Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, has today written to the Charity Commission calling together with Campaign Against Antisemitism for a statutory inquiry into the National Union of Students (NUS).
In his letter, Mr Halfon wrote to “voice my dismay at the actions and behaviour of the National Union of Students and its trustees, in regards to their treatment of Jewish students and the Jewish community’s concerns regarding antisemitism. Together with Campaign Against Antisemitism…I politely request that the Commission launch a Section 46 inquiry, pursuant to the 2011 Charities Act into the NUS and look forward to receiving your response.”
Mr Halfon enclosed a dossier of evidence by Campaign Against Antisemitism detailing how NUS has failed Jewish students. He wrote that he is “particularly concerned about the enclosed dossier of antisemitic events that have taken place within the NUS over the past several years — and which come following decades of concerning trends — which was prepared by CAA.”
The full dossier on NUS, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, can be read below.
Mr Halfon made particular reference in his letter to the recent scandal involving the rapper Kareem Dennis, known as Lowkey, who 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, Mr Halfon excoriated NUS for failing to send a representative to attend a hearing held by his committee.
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. Prior to the election, she apologised for one such tweet.
As the dossier produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism observes, “Despite [its] ostensible and much-vaunted commitment to anti-racism, NUS has a long record of controversy in relation to Jewish students and antisemitism, dating back decades.
The dossier notes that antisemitism on campus has surged to record levels, with CST recording a 191% increase in antisemitic incidents on campus in 2021, and that Campaign Against Antisemitism’s latest Antisemitism Barometer found that an overwhelming 92% of British Jews believe that antisemitism in universities is a problem.
“NUS’s blind spot when it comes to inclusion of Jewish students and openness to their concerns is significant, giving rise not only to a failure of representation but also to a toleration of hostility to the needs of Jewish students within NUS and even instances of outright antisemitism. The result is tangible harm to Jewish students,” the dossier explains. “As an organisation, NUS is failing in its objective to represent and advocate for all students, and, as a charity, it is failing to act for the benefit of the public.”
Binyomin Gilbert, Programme Manager at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Shaima Dallali’s election as NUS President only a week after the Lowkey scandal is the last straw. It follows decades of similar indications that this union does not even aspire to represent Jewish students. At a time of surging racism against Jews on campus and almost universal concern in the Jewish community about antisemitism in universities, we are grateful to Robert Halfon for referring NUS to the Charity Commission for a statutory inquiry on the strength of our dossier of evidence. NUS must now answer for failing to represent Jewish students and failing to live up to its legal commitment to act for the public benefit.”
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].