Jewish students do not feel safe from Miller

Jewish students do not feel safe from him yet the university refuses to dismiss David Miller, writes Sabrina Miller


The Wills Memorial Building, part of the University of Bristol, is pictured in Bristol, south west England on May 16, 2019. - One in five reported suffering from mental health issues, mostly depression and anxiety, according to the survey conducted at 140 British universities. Former business student Greg used to resort to drink and drugs to get to sleep -- a common story at British universities struggling to adapt to a growing mental health problem. (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images)

March 04, 2021 17:48

Over the last week I have received thousands of racist and sexist comments on my Twitter and Instagram profiles. I pride myself on my resilience but, in all honesty, the abuse is starting to take its toll.

It started two years ago when Bristol Jewish Society (JSoc) launched a complaint against David Miller, the University of Bristol’s anti-Zionist sociology lecturer, after a Jewish student came forward and described their experiences in his classroom. They claimed being the only Jew in his class was “scary”. Miller faced no repercussions for his comments.

The university offered no support to Jewish students – not so much as an email. On February 14, Miller called for an “end of Zionism” in a Zoom video. Still the university did nothing to support or protect Jewish students. Next, he unashamedly doubled down on his comments. In a statement sent to a student website, Miller declared Zionism a “racist, violent, imperialist ideology premised on ethnic cleansing”. He suggested that Bristol JSoc had “manufactured hysteria” and the campaign against him had rendered Arab and Muslim students “unsafe”.

Though Miller has attempted to pit two minorities — two student groups (JSoc and the Islamic Society) — against each other, all the university has said is that it “does not endorse” the comments he has made.

Then, on February 20, in The Electronic Intifada, Miller claimed that UJS and Bristol JSoc had been manufacturing a “charade of false antisemitism allegations”.

His position as a lecturer has allowed his hateful conspiracy theories to spread. When a Bristruth (an anonymous confession) was posted about Miller, some students chose to defend him in the comment section. They claimed his teachings are “flat-out factual”.

That is why I started a campaign to have Miller dismissed from campus. I established a petition that now has more than 6,000 signatures, and posted a video mocking Miller’s conspiracy theories which has accrued an astonishing 88,000 views. I am tired of waiting for the university to act. Instead of working on my dissertation, like any normal third-year student, I have spent the best part of two weeks dealing with racists because the University of Bristol proved incapable of taking action. This activism has left me exposed. Electronic Intifada and David Miller supporters have subjected me to a painful tirade of abuse. All the classic insults have popped up: “Zionist scum” and “fascist” are two favourites.

People have accused me of weaponising antisemitism and using the Holocaust to “play the victim”. Unbelievably, I have even been told that I am an agent of “another country”.

The cruellest comments have combined racism and sexism. Someone tweeted “shut the f**k up and go gobble Bibi’s c**k”. I have been told I am an “ugly bitch with a huge nose” and that I should “go die”. Another tweeted “shackle this skank” whilst another, somewhat bizarrely, wrote, “with a face like that, it makes sense that you’re a fascist. Yikes”.

None of these comments have really shaken me. The nastiest, most aggressive insults have been sent from accounts with three followers and no profile picture. By contrast, the outpouring of support has been heartwarming.

However, I can’t lie. It’s been a long week. My Twitter notifications are constantly pinging and it’s hard to switch off.

Despite this, I have no plans to stop. This campaign is important to me because the safety of Jewish students is important to me.

Jewish students won’t be safe until David Miller is gone. I believe that Bristol University must take action before another student has to endure what I am currently going through.

March 04, 2021 17:48

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