Universities Minister Jo Johnson MP warned against the stifling of free speech across British university campuses, and the rising tide of “unacceptable” antisemitism, speaking a Limmud conference at the end of December.
In his speech to Jewish educational charity Limmud in Birmingham, the Universities Minister expressed his concern about the climate on campuses for Jewish students and which has been compounded by “unacceptable” antisemitic incidents from both the far left and right, such as Holocaust denial leaflets distributed at Cambridge University and swastikas at Exeter University.
He said: “A racist and antisemitic environment is by definition an illiberal one that is totally antithetical to the idea of a university in a free society”.
Mr Johnson warned against dangers of shielding students from differing views under the banner of “no-platforming” or “safe spaces”.
He said campus should be a “vibrant free-trading marketplace.. that open minds, not close them, where ideas can be freely challenged”.
In February 2017, Minister Johnson wrote to the the Chief Executive of Universities UK (UUK), underlining the obligation of all UK higher education institutions to tackle antisemitism on campus, particularly in the context of ‘Israel Apartheid Week’.