Board president: ‘Bristol prof’s rants would not be out of place in Der Stürmer’
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Board president: ‘Bristol prof’s rants would not be out of place in Der Stürmer’

In letter to the university's vice chancellor, Marie van der Zyl says the presence of lecturer David Miller risks making it a 'place where Jewish students no longer feel welcome'

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies

Bristol University has been urged to sack a lecturer whose rants “would not look out of place on the pages of Der Stürmer”, the Nazis’ propaganda newspaper.

In a letter to the vice chancellor of the university, President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, warned against the “increasingly hysterical attacks” on UK Jewish groups by Sociology professor David Miller.

This comes amid calls for the lecturer to be sacked, after he had called to “end Zionism as an ideology” and branded it “the enemy.”

When Jewish students complained about the remarks, he doubled down, using alleged “antisemitic tropes”, including a claim that students were running a “campaign of censorship” which is “directed by the state of Israel”.

Writing to Professor Hugh Brady, Bristol University’s VC, Marie van der Zyl said his “increasingly hysterical attacks on British Jewish organisations are now raising the prospect of real physical harm.”

The Board president’s letter

She took issue with his “attacks against the UK’s Jewish community, Jewish communal organisations and Jewish students, which one might charitably describe as completely deranged.”

Marie van der Zyl accused him of having a “particular obsession” with the Community Security Trust, which protects synagogues and Jewish schools, after Miller claimed it “should be under investigation for its ties with the State of Israel.”

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Miller said the CST’s government funding is a “straightforward story of influence-peddling by a foreign state. In particular, a state that has tried to dictate the outcome of the past two general elections, and by any yardstick, succeeded to a great extent.”

Marie van der Zyl called on the institution to “consider whether the University of Bristol is eager to define itself as a place where Jewish students no longer feel welcome – because your institution is already advancing down this path with some speed.”

Prof David Miller

“By failing to end Professor Miller’s tenure as a member of faculty, the University is providing him with the appearance of respectability and academic seriousness which it is entirely clear he does not deserve.”

She asked “why the University is so determined to keep shielding someone whose rants would not look out of place on the pages of Der Stürmer.”

This week, Bristol Jewish students announced a virtual rally would take place next week against Professor Miller, after more than 1,000 signed a petition for the University to act.

On Tuesday Bristol University Student Union released a statement saying it is “deeply concerned” by his comments, and “will always support students who call for action against discrimination on our campus. Antisemitism is unacceptable.”

Despite this, no action has been taken, leading to Jewish students launching a petition urging the University to sack Professor Miller, which has been signed by more than 1,000 people.

Community leaders condemned Miller’s comments while Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West branded his comments “completely unacceptable”.

A spokesperson for the University of Bristol said: “We have received a significant number of calls for Professor David Miller to be dismissed.

“UK law requires that we, like all employers, act in accordance with our internal procedures and the ACAS code of conduct. Any action which we might take as an employer is a private matter. We are under obligations of confidentiality in relation to all of our students and staff, which we will continue to comply with.

“We are speaking to JSoc, Bristol SU and UCU about how we can address students’ concerns swiftly, ensuring that we also protect the rights of our staff.

“We do not endorse the comments made by Professor Miller about our Jewish students. We are proud of our students for their independence and individual contributions to the University and wider society.”

 

 

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