Jerusalem, Israel, January 2, 2018 – The World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) hosted the its annual Congress (Dec 28 - Jan 1), with 157 international participants from 36 countries. Delegations in attendance hailed from Eastern, Central and Western Europe, North and South America, Australasia, South Africa, India, Turkey and Israel.
The Congress was also the forum for WUJS’ General Assembly (Dec 31). Avigayil Benstein (24) was elected to be the new President of WUJS, succeeding outgoing President, Yosef Tarshish (26). Avigayil, the daughter of WUJS alumni from the USA and the UK, was born and raised in Israel. She served as a foreign press liaison in the European desk of the IDF Spokesperson's Office, and is currently completing her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Middle East Studies at Hebrew University.
Jewish student Union delegates representing 29 countries voted in this election, including the American Union of Jewish Students (AMUJS) who received voting rights earlier in the day when they were promoted from observer to partial member, and voted for the first time.
WUJS passed a number of policy motions at the GA:
1. In an emergency motion submitted by the Austrian Union of Jewish Students (JöH), WUJS passed a declaration against the normalization of Right-Wing Extremism in light of the formation of the new government in Austria that includes the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ). The FPÖ is a right-wing populist party, founded by the Nazi and SS Officer, Anton Reinthaller. It is our belief that not only is the party fascist and xenophobic in nature, but is antisemitic as well. In the motion, WUJS condemns the FPÖ and its inclusion in Austrian Government in the strongest possible terms, committing not to work with members or affiliates of the FPÖ and to boycott their government officials.
2. WUJS resolved to remember the Armenian Genocide, and to condemn and reject any attempt to deny, distort, or ignore the historical reality of this genocide.
3. WUJS resolved to raise consciousness and encourage public discourse on matters of Jewish pluralism in the State of Israel, and to seek partnership with existing organisations fighting for religious pluralism in Israel including, but not limited to, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Hiddush, the Israeli Religious Action Center and the Forum for Equal Burden Sharing.
4. WUJS declared that the month of March should be inaugurated as "Antisemitism Awareness Month", and laid the groundwork to coordinate and launch an international campaign to this effect on campuses worldwide, in partnership with a number of government ministries and campus organisations. WUJS Congress is one of the most important annual events for Jewish student activists from all over the world. WUJS is the international umbrella organization supporting independent Jewish student associations all over the world. In 1924 it was established by Hersch Lauterpacht, and its previous Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Chairs include Albert Einstein, Chaim Bialik, Sigmund Freud and Chaim Weizmann, as well as David Ben Gurion, AB Yehoshua and many more.