Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:22AM
©AFP
©AFP

British universities have been accused of undermining freedom of speech on campuses after cancelling events organized by students as part of Israel Apartheid Week (IAW). Almost 250 academics, including 100 professors, have signed a letter condemning attempts to silence campus discussion about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

The letter criticizes the universities minister, Jo Johnson, who recently wrote to Universities UK, the umbrella organisation for the higher education sector, demanding a crackdown on antisemitism, mentioning Israel Apartheid Week as a cause for concern.

The signatories also express concern about the government’s adoption and dissemination of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, which it says seeks to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism.

A spokesperson for Exeter’s Friends of Palestine Society accused the university of censoring students. “They are not allowing freedom of speech – by cancelling an event that was in support of Palestinian activism and for Palestinian rights, they are directly censoring us.”