Democracy dead at NUS as BDS passes without vote

Speaking at a pro-Palestine rally opposite Downing Street, NUS representative Ilyas Nagdee said:

My name is Ilyas Nagdee and I am here today representing a union that has seven million members, seven million members who have decided to stand on the side of justice. Two weeks ago at our National Conference our students voted to continue adopting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on the state of Israel for the continuous occupation of Palestine. We voted to stand on the side of justice

NUS’s BDS policy was set to lapse at this year’s National Conference. There were no motions put forward to reaffirm this policy and therefore the policy lapsed. So why is Nagdee claiming that there was a vote to continue endorsing BDS?

Prior to the rally Nagdee tweeted:

So it would appear that NUS passed BDS via the back door. This doesn’t sound very democratic to us.

Nagdee claimed he was representing “seven million members who have decided to stand on the side of justice”. How many of that membership voted? How many of that membership know what BDS is? And how many care? Certainly not the seven million Nagdee claimed.

Who is Ilyas Nagdee?

Nagdee claims to represent and speak on behalf of seven million students. But who is he?

Nagdee is the NUS’s Black Students’ officer. A position within NUS that mandates him to represent “students of African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean descent”, not seven million members. In fact, there has been internal fighting within the BSC due to questions surrounding who they represent. Student activist Amarachi Ninette Iheke said of NUS BSC that:

“Black students feel their identities as well as their oppression(s) co-opted and monopolised”.

This is no surprise when BSC spend most of their time concerned with challenging the government’s counter-extremism strategy – Prevent, obsessing about Israel and running campaigns with Islamist groups such as CAGE and IHRC. Their representation of Black Students has been so poor that a separate group called “Black Impact” had to be set up in order to better represent ethnically black students.

What has occurred here has been a violation of the rights of Jewish and Israeli students. As support for BDS decreases, and the case for implementing it grows weaker I am sure we will see the same type of shunting through of BDS that we have seen within the NUS. After all, if democracy doesn’t work for you, so what? Make it.

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