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13th January 2023

Culture of NUS “hostile” towards Jewish students

The independent investigation into anti-Semitism within the NUS has been released
Culture of NUS “hostile” towards Jewish students
Photo: NUS @ NUS

The independent investigation into anti-Semitism within the NUS has concluded “the culture within NUS and at NUS events has been perceived by many Jewish students, for good reason, as hostile.” Going forward the NUS has announced a 5-point action plan.

NUS commissioned Rebecca Tuck KC to lead an independent investigation in May 2022. KC is a barrister who specialises as an investigator, advisor, and mediator to determine grievance or disciplinary issues.

The report states that in NUS spaces all Jewish students seem to be “answerable for Israel”, suggesting the growing tensions between Israel and Palestine as one of the reasoning for rampant antisemitism.

Adding, that there are many instances, “where Jewish students have suffered antisemitism because of assumptions that they are ‘Zionists’.”

Furthermore, students who made complaints about this were said to be acting in “bad faith,” and opposing “pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli political advocacy.” This was evidenced in NUS conference, such as the Liverpool conference on March 28 2022.

On March 3, it was announced that Lowkey, a rapper and activist, would be performing at the conference. The report says that NUS did not carry out ‘due diligence’ before inviting Lowkey. The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) wrote to NUS raising concerns over Lowkey.

UJS stated that the rapper has often endorsed individuals who are anti-Semitic and pedals conspiracy theories on 9/11. The former NUS President advertised availability of alternative spaces “to enable Jewish students to avoid the performance”, making them feel excluded and segregated.

This reportedly typified the experience of Jewish students at the NUS, with a 2017 Jewish Student Experience Survey finding 49% of surveyed students disagreed or strongly disagreed that they would feel comfortable attending NUS events.

With a difficult path to concluding this grievance, in April 2022 UJS asked NUS to conduct this investigation. The UJS press release questioned, “whether Shaima Dallali (former President of NUS) is fit to represent all students.”

The report includes several other examples of antisemitism on campus, such as:

  • A Jewish student not being allowed to use a prayer room because it was being used for a meeting
  • “The refusal of an NEC member to apologise for referring to ‘the final solution’ in the context of Jewish places on a committee, even when faced with an explanation as to why the term caused such offence”
  • A student at an NUS event was told to enjoy “dead baby’s blood” in reference to their drink, which the student claims was because of the West bank protests
  • First year Jewish students had swastikas drawn on them during ‘white T-Shirt parties’ in Leicester

The report concludes by stating: “passionate advocacy and campaigning for Palestinian rights,” has sometimes led to, “considerable alienation of Jewish students.”

UJS President, Joel Rosen told BBC that the report was a “very damning indictment of the presence of anti-Jewish racism at the heart of student politics”.

“But what we’ve seen is this kind of stereotyping that the report lays out,” he adds. Joel previously told BBC that NUS has “abandoned proud anti-racist traditions.”

All this has previously led to the government cutting ties all together with the NUS. In November 2022, Dallali was dismissed from her post due to allegations of antisemitism.

Going forward the NUS has set out a 5-point action plan. The points range from a more enhanced candidate selection process to increasing education on this topic.

They will also be implementing an advisory panel for a minimum of 5 years and training elected leaders and NUS staff. The NUS have also added an associate membership for UJS members.

Shikhar Talwar

Shikhar Talwar

Hello! I am the MMG News Producer. My job is to ensure collaboration between all 3 wings of MMG, namely Mancunion, Fuse TV and Fuse FM. I also write for the news section at the Mancunion, with topics ranging from elections to protests.

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