The University of Bristol has come under huge pressure to sack one of its senior academics, Professor David Miller. Allegations have been made about the content of a lecture he delivered in 2019 and subsequent statements. His accusers at the university have been supported by external bodies alleging that his teaching, research and public statements are antisemitic.
The following motion was passed by the UCU Branch at Leeds Beckett University
Leeds Beckett UCU wishes to extend its solidarity to Professor David Miller of Bristol University. While criticisms of Israel can take an anti-Semitic form, there is no evidence to suggest that Professor Miller’s comments strayed into this territory. As is becoming increasingly common, in this instance, claims of anti-Semitism rely on the highly controversial IHRA definition which has been roundly criticised as inadequate and dangerous by eminent lawyers and antisemitism experts. This definition was also rejected by the Academic Board of University College London in February 2021 as being “unfit for purpose”. To this affect, Leeds Beckett UCU welcomes the Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism which includes a definition of anti-Semitism as “…discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).”
The State of Israel has and continues to be in violation of multiple international laws and in January 2021 B’Tselem, the leading human rights monitoring agency in Israel, concluded that Israel had met the legal threshold to be labelled an apartheid state. With this in mind, we cannot allow anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism to be conflated as is being attempted in the accusations against Professor Miller. Equally, we must resist any attempts by university management, the government or any other organisation to restrict academic freedoms and freedom of expression. We stand in solidarity with Palestinians and their struggle for liberation as we stand in solidarity with Professor Miller. Leeds Beckett UCU deplores the harassment and victimisation of Professor Miller and calls on Bristol University management to drop this politically motivated investigation.