Deech claims antisemitism not taken as seriously as anti-black racism

The crossbench peer took part in House of Lords debate on Bristol University's response to Professor David Miller's comments on Jewish students


The crossbench peer Baroness Deech has suggested that had a professor "hurled similar abuse and conspiracy theories at black students" such as those used by Bristol University's David Miller they "would have been off campus by the evening."

Speaking during a House of Lords debate about Jewish students at Bristol and the government's response, Baroness Deech suggested the university had "stonewalled" complaints made about Professor Miller for over two years.

She said "the failure to act shows that antisemitism is not taken seriously" and called for Universities UK and the National Union of Students organisations to recognise that failure to act.

Earlier, Lord Austin of Dudley said academics do have freedom of speech, including the right to criticise Israel, but he said Bristol University had failed to act when Professor Miller voiced "wild conspiracy theories" that directly affected Jewish students.

Lord Parkinson reiterated that the government "wholeheartedly rejects" the views held by Professor Miller and added that Bristol University "could do more to make its condemnation of [his] conduct clear to current and future students".

He voiced concern over Professor Miller's claim that students are "political pawns of a foreign government" and pointed to the IHRA antisemitism definition  which draws the  "important distinction" between legitimate criticism of Israeli government policy and "holding Jews collectively responsible for that".

The Labour peer Lord Mendelsohn said Bristol's failure to act over Miller  breached three out of four regulatory objectives of the Office of Students.

Lord Parkinson confirmed "providers have a duty of care to students which the government expects them to take very seriously."

Also speaking in the debate, Lord Leigh raised the issue of those academics who had signed a letter that was circulated in support of Professor Miller.

Lord Parkinson said he expected institutions and academic to  accept the IHRA definition.



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