Here’s the headline of an Oct. 2nd article in the Evening Standard, written by Eleanor Busby, about sacked Bristol University professor David Miller:
The claim that Miller was dismissed due to comments he made about “Israel” is repeated in the opening paragraph:
University of Bristol academic who received a barrage of criticism for comments he allegedly made about Israel has been dismissed.
It’s also reinforced in the third paragraph:
The decision comes after Bristol University launched an investigation in March following his alleged comments about Israel.
However, Professor Miller was not in fact dismissed due comments critical of Israel. It was based on a record of conspiratorial antisemitic statements, some of which were directed towards the Jewish students he was teaching – and which reportedly led to Jewish students on campus being subjected to weeks of harassment and abuse.
Miller has called for the end of Zionism “as a functioning ideology of the world”, depicted Bristol’s Jewish Society, and indeed all Jewish Societies in the UK, as local agents of a foreign power – Israel – trying to subvert British freedoms, and evoked the idea of a global Zionist conspiracy.
WATCH Prof David Miller of @BristolUni
"The enemy that we face here is Zionism" there is "An all out onslaught by the Israeli government…on the left globally"
This is Soviet antisemitism, the assertion that there's a global Zionist conspiracy against the left pic.twitter.com/jgjKILAJoj
— Harry's Place (@hurryupharry) February 13, 2021
His conspiratorial thinking expressed itself following criticism of those very comments, when he suggested that attacks on him by British Jews, and Jewish organisations, were being “directed by the State of Israel”. Further, Miller’s own teaching has included antisemitic tropes concerning Jewish control.
Here’s his power point slide from a lecture he gave on Islamophobia titled “Harms of the Powerful”, accusing the Jewish community with conspiring – at the behest of Israel – to promote racism against Muslims:
The omission of the word “antisemitism” in the Evening Standard article is even more egregious considering that the piece includes the following conspiratorial antisemitic quote by Miller, commenting on his dismissal:
Prof Miller said: “The University of Bristol has embarrassed itself and the entire British academic sector by capitulating to a pressure campaign against me overseen and directed by a hostile foreign government. It has run a shambolic process that seems to have been vetted by external actors.
“Israel’s assets in the UK have been emboldened by the university collaborating with them to shut down teaching about Islamophobia. The University of Bristol is no longer safe for Muslim, Arab or Palestinian students.
It’s telling that even the Guardian’s report on the dismissal of Miller – who, by the way, was a Guardian contributor until 2015 – didn’t shy away from using the word “antisemitism”.
Finally, it’s important in contextualising Bristol University’s decision to understand that Miller was a conspiracy theorist on other issues as well, demonstrating a cognitive orientation seemingly at odds with the intellectual requirements of academic life.
During one lecture, he claimed Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi was “effectively an asset of the British state”. According to the CST’s Dave Rich, he’s also one of the leading academic advocates of the theory that some chemical weapons attacks on Syrian civilians by the Assad regime were hoaxes or “false flag” operations, and has written that it is “unlikely” the Russian state would have tried to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.
If the Evening Standard wanted to pen an editorial making a principled argument that, despite his record of antisemitism, the sacking of Miller was unjust on academic freedom grounds, they could have of course done so. But, to obfuscate Miller’s explicitly conspiratorial racist tropes about Jews and Jewish power that was at the heart of the row, whilst suggesting it was merely about ‘Israel criticism’, the outlet grossly misled readers.
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This is not about freedom of speech, this is incitement to hate. He should be prosecuted. He would be if he’d said anything similar about black people or Muslims.
Would the Evening Standard use ‘allegedly’ if a university teacher made negative comments about transgender or trans-sexual people?