Calls for anti-Semitism probe into new hard-Left teachers’ leader
The National Education Union (NEU) has become embroiled in an anti-Semitism row, amid calls for an investigation into its new secretary.
Daniel Kebede, a hard-Left activist who works as a teacher in the North East of the country, is set to become the leading teaching union’s new general secretary later this year, replacing joint general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney.
However, the discovery of a contentious video has led to accusations of anti-Semitism against Mr Kebede, fuelling calls for an investigation into the new union leader.
The clip allegedly shows the militant trade unionist speaking at a rally in Newcastle, where participants can be heard chanting “Khaybar, oh Jews” and calling to “globalise the intifada” – phrases historically associated with inciting violence against Jewish communities.
While Mr Kebede did not say “Khaybar, oh Jews” in the video, the NEU has defended him, insisting his own calls to “globalise the intifada” at the rally did not convey any support for violence.
Independent investigation call
But the Conservative Friends of Education, a Tory campaign group, is now calling on the NEU to conduct an independent investigation into Mr Kebede’s appointment and the organisation’s internal processes.
“We urge the NEU to launch an immediate investigation into the alleged video of Daniel Kebede and the organisation’s vetting procedures.
“It is essential to ensure that the biggest teaching union is free from discrimination and prejudice, and anti-Semitism,” it said in a statement.
It added that it had “serious concerns” about the impact of the allegations on Jewish teachers and students within the union.
“Ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all members is a priority, and addressing this controversy is crucial to upholding those British values,” it said.
Mark Jenkinson, Conservative MP for Workington, also questioned the appointment of Mr Kebede.
‘The Left has a real problem’
“What has @NEUnion become that they elect the violence-inciting @DanielKebedeNEU to succeed @MaryBoustedNEU and @cyclingkev?”, he wrote on Twitter.
“The Left has a real problem, and good people with their eyes closed get swept along,” he added.
In the video allegedly featuring Mr Kebede, which was posted to Twitter in October 2021, he called on the crowd at the rally to “stand together and oppose apartheid, oppose occupation, and fight for Palestinian liberation”.
“Let’s do it for Palestine, Ramallah, West Bank, Gaza. It’s time to globalise the intifada!” he could be heard saying.
The controversy comes just months after the National Union of Students (NUS) sacked its president, Shaima Dallali, over anti-Semitism allegations.
It emerged that the 27-year-old, a former president of City, University of London’s students’ union, had tweeted comments showing apparent sympathy towards Hamas, and quoting an anti-Jewish battle cry.
It prompted the government to cut all ties and funding in May, with then-universities minister Michelle Donelan saying there was “anti-Semitic rot at the heart of the NUS” and that she was “horrified by the thought of Jewish students feeling ostracised”.
‘In solidarity with Palestinians’
A spokesperson for the NEU said: “Daniel Kebede was present at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally in solidarity with Palestinians facing eviction in Sheikh Jarrah in 2021.
“In speaking to the rally Mr Kebede called for peace and justice in the Middle East and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“He used the slogan ‘globalise the intifada’ which is an expression of such solidarity, and of support for civic protests; it did not convey any support for violence.
“He wasn’t aware of the chanting of ‘Khaybar, oh Jews’ and both he and the National Education Union completely condemn such chants, all acts of anti-Semitism and any attacks on Jewish people.”