabia, while Zionists like me are hate mongers because we make points about how “acceptable Arabs” seem to be the ones who grandstand anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on Twitter.

    I’ve learned so much this morning about the depravity of others. Thanks, Gabby.

    • Palestinian’s didn’t boast about scuppering peace, that’ll be the fascist, Bibi:

  4. It’s a legitimate position to support resistance against Israeli neoZionist state terrorism,

  5. It’s a legitimate position to support resistance to the Nakba Industry, and it’s false justifications for terrorism. It’s also legitimate to shoot Palestinians committing terrorist acts.

  6. anti semitic defined anyone who says anything that criticises israel or its behaviour , even if their jewish ie noam chomsky