Seven-hundred Muslims signed a letter in support of anti-Semitic Prof. David Miller, claiming the efforts to oust him are really about “censoring speech on Islamophobia and Israel.”
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
Jewish students at Bristol University are continuing their fight to have an anti-Semitic professor removed. But their efforts have become an uphill battle against Islamic students and institutional indifference.
Professor of Sociology David Miller has been teaching since 2004, the last three years at Britain’s Bristol University.
Besides teaching sociology, the 57-year-old Miller is also the founder and director of a website called Spinwatch. The website, according to its About Us page, “investigates the way that the public relations (PR) industry and corporate and government propaganda distort public debate and undermine democracy.”
Critics accuse Spinwatch of an “apparent obsession with ‘Jewish power’ and bluntly say the site “echoes certain facets of anti-Semitic conspiracism.”
The campus battle first heated up in 2019 when Jewish students complained about a series of Miller’s lectures called “Harms of the Powerful.” In one lecture, Miller said that “ultra Zionist funders are active” in funding hatred of Muslims. An accompanying slideshow described how parts of the “Zionist movement” are one of the so-called “five pillars” of Islamophobia.
Jewish students didn’t directly accuse Miller of anti-Semitism, but said the lecture evoked “anti-Semitic language, tropes and conspiracy theories.” Miller denied the lecture was anti-Semitic, and a university investigation concluded that the material was not hostile to Jews.
Britain’s Labor party, on the other hand, suspended Miller’s membership in 2020 after he accused party leader Sir Keir Starmer of taking money from the “Zionist movement.” Miller claimed that what he called his “targeted harassment” confirmed “the degree of influence that Zionist advocates and lobbyists for Israel have over disciplinary processes and Party policy.”
Miller’s Rhetoric Escalates
Miller’s rhetoric escalated further in July 2020, when he wrote on an online forum, “The Zionist movement, and the Israeli government, are the enemy of the left, the enemy of world peace, and they must be directly targeted.”
Miller continues to teach, and Jewish students maintain they don’t feel safe on campus.
Meanwhile, 700 Muslims signed a letter in support of Miller, claiming the efforts to oust him are really about “censoring speech on Islamophobia and Israel.”
“This campaign is carefully calibrated to muddy the waters between anti-Zionism (opposition to a dangerous, racist political ideology) and hatred of Jews,” the letter said.
Blogger David Collier noted that the signatories included “a run of names” from extremist Islamist organizations” who have posted material denying Israel’s right to exist. The Jewish Chronicle reported that one signatory was “a prominent Muslim activist who shared an article on ‘Rothschild bankers’ and another who praised an ISIS beheader as a ‘beautiful young man.'”
Bristol’s Jewish students aren’t alone in the fight. In March, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism accused Miller of “inciting hatred against Jewish students” and said the administration’s failure to address his anti-Semitism brought the university into “disrepute.”
The administration responded to the lawmaker’s broadside by saying Bristol doesn’t endorse Miller’s views, but added, “Equally, we must balance the rights and often wide-ranging views of students and staff with institutional policies and national law concerning academic freedom and freedom of speech.”
Responding to the stalemate, Collier observed, “The fact Miller can deliver his conspiracies – and there is an audience waiting to drown in – is a sign of where wider society is now at. Miller’s teaching legitimises antisemitic thought, packages it as academia – and delivers it into the veins of students. He is part of a growing problem with antisemitism in the west. Miller can even attack his own Jewish students – apparently without consequence.”
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