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Student union Vice President colluded with Israeli embassy to oust head of NUS

27th Jan 2017
Student union Vice President colluded with Israeli embassy to oust head of NUS

NUS Vice-President Richard Brooks has been exposed plotting against NUS President Malia Bouattia in secret footage (Photo: NUS/Flickr)

Nadine Osman

The UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) is investigating its Vice President after he was filmed colluding with Israeli embassy to oust the organisation’s president Malia Bouattia, the first black Muslim woman to lead the NUS.

Richard Brooks was secretly filmed by Al-Jazeera conspiring to oust Bouattia as part of a sting involving the Israeli embassy.

An undercover reporter posed as a political activist with links to the disgraced Israeli diplomat Shai Masot to investigate the influence the Israeli embassy exerts on British politics.

The reporter is heard discussing with Brooks how to oust Bouattia from her presidency of the NUS, which represents over four million students after Masot introduces him as the chair of the Young Labour Friends of Israel.

In the recording, Brooks is filmed telling the reporter that he accepted a trip to Israel funded by the Union of Jewish Students. He is also heard to say that he was a key figure involved in attempts to remove Bouattia

Brooks admitted to organising the faction against Bouattia, telling Robin to “drop me a line whenever you want to have a conversation” if he wished to speak to any figures opposed to her,

He is also heard to offer to put the reporter in touch with anyone opposed to Bouattia from across the UK: “[If] you want to speak with someone in a certain geographical area, I’ll point you at the right people.”
An NUS spokesperson told The Muslim News the union “takes these allegations seriously. We are looking into them and, when we have all the information available, the behaviour of NUS officers will be reviewed and appropriate action was taken.”
Bouattia has been criticised by opponents for alleged anti-Semitism, claims that she denies.

Known for her years of pro-Palestine activism on campuses across the UK, Bouattia says she considers herself an opponent of “Zionist politics”.

The revelation comes days after British MPs called for Israeli diplomats implicated in the scandal to be expelled after an embassy official was filmed saying he would “take down” British MPs who expressed anti-settlement opinions.

The Israeli Embassy’s senior political officer, Shai Masot, was filmed by Al-Jazeera admitting to helping set up political groups across the UK like the Young Conservative Friends of Israel and various other organisations.

Other individuals linked to the Israeli Embassy involved in conspiring to remove Bouattia include Michael Rubin, Parliamentary Officer of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) group.

In one exchange filmed outside a London pub, Rubin said he and Masot “work really closely together… but a lot of it is behind the scenes.”

Prior to becoming the LFI’s Parliamentary Officer, Rubin was chair of Labour Students and helped run the NUS presidential campaign for Megan Dunn, who ran against Bouattia during her successful campaign.

The sting operation also revealed that, in the run-up to the NUS presidential elections in 2016, Brooks held secret meetings with Rubin and Russell Langer, who campaigned director for the Union of Jewish Students and accepted funding from the Israeli Government.

Rubin is filmed directing Robin to meet Brooks and Robbie Young, who is an NUS vice president and a prominent activist in the Labour Party’s student wing.

Filmed outside a pub in Westminster, Rubin tells Robin that Young was given a trip to Israel and that he was “really good on Israel.”

“He’s a Labour student and he is, like, really good on Israel,” said Rubin, referring to Young. “He’s been out on a trip so he’s seen Israel.”

Both Brooks and Young, however, failed to declare their trip to Israel to the NUS’s national executive council, which is tasked with holding NUS officers to account.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement has gained traction on campuses across the UK over the last few years.

The campaign on British campuses has led universities to divest from companies like G4S and Veolia, which are accused of profiteering from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
The Ministry of Strategic Affairs in Israel has been at the forefront of attempts to counter the worldwide growth of the BDS movement.

In September, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan described the UK as the “centre” of the BDS movement.

In 2014 the NUS’s national executive voted to endorse the BDS campaign, amid widespread public concern over the deteriorating situation in Gaza after Israel’s devastating military operation in the coastal enclave in the summer of that year.

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