Statement: Palestinian students in UK demand resignation of National Union of Students VP following Al Jazeera investigation

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Richard Brook, Vice President of the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) was filmed covertly by Al Jazeera admitting to conspiring to oust NUS President Malia Bouattia, as part of a sting operation involving the Israeli embassy. Working in “secret” with Michael Rubin, Parliamentary Officer for the Labour Friends of Israel(LFI) and Russell Langer, campaign director for Union of Jewish Students (UJS).

In light of the revelations made by the Al Jazeera investigative documentary The Lobby, Palestinian students in the UK have published a letter calling for an apology and the resignation of the National Union of Students VP Richard Brooks. In the footage Brooks implicates himself in helping to organise a group that is trying to oust Malia Bouattia for her strong stance on Palestine. The attacks being levelled against Bouattia are based on her politics and principled opposition to Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler colonialism. As an elected official of the NUS, Brooks is betraying the trust placed in him by students and has demonstrated seriously misplaced and misguided priorities, which lead him to collude with the Israeli Embassy.

Statement in full

Following the revelations made as part of the first episode of the Al Jazeera documentary, The Lobby, we as Palestinian students, many of whom are members of the student movement in the UK, are issuing this statement to express solidarity with NUS President Malia Bouattia and to demand an apology from NUS Vice President (Union Development) Richard Brooks, as well as his resignation. We also call on Universities to introduce measures to ensure the protection of student rights to express themselves democratically, free of bureaucratic harassment and foreign interference.

The revelations contain evidence that Brooks has been implicated in soliciting help from the Israeli Embassy to bring down the NUS President and to destabilise the Union as a whole. In a climate where student activists, NUS, and the NUS President in particular, have been undermined, attacked, and harassed for their pro-Palestine politics, such activities and communications are outrageous, must be condemned outright, and cannot go without severe consequences.

NUS President have been systematically undermined, attacked, and harassed for expressing support for Palestinian rights. As Palestinian students, we have long believed there to be Israeli Government interference in the UK and on our campuses. Our events have routinely been monitored and filmed and student organisers harassed, both in the UK and on their return to Palestine.

Palestinian students in the UK are an important part of the national student movement, and it is due to this that both the Palestinian students and the wider student movement feel disturbed at what has been shown to transpire between Brooks and the Israeli Embassy.

Moreover, Brooks’ activities are contrary to the the stated policy of the NUS to endorse boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The policy was adopted by the NUS in 2014 on the back of Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza that summer. The BDS Campaign calls for freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians and the realisation of their human rights in line with international law. It is certainly not a mandate to coordinate with the Israeli Embassy to engineer the overthrow of the NUS’s democratically elected president.

As an elected full time official within the National Union of Students, Richard Brooks bears a great deal of responsibility towards the student movement, as well as to the Palestinian students who come under attack by public figures on an increasingly regular basis due to our nationality. It is unacceptable for a somebody in Brooks’ position to conspire with a foreign government to undermine and damage one of the largest democratic institutions in the country, which represents over 7 million students. This constitutes a massive betrayal of the trust placed within Richard Brooks by the students who elected him, in addition to demonstrating his misplaced and misguided priorities, none of which should include colluding with the Israeli Embassy, as is evidently the case. Furthermore, it is important to affirm that the attacks leveled at Bouattia since her electoral victory were based on her politics and principled opposition to Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler colonialism. As Palestinian students, we see these attacks as part of a broader attempt to dehumanise Palestinians and silence our narratives.

In light of these appalling and outrageous revelations, we the undersigned Palestinian students in the UK and supporters of the Palestinian cause feel that the position of NUS Vice President Richard Brooks has become untenable and unworkable. In light of this, we demand the following:

An unequivocal public apology for the actions taken by Richard Brooks.

Richard Brooks’ resignation from his position as Vice President (Union Development) of the National Union of Students with immediate effect.

Call on Universities to introduce measures to ensure the protection of student rights to express themselves democratically, free of bureaucratic harassment and foreign interference.

