Attack on UJS stall
Last updated: 2004-10-18
Attack on UJS stall
Jewish Student leaders have expressed deep regret and sadness as they urged ESF leaders to investigate an attack on their stall at the London based European Social Forum over the weekend.
The Union of Jewish Students, the only mainstream Jewish representative body at the conference was promoting a message of peace and coexistence, with literature from the interfaith network, Holocaust Educational trust, and their own pamphlets supporting a two state solution for the Middle East conflict.
The stall was set up on Friday, and left unattended over the Jewish Sabbath. Upon return to the stall on early Sunday morning, the UJS organisers found an Israeli and Palestinian flag had been stolen from behind the stall, and a Jewish Prayer book (siddur) had also been taken, to have been replaced by litter, pro-Palestinian literature from a number of different organisations, and a booklet printed by the Muslim Association of Britain. Police are treating the matter as a racist incident.
Even more shocking was the failure of the ESF organising body to take the matter seriously. UJS requested a statement to be read at plenary sessions, an official log of the incident, and those groups whose literature had been on the table to be contacted. After three hours of attempts, Jewish student leaders had to leave without any confirmation of ESF efforts, and no senior ESF figure having contacted their stall.
Danny Stone, UJS Campaigns Director commented: "Not one other stall in the building was affected; the organisers kept telling us we were one stall of 200, and should keep that in mind, but failed to register how much the theft had upset us, or take it seriously. It seems in a conference for progression, their thinking and organisation is very backward."
NUS Student Leader and Anti-Racism Campaign Convenor Luciana Berger said: "The only message UJS were promoting was a peaceful one, what kind of conference can it be if those supporting peace are those targeted for attack."