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November 3, 2022 2:01 pm
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UK National Union of Students Fires President After Antisemitism Investigation

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Shaima Dallali. Photo: Twitter.

The National Union of Students (NUS), which represents over seven million university students in the UK, removed president Shaima Dallali from office on Monday after finding that she is guilty of antisemitism and other misconduct.

“Following the independent KC-led investigation of antisemitism, specifically into the then-President Elect under the NUS Code of Conduct, an independent panel has found that significant breaches of NUS’ policies have taken place. As per this finding, we have terminated the president’s contract,” NUS said in a statement.

In announcing the decision, the first in the organization’s 100 year history, NUS apologized for “the harm that has been caused” and pledged to “rebuild the NUS in an inclusive way — fighting for all students as we have done for the past 100 years.” An internal investigation of antisemitism in the organization began in April and is ongoing.

On Wednesday, Dallali, who has been suspended from NUS since September, announced through an attorney that she may sue the organization for discrimination.

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“Ms. Dallali rejects the findings of the disciplinary panel, as she rejected the allegations about her that were investigated in the context of those investigations,” said a press release by Carter-Ruck Solicitors, a law firm based in London. “She considers the process to have constituted — and that it continues to constitute — discriminatory treatment of her as a black Muslim woman and her beliefs concerning the plight of the Palestinian people.”

Dallali’s tenure at NUS has teemed with controversy ever since Jewish student rights groups discovered 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.

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.

On Monday, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), which has led efforts to purge NUS of antisemitism, called for a wider examination of the organization’s culture.

“UJS respects the decision of the National Union of Students to dismiss their president. Antisemitism in the student movement goes beyond the actions of any one individual and this case is a symptom of a wider problem,” the group said.  “Jewish students across the country will be asking how an individual deemed unfit for office by NUS was elected in the first place. We await the findings of the substantive inquiry into NUS’ treatment of Jewish students.”

In May, former UK higher education minister, MP Michelle Donelan, announced that the government would “temporarily disengage” from NUS and cut its funding to address accusations that widespread antisemitism has persisted in the organization for decades.

The announcement followed several controversies that reinforced a perception that the union intentionally outrages Jewish students, including an incident in May in which NUS 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 Donelan to charge that NUS has “antisemitic rot at its heart.”

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