National Union of Students faces investigations over recurring antisemitism allegations

By Waseem Mohamed

The National Union of Students (NUS) will face both a public and internal investigation surrounding allegations of antisemitism within the union over the next coming months.

The NUS has appointed Rebecca Tuck QC as the Independent Investigator, who has laid out a timetable for the investigation. Tuck explained that “There are two clear parts to this process… 1) a public investigation into NUS and 2) an internal investigation into the President Elect under the NUS Code of Conduct”.

As part of the public investigation into the NUS, Tuck says that she will “open a public ‘call for evidence’ on Monday 6 June 2022 that will remain open for 1 calendar month” and will “then conduct interviews that arise from the evidence submissions from July onwards”.

Tuck also anticipates that the internal investigation into the President Elect (Shaima Dallali) will be completed “as a priority within the coming weeks”, while the report on the public investigation into the NUS should be published by 28th October this year.

We look forward to seeing what is said in the investigation(s) and the actions taken thereafter

Erin waks, President of durham jewish society

Commenting on Tuck’s update, the NUS said “We are committed to a comprehensive independent QC-led investigation into allegations of antisemitism and are prepared to take any and all actions that Rebecca Tuck QC’s investigation may recommend.

“Whilst the investigations take place, we continue to work closely with the Union of Jewish Students and are exploring actions that NUS can take in the near future to build trust and confidence with Jewish students”.

Reacting to the investigation, President of the Durham Jewish Society told Palatinate “The NUS has a long history of allowing antisemitism to exist. There is no representation of all students until there is representation of Jewish students, and this cannot happen whilst there is a clear issue affecting the NUS leadership.

“The real test of the organisation will come in the form of breaking this pattern amongst their presidents and demonstrating their commitment to stamping out antisemitism with actions (not words). We look forward to seeing what is said in the investigation(s) and the actions taken thereafter”.

I am seriously concerned to hear of so many reports of alleged antisemitism linked to the NUS

Nadhim zahawi mp

The investigation has been called following recent controversies that have further highlighted long-running antisemitism claims against the NUS. In the lead up to its annual conference last March, the union was heavily criticised over its decision to invite rapper Lowkey to the event. At the time, outgoing NUS President Larissa Kennedy suggested that Jewish students who were concerned about Lowkey’s appearance should “self-segregate” at the conference. Kennedy denied these allegations during questioning from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee in May.

The NUS faced further backlash after the election of Shaima Dallali as President Elect, with members of the Union of Jewish Students complaining about previous tweets that Dallali has made with regards to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Dallali has since apologised over the tweets she made in 2012, saying that “she is not the same person she was then and has since changed the language she uses to talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict”.

Last month, the Department for Education (DfE) suspended all engagement with the NUS over antisemitism, with Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi MP saying “I am seriously concerned to hear of so many reports of alleged antisemitism linked to the NUS. Jewish students need to have confidence that this is a body that represents them… which is why we are disengaging with the NUS until the issues have been addressed”.

This sentiment was shared by Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan MP, who said “I am horrified by the thought of Jewish students feeling ostracised by an organisation which should be a voice for their community and an advocate of equality for all students… Whilst our door is not closed to the NUS, our message could not be simpler. We need decisive and effective action in response to these repeated allegations of antisemitic behaviour”.

Donelan also tweeted; “To all the SUs doing good work for your students in universities across England, please, ask yourself how your ongoing association with the NUS will make many Jewish students feel. It is a difficult step, but it’s time to consider disaffiliation, unless matters improve quickly”.

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