Richard Brooks, a senior official in the National Union of Students (NUS), the national union for third-level students in Britain, has been secretly filmed discussing plans to oust the organisation’s president Malia Bouattia. Brooks, a vice president in the British equivalent to the USI, was filmed during an undercover investigation undertaken by an Al Jazeera reporter into the Israeli embassy in the UK.
In the secret recording, Brooks admits to organising a faction against Bouattia. In response to the question from the undercover reporter as to how they could get in touch with people who wanted to oppose Bouattia, Brooks is heard saying “you can speak to me, because I’m helping organise them.” The investigation also found that the Israeli embassy helps fund the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).
Bouattia, a known critic of Israel and pro-Palestine activist, considers herself an “opponent of Zionist politics.” Opponents of Bouattia has accused her of anti-semitism, a claim she denies.
Brooks admits on camera that he held “secret purpose meetings” with senior members of the UJS “where we’d plan how to get moderate people with good politics and any number of things elected to certain places”. Since the revelation, there have been calls on social media for Brooks to resign.
This comes as part of a wider scandal regarding the British Israeli embassy after an embassy official was filmed saying he would “take down” British MPs who expressed anti-settlement opinions. The official also admitted that the embassy had helped establish pro-Israeli political groups across the UK. This has led MPs to call for the expulsion of Israeli diplomats.
The investigation also implicated Michael Rubin, former chair of Labour Students and parliamentary officer of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) group, in the move against Bouattia. Rubin is filmed admitting that he worked closely with Shai Masot of the Israeli embassy but that “a lot of it is behind the scenes.” Prior to becoming the LFI’s parliamentary officer, Rubin helped run the NUS presidential campaign for Megan Dunn, who ran against Bouattia’s successful campaign.