Boris Johnson: ‘Universities for too long have been tolerant of systematic antisemitism’

The National Union for Students has recently come under fire for planning to host a controversial rapper at its conference

Boris Johnson has called for the need to “root out” antisemitism at universities, following dismay among Jewish students that rapper Lowkey was invited to speak at a National Union of Students conference.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, the prime minister told MPs: “Our universities for far too long have been tolerant of casual or indeed systematic antisemitism.”

Johnson called for an “antisemitism task force devoted to rooting out antisemitism in education at all levels.”

This came in response to question from Andrew Percy, the Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.

Percy referred to claims of antisemitic incidents happening at UK unis and alleged the National Union of Students (NUS) were not acting in the interests of Jewish students.

“You’d expect the NUS to be on their side. But instead of helping those students, the NUS has been inviting somebody who has been engaged in anti-semitic conspiracy theories, a rapper, to a conference,” he claimed.

Last week, it emerged that rapper Lowkey had been invited to speak at an NUS conference, sparking outrage amongst Jewish students.

Lowkey has previously expressed support for sacked Bristol lecturer David Miller and in an online interview said the mainstream media has “weaponised the Jewish heritage of Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, to try to stave off these genuine inquiries into the nature of the groups fighting in Ukraine.”

President of the Union of Jewish Students Nina Freedman told MailOnline she thought the NUS had “brushed Jewish students aside and have shown a complete disregard for their needs and experiences.”

She added that that Lowkey’s invitation to the conference “compounds the feelings of exclusion and disappointment that Jewish students have been experiencing.”

At the time, an NUS spokesperson said in a statement: “Lowkey has been invited to speak at NUS Liberation Conference which brings together students from marginalised groups on 30 and 31 March.

“This conference takes place in the same week as NUS National Conference at the same venue in Liverpool.”

The rapper has since been pulled out of the event prompting the NUS to write to students students, saying: “Whilst we welcome genuine political debate, we’ve been sad to see the use of harassment and misinformation against Lowkey.

“We condemn these tactics used against anybody, but particularly towards activists and people of colour.

“No one should be subject to hate, or abuse, or feeling fearful in our spaces, or in any space at all.”

Lowkey has been contacted for comment.

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