Palestine societies at 23 unis are ‘outraged’ by the ‘harassment’ of the new NUS president

They’ve written a joint statement demanding the NUS drops an investigation into Shaima Dallali

Palestine societies at 23 universities have penned a joint statement expressing their “outrage” at what they term the ongoing “smear campaign and harassment” of the incoming National Union of Students (NUS) president.

Shaima Dallali has been subject to claims of antisemitism largely focussed on a tweet she wrote ten years ago that referenced a massacre of Jewish people.

Last month, the Union of Jewish (UJS) accused Dallali of “attacking the Jewish community,” while a group of former NUS presidents wrote a letter calling on the union to investigate the claims.

Following this building pressure, an independent investigation was launched by the NUS, and welcomed by Dallali, who has also apologised for the historical tweet.

Now, 23 Palestine societies at university campuses across the UK have spoken out, demanding the NUS drops its investigation.

‘The smear campaign and harassment of Shaima Dallali’

The statement from the Palestine societies reads: “We reject the smear campaign and harassment of Shaima Dallali and wish to make it clear that Shaima, as a dedicated and committed anti-racist organiser, has our full confidence to fulfil her duties as NUS President.”

The societies have described the collective call for an investigation from former NUS presidents, MPs and the UJS as “a blatant interference with the NUS’ democratic and internal processes.”

They believe that the former NUS presidents’ letter was “motivated by alternative political motivations and not a genuine concern for students who face discrimination.”

‘The NUS has failed to ‘openly resist false claims of antisemitism’

The Palestine societies also argue that an open letter sent by the UJS calling for the investigation of Dallali contained forged signatures and wrongly claimed to represent the interests of the entire Jewish student community.

The letter from the Palestine societies reads: “Quite simply, the UJS’ position to promote Zionism and claim to oppose racism is an untenable stance.”

In response, a spokesperson for the Union of Jewish Students said: “Jewish students have raised important concerns about racism and inclusion and it is vital that NUS takes this matter seriously to ensure it is an inclusive space for all students.

“It is disappointing that some groups refuse to acknowledge the hurt Jewish students have felt, and instead suggest ulterior motives.”

The list of  the university Palestine societies that have signed the statement

The Palestine societies also take issue with the use of the IHRA definition of antisemitism to deal with such an investigation as that faced by Dallali.

“The IHRA definition is deeply problematic,” the letter reads. “It conflates Zionism with Judaism, and purposefully, suppresses any condemnation of Israeli Apartheid or an ability for Palestinians to even speak on their own experiences without being falsely labelled as racist.”

According to the Palestine societies, the NUS has failed to “openly resist false claims of antisemitism which have disproportionately targeted black and brown students.”

‘We call for student societies to join us in demanding the NUS immediately drop their investigation’

The letter concludes: “We have ultimately lost faith in the NUS’ ability to protect students who stand against Israeli Apartheid and believe that as students, we must seriously consider how realistic it is to understand the NUS as our supposed political home.

“We believe firmly in tackling all forms of discrimination and racism through a united front and call all student societies to support us in challenging an increased dependence on a culture of investigations and surveillance.

“Just as we will unapologetically continue to call for the freedom of Palestine, we call for student societies to join us in demanding the NUS to immediately drop their investigation.”

NUS ‘There can be no place for antisemitism within the student movement’

A spokesperson for the National Union of Students said: “There can be no place for antisemitism within the student movement. We are listening to the concerns being raised and we’re very concerned about the pain and hurt being expressed.

“We will take any and all actions that are needed to remedy any wrongdoing and rebuild trust with Jewish students as well as our Members, partners and stakeholders.”

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• Jewish students slam incoming NUS president for ‘attacking the Jewish community’