Professor David Miller fired after Israel lobby smear campaign

Professor David Miller (CAGE/YouTube)

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 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.”

Yet the statement appeared to exonerate Miller from the Israel’s lobby’s deliberately false allegations of anti-Semitism.

An “independent report” by an unnamed lawyer had found that “Professor Miller’s comments did not constitute unlawful speech,” the statement acknowledged.

Miller said the report had actually gone further and that the lawyer’s report had “explicitly determined” his remarks “were not anti-Semitic.”

The Support David Miller Campaign, which has been rallying around the professor, responded that the university was sending a message that “it will protect racists, and [that] Muslims, Black students and Palestinians are not welcome at Bristol.”

In a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada, the campaign said that the university’s decision was “designed to send a chill down the spines of academics around the world who expose Zionist racism.”

The campaign said that Miller’s sacking had come after a “pressure campaign by Israel’s assets in the UK” and accused the university of collaborating with the Israel lobby.

For his part, Miller said that the decision to fire him was “taken under pressure from the Israel lobby” which he said “lobbies for a hostile foreign state. The university has embarrassed itself.”

Appeal

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.”

An academic expert in propaganda and political pressure groups, Miller has been a key critic of the Israel lobby for the last decade, as well as of Zionism, the state’s racist official ideology.

At the start of 2021, pro-Israel lobby groups ramped up their campaign against him.

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.

With no evidence, the troll army’s operators smeared Miller as guilty of “blatant Jew-hatred” and called on their users to attack the Al Jazeera piece online.

Lobby campaign

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.

Soon after, the university announced it had launched an “investigation” into Miller.

More than 300 academics and public intellectuals pushed back, signing an open letter to the university in support of Miller and his work.

Signatories included Noam Chomsky, Palestinian scholar and activist Sami al-Arian, dissident Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, filmmaker Ken Loach and comedian Alexi Sayle.

“We feel duty-bound to express our solidarity with Professor Miller and to oppose such efforts to crush academic freedom,” the letter stated.

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

In February, 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.”

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Bristol University used to be a top University, proud of its academic prowess and freedom of speech. A shame it has bowed to political pressure. Shame on you, Bristol.

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Where Bristol University should have clearly repudiated this appalling politically motivated attack on academia by agents of a foreign state whose gross violations of human rights get more murderous and criminal by the day due to its feelings of total impunity, it bends to the belligerent lobby determined to hold in a grip of silence by the twisted use of antisemitism, those who stand up for the rights of a people suffering over a century of a brutal settler colonialism that defies all morality, ethics or legality. This descent into the gutter by Bristol University must be exposed, and its shameful decision, that brings academia into disrepute, should be rescinded and compensation for character assassination paid to David Miller.

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Once all legal remedies have been tried, and they will probably fail because of the funk infecting all UK institutions over accusations of anti-Semitism, the UCU must mount the most vigorous campaign. That should, at least, involve a staff and student strike at Bristol, like the one in 1971 to defend the academics at Lancaster Uni falsely accused of indoctrinating their students. The essentials are the same: we believe in free speech, free exchange of ideas, intellectual freedom, until they threaten the rich and powerful. Wait for Starmer to weigh in on the side of Bristol Uni. This is a fascistic measure. It is one step from book burning. What it signals most clearly is the crumbing position of Israel in world opinion. These extreme, hysterical responses are an expression of weakness. The State of Israel and its apologists are afraid of debate, of independent research and publication, they can't meet argument with argument because the well of their arguments ran dry long ago. All that is left to them is to reveal the fascistic sensibility which lurks beneath their proclamations of belief in democracy. They will not stop at this one deplorable dismissal. Every academic who dares to suggest Israel is anything other than a benign society of peace, justice and equality will be hounded by this lobby. Miller is right that the UK is in the grip of vicious, anti-democratic campaign by defenders of the Israeli State. Our democracy is being strangled by their need for absolute control. They have orchestrated thousands of expulsions from Labour; successfully spread a nationwide neurosis which makes people afraid of the most mild opposition to their view. The UCU should call on the entire trade union movement to revolt against this evil action. What is at stake is nothing less than democracy and free speech. Fascists wearing the garb of victims of fascism are poisoning our public life. Everyone must rally to Miller's defence.

