Malia Bouattia, new NUS president, shows her hypocrisy

I’ve posted a few times about Malia Bouattia (e.g., here), the new president of Britain’s National Union of Students. Bouattia appears to espouse a double standard towards Israel and Palestine, completely demonizing the former and excusing all execrable acts by the latter. She’s even justified the Palestinian “resistance” (code for “killing Israelis civilians”), arguing that it works better (at what?) than do nonviolent methods. Here’s one of her quotes I gave in an earlier post, incorporating the classic anti-Semitic trope of “Zionist-led media outlets.” Shades of the Elders of Zion!:

“The notion of resistance has been perhaps washed out of our understanding of how colonised people will obtain their physical emancipation…With mainstream, Zionist-led media outlets …resistance is presented as an act of terrorism.

. . . To consider that Palestine will be free only by means of fundraising, non-violent protest and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is problematic… My issue is that whilst at time it’s tactically used, or presented as the non-violent option, it can be misunderstood as the alternative to resistance by the Palestinian people…”

Since Bouttia’s election, and subsequent strong criticism for her extreme anti-Zionist views, she’s been frenetically walking back her earlier statements, claiming she was misunderstood. I strongly doubt that: I think she’s trying to retain her position and build up a good reputation. We shall see.

I’m not sure who is interviewing Bouattia in the first video below, but that interviewer presses hard on Bouattia’s views. But the NUS President simply refuses to answer the question of whether Israel should be allowed to exist (the interviewer asks her three times and then gives up).

And then, when asked whether she condemns Palestinian violence, Bouattia says, “It’s not for me to condemn Palestinian violence.” Instead, she says she supports international law, claiming that people under that law have a right of self-defense when attacked.

She’s right there, but some of the Palestinian violence construed as “self defense” is as much (or more of) a violation of international law as are Israel’s actions, including the rampant car and stabbing attacks on Israeli civilians, the firing of rockets into Israel, aimed at civilians, from civilian areas in Gaza, and so on. What’s legal under international law is Palestinian resistance against military installations, soldiers who are armed, soldiers in combat and so on. Killing women, children, civilian men and even soldiers asleep on a bus (yes, a Palestinian teenager did this as well), whether through suicide bombing or stabbing, certainly violates international law. Is Bouattia ignorant of that?

Now Israel’s behavior, particularly under Netanyahu, has been execrable, showing no movement toward the only possible solution: a two-state solution with withdrawal from the West Bank. One can also make a case that occupation of that area is a violation of international law. But Bouattia is blaming only one side, uttering the disingenuous weasel words, “It is not for me to condemn Palestinian violence.” What does that even mean? Who should condemn it if not her—particularly since she’s so willing to condemn Israel?

I will give this woman a chance as NUS President: perhaps she realizes that she has to be more conciliatory as an NUS leader (see second video below). But statements like that give me no confidence in either her sincerity or her leadership ability. Yes, her views will appeal to the bulk of her student constituents who despise Israel, but her justification for Palestinian “resistance” against Israeli civilians (some of which surely disagree with their government’s policy), and her use of the code word “Zionist”, make me wary:

Here’s a video of a debate between two students about her views, taken from Daily Politics on April 25. The president of the Sheffield University Student Union claims that Bouattia has suddenly become more open-minded and more willing to listen to all her constituents, but the interview above casts doubt on that.


  1. Robert Saunders
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    The first video is Channel 4 news, Cathy Newman is the interviewer

  2. Paul S
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    To consider that Palestine will be free…..
    Might be missing something, but aren’t Palestinians free now? Just because you’re told that it’s not ok to kill Israelis or to build settlements where ever you want doesn’t mean they aren’t free.
    As far as I can tell Palestine as a state with boundaries only existed between 1920 and 1948 and only by treaty at the end of WWI. It’s the same process that gave Israel boundaries in 1948.
    I’m surprised they don’t complain about the Ottoman Empire taking over Palestine in 1537.

    The treaty giveth and the treaty taketh away.

