On October 11th, Labour Campaign for Free Speech organised an online meeting to discuss the background to Prof. David Miller’s sacking and how to resist the ongoing Zionist campaign to restrict free speech and academic freedom.
David Miller spoke first, and other speakers included Jewish mathematician, philosopher and socialist activist, Moshé Machover; pro-Palestinian activist, Natalie Strecker, who served as a human rights monitor in Hebron in 2018; rapper and political activist, Lowkey; doctor of medicine, author and academic, Dr Ghada Karmi; and British student, activist and writer with Palestinian and Iraqi heritage, Huda Ammori, who is co-founder of the solidarity group Palestine Action.
Lowkey’s contribution is so well-informed and powerfully expressed that I have cued the video to begin there, however, the discussion is excellent throughout (although there are audio problems in some parts) but in particular I also direct readers to listen to David Miller’s introduction, Huda Ammori’s call for direct action [from 58 mins] and Natalie Strecker’s [from 24 mins] courageous defiance of Labour’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism which conflates Judaism with Zionism in assuming that all Jews are Zionists, and that the state of Israel in its current reality embodies the self-determination of all Jews:
The University of Bristol has fired Professor David Miller, a leading UK critic of Israel and its lobby.
After a years-long campaign of smears by that same lobby, the university said on Friday [Oct 1st] that, “Professor David Miller is no longer employed by the University of Bristol.”
The statement said only that Miller “did not meet the standards of behavior we expect from our staff,” though it did not elaborate.
Miller told The Electronic Intifada he would be appealing and “fighting it all the way.”
From a report written by Asa Winstanley, published by The Electronic Intifada.
The university said in its statement that Miller “has a right of internal appeal which he may choose to exercise and nothing in this statement should be taken to prejudge that.”
The university “does not intend to make any further public comment at this time,” it said.
Bristol University further claimed that it was committed to an environment preserving “academic freedom.” But in what seemed a Freudian slip, it also said that “we take any risk to stifle that freedom seriously.”
A who’s who of right-wing figures, anti-Palestinian activists and Israel lobbyists made a massive effort to push for Miller to be fired, with even British politicians piling on. […]
These included the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Community Security Trust.
At the end of February, Israel itself also got involved, mobilizing one of its online troll armies to flood social media conversations with calls for Miller to be fired.
Act.IL – which is directed and funded by an Israeli ministry – issued a mission calling for attacks on an opinion piece published by Al Jazeera defending Miller.
However, David Miller has also received a great deal of support including statements of solidarity from filmmaker Ken Loach and comedian Alexei Sayle and many hundreds of academics and relevant others including Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappé, Norman Finkelstein, Ronnie Kasrils and John Pilger who have signed an open letter of support which is reprinted in full below.
On February 20th, Miller wrote in a piece for The Electronic Intifada that:
Britain is in the grip of an assault on its public sphere by the state of Israel and its advocates.
Meaningful conversations about anti-Black racism and Islamophobia have been drowned out by a concerted lobbying campaign targeting universities, political parties, the equalities regulator and public institutions all over the country.
Earlier this month, the newly elected secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Zara Mohammed, was set upon by two of the most energetic Zionist campaigners in British public life (Laura Marks and BBC presenter Emma Barnett) within days of taking up her position.
This month American commentator Nathan J. Robinson revealed how The Guardian fired him as a columnist for a mere tweet referencing US military aid to Israel.
At the same time, the celebrated film director Ken Loach was smeared by Israel lobby groups such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who attempted to prevent him speaking to students at the Oxford college where he studied.
And this week, Israel’s lobby in Britain has trained its guns on me.
In February 2019, I delivered a lecture for a course I teach at Bristol explaining the five pillars theory of Islamophobia.
The theory details the mechanisms by which certain states, far-right movements, the neoconservative movement, the Zionist movement and the liberal New Atheist movement promote Islamophobia.
Within weeks, the pro-Israel Community Security Trust complained to Bristol university about the inclusion of the Zionist movement in my teaching.
This was followed by a complaint to university authorities against me drafted by the Union of Jewish Students, a group revealed in an undercover Al Jazeera investigation to be funded by the Israeli embassy in London.
There can be no doubt, too, about the threat Israel’s campaign of censorship poses to Arab and Muslim students, who are silenced from expressing how the racism that targets them actually works.