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Spot on Frank Dallas. Zionist won’t have debate…they bully, harass and harangue….to the point that institutions just don’t, have the resources to stand up to them. When we do have a neutral forum, like the UCU V Fraser industrial Tribunal case a few years back, the Zionist were shown to be fools and liars. Let’s hope Miller gets his tribunal shortly

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We Palastinian never accuse any one if they have any remarks at us although we are samies like our brothers the Jews
I have no idea Zionism which is political movement keeps referring any remarks as insult for the Jews which is not true
We palastinian always lived with Jews happily we never had any problems till we face with this political movement which disturb every one peace
I praise uk with the freedom of peach I hope the university of Bristol go back to their decision by bring back Mr miller
And always justice will prevail ameen

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Strange that a public institution originally set up to educate the ruling elite claims that Prof.David Miller has not met certain standards of behaviour such as inviting students to think for themselves & question dominant establishment ideologies.

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I defend Israel's right to exist, and condemn Hamas. But along with a great many British and American Jews that I know, I also condemn Israeli government policies, the proliferation of illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank (also condemned by numerous UN resolutions), and appalling human rights abuses which have generated justifiable Palestinian resistance. Abuses by both the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel and the IDF are well documented by the UN OCHA office in Jerusalem - but the weight of criticism is overwhelmingly directed by the UN office against the Government of Israel, and the IDF (lauded by the government of Israil as "the most moral military force in the world." ) The same stance is taken by David Miller, and as an ex-Bristolian graduate, I am appalled by this attack on academic freedom generated by the well-oiled pro-Israel lobby,

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I'm interested to know how you support Israel's right to exist whilst simultaneously, apparently, condemning their settlements. Is it only settlements Western powers have drawn out that are okay? And how are these any different to the Palestinians evicted from their homes? It's all well and good saying you condemn these actions but these actions are how Israel defines its right to exist, by subjugating Palestinians. It's how it even came to exist in the 40s and continues now.

Fundamentally, to support Israel's (the current manifestation) right to exist is to support the eviction and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from land that Israel has defined is its birth right. It's no different from any other fascist ethnostate.

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Such accusations directed at Professor Miller are happening the world over but the UK seems to be the hotbed of such works .
In support of the professor , for the sake of honesty and academic freedom ,I do believe the elephant in the room has been exposed for all to see.
Shame on the University of Bristol for this dismissal .

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Hopefully this will be the time when the fight back begins! For too long there’s been a backing off when the Zionists accuse an individual or organisation of being anti-Semitic. The Israeli State subject the Palestinian people to approbation of their land, build illegal settlements and kill and imprison children - they are a malign being colonising Palestinian land. Hopefully his trade union and students will support him to the hilt.j

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I wish to lend my support to Professor Miller. Bristol University is assaulting his academic freedom.

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As an academic who suffered the loss of his land in Palestine and now lives in the UK, this makes me feel that this "curse" is inescapable, exactly as a Jew felt when s/he were prosecuted not long ago. David's return to his post, restoration of his reputation and receiving compensation for the suffering he is facing and has faced, are the only measures that will make hubdreds if not thousands like me feel contended that we live in a safe and secure place that guarantees our freedom to speech and peaceful rights to defend our cause until we avail. What other choices are you leaving to us and what isbthe message you want us to have, if the above does not materialise?!

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What an appalling decision by Bristol University to sack Professor Miller for his comments regarding Zionism. It is a very disturbing development when a foreign agency is able to illicit the actions of the university in dismissing a person for their personal beliefs

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It is deeply shocking that Bristol University has been taken in by the blatant smearing campaign of Israel lobbyists. These campaigns care nothing for truth or justice. An academic institution such as BU should be capable of seeing below the organized disinformation mounted by these lobbyists. Tragic ignorance in a supposedly academic institution.
Sincerely,
Stephen P. Abbott, B.A.Sc., M.A.Sc.

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Bristol University, please reinstate Prof.David Millar, freedom of speech is a necessity in a University and to stifle that is wrong and cowardly, do not let another Country's Government dictate to you .

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Trace the evidence back. Over 100 Labour MPs & Peers signed a statement condemning Prof, Miller's support for the Palestinian cause. In the guise of self righteous indignation, how dare anyone criticise the power of Israel. What's to do when tropes are true? An unaccountable pro Zion organisation masquerading as British establishment with Blair as puppet master in the Labour Party.

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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.