By Ed Southgate, Co-Editor in Chief
Bristol SU Equality, Liberation and Access (ELA) Officer, Sally Patterson, says she has been 'forced' to submit an emergency motion of censure against a member of the NUS National Executive Committee for anti-semitic remarks.
Patterson said in a statement: 'There is a clear line between ignorance and hatred; if you make a mistake, you deserve the right to learn and move forward. However, deliberate attacks on vulnerable students cannot be tolerated. Despite deep hurt caused to Jewish students around the UK, calls for action from the Union of Jewish Students, and solidarity shown by over 250 students and sabbatical officers, we are yet to see any contrition or apology from Ayo Olatunji for his actions.'
'There is no defence for Holocaust Inversion ('the victims have become the perpetrators'/ 'the Jews are the new nazis'), and no-one is immune to being held to account.
'As such, I am disappointed to announce that I will be submitting an emergency motion of censure against my fellow NEC member.'
Former UCL BME Officer and current NUS NEC member, Ayo Olatunji, faced accusations of anti-Semitism when he made a series of tweets in which he said the comparison between Israel and the Nazis is 'valid', claiming that 'there are many Nazi policies and principles that are embodied within Israel's culture and policy making'. He also claimed that 'the Israel lobby has been seen to bully the UK media into changing headlines and focus' onto Jeremy Corbyn.
Because he supports the Palestinian cause & does not want to adopt the full IHRA definition of antisemitism which seeks to completely merge Israeli/Zionist and Jewish identity while silencing Palestinians in the process, the lobby has decided to come after him full force— Ayo Kalil (@AyoOlatunji96) 16 August 2018
Patterson added: 'I was elected on a platform of representing students, of fighting for student welfare, and of calling out misogyny, racism and xenophobia. I made a promise to students that I would stand up for them and hold our representatives to account, and now, just months into the role, I am doing just that. NUS is meant to be a place where students come together, yet until we address hatred and prejudice within our movement, we cannot be said to represent and protect our students.'
2/8: Despite deep hurt caused to Jewish students around the UK, calls for action from the Union of Jewish Students, and solidarity shown by over 250 students and sabbatical officers, we are yet to see any contrition or apology from Ayo Olatunji for his actions.— Sally Patterson (@salpatz) 7 September 2018
'Bigotry, including anti-Semitism, is unacceptable anywhere in society, let alone in the student movement. I truly hope that my fellow NEC members will stand with Jewish students and make this clear.'
Since Olatunji's tweets, an open letter has received over 250 signatures from students and sabbatical officers nationwide. The letter calls on students to 'make clear that these views do not represent' them, to 'stand in solidarity with our fellow Jewish students' and to 'demand that [Olatunji] is removed from post'. Few members from NUS' NEC have signed the letter.
Epigram has contacted Olatunji for comment.
Featured Image: Cameron Scheijde