University condemns Miller's comments

Board of Deputies letter says Professor David Miller's 'rants would not look out of place on the pages of Der Sturmer'


The University of Bristol have said they “do not endorse the comments made by Professor David Miller about our Jewish students” and admitted they have received a “significant” number of calls for him to dismissed.

They issued their statement after receiving letters from the Board of Deputies and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism, amongst others on Friday calling for the sociology professor's removal.

In their her letter to the university Board President  Marie van der Zyl said the academic's “rants would not look out of place on the pages of Der Sturmer”, a Nazi tabloid.

The Mayor Bristol Marvin Rees and the local Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire had also expressed support for the Jewish students the previous day.

Asked if they had met  with the sociology lecturer to discuss possible action over his comments  - which including a direct attack on Bristol’s Jewish Society -  a university spokesperson said that they could not discuss internal procedures due to issues over confidentiality.

A spokesperson for the University of Bristol added: “We have received a significant number of calls for Professor David Miller to be dismissed.

“UK law requires that we, like all employers, act in accordance with our internal procedures and the ACAS code of conduct.

“Any action which we might take as an employer is a private matter. We are under obligations of confidentiality in relation to all of our students and staff, which we will continue to comply with.

“We are speaking to JSoc, Bristol SU and UCU about how we can address students’ concerns swiftly, ensuring that we also protect the rights of our staff.

“We do not endorse the comments made by Professor Miller about our Jewish students. We are proud of our students for their independence and individual contributions to the University and wider society.”

Board President Mrs van der Zyl also said his “increasingly hysterical attacks on British Jewish organisations are now raising the prospect of real physical harm.”

She added: “By failing to end Professor Miller’s tenure as a member of faculty, the University is providing him with the appearance of respectability and academic seriousness which it is entirely clear he does not deserve. 

“Continued lack of action will indicate a complete lack of concern regarding his odious and increasingly dangerous statements and lead us and others to seriously question why the University is so determined to keep shielding someone whose rants would not look out of place on the pages of Der Stürmer.”

The letter from the APPG on Antisemitism was signed by Conservative chair Andrew Percy MP,  Labour co-chair Catherine McKinnell and the vice-chairs Rosie Duffield and Christian Wakeford.

Bristol’s Jewish Society (JSoc) also said they are to stage a rally in protest at the “hateful” views of Professor Miller.

The online protest, endorsed by the Union of Jewish Students, will take place next Wednesday.

Bristol JSoc President Edward Issacs promoted the demonstration in a Twitter post on Friday saying: “Join us next Wednesday where we will be holding a virtual rally to tell the university that David Miller's views are no longer tolerated on our campus.”

He added: “Today we say enough. We have tolerated this hateful speech on our campus for far too long, and we are exhausted. We are tired of silence, tired of inaction, tired of hate. David Miller and his views have no place on our campus. Action must be taken.”

In a tirade against Israel during an online event about free speech last weekend, the professor had railed against Jewish student groups who lodged formal complaints about his views to Bristol University which, he claimed, was part of a “drive to stop anyone speaking out about Palestine”.

Speaking to the JC on Tuesday, Prof Miller said: “The ‘Jewish student groups’ […] are political lobby groups overseen by the Union of Jewish Students, which is constitutionally bound to promoting Israel.

“There is a real question of abuse here — of Jewish students on British campuses being used as political pawns by a violent, racist foreign regime engaged in ethnic cleansing.

“The UJS’ lobbying for Israel is a threat to the safety of Arab and Muslim students as well as of Jewish students and indeed of all critics of Israel.”



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