Trio apol­o­gise over so­cial me­dia posts

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

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.”

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