University used to be a place where freedom and openmindedness were taken as a given.

The hard-left tried to silence their opponents at times, but it remained an isolated threat.

Now we inhabit a new dark age of intolerance in which academics and students are terrified of challenging the new political orthodoxies for fear of being ‘cancelled’ or ‘de-platformed’ if they do.

Tzipi hotovely (Israeli ambassador to Britain) was just giving a lecture at London School of Economics on Tuesday night when she was accosted by mob members.

LSE Class War (hard-Left) took the credit for all of this chaos. Its members called for students to ‘smash her car window’ and ‘storm the building’.

After protesters had shouted at Hotovely and attempted to grab her, her bodyguards rushed Ms Hotovely to her diplomatic vehicle.

Ambassador Hotovely was invited to speak with students at The LSE titled the 'New Era in the Middle East'

Ambassador Hotovely was invited by The LSE to address students about the “New Era in Middle East”

LSE Class War would like to prohibit private school students attending universities. Friedrich Hayek (another LSE professor) would be expelled from the LSE’s curriculum.

It received support Tuesday from militant Palestinians.

Tzipi Hotovely is by her own account ‘a religious Right-winger’, and within Israel would be regarded by many as politically extreme.

But she represents the Middle East’s only democracy, which is a friend of Britain.

Even if this were not so — even if she came from a much nastier regime than Israel’s — I would deplore what happened outside the LSE. A university speaker being terrorized is a violation of liberal values.

In many universities, it’s common to persecute opponents. Kathleen Stock recently resigned as a professor of philosophy at Sussex University after daring to suggest that a person’s sex is an immutable biological fact.

Professor Stock is not bigoted and has always supported transgender individuals. She had to deal with a student protest that featured graffiti anonymously, posters and banners demanding her expulsion.

The hard-left trade union she belonged to practically disowned her. She was advised by the police to get bodyguards and set up CCTV in her house.

She has just announced that she is joining a new university in Austin, Texas, which is committed to encouraging students to see ‘open inquiry as a lifetime activity that demands of them a brave, sometimes discomfiting, search for enduring truths’.

It is my hope that it will succeed.

Like I mentioned, the hard-left tried long ago to demonise their opponents.

In the 1970s when I was at university, radical students took over the exam schools and stopped a Tory minister from speaking to undergraduates for three weeks.

Yet I am sure my friends and I didn’t feel intimidated by these militants in the slightest.

Without any fear or censorship, we read and explored whatever books we liked.

It seems that intolerant views of hard-Left people have become more common. Many more students share them, along with many academics. They tend to be predominantly Left-wing and coercive.

Examples abound. There are many examples.

Oriel had declined to remove the statue, and Professor Kate Tunstall became the interim Provost for Worcester College. Tunstall urged lecturers to decline to instruct any Oriel students.

Therefore, Oriel was penalized for undergraduates who did not have anything to do over Rhodes. What a narrow-minded, spiteful attitude!

Nigel Biggar, an Oxford professor and author of the Ethics of Colonialialism was another example of donnish intolerance.

More than 170 academics who all believe the British Empire is utterly evil signed an open-letter demanding the university end the project.

I don’t suggest that the majority of academics are ideological bullies. These people are likely to be a small minority but they can make a loud and intimidating noise that silences the majority.

It’s hardly surprising that undergraduates should employ similar tactics. Keir Bradley, the student president of Cambridge Union’s debating society sent out an email to members on Monday informing them that he was creating a blacklist, which would be shared with other university associations.

Andrew Graham-Dixon is the prominent figure on this list. He’s the liberalest and most refined man.

His ‘crime’ was to offend some students with a Nazi impersonation last week. Strangely, students are targeting a liberal professor in The Chair’s amusing Netflix series for exactly the same act.

Bradwell, unbelievably describes himself as conservative. How can a conservative brag about creating an unacceptable blacklist?

John Cleese — who memorably impersonated a Nazi as the idiotic Basil Fawlty in the BBC series Fawlty Towers — has withdrawn from a talk at the Cambridge Union, suggesting that students who want to hear from him ‘find a venue where woke rules do not apply’.

These proscriptive killjoy students with their bans, blacklists and grim futures promise a monochrome world.

It must have been difficult for students to be able think and communicate freely in this world.

Large protests outside LSE after Tzipi Hotovely attended a debate on campus

After Tzipi Hotovely was invited to a campus debate, large protests erupted outside the LSE

How can we help? I asked myself this question earlier this week when it was reported that two Oxford colleges, and the university itself, had accepted a £12 million bequest from the Mosley family trust.

Of course Sir Oswald Mosley, before World War II was an antisemitic rabble-rouser.

Max, Max’s son who was killed earlier in the year, sympathized with fascists and gained some fame as an organizer of sadomasochistic orgies.

I agree with Oxford’s Professor Lawrence Goldman, who says his university has lost its moral compass in accepting the gift.

Max Mosley had never apologised for supporting his father’s movement, which made the donations ‘tainted and dirty money’.

Where were academics’ complaints about Cecil Rhodes, long dead?

Why are there no critiques from awake students? Do you think the lack of criticisms from woke students is a reflection on a deep-seated anti-Semitism in our society?

This is a strange cultural war. The thoughtful thoughts of an academic on gender and sex lead to angry protests. A huge gift from antisemitic relatives barely touches a hair.

To return to the main point: I’d like to believe that the silent, intimidated majority will fight back, and reclaim our universities as places of open debate and the unfettered exchange of ideas.

But I can’t honestly say I think it will.

The fee system is a major source of funding for universities.

It is the duty of government to make sure that such institutions do not become dominated by extremists.

Although the bill was recently published to preserve academic freedoms, it is a minor measure.

It is sad to say that fanatics and bigots have taken over. Take a look at LSE Class War or the Israeli Ambassador.

This is a threat to the value of universities as places where people can exchange ideas freely.