GB: the federal government questions the election of a pupil union chief

The UK government this week called for an inquiry into the election of the president of the country’s largest student body, claiming her victory could be overturned due to her failure to recognize the definition required by the International Holocaust Remembrance. .

The president of the United Kingdom’s National Union of Students (NUS), Shaima Dallali, has already been criticized for a number of anti-Israeli and allegedly anti-Semitic remarks she allegedly made.

She was involved in a campaign to defeat the adoption of the IHRA definition in a referendum held on the issue while studying at City University London in March 2021.

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According to Jewish ChronicleDallali “liked” social media posts from City Friends of Palestine, an association she founded, which called for the rejection of the IHRA definition.

The referendum then rejected the adoption of the definition by a two-thirds majority.

When the Jewish Chronicle Asked if she supports the IHRA definition, Dallali said she is “committed to creating a NUS open to all students… a community that does not know and opposes any form of discrimination or injustice.”

“My commitment to anti-racism has not changed,” he added.

According to chroniclesUK Universities Minister Michelle Donelan wrote to Civica Election Services, the body that oversaw Dallali’s election, demanding an investigation into allegations that the new president violated the ‘fundamental rules’ of the NUS because of his opposition. the definition.

Nadhim Zahawi, Britain’s Secretary of State for Education, left, with Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Education, leave 10 Downing Street in London, Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

The report says the NUS rules state that all candidates for union positions “must commit to combating racism … and anti-Semitism as defined by the IHRA.”

However, a Civica spokesperson told Jewish Chronicle that the request for an investigation had already been rejected.

“The issue raised by the Ministry of Education was the subject of a complaint which was appealed in our capacity as Chief Elector and on which we have decided accordingly. No further investigation is ongoing,” the organization said.

Ministry of Education officials are exploring other ways to take the case forward.

The IHRA’s working definition was adopted in 2016 and describes various forms of anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial and rejection of Jewish self-determination. She remains controversial for including certain forms of anti-Israel speech among her examples of anti-Semitism.

This definition has been adopted by the main British political parties and around 300 different educational establishments.

A London bus stop emblazoned with an ‘Israel is a racist project’ poster, put up by a pro-Palestinian group to protest the UK Labor Party’s adoption of the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, 6 September 2018. (Credit: Twitter)

heading to the Jewish Chronicleformer Home and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who was also a former president of the NUS, blamed Dallali for his lack of “explicit commitment against anti-Semitism” and feared that the future of the NUS is “seriously threatened.”

Last week, UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawai announced that the UK government was suspending funding and disassociating itself from the NUS.

Zahawai defended the government’s decision, saying:

“Jewish students need to trust that this is an organization that represents them, and we need to make sure that the student organizations we engage with speak fairly on behalf of all students, which is why we are disassociating ourselves from the NUS until that the problems are solved”.

The organization has a long history of accusations of anti-Semitic comments and the exclusion of Jews from union activities.

After Dallali was elected, the Jewish Students Union brought to light several anti-Israeli and allegedly anti-Semitic comments that she allegedly made, including a message posted 10 years ago that read: “Khaybar Khaybar O Jews… L’Army of Muhammad will return to Gaza’, in reference to the Battle of Khaybar in 628 CE, in which Muslim troops allegedly attacked native Jews in the city of Khaybar. Dallali has since apologized for the post on social media.

Jewish students also expressed concern after rapper Lowkey was invited to a NUS event after he said in an online interview that the media had “instrumentalized the Jewish heritage of the [président ukrainien] Zelensky” to ignore alleged far-right activity in Ukraine.

When the Jewish Students Union met with the NUS about the event planned for March, the latter said that if appearance was problematic, they could stay in a “safe space” designated for those sensitive to noise. for the Guardian. Lowkey ended up canceling his participation in the event.

In April, more than 20 former presidents of the NUS sent a letter to the organization’s administrators, urging them to respond to accusations of anti-Semitism, according to the newspaper. Guardian.

The NUS is a confederal association of around 600 student unions, representing over seven million students.

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