Larissa Kennedy, the outgoing President of the National Union of Students (NUS), has accused the Government of “jumping on the bandwagon” whilst discussing the antisemitism allegations against the Union, according to the Jewish News.
The comment was alleged to have been made during a Zoom meeting attended by 100 union officers in which recent antisemitism allegations and the subsequent investigation into NUS, in addition to the Government’s decision to cut ties with the NUS, was discussed.
Ms Kennedy was reported to have said: “I think our movement is capable of saying this needs to be dealt with seriously and that the government is jumping on the bandwagon in a bad faith way when their record on antisemitism and racism is so horrendous.
“Jewish students have been able to raise their voices, have been able to tell us what they want from us and we have been able to act accordingly. That is, if anything, the most important thing here. A lot has been drawn out by people who don’t necessarily know the facts.”
Last month, the Government reportedly demanded an investigation into the election of the new President of the National Union of Students (NUS) over an alleged failure to commit to the International Definition of Antisemitism.
According to the JC, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan wrote to Civica Election Services, which ran the recent election that was won by the controversial activist Shaima Dallali, despite her history of antisemitic tweets and other inflammatory social media posts. Prior to the election, Ms Dallali apologised for one such tweet, but later told The Guardian that it is “absolutely not true” that “I don’t like Jewish people,” nevertheless, “as a black Muslim woman, it [the allegation] is something that I expected.”
The move came just after the Government announced that it is sanctioning NUS, removing it from all official groups and committees and refusing to engage with it, which came following calls for such measures by Campaign Against Antisemitism and others in the Jewish community. Last month, for example, Robert Halfon MP wrote together with Campaign Against Antisemitism to the Charity Commission calling for an investigation into the union’s charitable arm. The full dossier on NUS, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, can be read here. The Government has now also added its voice to calls for an investigation by the Charity Commission. Campaign Against Antisemitism also made representations to the Government on the matter, including at a campus antisemitism summit organised by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi. In addition to Campaign Against Antisemitism, UJS, CST and others have also called for action.
The Government’s announcement came after a string of controversies surrounding NUS and its leadership, including over Jewish opposition to an appearance by the rapper Kareen Dennis, known as Lowkey, at NUS’s centenary conference. The outgoing NUS President, Larissa Kennedy, has now insisted that claims that she suggested that Jewish students who were uncomfortable with the performance could self-segregate in an area intended for those who do not like loud music are false.
After the numerous controversies, NUS announced that it was launching an independent investigation into antisemitism in the organisation, which would be at least the third in two decades after similar investigations in 2005 and 2017. NUS has now announced that the new investigation will be led by Rebecca Tuck QC.
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]