New antisemitism taskforce to be chaired by Andrew Percy MP

It was formally announced at a Parliamentary reception hosted by Lord Mann on Tuesday


A new taskforce on antisemitism has been set up amid growing concerns about racism on campus and accusations of institutional Jew-hate within the National Union of Students.

It comes as the NUS announced it would investigate the body’s newly elected president, Shaima Dallali, following revelations she had made a string of incendiary statements on social media including praising the notoriously antisemitic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Boris Johnson revealed at Prime Minister’s Questions last week that he was establishing a taskforce “devoted to rooting out antisemitism in education at all levels”.

The cross-party group will be led by Andrew Percy MP, who co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, together with the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, Lord John Mann. It was formally announced at a Parliamentary reception hosted by Lord Mann on Tuesday to celebrate women campaigners against antisemitism.

It will take evidence from Jewish students about their on-campus experiences, review teaching materials and probe how the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, adopted by almost all universities, is being enforced.

The taskforce will also meet senior officials at Bristol University, which was caught in a storm last year over the tenure of notorious anti-Zionist academic David Miller, who was eventually sacked over inflammatory statements about Jewish students.

Mr Percy MP said: “Students must be free to study on campus, feeling safe. That counts for Jewish students as much as any others. Our All-Party Group has heard shocking allegations of lecturer misconduct and racist bullying. We plan to get to the bottom of this.”

Lord John Mann said: “The adoption of the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism by over 100 universities across England is an incredibly important and vital starting point but as the Prime Minister made clear last week there is a need for ‘rapid and irreversible change’. Every Jewish student on every campus is entitled to be themselves, identify as they choose, and enjoy the privilege of university education without any impingement on their freedoms.”

Figures released by the Community Security Trust (CST) revealed that in the previous academic year antisemitic incidents were up 59 per cent on the year before.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi hosted a conference in January aimed at tackling antisemitism on campus and warned that adopting IHRA had to be more than just a “tick box” exercise.

Past social media posts by new NUS president Ms Dallali include attacking leading Jewish groups, branding one critic of Hamas a “dirty Zionist” and raising money for Cage, a controversial Muslim advocacy group. Ms Dallali has since apologised for one of the inflammatory posts and said she would meet Jewish students with “outstretched” arms. However, two days later, she claimed she was the victim of “racist gendered Islamophobia”.

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