Bristol university has seen several shocking racist incidents unfold in recent years, including far-right posters plastered over its campus and an event co-hosted by the Zionist Pinsker Centre at which the guest speakers included the proudly Islamophobic former British army colonel, Richard Kemp.
Also speaking was Yossi Kuperwasser, the former “head of research” of Israeli military intelligence and former director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the department in charge of overseeing manufactured anti-Semitism allegations internationally and of targeting pro-Palestinian activists around the world.
The Israel lobby’s attack on me lays bare what is actually going on – a weaponization of bogus anti-Semitism claims to shut down and manipulate discussion of Islamophobia.
But the lobby’s tactics are only so effective because they are rarely challenged. It is time for those who are concerned about Islamophobia, racism and academic freedom to make their voices heard.
Click here to read David Miller’s full article entitled “We must resist Israel’s war on British universities” published by The Electronic Intifada on February 20th.
And here to read Asa Winstanley’s full article published by The Electronic Intifada on October 1st.
Additional: Educators and researchers in support of Professor Miller
Public intellectuals, educators and researchers speak out against the censorship campaign targeted at Bristol’s David Miller
Professor Hugh Brady
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Bristol
Re: Academic freedom and the harassment and victimisation of Professor David Miller
Dear Professor Brady,
We wish to express our serious concerns about the unrelenting and concerted efforts to publicly vilify our colleague Professor David Miller.
Professor Miller is an eminent scholar. He is known internationally for exposing the role that powerful actors and well-resourced, co-ordinated networks play in manipulating and stage-managing public debates, including on racism. The impact of his research on the manipulation of narratives by lobby groups has been crucial to deepening public knowledge and discourse in this area.
The attacks on Professor Miller stem from a lecture on Islamophobia that he gave to students at the University of Bristol two years ago. In the most recent instance of this harassment, Professor Miller was approached to provide a statement on Israel-Palestine. When he responded honestly to the query, well-orchestrated efforts were made to misrepresent these responses as evidence of anti-Semitism. A call was then made to the University of Bristol to deprive him of his employment.
We oppose anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism. We also oppose false allegations and the weaponisation of the positive impulses of anti-racism so as to silence anti-racist debate. We do so because such vilification has little to do with defeating the harms caused by racism. Instead, efforts to target, isolate and purge individuals in this manner are aimed at deterring evidence-based research, teaching and debate.
Prolonged harassment of a highly-regarded scholar and attempts to denigrate a lifetime’s scholarship cause significant distress to the individual. Such treatment also has a broader pernicious effect on scholarship and well-informed public discourse. It creates a culture of self-censorship and fear in the wider academic community. Instead of free and open debate, an intimidatory context is created and this can be particularly worrying for those who do not hold positions of seniority, influence or stable employment, particularly in times of job uncertainty and in a sector with high levels of casualised employment. As a result, important scholarship is omitted, and this curtails the public’s and students’ right to learn and to engage in thoughtful debate.
At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has reinvigorated public consciousness about the structural factors entrenching racism, attempts to stifle discourse on Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism are particularly regressive and inconsistent with the values the University of Bristol espouses.
As public intellectuals and academics, we feel duty-bound to express our solidarity with Professor Miller and to oppose such efforts to crush academic freedom. Given your roles within the University and your responsibilities to the wider academic community, we urge you to vigorously defend the principle of academic freedom and the rights to free speech and to evidence-based & research-informed public discourse. We hope that you will uphold the integrity of academic debate.
