The National Union of Students (NUS) in the United Kingdom temporarily suspended a campaign by one of its delegates after he applauded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his electoral victory last week.
Jack Morewood, a student at the University of Exeter who ran for the Student Director position, was filmed telling an audience at the annual NUS conference on Wednesday, “Congrats to King Bibi, big mazel tov to him for his successful re-election in Israel,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.
The NUS suspended Morewood following complaints over his comments, which were met with jeers and shouts of “Free Palestine,” but has since reinstated him. The suspension was to last until the NUS Democratic Procedures Committee “made a decision regarding the breach of the code of conduct,” the group said.
An NUS member who was upset by Morewood’s comment said he “should NOT be allowed to run for any future offices, or stay in his university.”
Morewood told the Chronicle that he received a verbal warning over the incident, and that an election speech he held on Thursday was met with protests.
The University of Exeter Students’ Guild, which Morewood represented at the NUS conference, distanced itself from “his views and actions on stage” in a Friday statement.
“Following Jack’s actions, the Guild President and lead delegate reiterated to Jack that he is a representative of the whole student body, and that he is expected to consider their views in what he says and does at conference,” the Guild wrote. “There is no place in our institution or in the national movement for hateful comments that may harm or isolate the students that we represent.”
The Guild’s statement was criticized by the Sussex Friends of Israel group on Sunday.
“[You] can disagree with Jack about his views on Bibi,” the group argued on social media. “You can even [argue] that making this statement at the NUS conference was not the appropriate time nor place to do so. However, what you CANNOT say is that what he said constituted in any way ‘hateful comments.’”
The Israel Society at King’s College London also condemned Morewood’s temporary suspension in a Sunday statement, noting, “the UK is a free country and must remain so.
The NUS should keep that in mind instead of imposing a political police on its members.”
Morewood’s past manifesto for the Exeter Students’ Guild appeared to mock the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, which has been endorsed by the NUS and its president-elect, Zamzam Ibrahim.
The manifesto proposes, according to the Chronicle, that the guild should “boycott a new country each day. An hour will be spent questioning that country’s right to exist for base-less reasons, and after we’ve boycotted all countries, the Guild will declare independence.”