Report: National Union of Students has failed to protect Jews for 17 years

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Report: National Union of Students has failed to protect Jews for 17 years

The damning 108-page investigation, by KC Rebecca Tuck, concludes that the NUS encouraged a “hostile environment” and committed key breaches of the Equality Act 2010.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Ex-NUS president Shaima Dallali was ousted from the union in November 2022 over antisemitism claims.
Ex-NUS president Shaima Dallali was ousted from the union in November 2022 over antisemitism claims.

An independent report by a barrister looking into widespread allegations of antisemitism within the National Union of Students has concluded the body failed in its legal duty to protect Jewish students from harassment relating to their race and religion over a 17-year period.

The damning 108-page report, by KC Rebecca Tuck, concludes that the NUS has encouraged a “hostile environment” towards Jewish students and has committed key breaches of the Equality Act 2010.

Tuck finds that in seven of eight cases of alleged anti-Jewish racism by NUS officers that she reviewed, “classic antisemitic tropes… and references to Hitler and Nazism were made when commenting on Israel”.

It reveals that on one occasion the  NUS ignored a Jewish student complaint alleging that a student leader had called for a ‘final solution’ on Jewish representation on the body’s Anti Racism Anti Fascism committee at a meeting.

Tuck’s report – which followed her earlier one, which looked into the conduct of now dismissed former NUS president Shaima Dallali – concluded that the culture in the NUS over the past 17 years has “been perceived by many Jewish students, for good reason, as hostile”.

Conspiracy theorist Lowkey. Dallali tried to ensure that he would perform.

It also details a failure by the NUS to act on previous reports into its failings around antisemitism and failings of record keeping relating to the problem.

The KC suggests the “underlying reason” for the breakdown in relations between Jewish students linked to the Union of Jewish Students and the NUS is over discourse around Israel and Palestine. But the report finds no evidence of claims made by pro-Palestine activists that the IHRA definition of antisemitism has a “chilling effect” on free speech.

She writes of “numerous instances where Jewish students have suffered antisemitism because of assumptions that they are ‘Zionists’ and assumptions about what that means.”

Tuck adds: “This has led to views within NUS both that complaints of antisemitism are made in bad faith to try and avert pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli political advocacy, and to an antipathy towards Jewish students in spaces such as conferences. This has resulted in antisemitism as well as hostility towards Jews which has not been challenged sufficiently robustly or proactively by NUS.”

Tuck finds that in seven of eight cases of alleged anti-Jewish racism by NUS officers that she reviewed, “classic antisemitic tropes… and references to Hitler and Nazism were made when commenting on Israel”.


Responding to the report’s publication Joel Rosen the president of the Union of Jewish Students said: “This landmark report sets out in granular detail how NUS has failed generations of Jewish students.

“It is a searing indictment of anti-Jewish racism at the heart of student politics. It confirms that Jewish students faced harassment and discrimination and that complaints of antisemitism were dismissed and disregarded.

“It is vital that this report is translated into meaningful and immediate action. All eleven recommendations in the report should be implemented. We now need to see a fundamental change within NUS’ culture and Jewish students will judge them on their actions.”

In a statement, NUS accepted the report was a “detailed and shocking account of antisemitism within the student movement”.

It added: “It is a truly difficult read for all of us, but we welcome the clarity it brings to enable us to act with confidence to tackle antisemitism head on. Let us be clear, there is no place for antisemitism within NUS and we are committed to ensuring that Jewish students feel safe and welcome in every corner of our movement.”

Tuck herself says she has “confidence” that the new NUS leadership team do have the desire to change the body’s relationship with Jewish students.

Tuck’s investigation provides full detail of the efforts by sacked ex-president Dallali to ensure that a performance by the conspiracy theorist rapper Lowkey could go ahead at an NUS centenary event in March, despite complaints from Jewish students about his comments.

It includes notes made by the ex-NUS leader ahead of the concert in which she wrote: “Layout: At events we’re also conscious that some students may not feel comfortable engaging with all the performers (spaces?) – but there are a number of reasons that people might not want to be in that space, for example, for certain neurodiverse students, it could potentially be an overstimulating environment. For those who want to remove themselves from the main party area is that there will be [sic] a really nice relaxed hangout area just next door to the main venue.”

