Ayo Olatunji, Students’ Union UCL BME Officer for 2017/18 and NUS national executive committee member, has been accused by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) of “blatantly anti-Semitic remarks”
In a series of tweets published last week, Ayo wrote, “The Israel lobby has been seen to bully the U.K. media into changing headlines and focus”, and has come after Jeremy Corbyn “full force”, regarding a series of recent allegations into past events attended by Corbyn.
He added, “[It] is well known by Zionists that a pro-Palestine Prime Minister will really put a spanner in the work of their racist antics.”
UJS have slammed Olatunji for having made “outrageous claims” comparing Israeli and Nazi policies, and stated that the National Union of Students (NUS) have adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, and demanded that the NUS “swiftly and publicly take appropriate measures to ensure that they enforce their own policy.”
The IHRA definition, which the Labour Party have controversially altered, clearly states that “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is an example of anti-Semitism.
In a series of response tweets posted yesterday, Olatunji responded to critics, writing that “comparing Israel to Nazis is not just a valid critique but it is a true statement to make”, and stated that “I will not be stepping down from @nusuk national executive committee, nor will I be bullied out”.
He also stated, in response to the Jewish News’ article reporting on UJS comments, that “calling me anti-Semitic is akin to libel”, and that he “won’t accept a lesson in morality from an org [UJS] which normalises the racist apartheid state that is Israel by taking students on frequent trips there”.
UJS President Hannah Rose, writing yesterday on Twitter, argued that Olatunji “has on numerous occasions used his position to undermine Jewish students”, referring specifically to a tweet where Olatunji says that Corbyn is “100% right” in his comparison between Israelis and Nazis.
This has not gone unnoticed in the UCL Jewish community. In a recent article published by Pi Media, former UCL Friends of Israel Society President Alex Taic claimed that, whilst the Jewish community is considered as part of the BME community, “Ayo is the one holding the megaphone”.
She referred specifically to a motion, submitted by Olatunji, in 2016, calling on the Union to support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) community, which calls for a financial and academic boycott of Israel. Whilst the motion passed, it “cannot be legally implemented”, according to the union’s board of trustees.
However, in the most recent stream of tweets, Olatunji stated that he did not have to work on “Jewish issues” as he “was not mandated to do so in [his] job”.
Olatunji came under fire particularly for suggesting a Jewish conspiracy behind the recent media attention on Corbyn, stating “most times the only explanation people come across is the Rothchilds [sic] conspiracy, which serves as the only viable explanation”.
The Rothschilds conspiracy claims that the Rothschilds, a Jewish international banking family, holds 80% of the world’s total wealth, totalling a net worth of $500 trillion.
However, Olatunji suggested that this tweet had been misinterpreted, later stating that he admits to having fallen “into the Rothchilds [sic] Conspiracy trap” when he was new to politics, but had previously apologised, and “was trying to warn others of falling into such traps but this sentiment has been twisted”.
Olatunji was also the organiser of a protest last year against the return of the Israeli activist Hen Mazzig, claiming “If you are inviting back a member of the IDF, you are pro-Israeli”, despite Mazzig having left the IDF years earlier.
He was present at the protest against Mazzig’s initial visit in November 2016, where he was seen on camera blocking the entrance to a room in which several students had gathered to hear Mazzig’s presentation.
As reported by The Tab Edinburgh, an NUS spokesperson is quoted to have said “NUS is processing a number of complaints and investigations are under way through the NUS code of conduct procedure”.
Featured image credit: Students’ Union UCL