For over 40 years the Union of Jewish Students, has labelled critics of Israel ‘anti-Semites’ Last year it was Ken Loach today it is Shaima Dallali
The suspension of Shaima Dallali, by the National Union of Students, is a shameful and cowardly response to the attacks on a Black Muslim student leader by the apartheid supporting, Israeli funded Union of Jewish Students.
Faced with an attack on Shaima by the Conservative Government and the political establishment, for example the letter signed by 21 former NUS presidents, NUS simply caved in as Islamaphobic bigots like former Home Secretaries Jack Straw and Charles Clarke sought to oust Shaima.
After the ex-presidents’ letter, a letter in support of Dallali was circulated which called for there to be a simultaneous NUS investigations into Islamophobia and racism, as well as antisemitism. This was ignored.
Instead of setting up an ‘investigation’ into the bogus allegations, NUS should have gone on the offensive and called out the hypocrisy of a government that has demonised asylum seekers and is currently trying to send Black refugees (not white Ukrainians) to Rwanda whilst being concerned about ‘antisemitism’.
Former Conservative Education Minister, the corrupt Nadhim Zahawi, warned about allegations of “systemic antisemitism” within NUS, threatening that the government may sever links with them. According to the Guardian Zahawi’s intervention followed ‘concerns raised by the Union of Jewish Students’.
Even more absurdly, James Wharton, Chair of the Office for Students, England’s higher education regulator, also cut off contact with NUS for ‘anti-Semitism’ in the same week as he addressed a political conference in Hungary that attracted far-right and antisemitic speakers. Wharton publicly endorsed the re-election of the openly anti-Semitic Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister! But then there is ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘anti-Semitism’. Hatred of Jews is fine. Hatred of Israel and Zionism isn’t fine.
The pretext for the attack on Shaima was a tweet she made 10 years ago when 17. The comment read “Khaybar Khaybar O Jews … Muhammad’s army will return Gaza”, referencing an assault on Jews 1400 years ago. It is doubtful whether she even understood what this meant. Nonetheless Shaima has apologised for the tweet, saying she is not the same person she was then. That should be the end of it.
But of course for UJS an apology is merely grist to the Zionist mill because their concern is not anti-Semitism but her opposition to the fake IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and Zionism.
As Shaima observed, the Zionist backlash against her election was part of a pattern, first seen with Malia Bouattia, who in 2016 became the first black Muslim woman to become NUS President. Just as with Shaima UJS began a systematic campaign of denigration against someone who was an anti-Zionist. NUS, with all its ‘liberation strands’, has succumbed to an identity politics that equates the identity of privileged white racist Jewish students with that of a refugee like Malia and a Black Muslim Shaima. Shaima wrote:
“Unfortunately, as a black Muslim woman, it is something that I expected because I’ve seen it happen to other black Muslim women when they take up positions in the student union or the NUS, where they are attacked based on their political beliefs or their pro-Palestinian stance.”
She said she had received a lot of Islamaphobic, racist online abuse.
“I’ve had private messages of people calling me a raghead, people telling me to go and kill myself, calling me a Jew hater and an antisemite. That has been difficult to read.
“And so many threats as well – if I continue to do this then things will happen to me. I just try to delete, to block, I try not to let it get to my head. It’s something I receive every day and I’m continuing to receive. It’s affected me mentally and physically. Sometimes I don’t feel safe.”
As a result of the attacks by UJS and others Malia Bouattia also began getting the normal Zionist abuse, including death threats. This is the effect of UJS’s lying allegations. UJS is a threat to the safety of Black and Muslim students not them to Jewish students.
UJS are well aware of the effect that their scurrilous racist campaigns have and yet they never condemn it. Indeed it almost normal for Zionist campaigns like this to engender vile racist attacks. Only tonight in the second episode of Al Jazeera’s The Labour Files, we heard the voice of a Zionist in a phone message for Jenny Manson, Jewish Voice for Labour’s Chair, telling her he wishes that she die in a gas oven. I’ve had the same. Prick a Zionist and you will find an anti-Semite lurking below.
Malia Bouattia’s Response to UJS accusations of ‘antisemitism’
During the Zionist campaign against Malia, more than 50 heads of Jewish societies across the country wrote an open letter to her because of her anti-Zionism asking her to clarify her position on antisemitism, including comments in an article where she described the University of Birmingham – with its large Jewish society – as being “something of a Zionist outpost in British higher education”. This is only anti-Semitic if you conflate Zionism and being Jewish. Malia made it clear that:
I celebrate the ability of people and students of all backgrounds to get together and express their backgrounds and faith openly and positively, and will continue to do so
Despite its verbal opposition to ‘anti-Semitism’ UJS has never taken part in anti-fascist campaigns directed against genuine anti-Semites on the far-Right. When I was on the Executive of Anti-Fascist Action, UJS attacked AFA because it was seen as anti-Zionist. In the 70s with the Anti-Nazi League they did exactly the same.
