Public figures speak out to defend Bristol professor David Miller

Professor David Miller
Sophia Purdy-Moore

A campaign is growing to defend professor David Miller against attempts to have him suspended from his role at the University of Bristol. Campaigners have planned an act of solidarity in Bristol city centre. And on the evening of 13 March, Labour Campaign for Free Speech (LCFS) is holding a public online meeting in support of Miller. A number of public figures will be speaking out in Miller’s defence at this meeting.

Attempts to censor Miller

The Community Security Trust (CST) launched a campaign to censor Miller two years ago. This was based on allegations of antisemitism in response to his academic work linking Zionism to Islamophobia. In response to the latest allegations – led by Bristol’s JSoc and the Union of Jewish Students – a CST spokesperson said:

CST first complained to Bristol University about Professor David Miller’s promotion of what we consider to be antisemitic conspiracy theories two years ago, following concerns raised with us by Jewish students attending his lectures.

They added:

Despite repeated complaints Bristol University took no significant action and their negligence has led to this latest outrage, in which Miller explicitly targeted Bristol University’s Jewish Society by associating them with an “enemy” – Zionism – that he slanders as Islamophobic and racist and says must be defeated.

They concluded by saying:

This is unconscionable language for any academic to use about students at his own university. It has nothing to do with academic freedom and brings into question whether any students, Jewish or not, should remain under Professor Miller’s duty of care.

Those being anti-Zionist, however, argue that it is not the same as antisemitism, i.e. anti-Jewish prejudice. On the misleading conflation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism, The Canary‘s senior editor Emily Apple, who identifies as Jewish, has said:

Being anti-Zionist is not being antisemitic. Questioning Israel’s aggressive policies, Palestinian deaths, and illegal land occupations does not make anyone antisemitic. Protesting Israeli interests and supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign does not make someone antisemitic. Being Jewish is not being Israeli, and we need to stop conflating the two.
The campaign for academic freedom

Miller’s supporters have launched a campaign to defend him. They’re calling on activists to send letters in defence of free speech to the university’s vice chancellor.

LCFS has organised a public online meeting at 5pm on 13 March to defend Miller, academic freedom, and free speech. Public figures including rapper Lowkey, Palestine-based investigative journalist Jonathan Cook and author Matt Kennard will join the discussion.

Campaigners established LCFS in 2021 to support freedom of speech and publication. A spokesperson for the group said:

Those who seek to get Professor Miller fired from his job won’t stop there. Other academics who are critical of Israel will be targeted and possibly fired. And it won’t take much of this to persuade other academics to stop speaking out against Israel’s policies for fear of losing their careers.

They added:

The campaign against Professor Miller is specifically designed to conflate criticism of Zionism with hatred of Jews. It is also designed to shut down teaching about Islamophobia and the harms posed by Zionism. Professor Miller is a test case – Israel’s lobby in Britain wants to use the widely criticised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism to ban all criticism of the State of Israel, its policies and its ideology. It’s essential that we prevent this.

Growing support

A number of public figures have spoken out in support of Miller.

Film director Ken Loach said:

Universities depend on the freedom within the law to challenge all ideologies and political movements. Professor Miller is renowned and respected for his rigorous analysis and considered judgements. His voice is important. All are free to challenge his opinions but none should advocate their suppression. Everyone who cherishes free speech should stand with David Miller.

Political comedian Alexei Sayle expressed solidarity, saying:

A healthy society is one where people can speak the truth even about uncomfortable subjects. No-one should lose their job for telling the truth. I want to express my support for and solidarity with David Miller.

Moreover, former Labour MP Chris Williamson celebrated Miller’s academic achievements, saying:

David Miller is an esteemed academic who has made an invaluable contribution in highlighting Islamophobia, critiquing Zionist ideology and explaining the interrelationship between state and corporate power.

And Matzpen founder professor Moshe Machover said:

David Miller has been targeted by the British establishment and the Zionist lobby, as part of the ongoing campaign designed to stifle all opposition to the Zionist colonisation project and Israeli settler state. He should be defended by all those who value freedom of speech, and in particular academic freedom.

Campaigners have planned an act of solidarity to take place in Bristol city centre, and the LCFS has invited members of the public to the online meeting in support of Miller.

Featured image via Labour Free Speech

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  • Show Comments
    1. It is clear that anti-Zionism is absolutely NOT anti-Semitism.
      But what does Ms Apple mean when she says she “identifies” as Jewish? Is she Jewish or not? And does that matter at all in the context of differentiating between legitimate criticism of a sovereign state and bigotry?
      I agree with whatever Alexei Sayle says.

    2. Yes indeed, ‘Internationalist’. I can feel them now, barely able to restrain themselves in their zeal. Oh no, wait, I might have been just needing the loo. 😉

      Interestingly, its also ‘anti-semitic’ to conflate all Jewish people and the STATE that happens to be called Israel; and its also ‘anti-semitic’ to consider Israel as being ANY DIFFERENT to other states – many of which also practice racial discrimination, institutionalised murder, cultural eradication, and genicidal tendencies towards their neighbours.

      The state called Israel is NOT uniquely horrible in its activities. And therefore it cannot be ‘anti-semitic’ to point out its activities – but instead it IS anti-semitic to attempt to deny that the state called Israel would not behave in such a manner.

      Needless to say, this will not change matters however, as it is not about definitions, but about WHO HAS THE POWER.

      That is what all this is about.

      It sure as hell isn’t about protecting the poor Haredim on UK streets getting attacked by the empowered far-right.

      One of the best things about Islam, is its harsh punishments for those who bear false witness.

      It is not Professor Miller who would have to be worried.

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