Professor Simon Tormey, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro VC (Student Experience)
Professor Tansy Jessop, Pro VC (Education)
Professor Judith Squires, Provost
Mr Jack Boyer, Chair, Board of Trustees
Dr Moira Hamlin, Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees
Ms Jane Bridgwater, Director of Legal Services
Professor Noam Chomsky, University of Arizona, Linguistics
Dr Ahdaf Soueif, Writer and Retired Professor in English at Cairo University
Professor Sami Al-Arian, Istanbul Zaim University, Director, Center for Islam and Global Affairs
Professor Ilan Pappé, University of Exeter, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Mr John Pilger, Journalist, Author and Filmmaker
Dr Norman G Finkelstein, Political Scientist and Author
Mr Ronnie Kasrils, Author and Former South African Government Minister (1994-2008)
Dr François Burgat, Emeritus Senior Research Fellow at French National Centre for Scientific Research
Professor Deepa Kumar, Rutgers University, Communication and Information
Dr Françoise Vergès, Political Scientist, Historian and Feminist
Professor Emeritus Seamus Deane, University of Notre Dame
Mr Sami Ramadani, London Metropolitan University, Social Sciences (Retired)
Professor Peter Kennard, Royal College of Art, Photography
Professor Salman Sayyid, University of Leeds, Sociology and Social Policy
Professor Augustine John, Coventry University, Office of Teaching & Learning
Professor Emeritus Joseph Oesterlé, Sorbonne University, Paris, Mathematics
Professor Ad Putter, University of Bristol
Professor Alf Nilsen, University of Pretoria, Sociology
Professor Aeron Davis, Victoria University of Wellington, Political Science and International Relations
Professor Ali Rattansi, City, University of London, Sociology
Professor Anand Pillay, University of Notre Dame, Mathematics
Professor Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham, Politics and International Relations
Professor Anna Gilmore, University of Bath, Health
Professor Bryan McGovern, Kennesaw State University, History
Professor Cahal McLaughlin, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Arts, English and Languages
Professor Chris Knight, University College London, Anthropology
Professor Craig Brandist, University of Sheffield, Languages and Cultures
Professor Cyra Choudhury, Florida International University, Law
Professor Daniel Boyarin, University of California at Berkeley, Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric
Professor Daniel Broudy, Okinawa Christian University, Rhetoric and Applied Linguistics
Professor David H. Price, St Martin’s University, Society and Social Justice
Professor David Randall Roediger, University of Kansas, American Studies
Professor David Whyte, University of Liverpool, Sociology
Professor Des Freedman, Goldsmiths, University of London, MCCS
Professor Elizabeth Poole, University of Keele, Humanities
Professor Eshragh Motahar, Union College, Schenectady NY, Economics
Professor Frank García Hernández, Juan Marinello Cuban Institute for Cultural Research
Professor Hagit Borer, QMUL, Fellow of the British Academy
Professor Haim Bresheeth-Zabner, SOAS, Palestine Studies Centre
Professor Hamish Cunningham, University of Sheffield, Computer Science
Professor Hans Klein, Georgia Institute of Technology, Public Policy
Professor Harry Hemingway, UCL, Institute of Health Informatics
Professor Hatem Bazian, Zaytuna College and University of California, Berkeley, Islamic Law and Theology
Professor Helen Colhoun, University of Edinburgh, IGMM
Professor Iain Munro, Newcastle University, Business
Professor Iftikhar H. Malik, Bath Spa University, History
Professor Izzat Darwazeh, University College London, Engineering
Professor James Dickins, University of Leeds, Languages, Cultures and Societies
Professor Jane Wheelock, Newcastle University, Geography, Politics and Sociology
Professor Janet C.E. Watson, University of Leeds, Languages, Cultures and Societies
Professor Jared Ball, Morgan State University
Professor Jawed IA Siddiqi, Sheffield Hallam University, Computing
Professor Jeff Goodwin, New York University, Sociology
Professor Jeremy Keenan, Queen Mary University London, Law
Professor John Parkinson, Maastricht University, Philosophy
Professor John Womack Jr, Harvard University, History
Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Bristol, Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Professor Julian Petley, Brunel University London, Social Sciences
Professor Julian Williams, University of Manchester, Education
Professor Kate Alexander, University of Johannesburg, South African Research Chair in Social Change
Professor Kevin O’Neill, Boston College, History
Professor Mario Novelli, University of Sussex, Education
Professor Maurice L. Wade, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, Philosophy
Professor Megan Povey, University of Leeds, Food Science and Nutrition
Professor Michael Rowlinson, University of Exeter, Business
Professor Michael Wayne, Brunel University London, Media
Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio, University of Manchester, Humanities