The Board of Deputies was even worse. When the ANL was formed in 1977 the Board launched vehement attacks on it, not the National Front, because of the presence of anti-Zionists in it. Even Searchlight anti-fascist magazine, which under the late Maurice Ludmer was scrupulous in avoiding the question of Zionism, wrote in an editorial
In the face of mounting attacks against the Jewish community both ideologically and physically, we have the amazing sight of the Jewish Board of Deputies launching an attack on the Anti Nazi League with all the fervour of Kamikaze pilots… It was as though they were watching a time capsule rerun of the 1930’s, in the form of a flickering old movie, with a grim determination to repeat every mistake of that era. [Searchlight 41, November 1978].
Zionism begins where the fight against anti-Semitism ends. Zionism accepts the anti-Semitic argument that Jews don’t belong living among non-Jews. In 1895, during the Dreyfus Affair, the founder of Political Zionism, Theodor Herzl wrote in his Diaries that
In Paris… I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism.
The Zionist belief that Jews should ‘return’ to Palestine chimed in with what the anti-Semites demanded. In a speech by Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Avner to Conservative Friends of Israel at the 1983 Tory Party Conference, Zionism was described as a movement of ‘self-repatriation’. [JC 21.10.83]
Herzl understood this well when he wrote in his Diaries on June 12 1895:
The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.
Today it is anti-Semites, from Christian Zionists to Viktor Orban, Tommy Robinson and Steve Bannon who are the most ardent Zionists. As Israeli historian, Yigal Elam wrote:
Zionism did not consider anti-Semitism an abnormal, absurd, perverse or marginal phenomenon. Zionism considered anti-Semitism a fact of nature, a standard constant, the norm in the relationship of the non-Jews to the presence of Jews in their midst… a normal, almost rational reaction of the gentiles to the abnormal, absurd and perverse situation of the Jewish people in the Diaspora. [Zionism and its Scarecrows, Khamsin 6]
UJS has a long history of attacking anti-Zionists as ‘anti-Semitic’. UJS is not a Jewish but a Zionist organisation. It is not open to anti-Zionist Jews nor would they want to be members. Section 2.1.1. of UJS’s constitution commits the organisation to:
Creating meaningful Jewish campus experiences and inspiring Jewish students to make an enduring commitment to their Jewish identity, Israel, and the community.
When Shaima was elected as NUS President UJS got to work attacking her. In what was a repeat of the playbook tested out during the Corbyn era, UJS spoke of attacks on the Jewish community. And what were these attacks? Not supporting Israel.
Shaima is just one more victim of UJS’s witchhunting. Victims have included George Johannes of the ANC, Ken Loach, Professor David Miller, Shahd Abusalama of Sheffield Hallam University and Jewish opponents of Zionism, myself included, though most of their recent victims are Black and Palestinian students.
In my blog I described how in 1986 UJS attempted to stop me speaking at the London School of Economics by making false accusations of, yes you’ve guessed it, anti-Semitism! When LSE’s Labour Club investigated the allegations they were found wanting. The Labour Club were then accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘fascism’!
UJS is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation. The WZO is a funder and co-ordinator of the settlements in the West Bank. It even has a ‘land theft division’. Of this UJS says nothing. Indeed at no time has UJS ever criticised or condemned Israel for its flagrant breach of Palestinian human rights. Nothing perturbs it, be it torture of children, demolition of Palestine homes, imprisonment without trial. Its only concern is ‘anti-Semitism’, which it defines as opposition to Zionism.
If Jewish students in Britain were subject to a fraction of what Palestinian students face under occupation, including invasions of campuses, beatings, checkpoints and torture, then they would have just cause to complain of anti-Semitism. As it is we should treat members of UJS for what they are – spoilt White Jewish racists.
From Vetting in Practice
The Experiences of Emma Clyne
Emma become Chair of the Jewish society at SOAS in 2006-7 despite not being a Zionist. Emma described the ‘intense pressure’ from UJS:
Before she became the chair of the SOAS Jewish Society, she had found it was like an Israel Society…. She took over the chair on condition that there was to be a clear distinction between the Jewish Society and the Israel Society. This led to a furious reaction from UJS which told her: “That’s not what the Jewish Society does. You can’t separate Israeli politics from Jewish identity. It is all the same.”
The antagonism reached a peak after she went to the launch of Independent Jewish Voices in 2007 and found the speakers “honest articulate and inspirational.” When she invited some of the speakers [like Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC] to a meeting at SOAS to discuss “the impact of nationalism on Jewish identity” the pressure on her increased, and she was told that UJS and the Israeli Embassy were very concerned about the meeting.
