MPs tell Bristol it is giving ‘green light to anti-Jewish incitement’

‘Professor David Miller has in our opinion been inciting hatred against Jewish students on your campus.’

A group of MPs has slammed the University of Bristol today, saying in a letter to Vice Chancellor Hugh Brady: “For every day that this goes unaddressed, you will be giving a green light to anti-Jewish incitement.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism wrote to Brady: “Professor Miller brings public shame to your institution and his comments are dangerous”, adding that they wrote to the university two years ago about Miller, but said: “The lack of action since has been palpable.”

The group is composed of MPs from all parties, including Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, and Plaid Cymru.

Miller has also been heavily criticised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Bristol SU, the Union of Jewish Students, the Community Security Trust, Labour Against Antisemitism, Bristol staff, students, alumni, leading figures in the UK, among others.

Bristol University said in a statement today that it cannot unilaterally fire staff members due to employment law, but told 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.”

MPs said in the letter that in their opinion, Miller has been “inciting hatred against Jewish students on your campus”, noting that he directly targeted students in his recent remarks.

On Thursday, Miller replied to a request for comment from The Bristol Tab, which the APPG described as including “accusations of dual loyalty, conspiracy, subterfuge, dishonesty, racism and a global network with Israel pulling the strings, focussed on Bristol university’s Jewish student society”.

They have requested an urgent meeting with VC Hugh Brady, adding that they want to “make clear the cross-party consensus on the requirement for you to take appropriate action to address this disturbing behaviour.”

Thangam Debonnaire, MP for Bristol West, also condemned Miller, telling The Bristol Tab: “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.”

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, with Bristol JSoc targeted by Miller, 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”.

He said in a statement to The Bristol Tab on Thursday that Zionism is 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.”

Bristol JSoc and the UJS are organising an online rally on Wednesday to pressure the university into dealing with antisemitism on campus.

Featured image: Harry’s Place / YouTube

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