National Union of Students (NUS) Vice-President Richard Brooks has reportedly been exposed plotting against NUS President Malia Bouattia in secret footage taken by an undercover Al-Jazeera reporter.
According to a report by Middle East Eye (MEE), the footage further reveals collusion with Israeli Embassy officials and prominent figures in the Jewish and Labour student movements in order to oust a President routinely accused of anti-semitism.
The undercover Al-Jazeera reporter—known only as Robin—was apparently introduced to Richard Brooks by Shai Mascot, an Israeli diplomat who in hidden camera footage released earlier in the week boasted of having set up pro-Israel pressure groups in the UK.
Mascot spoke of his desire to “take down” MPs hostile to Israeli interests.
Brooks, believing the undercover journalist to be the Chairman of Young Labour Friends of Israel, is reported to have admitted to organising the anti-Malia faction and to have told Robin “drop me a line whenever you want to have a conversation” when asked how to get in touch with figures supporting her removal.
He is also said to have made reference to a network of NUS figures actively supporting Malia’s removal: “[If] you want to speak with someone in a certain geographical area, I’ll point you at the right people.”
The report further claims that Brooks admits to taking a trip to Israel funded by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) along with Rob Young, another NUS Vice President.
Neither declared the trip to the NUS national executive council, which most likely would have violated the body’s 2014 vote to affiliate with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
The hidden camera footage reportedly also features Michael Rubin, the Parliamentary Officer for Labour Friends of Israel and a former chair of Labour Students, who ran Megan Dunn’s unsuccessful campaign against Bouattia for NUS President.
In scenes filmed outside a London pub Rubin allegedly boasts that he and Mascot “work really closely together… but a lot of it is behind the scenes”.
MEE claim that Rubin and Russell Langer, campaigns director for the UJS and a recipient of Israeli funding, met secretly with Brooks during the run up to the 2016 NUS Presidential elections.
NUS Women’s Officer Hareem Ghani commented on Twitter: “I’ve never been so disappointed work for this organisation… [Malia Bouattia] has been hospitalised over 5 times this year. She has had to deal with endless amounts of racism, xenophobia and sexism… And to top it all off, we have NUS officers colluding with foreign governments to bring her down. This is unreal.”
Noorulann Shahid, NUS LGBT Officer, wrote: “And now we have concrete evidence that the campaign to oust Malia Bouattia was orchestrated by 2 of her vice presidents and the Israeli govt… Sadly, I am neither shocked nor surprised by the news but I am disgusted… Since I’ve been involved in NUS, and especially in 2015, I’ve seen how violently people retaliate to students of colour being successful.”
After her election as NUS President in 2016 Malia Bouattia was criticised as anti-semitic and labelled an “outright racist” by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
This in part was thanks to her characterisation of an NUS motion opposing ISIS as ‘islamophobic’, her description of Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost in higher education” and repeated references to “mainstream Zionist-led media outlets”.
This prompted a mass disaffiliation campaign, as a result of which Newcastle, Lincoln and Hull voted to leave the NUS.
After a closely fought campaign Oxford chose to remain as a member, with a total of 57 per cent of the 6,000 students who voted opposing disaffiliation.
The NUS, UJS, Richard Brooks and Malia Bouattia have all been contacted for comment.