Rachel Riley Countdown Channel 4

Countdown’s Rachel Riley to speak at JSoc rally protesting Bristol Uni’s David Miller

David Miller has been accused of targeting Jewish students

Rachel Riley will be speaking at an online rally, organised by the Bristol Jewish Society (JSoc) and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), in protest at sociology professor David Miller’s comments that targeted Jewish students at Bristol Uni.

The JSoc and UJS rally is taking place on Facebook Live and Twitter at 5pm today, and is aimed at pressuring Bristol Uni to take action against the professor, using the tagline and hashtag “Hate Off Campus”.

On Saturday 13th February, David Miller criticised Jewish student groups in an online Zoom event, leading to the president of Bristol JSoc being targeted for abuse online. Also in his comments, he called for the “the end” of Zionism, as well as claiming “it’s fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism too”.

On Thursday 18th February, Miller doubled down on his comments, while also claiming that a student was involved in “political surveillance” against him, and that attacks on him are “directed by the State of Israel”.

Rachel Riley currently co-presents the Channel 4 puzzle show Countdown, and its spinoff 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and was a contender on Strictly Come Dancing in 2013. She is also a well-known campaigner against antisemitism, coming out publicly against Jeremy Corbyn and his mishandling of antisemitism allegations in the Labour Party.

Also speaking will be Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West MP), Lord John Mann (Government Independent Advisor on Antisemitism), Leah Martindale (Postgraduate Officer at Bristol SU), Marie Van der Zyl, (President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews), James Harris (UJS President) and Edward Isaacs (Bristol JSoc President).

Yesterday the Bristol JSoc and UJS representatives met with Sarah Purdy (Pro-VC Education) and Zoe Pither (Head of Student Inclusion). They slammed the university, saying in a statement: “The University has failed to give concrete steps on what they can do to protect their Jewish students from hatred and racism both physically and digitally.”

In a statement to The Bristol Tab, a spokesperson for the University of Bristol said: “We had a useful meeting today with Bristol JSoc and UJS. We heard their concerns and are continuing to work with them.

“However, at the students’ request, we are unable to go into detail about the discussions.

“We remain committed to making our University an inclusive place for all students, while also upholding our commitment to freedom of speech and to the rights of all our students and staff to discuss difficult and sensitive topics.”

On Friday, a group of MPs slammed the Bristol Uni, 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: “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.

Bristol 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.

You can find information about the rally here.

Featured image: Channel 4 / YouTube

Stories recommended by this writer:

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

• ‘Anti-Semitism is unacceptable’: Bristol SU back JSoc after comments made by lecturer

Bristol Uni Law lecturer under fire from Islamic Society over ‘Islamophobic’ remarks