By Kirsty BuchananThe government is considering referring the National Union of Students to the Charity Commission or suspending engagement with the organisation amid mounting concerns about the pro-Palestinian activism of its president-elect. Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said she was “actively considering” the move and that she was “deeply concerned by antisemitism within the NUS, including the remarks of the new President”. The election of Shaima Dallali provoked an outcry from Jewish students after a string of deleted social media posts emerged in which she attacked leading Jewish organisations, branded one critic of Hamas a “dirty Zionist” and hailed antisemitic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi the “moral compass for the Muslim community”.
The furore followed anger over comments by current NUS President Larissa Kennedy, who suggested Jewish students should segregate themselves to avoid a planned performance by anti-Zionist rapper Lowkey at an NUS conference.
Ms Donelan said: “I am actively considering a range of possible measures, including reporting the NUS to the Charity Commission and full suspension from all engagement with Government – to be replaced by alternative student voices – unless they take immediate steps to regain the confidence of Jewish students.” Ms Dallali has apologised for one post and said she would meet Jewish students with “outstretched” arms and would “listen to concerns on how we can make our movement inclusive and open to all”.
However two days after extending the olive branch, Ms Dallai re-tweeted posts which attacked her critics and claimed she was the victim of “a clear example of racist gendered Islamophobia”.
The NUS has confirmed it would launch an investigation into Ms Dallali’s social media posts. A spokesman said: “Now that we are outside of the election process, the responsibility to look into these concerns lies ultimately with the NUS Board. NUS takes all allegations of antisemitism extremely seriously and if we find that action needs to be taken we won’t hesitate to take it, as we have previously.”