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Union of Jewish Students candidate abused for Israel boycott stance

30th Dec 2016
Union of Jewish Students candidate abused for Israel boycott stance

Eran Cohen, 27 was called a Nazi collaborator for supporting Palestinian rights (Photo: Eran4 UJSPres/Youtube)

Nadine Osman

A British-Israeli student running for election as president of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has been the subject of online abuse over his support for a boycott of Israel.

Eran Cohen, a 27-year-old undergraduate at the University of York, was called a “Kapo” (Nazi collaborator), a “traitor” and a “self-hating Jew” in messages posted on Facebook.

Israeli-born Cohen has served as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) officer for the University’s Palestinian Society, and has publicly called for a boycott of Israel. He has also promoted “Israel Apartheid Week” on campus.

Executive Director of UJS, David Brown, urged commentators to be “mindful of their language”.

“There is no place in commentary about the UJS Presidential Elections for attacks that include ‘self-hating Jew’ or suggest that any of the candidates are equivalent to murderers.”

Eran refuted claims he is “anti-Israel”, insisting, “My desire to end the occupation stems from a love of Israel, Palestine, and their peoples. 71% of British Jews oppose the occupation, so I’m by no means in a minority.”

If elected Cohen says he hopes “to open up the debate within the community and to create a space where the voices of 30-41% of Jewish students who aren’t uncritical supporters of Israel can be heard.”

He added he would also “represent everyone equally, and I believe that in this case, that might mean a need for the UJS to move away from a pro-Israel to a more neutral footing, where it doesn’t alienate either Zionist or non-Zionist students. If this happens, it will be a radical shift for such an organisation, as very few (I can’t think of any, actually) Jewish community organisations take a neutral stance on this issue. This can only be a good thing.”

* Cohen, came last in the elections held on December 9 securing only 89 votes. Nottingham student Josh Holt was overwhelmingly elected President with almost two-thirds of the (682) votes, while Adam Schapira, studying at UCL, came second, with 258 votes.

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