Zeid Truscott has been disqualified from standing as a candidate for the National Union of Students (NUS) Executive Council after complaints over antisemitic social media posts, including one claiming that Mossad trained the leader of ISIS.
Jules Mason, NUS Chief Returning Officer, tweeted a statement confirming: “As your Chief Returning Officer, I am responsible for ensuring that elections are not just fair, safe and accessible but with that they also follow the rules and abide with NUS rules and policy. As I mentioned in my accountability report yesterday, I have ruled on a complaint concerning antisemitism…Despite being informed of the potential of disqualification [Mr Truscott] has not complied with my ruling in respect to a complaint made about them concerning antisemitism whilst a candidate. As a result, I have disqualified that candidate from this year’s NUS NEC Block of 15 election.”
Mr Truscott has refused to apologise for reportedly sharing an article on Facebook claiming that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, was trained by Mossad.
Another post claimed that the International Definition of Antisemitism is “anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab.” Another message said that: “Some of the [definition’s] examples ([such as] Israel being a racist endeavour) aim to silence Arab lived experience and sideline oppression of Arabs.” He also allegedly tweeted: “Just your daily reminder that Israel is a racist, apartheid state. Founded on ‘divine right’ and created through terrorism and ethnic cleansing.”
A number of messages allegedly sent from his Facebook and Twitter accounts were uncovered by a Twitter user.
In a statement posted on social media, Mr Truscott, a University of Bath student, declined to apologise for the posts, instead saying that he rejected accusations of antisemitism. He wrote: “Since my involvement in the student movement, I have always tried to advocate for justice, liberation and amplifying the voices of the marginalised.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said that it is “deeply troubled” by “antisemitic” social media posts by Mr Truscott.
An NUS spokesman said that: “The National Union of Students believes that all forms of hate and prejudice are unacceptable. NUS will continue to engage with the Jewish students and the community to identify ways in which we can ensure our spaces are inclusive and accessible to all students.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism condemns Mr Truscott’s language and his refusal to back down. The International Definition of Antisemitism, which NUS has adopted, is clear that “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour)” is antisemitic, as are antisemitic conspiracy theories.
NUS still has a long way to go to repair its reputation with Jewish students, but Mr Truscott’s disqualification is a positive development and we commend Mr Mason for his principled decision.
Once a pioneer in fighting antisemitism, in past years NUS has been rocked by scandal, including under the leadership of the widely-criticised Malia Bouattia who called Birmingham University a “Zionist outpost in higher education” because it has “the largest JSoc (Jewish Society) in the country”. Campaign Against Antisemitism thanks Shakira Martin, the outgoing President, for her continued efforts to support Jewish students and rebuild relationships between NUS and the Jewish community.