MP Halfon refers NUS to the Charity Commission

Education chair accuses student body of fostering ‘culture of discrimination’ against Jewish students


The National Union of Students has been referred to the Charity Commission by a senior Jewish MP who has accused the organisation of fostering a “culture of discrimination” against Jewish students.

The move by Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, follows the election of a controversial new NUS president who hailed Jew-hating cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi the “moral compass for the Muslim community”.   

The student body also prompted outrage when it invited anti-Zionist rapper Lowkey to perform at a special concert, and suggested that Jewish students who might be offended could segregate themselves during his set.

In his letter, Mr Halfon said: “This example is emblematic of a wider problem within the NUS … The NUS and its trustees past and present have consistently failed to protect Jewish students from discrimination and harassment and indeed sometimes have been the cause of such discrimination and harassment.”

Mr Halfon’s intervention comes after Universities Minister Michelle Donelan revealed the government was considering suspending engagement with the NUS over claims of antisemitism.

In his letter to Charity Commission chairman Ian Karet – written with the Campaign Against Antisemitism - Mr Halfon said the body had the power to act under the Charities Act 2011 when there was “a need to safeguard public trust” or there were concerns that a charity was being mismanaged.

He added that, under the terms of the NUS charitable status, its trustees had a duty to promote “equality and diversity” and “good citizenship”. 

Mr Halfon said a dossier, compiled by the CAA and sent to the Charity Commission, also showed “a history of systemic antisemitism within the NUS” that went back decades.  

Mr Halfon said that the culture had been allowed to permeate into student unions in campuses across the country, directly impacting Jewish students and undermining the confidence of Jewish students in the body supposed to represent them.

A 2017 survey carried out by the NUS itself found that 65 per cent of Jewish students disagreed with a statement that they believed the body would deal with their complaints appropriately. 

The government is also considering suspending engagement with the organisation. 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”. 

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.” 

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