A prominent Tory MP has referred the National Union of Students to the Charity Commission for alleged anti-Semitism.
Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, wrote to the commission to express his “dismay” at the behavior of the NUS “in relation to their treatment of Jewish students and the concerns of the Jewish community about anti-Semitism.”
Higher Education Minister Michelle Donelan said last week that she was considering reporting NUS to the commission, and that the government could suspend engagement with the union over the allegations.
In March, Jewish students said they had been “rejected” by NUS after controversial rapper Lowkey was asked to appear at a union centenary event.
The musician previously voiced his support for former Labor MP Chris Williamson, who was suspended from the party in 2019 over allegations of anti-Semitism, and said the media had ‘armed the Jewish heritage of (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky”.
Jewish students have also raised concerns about newly elected NUS President Shaima Dallali’s comments on social media.
In 2012, she wrote, “Khaybar Khaybar O Jews… Muhammad’s army will return #Gaza,” referring to a massacre of Jews in 628. She has since apologized for the post.
Mr. Halfon wrote: “We live in a time when anti-Semitism is at record levels at home and abroad.
“University students can be seen as a particularly vulnerable group of people in this context, given their age and the fact that many of them are living away from home for the first time.”
He added that he was “particularly concerned” about anti-Semitic events that had taken place through the NUS, such as the invitation to Lowkey, real name Kareem Dennis.
Mr Halfon said if Lowkey pulled out of the event, ‘it wasn’t until NUS told Jewish students they could pull out of the event and find a ‘safe space’. existing for students who don’t like noise during Lowkey’s performance.” .
Mr. Halfon said that instead of advancing its goals of good citizenship, equality and diversity, NUS had “allowed a culture of discrimination and harassment against Jewish students to grow to the point where they suggested to Jewish students to separate from an event – the very opposite of inclusion”.
He included a dossier of evidence in the letter compiled by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which co-signed the letter.
The filing read: “Despite (its) ostensible and much-vaunted commitment to anti-racism, NUS has a long record of controversy regarding Jewish students and anti-Semitism, stretching back decades.”
The filing also highlights that anti-Semitism on campus has reached record levels, with the Community Security Trust recording a 191% increase in incidents last year.
“NUS’s blind spot in terms of including Jewish students and being open to their concerns is significant, resulting in not only a failure of representation but also a tolerance of hostility to the needs of Jewish students. within NUS and even to instances of outright anti-Semitism,” it said.
“The result is tangible harm to Jewish students.”
Binyomin Gilbert, Program Officer at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “The election of Shaima Dallali as NUS President just a week after the Lowkey scandal is the last straw.
“This follows decades of similar indications that this union does not even aspire to represent Jewish students.”