Signatories

Malaka Mohammed, University of Exeter
Samar Ahmed, Kings College London
Yara Hawari, University of Exeter
Toqa Zait, Leeds University
Kareem Bseiso, SOAS, University of London
Yahya Abu Seido, University College London
Ayat Hamdan, University of Exeter
Shahd Abusalama, SOAS, University of London
Laura Al-Tahrawy, Lincoln University
Afnan Jabr Alqadri, St. Mary University
Sahar S, Kings College London
Omar Jouda, Oxford Brookes University
Abdulla Saad, SOAS, University of London
Eyad Hamid, SOAS, University of London
Motaz Ayyad, Imperial College
Razan Masri, SOAS, University of London
Rawand Safi, University College London
Razan Shamallakh, Kings College London
Yousef Anis, University College London
Hani Awwad, Oxford University
Beth Jamal, Cambridge University
Layla D., University of Nottingham
Emily M., Surrey University
Dana El Ghadban, University of Leeds
Mahmoud Zwahre, Coventry University
Miriam Abu Samra, Oxford University
Doa Althalathini, Plymouth University
Rama Sahtout, University of Exeter
Mostafa Afana, Belfast University
Haya Natsheh, London School of Economics
Ashraf Hamad, University of Leeds
Rama Sabanekh, SOAS, University of London
Basel Sourani, SOAS, University of London
Layla Al-Khatib, University College London
Hussam Al-Kurd, London School of Economics
Ramsey El-Dabbagh, University College London
Ala Sawalha, SOAS, University of London
Marwan Hanbali, Cardiff University
Jamal Abdulfattah, Exeter University
Mjriam Abu Samra, University of Oxford
Rawan Yaghi, Oxford University
Sari Salti, University of Kent
Abdulrahman Arasoghli, University of Manchester
Saba I., Kings College London
Syeda K., Brunel University London
Dena Qaddumi, Palestinian PhD student, University of Cambridge
Khalil al-Wazir at the University of East Anglia
Haya Naji, Southampton University
Labina B.
Dina Tahboub, University of Cambridge
Abdelrahman Murad, University of the Arts London
Alessia Cancemi, Goldsmiths University of London
Tamer EL-Nakhal , Medicine, Cambridge University Hospital
Hamss Hassan Dawood, University College London
Salim Habash, Loughborough University
Huda Ammori, University of Manchester
Laila al-Khatib, University College London
Samir al-Khatib, University College London
Zeena Jojo, London School of Economics
Ahmed A., University of Leeds
Haneen Shubib, University of Leeds
Hana Elias, University of Exeter
Rawan Kafri, University College London
Sophie Jubeh, SOAS University of London

About Malaka Mohammed

Malaka Mohammed is a Palestinian student from Gaza doing a PhD in Palestine Studies at Exeter University. Follow her on Twitter @MalakaShwaikh.

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13 Responses

  1. Ossinev
    January 16, 2017, 1:24 pm

    Have watched the Al Jazeera documentaries and the evidence of a blatant Israeli Embassy conspiracy to infiltrate and undermine the NUS as well as the Labour Party I would advise those affected including the Palestinian students listed above to write to their individual MP`s ,make a formal complaint and ask for a Government investigation. Unlikely to lead to any meaningful investigation but the responses would be interesting and worthy of sharing and it would also hopefully “out” those MP`s who have accepted the Zionist narrative ( and or shilling ).

  2. Marnie
    January 17, 2017, 12:41 am

    What is the interference by north american zionist shills on u.s. and canadian college campuses? I imagine that in the u.s. at least, the bens n’ bats for israel are working overtime to discredit/defame palestinian students and palestinian groups on college campuses all over amerikkka. However, the truth will out them all

    • Marnie
      January 18, 2017, 12:32 am

      I should add what has been the interference/attempts to defame and discredit #BLACKLIVESMATTER and smear this grassroots organization as a terrorist one? Especially since #BLM has solidarity with Palestine and has shown solidarity wrt to DAPL.

  3. Citizen
    January 17, 2017, 1:22 am

    Imagine this happening in USA.

  4. Talkback
    January 17, 2017, 10:36 am

    I highly recommend to watch this video and understand that these tactics are not only used against people who are considered to be “anti-Israel”.

    • gamal
      January 17, 2017, 10:49 am
    • yonah fredman
      January 17, 2017, 12:49 pm

      Mr or Dr. Martin, with his calm mentions of farrakhan and David irving, and eliciting laughter with “I understand they have lots of high holidays”, on a tape of an ihr event, a known holocaust denial organization, is a stain on talkback and on mw comments.

      • yonah fredman
        January 17, 2017, 1:02 pm

        Continue watching videos on the offered youtube set up ( not in talkback’s video but in the al jazeera video in the main text) and catch some great stuff: be exposed to antisemitic caricatures and a defence of Ernst zundel.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 17, 2017, 1:04 pm

        yonah, i have not had a chance to listen to the video yet. is there any particular information in his presentation you think is problematic?

      • yonah fredman
        January 17, 2017, 1:20 pm

        No
        It is the totality. No smoking gun.

      • amigo
        January 17, 2017, 2:51 pm

        “yonah, i have not had a chance to listen to the video yet. is there any particular information in his presentation you think is problematic? ” Annie.