    • Posted April 28, 2016 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure what you mean, but a Palestinian state has never existed.
      From WWI to 1948, the land was under British mandate. In 1947, the UN made a resolution to divide the land between the Jews and the Arab. Israel was founded and the Arabs countries invaded it.
      They didn’t find a Palestinian state on the lands they held until 1967 and Israel occupied them in a war forced on it by the Arabs.
      Since then, the Arabs and the Palestinians have refused to recognize the Jews’ right for their own state. They still do.
      No sane nation would agree to find another state committed to its destruction by violent means.
      That’s why the occupation continues.
      When the Palestinians recognize Israel right to exist, they can get theirs.

      • Paul S
        Posted April 29, 2016 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        Canada was under British rule for quite a while, but it was still a country. At the close of WWI Palestine State was under British mandate yes, but it had mapped boundaries. At the close of WWII that area became Israel and Jordan.
        If you’re going to argue that Palestine wasn’t a country between 1920 and 1948, the Palestinians have even less of a claim to the land.

        • Posted April 29, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Yeah. That’s the point.
          Plus, Jordan was created earlier.

          • Dave
            Posted April 29, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

            “Canada was under British rule for quite a while, but it was still a country”

            That’s a strange claim. Before British (and French) settlement there was no “country” called Canada. The land mass that is now divided from the USA by an arbitrary line on a map was a patchwork of small territories occupied by various Native American tribes who had no concept of belonging to any larger political or geographic entity. Canada as we now know it was created by the British in the 19th century after expelling the French, extending their control westwards to the Pacific, and agreeing on a border with the newly-independent USA. There was no Canadian state until the British granted self-rule to the former set of colonial provinces. In similar fashion there has never been a state called “Palestine”. That name is now attached to some leftover fragments of the former Ottoman Empire whose sovereignty is still disputed.

            • Posted April 29, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

              The “independence” of Canada is a tricky subject. Confederation is 1867, for example, but there were still British institutions involved until 1930 and the Statute of Westminster. Alternatively, prior to 1867 people often spoke of Canada as a country, just one that happened to be a colony. “Mandate Palestine” is a similar case, I’d think.

  3. Scientifik
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    More anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist drama…

  4. Jeff
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Bouattia responded to some criticism in the Guardian. I think things have been blown out of proportion. It’s too bad that the right-wing tabloid Daily Mail is so highly ranked in google, and there’s little indication from the Daily Mail’s website that it’s not a mainstream news organization.

    • Paul S
      Posted April 28, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      This “It’s not for me to condemn Palestinian violence.” belies her statements in the notapology.
      Tell me this isn’t the same kind of argument you’ve heard from a racist: I want to be clear, again, that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is in no way me taking issue with being Jewish. In fact, Zionist politics are held by people from a variety of different backgrounds and faiths.

      • Posted April 28, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        By the same token, a Klan member who attacks not only blacks but also white civil rights activists can claim that he is not racist.

    • Posted April 28, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      In the article you linked, Ms. Bouattia admits being anti-Zionist, that is, against the state of Israel. To claim that you are anti-Zionist without being anti-Semite is analogous to saying, “I have nothing against Bulgarians, I just want to erase Bulgaria from the map”. It is actually much worse, because Bulgarians, unlike Jews, have not suffered a Holocaust. I think that, compared to the views of this lady, the Daily Mail is more than mainstream – it is a beacon of civilization.
      If the Guardian had decided to interview her, they should have asked her whether she agrees with the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, yes or no. But they preferred instead to serve as her advertising platform. Good that she is apparently unable to write 150 words together without revealing her true colors.

      • Gareth
        Posted April 28, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Sadly the DM is rather ‘mainstream’, its the second most widely read newspaper in the UK.
        Though there is some consolation in the fact that its readership is declining faster than most other dailies (print editions).

        • Posted April 28, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          Which is the first one?

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

            Probably ‘The Sun’, a.k.a. ‘The Scum’ in many places, eg Liverpool.

            • Dave
              Posted April 29, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

              “…there’s little indication from the Daily Mail’s website that it’s not a mainstream news organization.”

              Let me guess: your definition of a “mainstream” news organization is one whose views you happen to agree with.

  5. Posted April 28, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    The United States in particular don’t want a two-state solution, and none is on the horizon. Israel right now recognizes it can take the land and assume it into their state and nobody is going to stop them anytime soon. As an organized state, with international support, it can afford to take PR into account, prosecute war criminals and officially wash its hands clean every now and then.

