JERUSALEM (JTA) – International Jewish student leaders will launch an international anti-Semitism awareness campaign on campuses worldwide and vowed to reject any attempts to deny the Armenian genocide.
The World Union of Jewish Students at its 44th World Congress, a five-day assembly that ended Jan. 1, also aimed to seek partnerships with organizations fighting for religious pluralism in Israel and committed not to work with members or affiliates of Austria’s populist Freedom Party, or FPO, which is part of the new government coalition. The group said it would boycott FPO officials.
Some 157 Jewish college students from 36 countries served as delegates to the congress. The students came from Eastern, Central and Western Europe, North and South America, Australasia, South Africa, India, Turkey and Israel.
The group declared March “Anti-Semitism Awareness Month” and laid the groundwork to coordinate its campaign in partnership with a number of government ministries and campus organizations.
At its general assembly, which was part of the congress, the WUJS elected a new president: Avigayil Benstein, 24, is completing her undergraduate degree in international relations and Middle East studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was born and raised in Israel, and served as a foreign press liaison in the European desk of the Israel Defense Forces’ spokesperson’s office.
Benstein, the daughter of WUJS alumni from the United States and the United Kingdom, succeeds Yosef Tarshish, 26.
The American Union of Jewish Students voted in the election for the first time after being promoted to partial member from observer status.
The resolutions on FPO and the Armenian genocide were among a number of binding policy motions passed at the General Assembly. The one on Austria declares against the normalization of right-wing extremism in light of the formation of the new government in Austria that includes FPO.
WUJS resolved to remember the Armenian genocide, and to condemn and reject any attempt to deny, distort or ignore its historical reality. Another resolution called to raise consciousness and encourage public discourse on matters of Jewish pluralism in the State of Israel, and to seek partnership with organizations fighting for religious pluralism in Israel.
WUJS is the international umbrella organization supporting independent Jewish student associations all over the world
It was established in 1924 by Hersch Lauterpacht, and previous WUJS leaders include Albert Einstein, Chaim Bialik, Sigmund Freud and Chaim Weizmann, as well as David Ben-Gurion, and A.B. Yehoshua.