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OPINION: Oops, David Miller forgot to substitute the word …


If someone is on the far left and wants to engage in behaviour that most Jews would immediately identify as antisemitic, there is only one rule they need to follow to ensure their comrades defend them. Always substitute the word “Jew” for “Zionist”.

David Miller, formerly of the University of Bristol, appears to have forgotten that this week, tweeting the following to a critic: “If you’re not Jewish, don’t be cowed by racial supremacists who want to hector you into political subservience. Judeophobia barely exists. Educate yourselves about Zionism and the tactics used by its adherents.”

He went even further in a subsequent tweet, saying: “The facts: 1. Jews are not discriminated against. 2. They are over-represented in Europe, North America and Latin America in positions of cultural, economic and political power. 3. They are therefore, in a position to discriminate against actually marginalised groups”.

To recap: many readers will remember Miller was let go by Bristol in 2021 after years of delay and obfuscation. Miller promoted wild conspiracy theories about Zionism – you may recall his accusation that an interfaith event at East London mosque where Jews and Muslims made chicken soup together for the needy was all part of a cunning plan by Israel – “a Trojan horse for normalising Zionism in the Muslim community”.

When brave Jewish students at Bristol complained about Miller, he accused them of being “political pawns” of Israel. Back then, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies (which I work for), said some of Miller’s rants “would not look out of place on the pages of Der Stürmer”. It appears Miller is leaning in to that description.

Daniel Sugarman

Yet at the time of Miller’s ousting, hundreds of academics from around the UK signed an open letter condemning what they described as “prolonged harassment of a highly-regarded scholar.”

The signatories predictably claimed to “oppose antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism”, before reaching the crux of their ‘argument’ – “We also oppose false allegations and the weaponisation of the positive impulses of anti-racism so as to silence anti-racist debate.”

Even now, the names of those academics remain attached to the online letter on the “Support David Miller” website.

Even some of those within our community who often deny examples of antisemitism on the far-left have been forced to conclude that Miller’s latest statements about Jews goes well beyond anti-Zionism.

This is despite Miller since becoming a regular contributor to Palestine Declassified, a Press TV show hosted by failed politician Chris Williamson, in which he and others promote conspiracy theories about British Jewish organisations and individuals.

Press TV is controlled by the Iranian regime. Miller also writes for Al-Mayadeen, a Beirut-based pro-Hezbollah media outlet.

And now, of course, we have his latest statements about Jews, where even some of those within our community who often deny examples of antisemitism on the far-left have been forced to conclude that this goes well beyond “anti-Zionism”.

The hundreds of academics working at UK universities who publicly lent their names to support Miller in 2021 now have a decision to make. They can just as publicly make clear that they find his statements loathsome and that they disassociate themselves thoroughly from him. Or they can remain silent, leaving us little choice but to conclude that they continue to hold the same high opinion of him and contempt for his critics.

If they take the latter course, vice chancellors at universities across the country, including Bristol itself (20+ academics in support), Leeds (16), UCL (14), KCL (12) and many others – may want to consider what sort of message that sends to the Jewish community about their institutions.

Even now, as he makes such statements, Miller is planning to take Bristol University to an employment tribunal to try and get his job back. Reportedly his lawyers have described this as a “test case”, where those adjudicating will need to consider whether anti-Zionism is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act.

It certainly is a test case. Will a deeply disturbing individual be reinstated to a role he never should have had in the first place? Or will common sense prevail? The Jewish community will be watching closely.

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