A member of the NUS National Executive Committee has resigned over allegations of anti-Semitism stemming from a series of tweets posted last month
NUS National Executive Committee member and former UCLU BME Officer Ayo Olatunji, accused in August of posting tweets promoting anti-Semitism, has resigned. Olatunjii previously rejected calls for his removal from the committee, stating “I will not be stepping down from the NUS National Executive Committee, nor will I be bullied out. I was elected by people who believed in my vision and I will not compromise on my views because they hold uncomfortable truths for Zionists”.
His resignation comes ahead of a vote following an emergency motion on whether to censure him, submitted by Sally Patterson, an officer for the Bristol Students’ Union. In an article published by Epigram, Patterson explained that she “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.”
Patterson later stated that Olatunji’s tweets “deliberately weaponised Jewish history”, and referred to the result as “proof of the power we can have when we come together to call out hatred.”
Last month, Olatunji’s remarks attracted widespread criticism, with nearly 300 students and sabbatical officers signing an open letter stating, “We stand in solidarity with our fellow Jewish students, and as such, we demand that this person is removed from their post”. Olatunji is yet to apologise for his remarks, and continues to deny claims of anti-Semitism.
As Pi Media previously reported, Olatunji posted numerous tweets referring to Israel and its policies, making comparisons with Nazi Germany in tweets such as, “Israeli policy has a lot of similarities with Nazi policies”. In accordance with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition that has been adopted by the NUS, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is an example of anti-Semitism.
Following the news of Olatunji’s resignation, the Union of Jewish Students, who had previously accused him of using anti-Semitic language, issued a statement declaring, “We are pleased that Ayo Olatunji has resigned from the NEC of the National Union of Students”. UJS continued with the declaration that “Olatunji deliberately caused deep hurt to Jewish students with his anti-Semitic comments”.
However, Olatunji issued a statement to The Tab, in which he continues to “unequivocally deny” claims of anti-Semitism; “I’m not an anti-Semite, neither do I believe my comments to be anti-Semitic”. He criticised the NUS, stating “Throughout the time these claims have been thrown, the NUS have refused to let me know the structural proceedings of my case, showing a lack of professionalism and impartiality”.
Featured Image Credit: Students’ Union UCL