NUS candidates accused of Anti-Semitism

The latest in a string of accusations

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The Independent has found evidence that three prominent candidates for the NUS Executive have made vile antisemitic comments in the past.

These candidates have all posted anti-Semitic remarks on Twitter and although they subsequently apologised, the content is particularly damning. One candidate shared a parody video entitled “Black and Jewish” which stereotypes Jews as big-nosed materialistic misers.

Another posted a series of vitriolic tweets mocking the state of Israel, while Oxford student Sean O’Neill had the temerity to tweet “#fuckslutskillsjews”

Ali Milani released a stream of vitriol via Twitter

Ali Milani is running to become Vice President of Union Development, yet in 2012 and 2013 he tweeted that Israel is “a land built on colonialism and oppression” and threatened Zionist students by writing: “Just heard someone say ‘Palestine. It’s what they used to call Israel’. Is a punch in the throat justified?” He has since apologised for the remarks, saying that “they do not reflect how I see the world today” and that his “political education” had made him change his mind.

Sean O’Neill’s utterly astounding tweet

Oxford student Sean O’Neill claimed he had “no recollection” of tweeting two extremely offensive hashtags: “#HeilHitler” and “#fuckslutskilljews”. Indeed, he dismissed them as an “inside joke” or “a reference to something someone said the night before.” He also stated that he was “horrified to read these tweets.”

Apparently Jewish stereotypes make you ‘LOL’

Incumbent NUS LGBT+ Officer Noorulann Shahid (they/them) caused controversy after tweeting that they “laughed out loud” at a parody video entitled “Black and Jewish” which employs several stereotypes about not only Jews but also African Americans. She expressed deep regret for this tweet and said that she is “committed to unlearning all types of offensive and oppressive language.”

All of the candidates belong to Malia Bouattia’s left bloc, which has consistently stated that they are against all hate crimes and microaggressions and that they are working to eliminate anti-Semitism on campus.

Bouattia, who is running for a second term as NUS President is no stranger to accusations of anti-Semitism. She was instrumental in a performance of overtly anti-Semitic play “Seven Jewish Children” while studying at the University of York. She glibly claimed that the play was “powerful” and “very relevant” while the Jewish Chronicle accused the play of repeating the age-old myth that Jews habitually kill the innocent, particularly children.

Caryl Churchill’s play was identified as anti-Semitic by the Jewish Chronicle

Jewish students have expressed outrage at these comments. Josh Nagli, current campaigns director of the Union of Jewish Students stated: “I am appalled by these absolutely disgraceful comments, all of which are extremely offensive to Jewish students.” He continued that: “The regularity of anti-Semitic comments being made by candidates is exceptionally worrisome and shows complete disregard for the welfare of Jewish students.”

Speaking on behalf of Cambridge Jewish Society, JSOC external officer Daniel Ohrenstein told the Tab: “Cambridge University Jewish Society wishes to express its deep concern over anti-Semitic comments made by leading figures in the National Union of Students. Jewish students’ confidence in the NUS’ ability to protect their rights as an ethnic minority, having already decayed after previous repulsive remarks made by current president Malia Bouattia, has been further slashed by the recent allegations.”

“Coming only two weeks after an NUS report revealed that Jewish students lack confidence in the NUS’ ability to tackle anti-Semitism, it is becoming ever-clearer that the NUS leadership is fostering a wilful tolerance towards this kind of offensive rhetoric, including vile stereotypes about Jewish people. The fact that these allegations have arisen on Holocaust Memorial Day only adds to hurt and insult caused by the comments. Given that the individuals involved are currently running for leadership positions within the NUS, we particularly hope that Cambridge’s delegates will fight for concrete action against anti-Semitism both within the NUS and in the wider student community.

This is yet another accusation of anti-Semitism against the beleaguered NUS which has recently fought off various disaffiliation attempts. Jewish students should not be afraid to speak on their own campuses. The NUS exists to fight against the oppression of students.

It is extremely troubling that the NUS is so consistently accused of being institutionally anti-Semitic.