Support for David Miller grows

David Miller is being smeared and attacked because of his opposition to Zionism.

BetterThanReal

More than 315 academics and public intellectuals have signed an open letter to the University of Bristol in support of Professor David Miller.

Miller is a researcher who has studied the Israel lobby, the Zionist movement and Islamophobia.

A sustained campaign led by Israel and its lobby is calling for Miller to be fired due to his opposition to Zionism, Israel’s racist state ideology.

Among the signatories to the open letter are Noam Chomsky, novelist and retired English professor Ahdaf Soueif, Palestinian scholar and activist Sami al-Arian, dissident Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, and writer Malia Bouattia.

Also among the signatories are more than a dozen of Miller’s Bristol university colleagues.

“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,” the open letter states.

It says that Miller is the target of “well-orchestrated efforts” to misrepresent his views “as evidence of anti-Semitism.”

His opposition to Zionism has led Israel lobby groups to denounce him using what has now become a habitual smear tactic: false accusations of anti-Jewish bigotry stemming from criticism of Israel and its policies.

The signatories write that they “oppose anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism” and that they “also oppose false allegations and the weaponization of the positive impulses of anti-racism so as to silence anti-racist debate.”

They add that “efforts to target, isolate and purge individuals in this manner are aimed at deterring evidence-based research, teaching and debate.”

On Thursday, there was an online public meeting in support of Miller.

At the public meeting, socialist campaigner Lindsey German said that one of the goals of former Israeli ambassador to Britain Mark Regev had been to break up the alliance between the left and Muslims in Britain, which has grown since 2003 around antiwar campaigns and the Palestine solidarity movement.

Director Ken Loach and comedian Alexei Sayle both sent solidarity messages to the meeting.

Loach said that “Professor Miller is renowned and respected for his rigorous analysis and considered judgments. His voice is important.”

Sayle said, “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.”

People in the Jewish and Muslim communities are also organizing open letters.

A general petition in support of Miller now has almost 2,700 signatories.

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In a debate on the question "is anti-Zionism the same as antisemitism? an attack on a person holding the views of the other side simply for being on that side is an ad-hominum tactic and as such can only serve as a confession that the attacker has no legitimate argument for his side. The only things pro-Zionists have are accusations about the character of their victims.

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Facebook administrators prevent me from sharing this online because 'other people have claimed it contains abusive material.' I was earlier blocked for re-posting material from 'Information Clearing House.'

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The argument from truth isn't a strong one. After all, both Newton and Einstein's theories can't be true, but they were both honest scientists. Miller's theories may be right, they may be right in part, they may be wrong. The point is, we have to have open inquiry, the right to research, the right to publish. Once you shut down on that, you have destroyed the basis for anyone being able to propound any argument at all. Much of what is published, in any area, ought to make your blood boil. That's how we know there is freedom of expression. Publishing what is known to be false should be stopped. That Rome is the capital of France is simply a mistake. That the human blood is green we know to be incorrect. It's much easier to establish what is false or mistaken than to arrive at the truth, which, in some areas at least, is never finalised. No one who is asking for Miller to be sacked has produced evidence of serious mistakes or falsehoods in his work. Even if they had, much of it might yet be valid. The angle of his detractors is ideological. Employing a false definition of anti-Semitism (and we can establish it is false because anti-Semitism must involve hatred of Jews) they seek to ban everything which, according to them, falls within its definition. This is replacing intellectual inquiry by ideological imposition. If Catholic ideology were imposed in this way, it would be impossible to research the effects of abortion laws on women. The support for Miller is heartening, but it needs to be spread far wider. The common folk need to understand what the Israeli lobby is trying to take away from them. As Orwell remarked, liberty is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear. We all have things we don't want to hear, but intellectual freedom means they must be permitted expression.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London.

At The Electronic Intifada he is associate editor and co-host of our podcast.