NUS to launch independent investigation into antisemitism allegations

Hundreds of Jewish students had called out the union for creating a ‘climate of fear’


The National Union of Students has called for an independent investigation into itself as the body is engulfed by an antisemitism crisis.

In a statement released today following an NUS UK board meeting, the union said: “There can be no place for antisemitism within the student movement. We are listening to the concerns being raised and we’re very concerned about the pain and hurt being expressed. 

“We will take any and all actions that are needed to remedy any wrongdoing and rebuild trust with Jewish students as well as our Members, partners and stakeholders.”

The move comes after hundreds of Jewish students wrote to the organisation calling for it to act to rebuild “broken trust”.

The open letter said Jews on campus had been left “scared, distressed and upset and feeling that NUS is not a safe place for them”. 

It called for the NUS to launch an investigation into President Elect Shaima Dallali and for a “reputable external body” to probe antisemitism within the union.

The NUS now say they will now appoint a “highly regarded independent party” to investigate all public allegations made between March and April 2022 about the NUS and its President Elect, Shaima Dallali. 

Their statement adds: “In relation to NUS, the independent investigation will look into a specific allegation around a speaker booked for one of our conferences as well as a review of allegations of a wider culture of antisemitism within NUS.”

The student union has come under fire recently after booking anti-Zionist rapper Lowkey for its Liverpool conference. NUS President Larissa Kennedy reportedly said Jewish students uncomfortable with the controversial musician could move to a separate room during his performance.

Today's NUS statement continues: “In relation to the President Elect, the independent investigation will look into a range of comments and actions that are alleged to have taken place over the last decade.”

Ms Dallali, the President Elect, has posted shocking content online, including: “Khaybar Khaybar O Jews… Muhammad’s army will return Gaza” – a reference to a 628 massacre for which she later apologised. 

The student activist has also said she would meet Jewish students to “listen to concerns on how we can make our movement inclusive and open to all”.

The NUS said today their board had met specifically to tackle allegations of antisemitism.

They will consult with the UJS to ensure whoever is appointed has the confidence of Jewish students, they added.

On Twitter, the Union of Jewish Students said: “We want to thank all those who signed [the UJS open letter] and continue to express support for the Jewish student community.”

UJS President Elect Joel Rosen said the NUS had, “listened to the hundreds of Jewish students who wrote in and are starting to act”.

In their statement, the NUS emphasised that they had adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism in 2018. In their open letter, Jewish students had called upon the union to recommit to the internationally recognised definition. 

The NUS add: “In the recent past, NUS has acted on antisemitism including removing a member of the National Council in 2018 and removing an election candidate in 2019 in line with NUS’ policies around antisemitism.”

An investigation timeline will be published once it has been agreed by the independent investigator, they said. What action will be taken after the investigation has concluded is yet to be determined. 

Shaima Dallali did not respond to an earlier request for comment. 

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