Bristol University bows to pro-Israel campaign against Professor David Miller
The University of Bristol has today succumbed to a longstanding pro-Israel pressure campaign targeted at Professor David Miller, based on his important scholarship on Islamophobia.
In 2019, Professor Miller gave a lecture on the ‘Five Pillars of Islamophobia’ as part of a module called ‘Harms of the Powerful’. Among those five pillars are ‘parts of the Zionist movement’
Following the lecture explaining how parts of the Zionist movement promote Islamophobia, the British pro-Israel campaign group, the Community Security Trust, lobbied Bristol to censor him. That complaint was dismissed after a full investigation found that Professor Miller had neither broken any laws nor the University’s rules.
Following a speech Professor Miller gave at an online conference in February 2021 – in which he called for ‘an end to Zionism’ and again linked the influence of parts of the Zionist movement in stoking Islamophobia – the pressure campaign reached fever pitch.
The leading elements of the UK’s Israel lobby, and its fellow travellers, were mobilised against Professor Miller, including the: Community Security Trust; Board of Deputies of British Jews; All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism; Jewish Leadership Council; Union of Jewish Students, and other pro-Israel groups.
The campaign also relied heavily on pro-Israel student actors, including the current President of Bristol JSoc Edward Isaacs, Bristol Live columnist Ben Bloch, Guido Fawkes columnist Sabrina Miller, and UJS President Nina Freedman.
During the investigation, it became apparent that the University was taking, with total credulity, all its positions in relation to Israel and Zionism from these pro-Israel groups and actors. Bristol’s investigation processes were effectively weaponised to conduct a witch-hunt against Professor Miller for the crime of opposing Zionist racism.
Despite engaging an expensive Queen’s Counsel earlier this year to assess Professor Miller’s remarks, who concluded that his ‘comments did not constitute unlawful speech’, Bristol has astonishingly claimed that it takes ‘any risk to stifle [academic] freedom seriously’.
That QC report also concluded that Professor Miller’s remarks were neither ‘antisemitic’ nor amounted to ‘discrimination or harassment of a form which threatens to breach the Equality Act 2010’.
Bristol has not only been bludgeoned into sacking Professor Miller today by a barrage of pro-Israel actors, but it has also been hoodwinked by false claims of danger being posed to ‘Jewish students’. Bristol refused to meet with a number of Muslims and people of colour, as well as our Support David Miller campaign group, instead taking evidence largely from white pro-Israel Jews.
This episode, which has targeted a committed anti-racist academic, will go down as one of deep shame in British academic history.
Professor Miller said:
“The University of Bristol has embarrassed itself and the entire British academic sector by capitulating to a pressure campaign against me overseen and directed by a hostile foreign government. It has run a shambolic process that seems to have been vetted by external actors.
“Israel’s assets in the UK have been emboldened by the University collaborating with them to shut down teaching about Islamophobia. The University of Bristol is no longer safe for Muslim, Arab or Palestinian students.
“I stand by my evidence-based comments and I will be challenging this decision, all the way to an Employment Tribunal if necessary.”
1. For further background on the campaign that has been waged against Professor Miller, please consult our FAQs.
3. Statement from Bristol University
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