Professor Mohan Dutta, Massey University, Culture-Centered Approach to Research & Evaluation
Professor Mujahid Kamran, Former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University
Professor Nacira Guénif, University of Paris VIII, Education Sciences
Professor Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Professor Nigel Patrick Thomas, University of Central Lancashire, Social Work, Care and Community
Professor Patrick Bond, University of the Western Cape, Government
Professor Paul McKeigue, University of Edinburgh, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Professor Penny Green, QMUL, Law
Professor Pilar Garrido Clemente, Murcia University, Arabic and Islamic Studies
Professor Rafik Beekun, University of Nevada, Management and Strategy
Professor Ray Bush, University of Leeds POLIS
Professor Richard Jackson, University of Otago, New Zealand, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Professor Salim Vally, University of Johannesburg, Education
Professor Sam Ashman, University of Johannesburg, Economics
Professor Sandra Eldridge, QMUL, Institute of Population Health Sciences
Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, National University of Ireland Galway, Health Promotion
Professor Schneur Zalman, Newfield CUNY, Social Sciences
Professor Siobhan Wills, Ulster University, Law
Professor Steve Tombs, The Open University, Social Policy and Criminology
Professor Susan Newman, The Open University, Economics
Professor Tariq Modood, University of Bristol, Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Professor Tim Hayward, University of Edinburgh, Social and Political Science
Professor T. J. Demos, UC Santa Cruz, History of Art and Visual Culture
Professor Tom Cockburn, Edge Hill University, Social Sciences
Professor Yosefa Loshitzky, SOAS, University of London, Media Studies
Professor Emeritus Alex Callinicos, King’s College London
Professor Emerita Avery F Gordon, UC Santa Barbara, Sociology
Professor Emeritus Bill Rolston, Ulster University, Transitional Justice Institute
Professor Emeritus Chris Roberts, University of Manchester, Health Science
Professor Emeritus Colin Green, University College London, Surgery and Interventional Sciences
Professor Emeritus Colin Webster, Leeds Beckett University, Social Sciences
Professor Emeritus Daniel Cornford, San Jose State University, History
Professor Emeritus David Emmons, University of Montana, History
Professor Emeritus David Moshman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Educational Psychology
Professor Emeritus Dennis Leech, University of Warwick, Economics
Professor Emeritus G Rex Smith, University of Manchester, History
Professor Emeritus Hartmut Logemann, University of Bath, Mathematical Sciences
Professor Emeritus Henry Maitles, University of the West of Scotland, Education and Social Sciences
Professor Emeritus Jennifer Birkett, University of Birmingham, Modern Languages
Professor Emeritus John Marriott, University of Oxford, History
Professor Emeritus Kerby Miller, University of Missouri, History
Professor Emeritus Laurence Dreyfus, University of Oxford, Faculty of Music
Professor Emeritus Leslie Sklair, London School of Economics, Sociology
Professor Emeritus Mark Duffield University of Bristol, School of Politics and International Studies
Professor Emeritus Mike Gonzalez, University of Glasgow, Latin American Studies
Professor Emeritus Mike Tomlinson, Queen’s University Belfast, Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
Professor Emeritus Moshé Machover, King’s College London, Philosophy (Retired)
Professor Emeritus Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Bowling Green State University, Journalism and Public Relations
Professor Emeritus Paddy Hillyard, Queen’s University Belfast, Sociology
Professor Emeritus Patrick Williams, Nottingham Trent University, Media and Cultural Studies
Professor Emeritus Phil Scraton, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Law
Professor Emeritus Stan Smith, Nottingham Trent University, English
Professor Emeritus Timothy Gorringe, University of Exeter, Theology
Professor Emeritus Vivien Walsh, University of Manchester, Innovation Research
Professor Emeritus William Nolan, University College Dublin, Geography
Adjunct Professor Matthew MacLellan, Mount Saint Vincent University
Associate Professor Anthony J Langlois, Flinders University, Business, Government and Law
Associate Professor Claire Blencowe, University of Warwick, Sociology
Associate Professor Issam Aburaya, Seton Hall University, Religion
Associate Professor Jesús David Rojas Hernández, Universidad Nacional Experimental Simón Rodríguez
Associate Professor Mark Taylor, University of Queensland, Modern Languages
Associate Professor Yusuf Ahmad, University of the West of Bristol England (Retired)
Assistant Professor Tim Kelly, Coventry University, English
Honorary Professor Iain Ferguson, University of the West of Scotland
Former Honorary Visiting Professor Roy Greenslade, City, University of London, Journalism
Click here to read the original letter with the complete list of signatories.
And here to add your own name to support David Miller