A University of Bristol professor who was sacked last week for his pro-Palestine comments says there is a campaign led by the Israeli regime to silence the voices in support of the Palestinian cause.
David Miller, a professor of political sociology and a member of the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, was speaking in an exclusive interview to Press TV on Tuesday, where he said he was “shocked” by what the British university had done.
“I’m feeling a bit shocked but I was kind of anticipating it,” Miller said, four days after the university released a statement, saying the decision to terminate his employment with immediate effect was prompted by its “duty of care to students and the wider university community.”
“I have been working for decades in higher education in this country and I never thought that making political comments at an external political meeting, when I wasn’t at work, could possibly led to my sacking,” Miller told Press TV, expressing disappointment at the decision.
The university had launched an investigation into the sociology professor’s pro-Palestine statements in March, in a case that sharply divided the campus. He had allegedly called for “the end of Zionism” and warned that some Jewish students were being used as “political pawns by a violent, racist foreign regime.”
The investigation, which included an independent report, considered the “important issue of academic freedom of expression” and concluded that his comments “did not constitute unlawful speech.” However, a disciplinary hearing of the university overruled the findings and concluded that he “did not meet the standards of behavior we expect from our staff.”
“We have a duty of care to all students and the wider university community, in addition to a need to apply our own codes of conduct consistently and with integrity,” the statement noted. “Balancing those important considerations, and after careful deliberation… the university has concluded that Prof Miller’s employment should be terminated with immediate effect.”
Prof. Miller went on to say that the university did not take into account what the probe panel had found – that his comments did not constitute unlawful speech – noting that it “encouraged misreporting of what had happened.” He said there is a sustained campaign led by the regime in Tel Aviv through pro-Israeli groups in the UK and other countries “to silence all those who would in any way support the Palestinian rights.”
The veteran academician warned that the campaign will make people in academia vulnerable to being sacked “for making perfectly reasonable and lawful anti-racist comments.”
The academic has been a long-time advocate of the Palestinian resistance movement and has on several occasions faced hostile attacks for his pro-Palestine and anti-Israel stance. In 2019, he was at the center of the storm for referring to the Zionist movement as “one of five sources of Islamophobia,” and showing a diagram linking Jewish charities to Zionist lobbying.
Pro-Israeli lobby at mark
His unceremonious ouster from the University of Bristol is a manifestation of the deep influence yielded by the pro-Israeli lobby in the UK. The scope of the investigation and the exact reasons to sack Prof. Miller have been kept confidential, though it is believed that the reasons go beyond his lecture. He lashed out at the university in his remarks on Saturday, saying it had “embarrassed itself.” He also accused it of bowing to a pressure campaign against him directed by Israel.
“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,” Miller, whose research specializes in how power self-perpetuates through lobbying and propaganda, was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
A campaign has also been launched in his support, which says it is “appalled” that the University of Bristol had launched an “unnecessary investigation” into Prof Miller’s comments. “Every academic and student in the country should be deeply concerned about this coordinated attack on academic freedom,” it said in a statement.