Union of Jewish Students of the UK and Ireland

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The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) grew out of the Inter University Jewish Federation (IUJF), founded in 1919. IUJF was represented on the Zionist Federation, an umbrella organisation for the Zionist movement in the UK, and a constituent member of the World Zionist Organisation based in Israel, one of the four core bodies of the Zionist movement making up the quasi-statal National Institutions. The Zionist movement seeks to consolidate the State of Israel and to encourage people to settle there.

In 1973, IUJF was renamed the Union of Jewish Students. During the latter part of the decade, UJS ‘emerged as a leading force in the fight against those who attempt to demonise and delegitimise the State of Israel’.[1] UJS is a member of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS),[2] which is in turn a member of the World Zionist Organisation.[3] WUJS counts among its past presidents David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

Two objects in the UJS constitution make reference to Israel:

2.1.1. Creating meaningful Jewish campus experiences and inspiring Jewish students to make an enduring commitment to their Jewish identity, Israel, and the community.
2.1.5. Promoting tolerance and understanding between its Members, and encouraging an awareness of the problems of all racial and religious discord and tension, both at home and abroad, acting in accordance with the Union’s core values of cross-communalism, peer leadership, representation and engagement with Israel. [4]

UJS declares itself ‘proud to be an incubator for future leaders of the Jewish community and beyond, including Alan Senitt z'l, Israel Lobbyist for BICOM’.[1] Other notable former UJS members include Luciana Berger, former MP for Liverpool Wavertree, who played an instrumental role in the Labour Party’s ‘anti-Semitism crisis’.

The parent organisation of UJS is the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation, a company with charitable status.[5] B’nai B’rith [Children of the Covenant] describes itself as an ‘international Jewish organization committed to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel’.[6] B'nai B'rith International is also a formal member of the Zionist movement as an affiliate of the WZO.[3] Hannah Rose, trustee of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation, served on the executive of the WUJS (member of the World Zionist Organization) when she was president of UJS.[7]

In 2017, a six-month undercover investigation for Al Jazeera revealed that UJS was in receipt of money from the Israeli Embassy in London and that the union served as a recruiting ground for pro-Israel activists.[8]

UJS hosts the annual Israel Student Awards, which ‘celebrate the work of students on campus in engaging with Israel over the past year’. The most recent iteration of the awards to be convened in physical space was attended by the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev.[9]

The UJS is the parent body for the Jewish Societies established on many university campuses across the UK. Jewish Societies (JSocs) on campuses across the UK are reportedly ‘led by a democratically elected committee of dedicated Jewish students who receive guidance, support and resources from UJS’.[10] The implication of this is that all Jewish societes affiliated to the UJS, and UJS itself, are a formal part of the Zionist Movement

Organisational entities

B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation