Prof. Miller, an academic obsessed with anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, was fired last month by the University of Bristol one month after Campaign Against Antisemitism commenced a lawsuit on behalf of current students against the institution, amid pressure from the Jewish community and leading politicians.
On 17th November, the inflammatory motion was passed by a vote of eighteen for and sixteen against, with eleven abstentions.
The motion says that the branch learned “with dismay” that Prof. Miller had been fired, calling the allegations against the disgraced academic “malicious and unfounded”. Deploying a familiar trope, the motion baselessly claimed that “Miller had been accused of antisemitism because of his criticisms of Israel and Zionism,” an antisemitic notion known today as the “Livingstone Formulation”, a phrase named by Prof. David Hirsch after the former Mayor of London.
The motion also insisted that there was nothing wrong in Prof. Miller’s claim that the Bristol University Jewish Society was “acting in the interests of a foreign state, Israel,” even though this too is a classic antisemitic trope.
The motion went on to suggest that Prof. Miller’s dismissal was somehow evidence of the “inadequacy” of the “discredited” International Definition of Antisemitism, even though this Definition enjoys the consensus support of the Jewish community and has been adopted by all major political parties and numerous national governments around the world.
The motion resolved to send an “expression of solidarity” to Prof. Miller; call on the University of Bristol to rescind its decision to sack him; call on the National Executive Committee of UCU to “consider the imposition of ‘greylisting’ on Bristol until Miller is reinstated”; and call on the leadership of UCU to write to the Vice Chancellor, Senate and Trustees of the University of Bristol to express UCU’s “condemnation of this assault on academic freedom”.
An amendment urging caution was reportedly delayed until after the motion was passed, and the amendment itself was then voted down.
Sheffield Jewish Society said in a statement that “Miller created a hostile for Jewish students at Bristol” and accused the local UCU branch of “importing this hostility to Sheffield by accusing those same students of being malicious actors and claiming that their accusations of antisemitism are unfounded.” The statement observed that the UCU branch chose not to speak to Jewish students and their representative bodies to understand their concerns, and noted that “when claims of antisemitism are dismissed as being ‘malicious and unfounded’, and assumed to be dishonest tools to silence criticism of Israel, Jewish students are not being safeguarded from antisemitism, but rather antisemitism is safeguarded and nurtured.”
The statement ended by calling on the Sheffield Hallam University UCU to “rescind the motion, which does harm to Jewish academic staff and students, and for the hundreds of [local UCU] members who did not attend this meeting, and allowed this motion to be passed in their name, to take seriously their responsibility to stand against antisemitism within their university.”
Earlier this year, UCU Scotland also issued a statement defending Prof. Miller.
Binyomin Gilbert, Programme Manager at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “David Miller is a conspiracy theorist who believes that Bristol’s Jewish Society and the entire nationwide Jewish student body ‘encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism’. His teachings have been going on for years and, after a long, community-wide campaign and a lawsuit by Campaign Against Antisemitism on behalf of Jewish students, Bristol University finally made a decision to fire him.
“Rather than reflect on this episode, Sheffield Hallam UCU has maligned Jewish students, alienating them and Jewish staff and adding to a litany of insults to the Jewish community from UCU over the years. It is little wonder that UCU’s reputation in the Jewish community is in the gutter.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by universities. Sheffield Hallam University has adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism.
If any students are concerned about antisemitism on campus or need assistance, they can call us on 0330 822 0321, or e-mail [email protected].