David Miller
Image: The Boar / Abbey Parker

Warwick academics sign open letter defending “anti-Semitic” Bristol professor

Several academics from the University of Warwick have signed an open letter defending a Bristol professor who has been accused of spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories. 

Corrections 8/3/21: Direct links to video footage of David Miller, a link to the contents of the open letter have been added. Mentions of high profile non Warwick signators and the Jewish identity of two of the Warwick signators have been added.

Professor of Sociology David Miller faced calls to resign after claiming that antisemitism in the Labour party is part of “an onslaught by the Israeli government… on the left globally” at a free speech event.

The Bristol professor claimed further that there is an “attempt of the Israeli government to impose its will on the world”. 

Professor Miller also commented on both Warwick and Bristol Jewish Societies, arguing that they are “formally members of the zionist movement” and that it is “fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamaphobia”.

Bristol University have said that they do not endorse Professor Miller’s comments and are “speaking to [Bristol] JSoc, Students’ Union and the University and College Union about how we can address student’s concerns swiftly”.

Bristol University also confirmed that they have received several complaints asking for the Professor to be removed from his position. The All-Party Parliamentary Group against antisemitism has also requested an urgent meeting with university officals over the remarks.

An open letter supporting Professor Miller has been launched, which expresses “solidarity with Professor Miller and to oppose such efforts to crush academic freedom”. The full text of the letter can be found here.

The refusal to listen to Jews on what constitutes antisemitism is disgraceful, but no longer surprising, especially given some of the signatories like Dr Goldie Osuri

– Warwick Jewish Society

The open letter has been signed by five Warwick academics: Dr Myka Tucker-Abramson from the English department, Dr Leon Sealy Huggins from the Global Sustainable Development department, Dr Simon Behrman from the Law department, Dr Nisha Kapoor and Dr Goldie Osuri, both from the Sociology department. Two of the above academics are they themselves Jewish.

Dr Osuri was subject to her own investigation on antisemitism following comments made in a lecture that antisemitism in the Labour Party is “very much an Israeli lobby kind of idea”.

The investigation concluded that the comments fell within “the principles and values of tolerance and free speech”.

The open letter was also signed by Jewish academics Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler

The University of Warwick Jewish Society commented: “We’re disgusted to see five members of Warwick staff signing a letter in solidarity with the antisemitic Professor David Miller.

“Miller has rightly been condemned by Jews from across the political spectrum for peddling antisemitic conspiracy theories and directly attacking our friends at Bristol Jsoc. The refusal to listen to Jews on what constitutes antisemitism is disgraceful, but no longer surprising, especially given some of the signatories like Dr Goldie Osuri.

“Jsocs like ourselves fight antisemitism on campus not as part of a nefarious plot to further the interests of a foreign state, but simply because we believe it is wrong and that it has no place at our universities.”

When asked by The Boar the University of Warwick reaffirmed their position on anti-Semitism: “Antisemitism is unacceptable and abhorrent and it will be met with very firm sanctions within our student and staff community.

“In support of this, and upholding the right of freedom of speech and academic freedom in our statutes, we have recognised the IHRA definition and agreed, by way of policy, that it will be taken into account by any disciplinary tribunal in considering a complaint or allegation of antisemitism.”

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