UK Jewish Civil Rights Groups Denounce, Jewish civil rights groups in the UK voiced displeasure on Monday with a government agency’s decision that the University of Bristol lacked the authority to remove sociologist David Miller, a radical anti-Zionist accused of harassing Jewish students and disseminating antisemitic stereotypes.
The ruling was made by the Bristol-based Employment Tribunal, which is part of a consortium of institutions described by the UK government as impartial arbitrators of employment law issues.
UK Jewish Civil Rights Groups Denounce Ruling Vindicating Disgraced Anti-Zionist Professor David Miller
The court found that Miller’s “anti-Zionist beliefs qualified as a philosophical belief and as a protected characteristic” as well as that “the relationship between [Miller] and the university was not so damaged that trust and confidence was undermined to the extent that the employer should no longer be required to retain [Miller] in employment.” It did, however, state that Miller’s “own actions” led his dismissal, citing inappropriate social media behavior.
Miller was fired by the University of Bristol in October 2022, following a slew of events and concerns regarding his behavior in the classroom and on social media. During a lecture in the months leading up to his expulsion, Miller called for the “end of Zionism” and spread theories about British Jewish students, claiming they were an arm of Israeli intelligence.
However, the behavior had persisted for several years. In 2018, he chastised Jewish students who expressed dissatisfaction with his employment at the institution, dismissing their concerns about his views and rising antisemitism in the UK as “propaganda which they have been schooled with.”
The professor’s views have enraged both British Jews and non-Jews, prompting condemnation from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, a group of MPs dedicated to eliminating antisemitism from public life. In a letter to University of Bristol Vice-Chancellor Brady, the MPs said Miller “incited hatred” against Jewish students on campus, which affected the university’s reputation.
“UJS is disappointed by the Employment Tribunal’s decision about David Miller,” the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said in a statement following the finding. “UJS believes this may set a dangerous precedent about what can be lawfully said on campus about Jewish students and the societies at the center of their social life.”
“We are extremely concerned about what the Employment Tribunal considers acceptable for a university professor to say publicly about Jewish students and Jewish societies who raised legitimate complaints about him,” Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors antisemitism, added. “Despite finding in Miller’s favor, the panel stated that he was equally responsible for his firing.
Since then, he has continued to espouse unpleasant views on Iranian State TV, which is where he belongs. The University of Bristol also disagreed with the agency’s decision, but its public comments were limited to defending its decision that Miller could not be kept as a faculty member.
“After a full investigation and careful deliberation, the university concluded that Dr. Miller did not meet the standards of behavior we expect from our staff about comments he made in February 2021 about students and student societies linked to the university,” a university spokesperson said in a Monday statement. “As a result and considering our responsibilities to our students and the wider university community, his employment was terminated.”
Miller has since hailed the decision as a “landmark judgment” and a “victory.”
“I’m proud to say that, with this case, we have proven that anti-Zionist beliefs, of the sort that I articulated, should be protected,” Miller stated on Twitter. “I hope this case will become a touchstone precedent in all the future battles that we face with the racist and genocidal ideology of Zionism and the movement to which it is attached.”