        I just watched the full video and Yonah did exactly what DR Martin referred to, his detractors seeking to discredit him .Yonah t made the point for him.

        “Mr or Dr. Martin,” Yonah.

        While DR Martin did make ref to “High Holidays” as noted by Yonah, I don,t recall Yonah ever commenting on Jewish Israelis – especially their leaders referring to Arabs as monkeys and animals.

        Also I didn,t see Yonah coming back to rebut DR Martin,s statements that Jews were involved in Slave trading.I would have thought that would be far more troubling to Yonah,s ear than a reference to high holidays.

        Maybe Yonah did not watch the tape???.

      • Talkback
        January 18, 2017, 10:42 am

        Yonah fredman: “Mr or Dr. Martin, with his calm mentions of farrakhan and David irving, …”

        Thank you,Yonah. As amigo noted, you just made Martin’s point. Martin only mentioned Farrakhan and Irving to give example of these tactics.

        This is what Martin said: “They try to find some little slip of the tongue, or some little thing they can take out of context. And if they find it, then every time your name is mentioned in the media, they stick that on you.”

        And then he just gave an example: “… Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam once made a slip. He was talking about a fact, as I mentioned earlier, that 75 percent of Jewish households in 1830 owned slaves. But he kind of got it wrong, as one often does in the midst of a speech — a slip of the tongue. And it came out, when he said it, that Jews owned 75 percent of the slaves. It was obviously a slip of the tongue. But they mentioned it repeatedly ever since, often using that sound bite to make it look like he was a great distorter of the truth.”

        Isn’t that also a common Hasbara tactic, too, Yonah?

        Another tactic Martin mentions is: “And sometimes they try to play you for a fool. At the same time they’re trying to destroy you, they’re trying to give you advice.”

        And then he gave this example: “Last year, for example, when I decided to accept David Irving’s invitation to speak in Cincinnati, there was guy whose name I don’t recall who sent me an e-mail telling me what a racist David Irving was. He sent me this copy of some poem that Irving had written, saying he didn’t want his daughter to marry a Rastafarian or something — which is neither here nor there as far as I’m concerned. If he wants he wants his daughter to marry a Rastafarian or anybody else, or not marry them, So what? That has nothing to do with anything as far as I’m concerned. But again, here are people who are trying to destroy me, people who have spent the last ten years trying to portray me as all kinds of things, trying to take my livelihood away. and these same people can have the chutzpah, I guess, to warn me against somebody else. The whole idea is just totally amazing to me.”

        Again, isn’t this a common Hasbara tactic, too, Yonah?

        Martin also said: “The first and major tactic that I discovered in their attack on me was their reliance on lies — just straight-up lies.”

        He gave this example: “For example, very early in my controversy, the major Jewish organizations became involved. And this is very fascinating. Here am I, a professor in a very small college, teaching a class of maybe 30 students, but they attached such great importance to this, that within a very short space of time the major Jewish organizations became involved, and it became a national event. … Up to that point I was still a little astounded, considering the prominence given to what, to me, was a totally inconsequential thing. Shortly after all of this started, four of the major Jewish organizations issued a joint press release attacking me: the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. Afterwards they said that this was somewhat unprecedented for these major Jewish organizations to combine their efforts to attack one little obscure professor at a small school. They also admitted that it was unusual to issue this press release in the middle of one of their high holy days — of which there are quite a few, I understand — to sort of disturb the sanctity of this high holiday by issuing something along these lines.”

        Yonah: “and eliciting laughter with “I understand they have lots of high holidays”, …”

        A false quote and taken out of context. Also a common tactic.

        “… on a tape of an ihr event, a known holocaust denial organization, is a stain on talkback and on mw comments. ”

        Yep, an association fallacy to attack me personally and Mondoweiss. We also know this tactic. You also made my point that exactly these tactics are not only used when it comes to Israel.

        yonah fredman: “Continue watching videos on the offered youtube set up ( not in talkback’s video but in the al jazeera video in the main text) and catch some great stuff: be exposed to antisemitic caricatures and a defence of Ernst zundel.”

        Yep, more association fallacies.

        yonah fredman: “No. It is the totality. No smoking gun.”

        Yep, the totality of your association fallacies and the total lack of any single argument to the matter. Martin mentioned this, too. What a smoking gun.

      • Talkback
        January 18, 2017, 10:45 am

        amigo: “Also I didn,t see Yonah coming back to rebut DR Martin,s statements that Jews were involved in Slave trading.”

        This is not the point of issue. The point of issue is that Hirsch’s term “hasbara culture” is questionable, because the SAME tactics are obviously even used when it’s not about Israel.

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