Pressure mounts on Bristol Uni over academic accused of ‘antisemitic tropes’
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Pressure mounts on Bristol Uni over academic accused of ‘antisemitic tropes’

More than 1,000 sign petition to have Prof. David Miller removed, after he called for 'Zionism to end' and claimed a campaign of censorship is 'directed by the State of Israel'

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Prof David Miller
Prof David Miller

Pressure is mounting on Bristol University to take action against a professor accused of using countless “antisemitic tropes” in a response to complaints made by the Jewish society.

Sociology lecturer David Miller has doubled down on remarks made earlier this week, when he called to “end Zionism as a functioning ideology“, branding it the “enemy”.

His comments are the latest in a string of incidents which have led to formal complaints by Jewish community groups and students lodged with the university.

A campaign was also launched to have him removed from his post, which has had more than 1,000 signatures.

Asked by student publication The Tab about his remarks, professor Miller again went on the offensive, branding Zionism “a racist, violent, imperialist ideology premised on ethnic cleansing” which has “no place in any society.”

He accused Bristol Jewish society (Jsoc) of operating “under the auspices of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), an Israel lobby group” which is “constitutionally bound to promoting Israel”.

Miller claimed Jewish students run a “campaign of censorship” and that Bristol Jsoc “have consistently attacked me with a campaign of manufactured hysteria for two years, attempting to have me sacked.”

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The campaign reached new heights of absurdity when a Zionist activist pretended to be a student in one of my classes for which she was not registered, expressly for the purpose of political surveillance. This is an age-old Israel lobby tactic imported from the US, where academics are routinely harassed for teaching about Zionism and its effects.”

He claimed the campaign “is directed by the State of Israel” and that the Jewish state “and its advocates deserve the same treatment.”

His comments led to accusations of antisemitism by author and campaigner Dave Rich, who tweeted: “Count the antisemitic tropes: dual loyalty, conspiracy, subterfuge, dishonesty, racism, a global network with Israel pulling the strings. Prof Miller isn’t speaking about some mythical Elder of Zion but about – and to – actual Jewish students at his own Bristol University”.

Mark Gardner, Chief Executive of the Community Security Trust said: “Bristol University’s disgrace gets worse by the day”, in not taking action against Miller. “They are failing in their most basic duty of care to all students, whether Jewish or not.”

Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West told Jewish News: “There is absolutely no place for antisemitism in our universities, our city or anywhere and it must be dealt with. I’ve spoken to members of the Jewish Society and others and I’ll be meeting with University authorities as soon as possible to discuss the situation.”

A spokesperson for the Union of Jewish students branded his comments “ridiculous and baseless”.

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

It said: “We are committed to upholding the IHRA definition of Antisemitism and will continue to combat discrimination on campus.”

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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