Trio apologise over social media posts
THE UNION of Jewish Students called for several candidates in the National Union of Students’ elections to drop out after they were found to have made or shared abusive posts about Jews on social media.
Sean O’Neill, who was running for a place on the NUS National Executive Council and described himself in his campaign literature as a former “treasurer of the Oxford Students’ Palestine Society”, tweeted a comment in 2012 which included the hashtags #heilhitler and #f**kslutskilljews.
Noorulann Shahid, the NUS’s current LGBT+ officer, tweeted a video called “Black and Jewish”, also in 2012.
It showed two black women dressing up in traditional Jewish clothing and singing lines including “my ass and nose, they’re both big” and “don’t spend no money but you know I’m rich”.
Ali Milani, the former head of Brunel University student union who was elected as an NUS vice-president at this week’s conference, was condemned earlier this month after he was found to have made antisemitic and anti-Israel comments on social media in 2012 and 2013.
In 2012, he posted a message which read: “Nah u won’t mate it will cost you a pound #jew”, a slur suggesting Jews are miserly.
He also sent messages stating that “Israel has no right to exist” and that “Israel is a land built on ethnic cleansing and colonialism. Oppression is something your people should know about”.
On another occasion, he wrote: “So lecturer asks the class today ‘nobody in this room would ever want to go to war right?’ My hand rises. ‘Who?’ Me: ‘Israel’.”
Mr Milani said he apologised unreservedly. The comments “do not reflect how I see the world today. These tweets are from an incredibly long time ago — when I was 16 to 17 years old.”
He added that the antisemitic language
Ali Milani he had used was “unacceptable. I know that now. Education taught me that.”
Noorulann Shahid admitted the posts had been unacceptable, saying: “I sincerely and unreservedly apologise to Jewish students. I wrote the tweets a long time ago when I had a limited amount of political education and understanding, and I’d never make such comments again.
“I am particularly ashamed for sharing the parody video which perpetuates antisemitic stereotypes and I cannot apologise enough for doing this”.
Mr O’Neill was quoted by the Independent as saying: “I was absolutely horrified to see this tweet. It flies in the face of my commitment to antifascism and anti-sexism.
“It was five years ago, and I have no recollection of writing it. I can only assume it was an incredibly distasteful inside joke, or a reference to something someone else said the night before.
“I wholly, unreservedly apologise.” Josh Nagli, campaigns director for UJS, said the union was “appalled by these absolutely disgraceful posts, all of which are extremely offensive to Jewish students”.
He added that the comments showed “complete disregard for the welfare of Jewish students, as well as for the anti-racist, anti-fascist values that NUS and many of these individuals claim to uphold — particularly when those comments invoke the memory of the Holocaust.
“It is only two weeks since NUS research revealed a large proportion of Jewish students’ lack of faith in NUS effectively tackling antisemitism; whilst several opportunities for the student movement to show its resolve in tackling antisemitism have passed unfulfilled, these candidates should do the right thing now and step down from their elections.”
A spokesperson for the NUS said the union was committed to tackling all forms of racism. “We have a proud history of doing so and we are in the process of developing a Race Equity Plan to tackle all forms of racism in the students’ movement.”