Leading Jewish organisation slams Bristol Uni for ‘continued employment’ of David Miller

The Professor has said that Zionism is a ‘racist, violent, imperialist ideology premised on ethnic cleansing’

The Board of Deputies of British Jews have published an open letter to Bristol Uni VC Hugh Brady condemning the continued employment, and therefore support, of Sociology professor, David Miller whose “increasingly hysterical attacks on British Jewish organisations are now raising the prospect of real physical harm”.

The Board of Deputies have called on Brady to consider whether the “University of Bristol is eager to define itself as a place where Jewish students no longer feel welcome”.

By continuing to employ Miller, they state that this provides him “with the appearance of respectability and academic seriousness” which his “increasingly dangerous statements” do not deserve.

The letter also says: “Like any academic institution in this country, you will doubtless be concerned with the importance of freedom of speech.

“But in the UK, unlike the US, there has always been an understanding that free speech should not include hate speech – and we believe Professor Miller’s statements fall unquestionably into that latter category.”

The University of Bristol released an updated statement this afternoon, telling The Bristol Tab: “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.”

On Saturday, Miller launched an attack calling for the “the end” of Zionism as well as claiming “It’s fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism too”. He went on to criticise Jewish student groups, leading to the president of Bristol JSoc being targeted for abuse online.

Miller’s recent comments come after two years of complaints made against the professor. He was widely condemned in 2019 when images emerged of presentation slides from his lectures claiming “Zionist movements (parts of) as being “one of the five pillars of Islamophobia”.

The Union of Jewish Students and Bristol JSoc launched a video today announcing a virtual protest next Wednesday to “to tell the university that David Miller’s views are no longer tolerated on our campus.”

The Bristol JSoc will be meeting imminently with the university. Edward Isaacs, President of the JSoc, told The Bristol Tab: “We welcome the opportunity to meet the university. However, these issues are not new and have been raised in multiple meetings previously and in formal complaints.

“Our message going into this meeting will be, action needs to be taken.”

Thangam Debonnaire, MP for Bristol West where the university is located, also voiced support for Jewish students at the the University of Bristol.

Debonnaire told The Bristol Tab in a statement: “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.”

In a statement to The Bristol Tab yesterday, Miller called Zionism a “racist, violent, imperialist ideology premised on ethnic cleansing”, “endemically anti-Arab and Islamophobic ideology,” and said “It has no place in any society.”

He claimed that the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) is obliged to “silence critics of Zionism or the State of Israel on British campuses”. He also said that the Bristol JSoc, alongside all Jewish Societies and the UJS, are engaged in a “campaign of censorship” which “renders Arab and Muslim students, as well as anti-Zionist Jewish students, particularly unsafe.”

In an updated statement following publication of the Board of Deputies letter, 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.”

The Bristol Tab has reached out to Professor David Miller for comment.

Featured image: Jewish students campaigning for Bristol Uni to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism in the last academic year, which it did

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