Damning report accuses Bristol Uni of ‘bad practice’ on tackling anti-Semitism

There have been seven reported anti-Semitic incidences at Bristol Uni since 2018


A new damning report by CST (Community Security Trust) accuses Bristol Uni 0f “bad practice” for its failure to tackle anti-Semitism.

The report says there have been seven anti-Semitic incidences in Bristol since 2018, making Bristol one of six cities with five or more recorded cases of anti-Semitism.

The dossier written by CST, a UK charity that advises and represents the Jewish community on matters of anti-Semitism, terrorism, policing and security, lists all 123 reported on campus anti-Semitic incidences that occurred between 2018-2020.

Notably, with the exception of Coventry and Leicester, all the cities with the highest numbers of anti-Semitic incidences “represent the locations with the largest Jewish student populations, and therefore follow the national trend towards more incidents in areas with larger Jewish populations”.

CST dedicates over two pages of the 36 page report to sociology Professor David Miller, a lecturer in the School of Policy Studies at Bristol. Miller was suspended from the Labour Party earlier this year after claiming Keir Starmer was in receipt of “Zionist money”.

In his infamous lecture slides he accuses the “Zionist movement parts of” as being a pillar of islamophobia.  Jewish students have repeatedly condemned Miller for his comments.

Bristol Uni is used as an example of “bad practice” for its failure to deal with the complaints made against Miller. The report slams the institution’s failure to “address Jewish students” concerns seriously and in a timely manner” because the complaint against Professor David Miller “is still ongoing, over a year-and-a-half after Professor Miller’s original lecture”.

It further alleges that “the Jewish Society has not been informed of any progress in deciding whether the complaint is worthy of a disciplinary investigation into Miller. Nor has there been any clarity from the university about whether Miller will be allowed to teach the same untrue conspiracy theories in future lectures”.

Bristol Uni said that it is “unable to comment” on this section of the report as it regarding a member of staff.

In a statement to The Bristol Tab, the Bristol JSoc (Jewish Society) president-elect said: “CST’s latest report unfortunately shows that anti-Semitism can still be found on campus. There is no place for anti-Semitism and I welcome the recommendations put forward by CST.”

Incidents documented in this report include the Jeremy Corbyn rally where Jewish Bristol Uni students were subject to anti-Semitic abuse. According to the report, students were called “filthy zios” and “puppets of the Zionist lobby”, well-known anti-Semitic tropes. One student was also reportedly physically attacked at the event.

Also noted in the report is the incident with Omar Chowdhury (Bristol BME officer 2018-2019) who told a Jewish student to “be like Israel and cease to exist” in a debate in the Bristruths comments section.

When asked if the SU regrets allowing Omar to continue in his post, they stated they “don’t have anything further to add”, noting that their full response is in the report.

The Bristol Tab put the various allegations raised in the report to Bristol University, including the length of the time since the complaint against Professor David Miller was filed, and whether the university “misleadingly insisted that it did not receive any complaints about Miller’s lecture from any students who were present.”

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We are committed to making our university an inclusive place for all students and have been working closely with Jewish students to try and understand their specific concerns and worries.

“A key outcome from these discussions was the adoption, in full, of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism last year.

“As part of this approach, we have consulted on the adoption of additional definitions relating to other minority groups that may also feel vulnerable to discrimination and hatred.  Following this consultation, we have also adopted the APPG definition of Islamophobia.

“We seek at all times to abide by both our Freedom of Speech Code of Practice and our Public Sector Equality Duties.  Specifically, we are steadfast in our commitment to freedom of speech and to the rights of all our students and staff to discuss difficult and sensitive topics.

“Universities are places of research and learning, where debate and dissent are not only permitted but expected, and where controversial and even offensive ideas may be put forward, listened to and challenged.  Intellectual freedom is fundamental to our mission and values. We also affirm our equally strong commitment to making our university a place where all feel safe, welcomed and respected, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or social background.

“We would urge anyone who feels that they have been discriminated against or subject to any form of harassment, to contact our support services so we can offer appropriate help and support.

“Our approach is to enable and promote free speech and encourage debate of all kinds, consistent with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (EHRC). This states that restrictions on free speech may be permitted where the restriction is necessary to protect the reputation or rights of others, or in the interests of national security or public safety.

“The university supports the view of the EHRC, that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and that such freedom is applicable not only to information or ideas that are favourably received, but also to those that have the potential to offend, shock or disturb the listener. This means that there must be an atmosphere of free and open discussion.

“We are unable to comment on specific elements of this report as it relates to an individual member of staff.”

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