Shaima Dallali settles case with NUS, latter accepts anti-Zionist comments ‘may be protected beliefs’

London, 7th May: Former President of the National Union of Students (NUS), Shaima Dallali, has withdrawn her employment claim following reaching a settlement with the NUS. The terms of the agreement will remain confidential.

Ms Dallali was elected to the role in March 2022 and was dismissed in November of the same year following accusations of Antisemitism. Represented by Carter Ruck and Bindmans LLP, Ms Dallali launched an employment claim in March 2023, which resulted in the settlement being reached before the case went to Tribunal.

In her employment claim, Ms Dallali contended that her dismissal formed part of a course of discriminatory conduct against her, and that the NUS did not have grounds or rational explanation for dismissal.

In a joint statement between the parties, the NUS has acknowledged that ‘pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist beliefs may be protected beliefs’, with the protections of the Equality Act (2010) forming a bulwark against those who wish to classify Palestinian solidarity and criticisms of the actions of the State of Israel as Antisemitic. This follows from the February ruling in Miller vs University of Bristol, in which it was unanimously decided by Employment Tribunal that anti-Zionist beliefs qualify as a philosophical belief protected under section 10 of the Equality Act 2010.

Prior to Ms Dallali’s dismissal, numerous complaints filed with the NUS alleged that her comments made in criticism of the actions of the State of Israel constituted Antisemitic speech. The NUS subsequently launched a disciplinary process that Ms Dallali contended left her disadvantaged, and unfairly favoured her complainants.

It has further been contended by Ms Dallali that many of the complaints were by-nature baseless and discriminatory. Accordingly, the nature of Ms Dallali’s case at Employment Tribunal was based upon the consideration that “her dismissal (and the unfair process preceding it) [was] motivated by antipathy towards her protected anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian protected beliefs, the fact that she supported the Palestinians and her religion as a Muslim”. Throughout her election, Presidency, dismissal, and to the present day, Ms Dallali has been subjected to horrific abuse, including death threats, threats of sexual violence, and xenophobic and Islamophobic abuse, which the NUS has categorically condemned.

Ms Dallali has, per the settlement, accepted that a historic social media post, made in 2012 on the platform Twitter (now ‘X’), would be considered as Antisemitic. Her joint statement with the NUS notes that this Tweet “was written by Ms Dallali when she was a teenager, before she was even a student, in 2012. Ms Dallali has accepted that while it was not her intention, the tweet was Antisemitic. Both parties accept that Ms Dallali has repeatedly apologised for that Tweet”.

ICJP Director Tayab Ali has stated:

This settlement and the Miller judgment could not come at a more crucial time. Students across the UK and US are protesting complicity in military action taken by Israel which many experts conclude amount to war crimes.

It is unforgivable to conflate Antisemitism with criticism of Israel, including criticism of Zionism, in order to prevent students and others expressing their views and standing in solidarity with Palestinian victims of war crimes.

We now have clear legal recognition that criticism of Zionism and of Israel amounts to a protected belief and cannot be suppressed. This must be considered by universities before they decide to take any disciplinary or other action against their students. Students and others are protected in law if they are discriminated against because of the beliefs they hold”.

Notes to Editor

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
  2. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected]
  3. Shaima Dallali and the National Union of Students, 7th May Joint Statement
  4. Carter-Ruck Solicitors (17th March 2023), Press Release on the commencement of Employment Tribunal Proceedings
  5. Bristol Employment Tribunal (5th February 2024), Reserved Judgement, Dr David Miller v University of Bristol