    It’s at present unlear to me how Palestinians could do anything similar. Let’s say there is a palestinian murderer — a heinous war criminal going about and kills Jewish civilians, and he’s found out. Now keep in mind, they don’t have the special “collateral damage” stickers, which US and other states can stick to coffins to make them disappear — just how could Palestina go about this?

    Can “they” even get him before the Magnificent Mossad does? And if he’s captured by someone, how do we know what Palestina (who is this anyway) wants and says on this matter? I put it to you that perhaps the “PR situation” isn’t exactly even. I get the sense that nobody is particular friendly to the other team and it’s more a question of spinning it and what you can do to futher your interests. The US does it all the time: blow some country to bits and sell it as fighting for FREEDOM, “’Murica f**ck yeah!”. Let’s say I’m highly suspicious what the official story says, which precisely does NOT mean “whatever is opposite”. I put it to you that it’s hard to know at all.

    Of course, Israel is as legitimate a state as is any other that emerged throughout history. You can forever lament that colonial powers created states illegitimately, and that they go against some “identity”. But people should get over nationalism and identity politics, and hopefully sooner than later. This is also a problem with Israel, and likewise one with the Palestinian identity. Where are the Tibetans, lately?

    I thus see Ms Bouattia as fairly similar to her Israel hawk opponents. They have more in common than might be apparent. They want their thing, properly Jewish or Palestinian and won’t have it tainted in any way. Israel functions like this, and so is it all around them (where you replace judaism with some brand of Islam, but only the exact correct version, not that filthy heresy the neighbours believe in). Social justice warriors are just a mirror image of nationalists, supremacists and sometimes even fascists. She probably thinks that IS has an identity too and every right to properly develop it into a caliphate, since identities and culture trump individuals.

    Back to that, her “Zionist” talk, that’s anti-semitism, her apparent acceptance of civilian deaths and the IS apologia fall well into this. It’s shameful for Britain’s students that they elected someone like her.

  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    It isn’t for her to comment on Palestinian violence but she goes on and on about Israel without even being asked.

    She’s free in Britain to comment on anyone’s violence. She chooses not to comment on some violence

  7. Tony Lawless
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:00:48 +0000 To:

  8. Filippo
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 4:48 am | Permalink


  9. Somer
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Blame the jews. Israel shouldnt exist. Same old same old. Anti semitism on the rise in the left.

    Also Relevant – Ken Livingstone is in hot water for saying on air on BBC radio that the reaction to anti Israeli comments by a labour MP were excessive (she said Israeli Jews should all just move to America) that before Hitler “went mad and killed 6 million jews he supported the formation of a zionist state”. Alright there was the (tiny) pro Nazi Stern gang but frankly there was nowhere in Europe that didn’t have some pro Nazis.Some Jews had decided Europe was NEVER going to be safe for jews (and even the US was until jewish until after the war when Jews useful against USSR) and anything was worth setting up a jewish homeland that they could militarily defend themselves.

  10. Posted April 29, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard several “activists” or “community leaders” state in no uncertain terms that it’s “impossible for a black person to be racist towards white people.”

    So, if you consider yourself oppressed, you can be as bigoted as you like.

    Next step, based on her justification of terrorism will be: If you’re oppressed enough, then you cannot be guilty of a crime.

    Wait for it …

  11. Posted April 29, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    ‘colonized people’, aka all people colonized and brutalized by Islam, an oppressive and colonizing religious cult that invaded and colonized every land and people outside of Arabian peninsula (and inside).

  12. peepuk
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Probably it’s just me. I cannot see why an “Union of Students” has any business with ISIS or the state of Israel.

    Malia Bouattia appears a bit biased, but she defends liberal values like Human Rights (at least for the Palestinians). This just highlights a basic flaw of liberalism: trying to protect the rights and feelings of one individual will often violate the rights or feelings of others. As a dogmatic left wing-liberal, on the subject of peace between Israel and Palestine, she has nothing to offer.

    Like PCC mentions, almost everyone in the world knows how the Israeli/Palestinian conflict can be solved. Quarreling about who has more rights than the other is just a silly game; it will not bring a solution
    any closer. To solve these kind of problems you have to forget the past and look into a common future.

  13. somer
    Posted May 1, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Daily politics interview a bit weak – no quotes from her earlier speech where she strongly implies violent resistance is the best course and refers to Israel as colonist. No reference to her ties to extremist groups like CAGE and MPAC

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