Bristol University’s decision to sack Professor David Miller, is deeply concerning and sets a dangerous precedent. The decision comes within the context of a huge body of pressure being placed upon the University on the basis of the allegation that Professor Miller has been guilty of antisemitism. Professor Miller is appealing and rejects the accusations against him. It is notable that a QC appointed to advise the University has reportedly found that Professor Miller’s teachings and comments in webinars were not unlawful or antisemitic. If that is correct, one can only conclude, that the University has been unable to resist the volume of pressure being placed upon it, to remove Professor Miller from his position. The campaign to have Professor Miller sacked has been led by a number of Pro Israel groups who have also been central to well documented attempts to stifle advocacy for Palestine via the conflation of antizionism with antisemitism, including via utilisation of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. PSC has launched a website which details this campaign, its inherent threats to Palestinian rights and to academic freedom, and why it should be resisted.
The sacking of Professor Miller will undoubtedly now be used by those groups who are pressuring Universities to interpret legitimate criticisms of the laws, policies, and constitutional order of the state of Israel, as antisemitic. We understand that he is to challenge the decision and he should be supported in this effort by all of those who care about the upholding of academic freedom. We reiterate our call upon all universities, including the University of Bristol, to make clear that they will protect the rights of academics and Palestinian students to speak of the history of settler colonialism that has led to this dispossession, to challenge the apartheid practices of the state that denies them their rights, and to describe as racist the ideology of Zionism that underpins this oppression. The rights of all other students and academics to debate and discuss these facts of historical injustice and to call for action to resolve them must likewise be protected. We will be seeking meetings with the Vice Chancellor of Bristol University and with Universities UK to address these concerns.