Tuck heard from Jewish students who shared their evidence with the KC. She noted that some complained of being stripped of their other identities in NUS, and “reduced to being only ‘the Jew’ in the room”.

Tuck says a “further mitigation was to advertise performance time ‘to give you some reassurance that this will be a time-bound period’”.

Her report concludes that press reports suggesting Jewish students were told to “segregate” themselves at the conference were inaccurate, but adds: “The only reasonable interpretation of advertising performance timings and the availability of alternative spaces was, however, to enable Jewish students to avoid the performance. Indeed that was the summary the staff member gave to me, stating ‘there [were] multiple social spaces available if attendees did not wish to see Lowkey perform’.

“The proposed ‘mitigations’ entirely missed the objection of the UJS [Union of Jewish Students], which was the performer would not appropriate for the event. At the conclusion of the meeting it was agreed that a NUS staff member would review the objections to the performer. The staff member reviewed the Twitter feed of the performer and came to a view there was no antisemitism and nothing to prevent the performance from going ahead; they had been unaware of the concern of him being a ‘9/11 truther’.”

Tuck heard from Jewish students who shared their evidence with the KC. She noted that some complained of being stripped of their other identities in NUS, and “reduced to being only ‘the Jew’ in the room”.

The report also provides evidence the Jewish students were “treated as a pariah at NUS events” in a way that was “discriminatory”. In testimonies, Jewish students said their experiences in NUS spaces left them “personally shaking and almost in tears” and in “a state of significant distress” owing to the harassment which they faced, paired with a culture of by-standing by NUS staff.

Tuck includes 11 recommendations for the NUS to follow in order to make the significant changes required in relation to Jewish students.

She calls for the NUS to establish an advisory panel to ensure the implementation of the recommendation, to improve policy around record keeping, implement a due diligence process for election candidates, and for the body to undertake antisemitism training, provided by UJS.

Tuck also stresses the need to improve the environment of discussions around Israel/Palestine as well as undertaking a survey of Jewish students to test the implementation of these recommendations.

An NUS spokesperson added:“Our priority now is to take forward the recommendations from Rebecca Tuck KC’s independent report to ensure that there is a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism across the breadth and depth of NUS.

“We have developed an action plan which will help us achieve this, but it is vital that we listen and learn from others, which is why we are setting up an Advisory Panel to scrutinise this plan and oversee its implementation. We must shine a light on the realities of antisemitism and be transparent in our reporting of progress. ”

They added the NUS action plan has five key areas of work each with specific actions and deadlines for implementation.

“As we look to the future, our action plan will centre the voices of the Jewish students we are here to represent,” the NUS said.

” However, it is essential that Jewish students alone are not expected to carry the burden of delivering change and identifying issues. We recognise that tackling antisemitism against Jewish students is the responsibility of everyone within NUS and across the Higher Education sector and therefore we will work in lockstep with others to bring about positive change.

“Whilst the independent investigation has come to its conclusion, we understand that this is an ongoing endeavour.

“We have rightly opened ourselves up to scrutiny and welcome the findings from the independent investigations. Our action plan is the next step towards earning and restoring trust with Jewish students and to ensuring they are able to feel safe and supported within NUS.”

Responding to the report Jewish Leadership Council co-CEO Claudia Mendoza said:” “Rebecca Tuck KC’s report into antisemitism within the National Union of Students is a sad indictment of the hostile environment for its Jewish members, officers, and staff over an extended period. It makes clear that this culture of antisemitism is not new within NUS and, indeed, previous reports investigating this problem have been consistently ignored.

“This is an opportunity for NUS to work with the Union of Jewish Students and seek a fundamental change in its culture. The report’s recommendations must be fully implemented.”

The Board of Deputies added:”This report in the NUS shows a litany of failures by the organisation with regards to Jewish students.

“As the report itself makes clear, this is far from the first time that an investigation into NUS attitudes towards Jewish members has been undertaken.”

The Community Security Trust said the reports contents were “disturbing” but “sadly not surprising.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: