NUS opens conference with antisemitism apology after damning report

Student union leadership apologised for the 'truly shocking' Jew-hatred and said they are 'genuinely, truly sorry that it has taken us so long to address antisemitism head-on'


The National Union of Students (NUS) has opened its national conference with an apology to Jewish students following the damning independent report into antisemitism published earlier this year.

At its annual meeting of delegates representing students across the UK, the leadership of the student organisation apologised for the "truly shocking" Jew-hatred detailed by Rebecca Tuck KC, adding that they are "genuinely, truly sorry that it has taken us so long to address antisemitism head-on".

The students leaders pledged to ensure that Jewish students "never have to fight this fight on your own again".

The national student body is meeting for a two-day conference in Harrogate this week, with students representing universities across the country attending to discuss the widespread challenges facing university students in the UK, notably the cost of living crisis.

But ahead of discussing those issues, Chloe Field, Vice President for Higher Education, and Nehaal Bajwa, Vice President for Liberation and Equality, stood up in front of delegates to address the findings of Rebecca Tuck's report that branded the student union a "hostile environment" for Jewish students.

The damning report (which can be read in full here) found that the NUS had consistently ignored and dismissed antisemitism, often demoting complaints because of bias over the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Ms Tuck detailed accounts from Jewish students who felt “reduced to being only ‘the Jew’ in the room” and that they were “treated as a pariah at NUS events”.

Opening the conference, Ms Bajwa said: "[Rebecca Tuck's] findings were truly shocking and showed us what Jewish students have been saying and have known for a long time; that antisemitism is real and it is happening in NUS spaces as well as in student unions and wider student politics."

Ms Field, who is leading the organisation after Shaima Dallali was fired as president earlier this year, continued: "So, we really want to open conference today with a moment of accountability for NUS and a moment of humanity towards our Jewish friends and members.

"On behalf of NUS today and the past, I am genuinely, truly sorry that it has taken us so long to address antisemitism head-on. You have been let down by the very organisation that you should have been able to trust the most. My team and I will do everything that we can do to make sure that you never have to fight this fight on your own again."

Ms Bajwa called on student leaders to join in the fight against antisemitism, and to examine their own organisations, groups chats, and organising groups to "figure out where it is and combat it as well."

Ms Field then said: "Let us say this to anyone in doubt: antisemitism is real and it is happening in student politics today. Antisemitism is an attack not just on Jewish people, but on all of us and the shared values we hold."

The NUS will be hosting a session later today about the report and to give students the opportunity to ask questions about it, and about the action plan, developed alongside the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), currently being implemented by the union's leadership.

UJS President Joel Rosen welcomed the apology, and tweeted: "A very different feel to the conference this year. Feel incredibly proud of the change we've collectively made and are making in the student movement.

"It is bittersweet as there are generations of Jewish students who didn't get to witness moments like these."

Rebecca Tuck’s investigation into antisemitism was launched in May last year following outrage over historic posts by NUS president-elect Shaima Dallali and widespread allegations by Jewish students that antisemitism was endemic within the organisation.

Dallali was fired by the NUS in November after a months-long independent investigation into allegations of antisemitism found "significant breaches" of the union's policies. She is believed to have been the first president to have been sacked in the organisation's 100-year history.

In January, the report into antisemitism within the organisation as a whole found that it was a "hostile environment" for Jewish students, with heartbreaking accounts from Jewish students detailing the widespread scale of Jew-hatred.

The NUS itself described the 100-page report as “a detailed and shocking account of antisemitism” and has pledged to implement the KC’s recommendations in full.


Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive