Miller ruling ‘may make Jewish students less safe’, says UJS

Jewish groups voice deep concern after employment tribunal rules that anti-Zionism is a protected characteristic in the workplace


David Miller Photos: Bristol University, Getty Images, YouTube

A ruling that anti-Zionist academic David Miller was unfairly dismissed by the University of Bristol and that anti-Zionism is a protected characteristic in the workplace “may ultimately make Jewish students less safe”, the Union of Jewish Students has said.

Miller was sacked by Bristol University in October 2021 after making comments about Israel which some deemed to be antisemitic.

The university said his comments did not meet its "standards of behaviour", and Jewish students said Miller made them feel “unsafe and unprotected” on campus.

Since then, Miller has described Israel as “the enemy of world peace” and has called the Jewish Society at Bristol University an “Israel lobby group” that had “manufactured hysteria” about his teaching.

Now a Bristol Employment Tribunal found that Miller’s anti-Zionist beliefs “qualified as a philosophical belief and as a protected characteristic”, protected under the 2010 Equality Act.

The Union of Jewish students said: “UJS is disappointed by the Employment Tribunal's judgment in relation to David Miller. UJS believes this may set a dangerous precedent about what can be lawfully said on campus about Jewish students and the societies at the centre of their social life, which may ultimately make Jewish students less safe.”

Jewish security group the CST said: “We are extremely concerned about what the Employment Tribunal considers is acceptable for a University Professor to say publicly about Jewish students and Jewish Societies who raised legitimate complaints about him.

“He has continued to express his obnoxious opinions on Iranian State TV, which is exactly where he belongs.”

Miller said his academic career “effectively ended after sacking over Israel comments”.

During the tribunal, he claimed that he had experienced discrimination based on his “philosophical belief that Zionism is inherently racist, imperialist, and colonial, a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, alongside a finding of unfair dismissal."

Miller also succeeded in his claims of unfair dismissal, but the disgraced academic had his compensation reduced by half because his sacking was “caused or contributed to by his own actions”, according to the tribunal.

The judgment found there was a chance that Miller would have been dismissed because of the comments that he made on social media in August 2023, which included the tweet “Judeophobia barely exists these days”.

The judgment went on: “The comments made in the August 2023 tweets were of a different order to the February 2021 comments set out above. The claimant does not suggest any sensible or coherent link to his protected beliefs.”

Miller, who now works for the Iranian state-owned TV channel Press TV, said he felt “vindicated” and was "very proud” that the case “establish[ed] that anti-Zionist views qualify as a protected belief under the UK Equality Act.”

Zillur Rahman from Rahman Lowe Solicitors who represent Miller applauded the ruling saying: “His courage in fighting against the vicious campaign that was waged against him by Zionists” describing Miller as “trailblazer.”

Rahman went on: "The genocide Israel is committing at present, has woken the world up to the very belief David holds and was manifesting, which is that Zionism is inherently racist and must be opposed.”

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “The University of Bristol acknowledges the judgment of the Employment Tribunal but is disappointed with its findings.

“After a full investigation and careful deliberation, the University concluded that Dr Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff in relation to comments he made in February 2021 about students and student societies linked to the University. As a result and considering our responsibilities to our students and the wider University community, his employment was terminated.

“We recognise that these matters have caused deep concern for many, and that members of our community hold very different views from one another. We would, therefore, encourage everyone to respond in a responsible and sensitive way in the current climate.

“The University of Bristol remains committed to fostering a positive working and learning environment that enriches lives and where the essential principles of academic freedom are preserved.

“The University is reviewing the tribunal’s lengthy judgment carefully and in light of that review, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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