Dave Rich

Guess who Prof Miller blames for his sacking?

In the former professor's world there can be no understanding of Zionism as the yearning of a long-exiled people

November 05, 2021 12:04

Professor David Miller has been busy since Bristol University sacked him a month ago, doing numerous online interviews with supporters in which he has repeatedly told the story of how and why he lost his job and doubled down on his views about Jews, Zionism and the conspiracy that he believes threatens free speech and democracy.

As ever with conspiracy theorists who have an urgent need to tell the world about the secret machinations behind their own downfall, Mr Miller has a lot to say and some of it is quite revealing.

According to him, the reason there are pro-Israel organisations in countries all around the world has nothing to do with thousands of years of Jewish dispersal, migration and exile — and they shouldn’t even be viewed as a legitimate diaspora.

“The Zionist movement started as a transnational movement in Germany and in Switzerland and the UK in the late 1890s… and it’s been a transnational movement ever since,” Mr Miller told an American interviewer, before explaining: “In Israel they refer to Jews in other countries as being the diaspora and that’s not quite the right terminology, because the diaspora is people who have left the host nation and gone elsewhere and that’s not what happened in relation to Israel, it’s the opposite process.”

In this one sentence, Mr Miller gives the game away: his “transnational Zionist movement” really is just the Jewish diaspora, which he claims isn’t a diaspora at all so he can pretend that his assault on Jewish identity and history is really just empirical research into Zionism.

This is the thinking that was represented in Mr Miller’s infamous conspiracy chart full of Jewish organisations and community leaders, with lines all leading up to the Israeli government, that he taught in February 2019 and which led to the original complaint to CST from two of his students.

There is no room in Mr Miller’s world for Zionism as an expression of Jewish nationhood and collective identity, or the yearning of a long-exiled people.

No wonder he thinks that the Jewish students who complained about him to CST nearly three years ago are agents of “a campaign by a hostile foreign state”.

In these post-sacking interviews, Mr Miller has repeated his claim that Jewish students are “assets or pawns” of Israel, and has gone even further: they are also the products of “elite private schools” who have a “fanatical devotion to the ideology of Zionism”.

Nor is this just about academia: “The Labour Party”, he says, “is effectively a prisoner of the Zionist movement and the Israeli State and that’s what they want to do with every other public institution in this country and indeed in other countries.”

Any resemblance to ex-President Trump’s comment this week that “Israel literally owned Congress” is presumably inadvertent.

When Mr Miller tells the story of his sacking from Bristol he doesn’t start in early 2019 but in 2012, when he gave evidence in defence of Ra’ed Salah, a Palestinian Islamist leader with a record of anti-Jewish agitation who CST had asked the Home Secretary to bar from the UK.

Salah had deployed the antisemitic blood libel and 9/11 conspiracy theories, but this did not deter Mr Miller from testifying in his defence. He seems to think CST’s support for Jewish students at Bristol was motivated by revenge, but his re-telling of the Salah case is typically inaccurate and self-serving.

Some of the other things he has come out with since losing his job are just bizarre. He claims the reason Jewish organisations spell “antisemitism” with no hyphen is part of a decades-long “conscious project” to persuade people that “there’s no such thing as the Semites”, because in Miller’s view, antisemitism is an expression of colonial racism directed at Jews and Arabs alike rather than a “unique form of racism” directed at Jews alone.

Bristol University’s statement announcing Mr Miller’s dismissal did not specify exactly which of his many offences had led to his sacking, but Mr Miller has helpfully filled in the gaps.

In an interview with a pro-Iranian blogger, he traced his downfall to a talk he gave to a Labour Against the Witchhunt meeting in February this year and subsequent comments he gave to journalists, in which he called Jewish students “political pawns” in a campaign “directed by the State of Israel”; and an article he wrote for the Electronic Intifada website, in which he wrote, “The lobby is keen to maintain the fiction that its campaign of subversion on British campuses on behalf of a violent foreign regime is the work of independent students who are genuinely distressed.”

This means that if Mr Miller is to be believed — and that is always a risk — he did not lose his job because Bristol University was facing a legal case or due to any other external threats.

He lost his job because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut, and like so many cranks and failures before him, he would rather blame Jews for his problems than face up to his own stupidity.
Dr Dave Rich is Director of Policy at the Community Security Trust and author of ‘The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Antisemitism’

November 05, 2021 12:04

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