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National Union of Students disgrace: President dismissed following antisemitism investigation

CW: antisemitism and the Holocaust

The National Union of Students (NUS) announced the dismissal of its president, Shaima Dallali today following an investigation into antisemitic comments.  

The accusations against Dallali are multiple and span several years. Aged 18, she tweeted “Khaybar Khaybar O Jews… Muhammad’s army will return”, invoking a massacre of Jews in 628 AD.

Whilst Dallali apologized for this tweet, saying she is now “a different person,” she offered no apology for later comments likewise deemed antisemitic.

In an article published in November 2018, she labelled cleric Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi “the moral compass for the Muslim community at large.” He is banned from Britain, America, France, and Germany for claiming that the Holocaust was a divine punishment against Jews and simultaneously exaggerated by Jews, and calling for another genocide.

In one discussion of the Holocaust, Al-Qaradawi commented: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption … The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them… Allah Willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.” Dallali refused to comment when asked by The Tab in 2022 if she endorsed his views.

Shaima Dallali’s dismissal marks the conclusion of her suspension since 24th August, when investigations started. The initial independent investigation into the allegations against Dallali was conducted by Rebecca Tuck KC. Dallali, a former president of the Students’ Union at City, University of London, was the first president in the 100-year history of the NUS to be suspended.

The NUS said in a statement that the investigation panel found “significant breaches of NUS’ policies.” It has since apologised “for the harm that has been caused.” It commented: “We hope to rebuild the NUS in an inclusive way – fighting for all students as we have done for the past 100 years.”

Meanwhile, Dallali tweeted in September: “I knew it would be difficult being a Black, Muslim woman in the public eye but the racist and Islamophobic abuse I have been subjected to and death threats I have received since becoming NUS president are not OK.”

She claims she has been “subjected to the most horrifying attacks on [her] character, [her] faith and [her] identity.”

Rebecca Tuck KC is also currently conducting an independent investigation into “whether NUS has done enough to make Jewish students feel welcome, included and safe in NUS spaces, activities, and in elected roles.” She is investigating claims of antisemitism and poor treatment of Jewish students by NUS from 2005 onwards.

In 2005, three Jewish members of the NUS executive resigned over a perceived failure by the NUS to address antisemitism on university campuses. A UJS stand was vandalised by anti-Israel activists as an NUS conference in 2012. The same year, a convenor position on the NUS Anti-Racism Anti-Fascism (ARAF) campaign, previously reserved for a Jewish student, was removed. In 2016, Zionists were labelled “sub-human rats” by one NUS delegate. A report in 2017 revealed 65% of Jewish students disagreed or strongly disagreed that they felt NUS would respond appropriately if allegations of antisemitism arose.

The government cut ties with the NUS in May in response to the longstanding accusations of antisemitism in the organisation.

In response to the president’s dismissal, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has released this statement:

“UJS respects the decision of the National Union of Students to dismiss their president. Antisemitism in the student movement goes beyond the actions of any one individual and this case is a symptom of a wider problem.

“Jewish students across the country will be asking how an individual deemed unfit for office by NUS was elected in the first place. We await the findings of the substantive inquiry into NUS’ treatment of Jewish students.”

Image credit: City SU

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