The National Union of Students has been accused of “segregating” Jews after it reportedly said that Jewish students uncomfortable with anti-Israel rapper Lowkey headlining the union’s conference could always go to another room during his performance.
The rapper, a key figure in the Palestine Action collective, which is planning a nationwide wave of attacks on properties owned by Israeli-linked firms, had set to appear at the NUS Liberation Conference this March - but has now pulled out.
Tracks put out by Lowkey - whose real name is Kareem Dennis - include 'Long Live Palestine', which features the lyrics: "You say you know about the Zionist lobby. But you put money in their pocket when you're buying their coffee. Talking about revolution, sitting in Starbucks."
Union of Jewish Students President Nina Freedman told the JC NUS leaders met her but refused to reconsider Lowkey’s performance despite concerns from Jewish students.
Instead, she said, officials offered “insufficient and frankly offensive mitigations.”
She added: “It was suggested that Jewish students go into an existing safe space designated for students who are sensitive to loud noise for the duration of Lowkey’s performance.
“In doing so, NUS have brushed Jewish students aside and have shown a complete disregard for their needs and experiences.”
Binyomin Gilbert, Programme Manager at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: "NUS knows exactly what it is doing by headlining Lowkey...
“Headlining such a person is bad enough, but telling appalled Jews to go and stand in the corner whilst everyone else dances is segregationist and disgusting. Instead of showing solidarity with Jews, NUS is literally casting Jews aside.
"This is sickening hypocrisy from a union that proclaims itself to be ‘anti-racist’.”
The Board of Deputies said: "We are disturbed that NUS has Lowkey to perform at its conference. Lowkey is an infamous conspiracy theorist whose delusional output has long been of concern within the Jewish community.
"We hope NUS will stop ignoring the anger and dismay of Jewish students at its decision and will reconsider its choice of performer."
Also slated to appear at the conference is notorious Corbynite Labour MP Zarah Sultana, who has a deeply controversial social media history.
The Coventry South MP bragged in 2015 she would “celebrate” the deaths of Tony Blair and Benjamin Netanyahu - and also wrote of her support for “violent resistance” by Palestinians.
Lowkey has previously endorsed 9/11 conspiracy theories and recently claimed on Iran’s Press TV that the media has “weaponised the Jewish heritage” of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to “stave off” inquiries about far-right groups in the country.
The rapper has also attacked Israel as a “racist endeavour”.
At a meeting held to discuss Lowkey’s appearance, NUS elected officers and full-time staff reportedly told Ms Freedman they were “unaware” of his actions and that the event would go ahead as planned.
In response to the suggestion that Lowkey’s performance would be upsetting for some Jewish students, NUS President Larissa Kennedy allegedly said she was more concerned about who she might hurt if the event was cancelled.
Ms Freedman told the JC: “This demonstrates a clear prioritisation of the needs of some students over others. NUS have a duty to treat all students equally instead of once again leaving Jewish students at the bottom of the list.”
A Jewish student planning to attend the NUS conference said: “I’m feeling incredibly anxious about attending NUS conference.
“NUS claim to be an antiracist organisation but they’re platforming a 9/11 truther who spreads conspiracy theories about Jewish students.
“My faith shouldn’t stop me engaging with student politics but thanks to NUS creating a toxic atmosphere I and other Jewish students are intimidated and silenced.”
In a statement, Ms Freedman added: “This speaks to a wider problem of NUS failing to make Jewish students feel at home within their movement. Their omission of a kosher food option is symptomatic of a harmful mindset in which Jewish students are an afterthought.
“We have tried to engage in good faith to work with them to make NUS welcoming for Jewish students, but time and time again NUS have brushed Jewish students aside. This incident is just the latest update in years of division and exclusion. Enough is enough.”
The NUS have been contacted for comment.