Fury After Holocaust Motion Labelled 'Colonialist'

A former National Union of Students President has condemned Goldsmith University's rejection of a motion to commemorate the Holocaust.

Cynthia Blank ,

Holocaust prisoner
Holocaust prisoner

A former National Union of Students (NUS) President voiced condemnation for the Goldsmith University and its Student Union's rejection of a motion to commemorate the Holocaust. 

The motion brought before the student body posed recognizing “the unspeakable horrors” of the Holocaust, other genocides, totalitarianism and racial hatred.

The motion also called on the union to organize commemorative events on International Holocaust Memorial Day, on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism and on Armenian Genocide Day, among others.

One of the most vehement opponents to the motion was the Student Union’s Education Officer, Sarah El-alfy, who urged other students to reject the “Eurocentric” and “colonialist” motion.

El-alfy claimed on Twitter that she is not against commemorating the Holocaust, but called the motion problematic because it “is Eurocentric and pro-British colonialist if only specific dates are mentioned, where all are European history and don’t extend to those atrocities committed by Britain itself.”

As a result, the motion was voted down by 60 votes to 1. 

In the aftermath of the decision, some students took to Twitter explaining their reasons for denying the motion. 

“The motion would force people to remember things they may not want to remember,” one student tweeted.

“White people should not be proposing motions to condemn genocides without a lot of thought. This does not have that thought,” another tweeted.

Former NUS President, Wes Streeting (July 2008-June 2010) reacted by roundly condemning the vote. 

Streeting, now Deputy Leader of the Labour Group in the London Borough of Redbridge, told the UK Jewish News: 

“I find it shocking that people who are meant to be intelligent have rejected a motion on Holocaust Memorial Day. To describe the commemoration of the systematic slaughter of more than 6 million Jews and countless other minorities as ‘Eurocentric’ and ‘colonialism’ reflects a particularly stupid brand of so-called left wing politics that appears to be surfacing in student politics at every level. Jewish students should not be expected to confront this alone. It should be roundly condemned by students and NUS.” 

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) also issued a statement, highlighting their commitment to remember the Holocaust and other genocides. 

"It should be a given that an event such as the Holocaust that affected so many, is commemorated and those that wish to commemorate it should be able to do so in a safe space. To oppose this policy in its entirety is both worrying for Jewish students and could lead to many feeling isolated from their union. As a result, UJS is working with the student union and students at Goldsmiths to ensure that Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated.”