Queen Mary SU votes to disaffiliate from NUS after Shaima Dallali's sacking

The student body also a endorsed Boycott, Divest, Sanctions motion


Students at Queen Mary University, London have voted to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS) as a result of Shaima Dallali being fired as president.

In a vote last night at the university's student union, a motion in favour of the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement was also passed.

These motions were passed in spite of strong opposition from the university's Jewish society, who wrote ahead of the votes that they feel "betrayed and let down by our Students's Union".

The JSoc and Union of Jewish Students said in a joint statement today that they are "disappointed yet unsurprised" by the votes, adding accused Queen Mary SU of "[shrugging] its shoulders at the expense of Jewish students."

The motion to disaffiliate from the NUS was described as a result of the firing of Shaima Dallali earlier this month as president of the national student union following an investigation into allegations of antisemitism.

The motion accused the NUS of having "contributed to the spread of anti-Palestinian racism" by firing Ms Dallali, and described her removal as an "affront to the democratic nature that the NUS purports to obtain".

It read: "Recently the NUS, for the first time in its entire history, removed its democratically elected President. The removal of an elected leader is an affront to the democratic nature that the NUS purports to obtain.

"Despite its commitment to anti-racism, the NUS has contributed to the spread of anti-Palestinian racism. This punitive reaction reflects a political context that has sought to toxify Palestine and is part of a wider pattern of endemic and systematic bigotry and prejudice. The Association of Student Activism for Palestine has said that the removal of the elected President Shaima Dallali is a direct attack on pro-Palestine student activism.

"The NUS has long ignored calls from Muslim students, organisations and the representative Muslim student body Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) – who have said that NUS is no longer a safe space for Muslim students."

Students also voted on and passed a motion in favour of the BDS movement, calling for a report on "the direct and indirect academic, economic, and corporate links Queen Mary and its affiliated institutions and companies have with organisations complicit in the Israeli regime".

It calls for divestment from companies identified in the report, and also demands that products sold in Israel, such as Coca-Cola, be removed from campus stores.

It demands that the SU "publicly reject[s] the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and hold companies that operate in these illegal territories accountable".

The impact on Jewish students at Queen Mary university was not mentioned in the text of either motion.

In a statement on Friday ahead of the votes on Monday, the Queen Mary Jewish and Israel Society said they were "deeply concerned and distressed" by the motions.

"We feel betrayed and let down by our Students' Union, who failed to notify us of these divisive motions which directly impact Jewish students.

"We believe that the BDS motion would foster unnecessary division and that it obstructs dialogue rather than promoting peace. We also believe that it would contribute to a hostile and uncomfortable environment for Jewish students at Queen Mary. The NUS disaffiliation motion disregards and ignores the lived experiences of Jewish and LGBTQ+ students, who have spoken out bravely about their experiences of homophobia and antisemitism both within NUS and at their own SUs.

"These motions come only a year after Jewish students were stripped of their right to define antisemitism which affects them deeply and heightens the vulnerability of Jewish students on campus. We will be fighting against both motions on Monday, and we encourage all students to stand in solidarity with us."

The impact of these motions on SU and university policy remains unclear. It is not yet known if the meetings were quorate, and nor is it clear whether a student referendum on NUS disaffiliation would need to take place.

The Queen Mary JSoc and the Union of Jewish Students, said in a statement today: "We are disappointed yet unsurprised by the motions passed last night at Queen Mary Students’ Union endorsing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and dismissing concerns about antisemitism and homophobia in the National Union of Students. This follows last year's annual student meeting in which Jewish students were denied the right to define antisemitism.

"At this year's meeting, no amendments to a highly contentious motion were allowed in spite of the repeated requests by Jewish students. It is vital that amidst a KC led investigation into antisemitism, Jewish students are free to express their experiences of antisemitism in the student movement.

"Jewish students at QMUL have been clear throughout the debate that these motions would lead to an environment on campus which is hostile for Jewish students, leading to division and preventing the very measures needed for peace. They now feel betrayed and let down by their Students' Union, with many Jewish students now feeling unsafe in their own Students' Union which shrugs its shoulders at the expense of Jewish students.

"This environment in which Jewish student experiences are ignored and silenced cannot go on. If any students need support they can reach out to Queen Mary JSoc or UJS at this time and always."

The Queen Mary Student Union and the National Union of Students have been approached for comment.

READ MORE: Sacked NUS president Shaima Dallali slams her firing as ‘unacceptable'

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