The Electronic Intifada / October 1, 2021
The University of Bristol has fired Professor David Miller, a leading UK critic of Israel and its lobby.
After a years-long campaign of smears by that same lobby, the university said on Friday that, “Professor David Miller is no longer employed by the University of Bristol.”
The statement said only that Miller “did not meet the standards of behavior we expect from our staff,” though it did not elaborate.
Miller told The Electronic Intifada he would be appealing and “fighting it all the way.”
Yet the statement appeared to exonerate Miller from the Israel’s lobby’s deliberately false allegations of anti-Semitism.
An “independent report” by an unnamed lawyer had found that “Professor Miller’s comments did not constitute unlawful speech,” the statement acknowledged.
Miller said the report had actually gone further and that the lawyer’s report had “explicitly determined” his remarks “were not anti-Semitic.”
The Support David Miller Campaign, which has been rallying around the professor, responded that the university was sending a message that “it will protect racists, and [that] Muslims, Black students and Palestinians are not welcome at Bristol.”
In a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada, the campaign said that the university’s decision was “designed to send a chill down the spines of academics around the world who expose Zionist racism.”
The campaign said that Miller’s sacking had come after a “pressure campaign by Israel’s assets in the UK” and accused the university of collaborating with the Israel lobby.
For his part, Miller said that the decision to fire him was “taken under pressure from the Israel lobby” which he said “lobbies for a hostile foreign state. The university has embarrassed itself.”
The university said in its statement that Miller “has a right of internal appeal which he may choose to exercise and nothing in this statement should be taken to prejudge that.”
The university “does not intend to make any further public comment at this time,” it said.
Bristol University further claimed that it was committed to an environment preserving “academic freedom.” But in what seemed a Freudian slip, it also said that “we take any risk to stifle that freedom seriously.”
An academic expert in propaganda and political pressure groups, Miller has been a key critic of the Israel lobby for the last decade, as well as of Zionism, the state’s racist official ideology.
At the start of 2021, pro-Israel lobby groups ramped up their campaign against him.
At the end of February, Israel itself also got involved, mobilizing one of its online troll armies to flood social media conversations with calls for Miller to be fired.
Act.IL – which is directed and funded by an Israeli ministry – issued a mission calling for attacks on an opinion piece published by Al-Jazeera defending Miller.
With no evidence, the troll army’s operators smeared Miller as guilty of “blatant Jew-hatred” and called on their users to attack the Al-azeera piece online.
A who’s who of right-wing figures, anti-Palestinian activists and Israel lobbyists made a massive effort to push for Miller to be fired, with even British politicians piling on.
Soon after, the university announced it had launched an “investigation” into Miller.
More than 300 academics and public intellectuals pushed back, signing an open letter to the university in support of Miller and his work.
Signatories included Noam Chomsky, Palestinian scholar and activist Sami al-Arian, dissident Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, filmmaker Ken Loach and comedian Alexi Sayle.
“We feel duty-bound to express our solidarity with Professor Miller and to oppose such efforts to crush academic freedom,” the letter stated.
It says that Miller is the target of “well-orchestrated efforts” to misrepresent his views “as evidence of anti-Semitism.”
In February, Miller wrote in a piece for The Electronic Intifada that “Britain is in the grip of an assault on its public sphere by the state of Israel and its advocates.”
“Meaningful conversations about anti-Black racism and Islamophobia have been drowned out by a concerted lobbying campaign targeting universities, political parties, the equalities regulator and public institutions all over the country.”
Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London