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Bristol Jewish students protest event featuring controversial ex-UoB academic

A panel event discussing ‘Weaponisation of antisemitism’, featuring Professor David Miller was condemned by Jewish students at the University of Bristol.

By Milan PereraDeputy Editor

A panel event featuring Professor David Miller was met with outrage amongst University of Bristol Jewish students and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).

The event was held at the Malcolm X Centre in St. Paul’s on Sunday, February 11 and featured Professor Miller as the main speaker. The panel discussion was organised by Bristol Palestine Alliance which also featured the rapper and journalist Lowkey alongside Huda Ammori and Batool Al-Subeiti.

The event at St. Paul’s was preceded by a pro-Palestinian rally featuring Professor Miller at Castle Park on Saturday also organised by Bristol Palestine Alliance.

During the panel event, a group of around 50 Jewish students protested outside Malcom X Centre expressing their concern and anger at inviting the controversial academic to an event which they believed to be perpetuating ‘antisemitic tropes.’

Around 50 Jewish students held a demonstration outside the Malcolm X Centre on Sunday - Shiri Kleinberg

Professor Miller was dismissed by the University of Bristol in October 2021 from his position as a sociology professor due to the concerns raised by the University of Bristol Jewish students regarding his controversial views on Israel and Jewish students on campus.

This led to the Bristol Employment Tribunal which ruled in favour of Professor Miller's claim that he was unfairly and wrongfully dismissed from the university.

The judgment ruled that his 'anti-Zionist beliefs qualified as a philosophical belief and as a protected characteristic' under section 10 of the Equality Act 2010.

In a statement following the ruling of the employment tribunal, the UJS said: ‘UJS is disappointed by the Employment Tribunal’s judgment in relation to David Miller. 

‘UJS believes this may set a dangerous precedent about what can be lawfully said on campus about Jewish students and the societies at the centre of their social life. This will ultimately make Jewish students less safe.

‘However, despite overall finding in favour of Miller, the Tribunal has found that he contributed to his own dismissal and that he was ‘culpable and blameworthy’.

‘We were not there representing Israel and this protest was nothing to do with politics or the conflict’ - Shiri Kleinberg

Among the protesters was Shiri Kleinberg, former President of University of Bristol Jewish Society (JSoc) who expressed her concern about the safety of Jewish students on campus due to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. She said: ‘It was really important to the Jewish students to come together and stand up against the hate after having to fight institutionalised antisemitism for years.

‘Part of the talk that David Miller was delivering at the Malcom X Centre addressed the ‘weaponisation of antisemitism’. We know that he believes that Jews in the UK are not discriminated against.’

She added: ‘While making our message very clear, that we are standing up against racism against Jews, we were disappointed that people attending the talk were shouting words of abuse at us and demanding that the Jewish students present at the protest answer for Israel’s actions in the war. We were not there representing Israel and this protest was nothing to do with politics or the conflict. We were simply there because David Miller has repeatedly expressed opinions riddled with antisemitic tropes.’

Featured image: Shiri Kleinberg

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