Following the revelation by LBC’s Theo Usherwood that the rapper Kareem Dennis, known as Lowkey, would be headlining the National Union of Students’ (NUS) centenary conference, Campaign Against Antisemitism and other Jewish groups expressed outrage that a union meant to represent all students, including Jews, would consider the inflammatory activist to be a suitable keynote speaker. NUS has now reportedly confirmed that Mr Dennis will not be appearing at the conference.
Mr Dennis is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). A month-long investigation by Campaign Against Antisemitism in 2017 exposed extensive antisemitic bigotry amongst PSC supporters on social media. Mr Dennis has previously described Israel as a “racist endeavour” in direct and deliberate contravention of the International Definition of Antisemitism, described Zionism as “antisemitic”, spoken of the “Zionist lobby” in the context of global capitalism, has reportedly backed the disgraced former Labour MP Chris Williamson, defended the disgraced academic David Miller, and has repeatedly supported the antisemite Jeremy Corbyn.
More recently, Mr Dennis has reportedly claimed that the “mainstream media” has “weaponised the Jewish heritage” of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to “stave off” inquiries about far-right groups in Ukraine. He has also appeared on the disgraced former MP Chris Williamson’s show on Press TV, an Iranian state-owned news network whose British broadcasting licence was revoked by Ofcom in 2012. Mr Dennis has appeared alongside the disgraced academic David Miller.
When Jewish students raised concerns about the choice of act for the union’s conference, NUS reportedly advised them that they could use an “existing safe space” which was to be “designated for students who are sensitive to loud noise” during Mr Dennis’ performance. In response to worries about how Jewish students would react if the performance went ahead, NUS reportedly replied that it was more concerned about the reaction from other students if it were cancelled.
However, after pressure, NUS insisted that Mr Dennis would only be headlining the “Liberation Conference”, due to run for two days immediately following the National Conference and intended to “bring together Black*, Disabled, LGBT+, Trans and Women Students together to build communities of activists and plan our campaigning work.” After further pressure, NUS has reportedly removed Ms Dennis from the programme completely.
The controversial Labour Party MP, Zarah Sultana, will still be appearing at NUS’s National Conference. Labour has yet to investigate an outstanding complaint against Ms Sultana by Campaign Against Antisemitism.
When Mr Dennis’ appearance was first publicised, Binyomin Gilbert, Programme Manager at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “NUS knows exactly what it is doing by headlining Lowkey. He has previously described Israel as a ‘racist endeavour’ in direct and deliberate contravention of the International Definition of Antisemitism, described Zionism as ‘antisemitic’, spoken of the ‘Zionist lobby’ in the context of global capitalism, reportedly backed the disgraced former Labour MP Chris Williamson and has repeatedly supported the antisemite Jeremy Corbyn as well as Jew-baiting conspiracists including David Miller.
“Headlining such a person is bad enough, but telling appalled Jews to go and stand in the corner whilst everyone else dances is segregationist and disgusting. Instead of showing solidarity with Jews, NUS is literally casting Jews aside. This is sickening hypocrisy from a union that proclaims itself to be ‘anti-racist’.”
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].