In an article for the Guardian’s Comment is Free [before anti-Zionists were banned] I described what happened next:
According to… Emma Clyne, posters for a meeting the society put on were repeatedly torn down. Ms Clyne told a meeting of Independent Jewish Voices on May 15 that she had to put new ones up every day.
A clue as to the reason for its silence might lie in an article in the Jewish Chronicle of April 27 (“Students in censorship row over IJV debate”).
From Vetting in Practice
The then Chair of UJS, Mitch Simmons, stated
‘”It is the view of the UJS that certain views are not acceptable under free speech.”
Imagine if a White South African student group had described certain views opposing Apartheid as ‘not acceptable’. Yet NUS Executive has granted UJS their wishes. All of course under the guise of defending poor Jewish students who are too fragile to withstand criticism of their favourite racist state.
In Vetting in Practice I described UJS as
“an organisation whose primary purpose is defence of Israel, right or wrong. It has consistently sought to portray opponents, especially Jewish anti-Zionists, as anti-semites. That is why it receives, according to the Jewish Chronicle (May 11) hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Silencing opponents of Zionism and supporters of the Palestinians is its stock-in-trade. I have personally spoken on most major university campuses in Britain and I cannot remember an occasion when the UJS didn’t try to prevent the meeting going ahead.
Another target of UJS was the veteran left-wing film-maker, Ken Loach. He was invited by his alma mater, St. Peter’s College, Oxford to speak. All hell broke out and UJS was at the centre of this McCarthyist witchhunt. Loach was accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ although no one seemed able to produce a single statement of his that was anti-Semitic.
Oxford J-Soc tweeted:
“Oxford University Jewish Society is deeply disappointed by the decision of Professor Judith Buchanan, Master of St Peter’s College, to host an event with filmmaker Ken Loach. On numerous occasions, Loach has made remarks that are antisemitic under the IHRA definition,
Calling Israel a racist state, or saying you don’t believe in a Jewish state or comparing Zionism to Nazism is ‘anti-Semitic’ under the IHRA. That’s why the Zionists fought so hard to have it adopted. The IHRA conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. Its sole concern is with anti-Zionism not the genuine anti-Semitism of the far-Right.
UJS issued a statement along similar lines:
St Peter’s College, University of Oxford, should not be platforming a person who has repeatedly been accused of and has been an apologist for antisemitism.
Strangely enough neither group quoted what Loach had actually said. For UJS it’s enough to be accused of anti-Semitism to be guilty. And what does an ‘apologist for anti-Semitism’ mean? Again no quotes.
The President of the Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl issued a statement telling Professor Judith Buchanan, Master of St Peter’s College that
‘the decision to invite him [Loach] to speak at the college [was] ‘entirely unacceptable’ and calling for the event to be cancelled. That an Oxford college would not conduct its due diligence and allow Ken Loach to address students is entirely unacceptable. Higher education institutions have a duty of care to their students
Let us dissect that. By inviting Ken Loach, an 85 year old man, to address a group of students these poor Jewish snowflakes might suffer irreparable harm! It’s as if words don’t mean anything to these died-in-the-wool racists.
What was Ken Loach’s real offence? That he produced the play Perdition 35 years ago. The play was a fictional account of the Kasztner trial in Israel which the Zionists never refer to today.
Kasztner was the leader of Hungarian Zionism. The Jerusalem District Court upheld the allegations of collaboration against him. In the words of Judge Benjamin Halevi, Kasztner ‘sold his soul to Satan.’ Although the conviction was overturned 4-1 by the Supreme Court this was patently political and used dubious legal technicalities.
In fact on one charge of collaboration, giving testimony at Nuremberg in support of a Nazi war criminal, Kurt Becher, the allegation of collaboration was upheld by the Supreme Court. The Court didn’t know that Kasztner had also given testimony in support of Eichmann’s deputy, Hermann Krumey and another mass murderer Dieter Wisliceny. Krumey lived out his life in Germany, until Rudolf Vrba gave evidence against him. Wisliceny was executed by the Czechs. See “Anti-Semitism” accusations used in attempt to prevent Ken Loach speaking at Oxford University
The Kasztner trial is covered in my forthcoming book Zionism During the Holocaust. Kasztner made an agreement with Eichmann for 600, increased to 1,684, of the Zionist and Jewish elite escaping deportation in a train out of Hungary. In return Kasztner suppressed the Auschwitz Protocols, which 2 escapees from Auschwitz, Vrba and Wetzler had written exposing Auschwitz as an extermination camp.
The result was that Hungarian Jewry were kept in the dark as to where they were being ‘resettled’ and were told by Kasztner’s Zionist friends, that they were merely being taken to a safer place in Hungary.
It is to be hoped that after the investigation concludes that NUS will defend its President Shaima Dallali against any further attacks by racists, UJS included.