Rebecca Tuck KC has published her much-anticipated report, providing the clearest assessment of antisemitism at the National Union of Students (NUS) to date.
The report, which follows an investigation into which Campaign Against Antisemitism, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and others provided input, observes that NUS allowed the development of a “hostile environment” for Jewish students, with instances in which Jewish students were “subjected to harassment” likely to be in breach of the Equality Act 2010, in addition to NUS’s own code of conduct. It rightly recognises that there has been a “poor relationship” between NUS and Jewish students for a long time.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Rebecca Tuck KC’s report is exceptionally important in vindicating the experiences of Jewish students over many years, finding that NUS has created a ‘hostile environment’ for Jewish students. The Tuck Report draws heavily on CAA’s research and our extensive contributions to the investigation. It is scathing and clearly evidenced. It must become NUS’s roadmap.
“If the removal of Shaima Dallali as NUS President was an encouraging first step, this report is a second. We support the recommendations that the report proposes, which, if implemented, will help steer NUS down a better path.
“However, we have been here before: this is at least the third major report into NUS’s relations with Jewish students in twenty years, and, whatever their merits, those reports failed to overcome the personnel and institutional problems that have plagued NUS, with Jewish students bearing the impact. NUS must not only implement the Tuck Report’s specific recommendations but must introduce measures to monitor and assess progress. We will continue to help Jewish students, including by providing them with free legal representation, and hold NUS to account to ensure that the body that is meant to represent all students finally recognises that that includes Jews.”
Ms Tuck drew on Campaign Against Antisemitism’s input and past research, including our annual Antisemitism Barometer survey of the Jewish community.
The report recommends improvements in NUS’s record-keeping, elections, due diligence of candidates, and code of conduct complaints. It also calls for antisemitism training and the provision of educational materials,, and a governance review. Ms Tuck also advises improvements in discussions about Israel, including the inclusion of an “experienced facilitator” in such debates.
Importantly, the report also calls for the establishment of an advisory panel to ensure the implementation of the recommendations and for a survey of Jewish students to test that implementation, which were among the suggestions made to Ms Tuck by Campaign Against Antisemitism to ensure the durability of any recommendations that the report made. Indeed Ms Tuck observed how the recommendations of past reports relating to NUS have often not been implemented, a point that we stressed to her.
The announcement of Ms Tuck’s investigation in April came after Robert Halfon MP (then the Chair of the Education Select Committee) wrote together with Campaign Against Antisemitism to the Charity Commission calling for an investigation into the union’s charitable arm, which the Commission agreed to launch. The full dossier on NUS, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, can be read here.
In addition, over twenty former NUS Presidents wrote a letter expressing their “serious concerns about antisemitism”, and another letter, organised by UJS and signed by over 1,000 Jewish students and allies, called for NUS to launch an independent investigation.
Since the investigation was announced, Shaima Dallali, the President of NUS, has been removed from her position amidst allegations of antisemitism. This was the first time in the Union’s 100-year history that a President has been removed.
In a letter to Campaign Against Antisemitism, NUS confirmed that its own investigation — which is independent of Ms Tuck’s and is still ongoing — had “found that significant breaches of NUS’ policies have taken place” and that consequently “we have terminated the President’s contract.” Ms Dallali is still able to appeal this decision.
There have been numerous controversies involving NUS over the past twelve months. In one scandal, the rapper Kareem Dennis, known as Lowkey, was due to headline NUS’s centenary conference last month. After initially dismissing the concerns of Jewish students, who pointed out the rapper’s inflammatory record, the union came under media scrutiny and eventually Mr Dennis withdrew from the event. As the scandal erupted, Robert Halfon MP excoriated NUS for failing to send a representative to attend a hearing held by the Education Select Committee, which he chairs.
This scandal was immediately followed by the election of Shaima Dallali as NUS’s new President, despite her history of antisemitic tweets and other inflammatory social media posts. Ms Dallali was forced to apologise for tweeting the words of an antisemitic chant. In 2012, during an escalation of tensions between Israel and the antisemitic genocidal terrorist group Hamas, Ms Dallali tweeted the words “Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud.” Translated into English, this chant means “Jews, remember the battle of Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.” It is a classic Arabic battle cry referencing the massacre and expulsion of the Jews of the town of Khaybar in northwestern Arabia, now Saudi Arabia, in the year 628 CE.
These scandals come after decades of atrocious relations between NUS and Jewish students. Ms Tuck’s investigation is at least the third major such inquiry into NUS’s relations with Jewish students in the last twenty years.
If any students are concerned about antisemitism on campus or need assistance, they can call us on 0330 822 0321, or e-mail [email protected].