The National Union of Students president will not be punished by the organisation, despite being found to have made comments capable of being seen as anti-Semitic.
A two-month NUS inquiry launched to ascertain whether Bouattia is an anti-Semite found that Bouattia made comments that “could be reasonably capable of being interpreted as anti-Semitic”.
Yet the report, leaked to The Daily Telegraph, recommended that no disciplinary action be taken.
Instead, Professor Carol Baxter, the NHS’s former equality chief who authored the report, proposed that Bouattia should apologise to escape any further action.
Baxter wrote that Bouattia had been “genuine in expressing her regret”, had “considered the impact of what she says” and had denounced anti-Semitism.
She ruled: “in light of the above mitigating circumstances no further action should be taken within the NUS disciplinary process.”
Bouattia called Birmingham University a “Zionist outpost in higher education” because it has “the largest Jsoc [Jewish student society] in the country and railed against “Zionist-led media outlets”.
She defended Palestinian terrorism as “resistance” and voted against condemning ISIS.
Gideon Falter, chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “NUS has shown a disregard for Jewish students that is utterly shameful. This is the second time that Malia Bouattia has been found by an NUS inquiry to have made anti-Semitic remarks, yet NUS plans to do nothing about it.
“Instead of acting on the concerns of Jewish and non-Jewish student leaders whose allegations even this whitewash inquiry has partially accepted, NUS has disgraced itself further by charging that accusations of anti-Semitism against Malia Bouattia are simply a sexist, Islamophobic plot. Previously the problem lay squarely with Malia Bouattia, but this is the NUS’s last stand. If the board of NUS takes no action, then the problem is with NUS as a whole.”
When the Campaign Against Antisemitism and countless student leaders to retract called on Bouattia to retract her comments, she penned an article in The Guardian claiming her accusers were sexists and racists. She has since refused to confirm Israel has a right to even exist, and told an audience at the School of Oriental and African Studies that the government’s anti-terrorism strategy is led by “Zionist and neo-con lobbies”. Last July Bouattia drew further condemnation when she used her casting vote to strip Jewish students of their ability to elect their own representative.
Despite the report being issued to Bouattia several weeks ago, she has so far made no apology.
The Union of Jewish Students Campaign Director told Jewish News: “We have long been alarmed by the NUS President’s dismissal of Jewish students’ concerns, which include her comments at SOAS last February, but now that two separate investigations have found her past comments on Zionism to be antisemitic, it is deeply troubling that the decision was made to not take further action.”
We have already seen what the consequences of failing to tackle antisemitism properly are, as the recent decision by the Labour NEC has shown. The continued unwillingness to take the appropriate action against antisemitism has the potential to embolden those who engage in similar rhetoric and fails to provide Jewish students with the reassurance that NUS are seriously committed to tackling the issue.”
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