- Union of Jewish Students
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) of the
United Kingdomand Irelandwas founded in 1973and represents a constituency of approximately 8,000 Jewish students, with somewhere between five and six thousand being members of its affiliated Jewish Societies (J-Socs) on individual campuses. It is the successor organization to the IUJF (Inter-University Jewish Federation), and is a member of the World Union of Jewish Students(WUJS) and the European Union of Jewish Students(EUJS).
The new organization was founded with the aim of challenging an increase in both
anti-Zionismand anti-Semitism. UJS is often perceived as a staunch defender of Israeli policy although it would refute this. Its position on Israelis that it claims to be an independent organization, committed to the legitimacy of Zionism, and Israel's right to exist within secure borders. In practice, UJS support for and promotion of Israeli policy in their literature and media work is limited to promoting the idea of a two state solution. UJS have routinely opposed campaigns that are overtly critical of Israel, including campaigns run by Jewish students.
UJS is, for a student group, an extremely well funded organization, employing 11 recent graduates (increasing in 2004 from 9 with the addition of a dedicated Israel Officer and an Inter-Faith Dialogue Officer) alongside several support staff. UJS also takes a leading role in the politics of the National Union of Students with at least one member of the National Executive Committee being closely linked to UJS for many years. Through this it has had a close involvement with the NUS Anti-Racism and Anti-Fascism campaigns in recent years. UJS does not locate itself anywhere specific on the right-left political spectrum, as it sees itself as a pressure group supporting the interests of Jewish and other minority students, rather than a political faction. UJS often works with
Labour Studentsand the Organised Independentswithin the NUS but does not see itself as affiliated to any particular party or group.
In addition to its political role, UJS is active in representing Jewish students' specific religious needs to academic institutions, providing informal Jewish education to members, promoting inter-faith dialogue, and social activity. For many of its members, UJS claims, the political aspect of its activities are secondary.
One of the oldest constituent organizations in the UJS is the "Liverpool Jewish Students' Society". Started in 1921, it has grown to cover Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Hope University College, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and other surrounding colleges.
* [http://www.ujs-online.co.uk/ Official website]
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