Almost 200 academics have signed an open letter in defence of Bristol’s Professor David Miller, claiming the outcry over his remarks is an attempt to “crush academic freedom.”
Miller, a lecturer of sociology, sparked a backlash in the Jewish community and beyond when he called for an “end to Zionsim” and then accused Bristol’s Jewish student society of being “pawns” of Israel.
This week, a rally involving leading figures in the community such as Countdown’s Rachel Riley and Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl, slammed Bristol for not taking action over Miller’s “intimidation” of Jewish students.
But now high-profile academics including Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler, have signed an open letter in defence of Miller, praising him as an “eminent scholar.”
“We oppose anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism. We also oppose false allegations and the weaponisation of the positive impulses of anti-racism so as to silence anti-racist debate,” state the group.
Dave Rich, director of policy at Community Security Trust branded the letter a “list of shame”. He said: “The signatories are closing ranks around a proponent of antisemitic conspiracy tropes while he slanders Jewish students as racists and Islamophobes. They bring disgrace on academia and shame on every university listed on this letter.”
I've spent two weeks waiting to see if any academics will speak out publicly about David Miller's antisemitic conspiracy theories and his targeting of Jewish students. Finally they have spoken… in his defence. This is the list of shame https://t.co/5qcqoSL9Nd
— Dave Rich (@daverich1) February 26, 2021
The letter, released last night, claims the academic is the victim of a harassment campaign, sparked when he “responded honestly” to a query on Israel and Palestine.
The furore was provoked when Miller accused the university’s Jewish Society of being “political pawns” of Israel.
A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism slammed the comments at the time, saying: “His doubling down on his dangerous claims that Jewish students are the pawns of Israel and pose a threat to Muslims are nothing short of incitement.”
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