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Bristol University: second report exonerates professor in anti-Semitism row

University of Bristol, is pictured in Bristol, UK on 16 May 2019 [GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images]
University of Bristol, is pictured in Bristol, UK on 16 May 2019 [GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images]

Professor David Miller has been exonerated of anti-Semitism by a second report into the row, leaked documents uncovered by the Electronic Intifada reveal. Written by a leading British lawyer, the document concludes that "there is no formal case to answer against Professor Miller" and that he had not "exceeded the boundaries of acceptable speech."

Miller was fired controversially from his job at Bristol University last month following a hostile campaign by pro-Israel "proud" Zionist groups who accused the 57-year-old of anti-Semitism. Their allegation was dismissed by a report which concluded that Miller had "no case to answer".

An expert on the nefarious influence of lobby groups on the democratic process, Miller has exposed the workings of the fossil fuel lobby, the pharmaceutical lobby and the tobacco lobby. However, it's his work on the pro-Israel lobby that has made him a target of several Zionist groups, who accelerated their campaign for Miller's dismissal following a talk he gave as part of a Labour Against the Witch-hunt conference in February.

During the aggressive campaign against Miller, Bristol University came under pressure from pro-Israel groups and several British politicians who called for his dismissal. Refuting the anti-Semitism allegation, the author of the first report stated that there was no evidence that Miller's use of the words "Zionism" and "Israeli state" were code words for "Jews" and as such his talk did not express "hostility towards or hatred of Jews as Jews."

Details of the investigation in the second report shows the author making an even stronger refutation of the fact-free anti-Semitism allegation against Miller. The second report was commissioned specifically to investigate a public talk that Miller gave in February and an article that he wrote for the Electronic Intifada a week later. In the article, Miller argued that "Britain is in the grip of an assault on its public sphere by the state of Israel and its advocates."

READ: By endorsing the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, Europe stifles academic freedom

The newly leaked lawyer's report concludes that the article was not anti-Semitic as "defined to include the manifestation of hatred, discrimination, prejudice or hostility against Jews as Jews, or Jewish institutions as Jewish institutions."

In the report, the lawyer reveals that the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism was considered, but acknowledges the chilling effect it has on free speech. "It does not have the clarity which would be required from such a definition," says the report when commenting on the use of the IHRA in such cases. "The use of the language is unusual and therefore potentially confusing." Seven of the eleven examples listed in the IHRA definition conflate legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies with anti-Semitism.

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