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September 5, 2022 10:44 am
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UK Student Body Suspends President Accused of Antisemitism

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Palace of Westminster, c. 2015. Photo: Carlos Cunha/Wikimedia Commons.

National Union of Students (NUS), a representative student body for UK university students, has suspended president Shaima Dallali, the first time such an action has been taken in its hundred year history over antisemitism allegations, a UK outlet reported on Sunday.

The decision to sack Dallali, which comes amid an investigation of accusations of antisemitism made against NUS, is not an official disciplinary sanction, Jewish News reported. It also follows the UK government’s cutting ties with NUS and discontinuing its funding in May.

On Sunday, NUS told Jewish News that is “prepared” to comply with any further measures recommended by Queens Counsel officials leading the investigation of its treatment of Jewish students. It declined to comment on Dallali’s suspension.

Dallali’s tenure at NUS has been rife with controversy ever since Jewish student rights groups unearthed tweets in which she called Hamas critics “Dirty Zionists” and quoted the battle cry, “Khaybar, Khaybar o Jews, the army of Muhammad will return,” a reference to the Battle of Khaybar in 628 that resulted in a massacre of Jews.

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Dallali has also praised the extremist Islamic preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who supports Palestinian suicide bombers and is banned from visiting four western countries and regarded as a terrorist by several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.

Calls for an investigation of NUS reached a high point in May, when it hired an antisemitic rapper to perform at its centennial event and told Jewish students to self-segregate during his performance if they found him offensive. The incident prompted former education minister Michelle Donelan to accuse it of having “antisemitic rot at its heart.”

On Sunday, Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) told The Jewish Chronicle that Dallali’s suspension is a “promising first step” towards reforming the union, which represents over seven million English students.

“We hope that this suspension represents the first acknowledgement by NUS of how dreadful its relations with Jewish students have become and augurs real change at the union — but it is too early to tell,” CAA said. “We will continue to ensure that NUS is held to account for its record and is supported if it shows, for the first time, a real good faith effort to reform.”

Dallali’s supporters contend that she is a victim of Islamophobia. In a statement issued before her suspension was announced, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies called on Muslim students to disaffiliate with NUS unless it pledges to “uphold its duty of care towards Muslim and Black students.”

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