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The war for Israel on British campuses

December 18, 2021 at 1:39 pm

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

Throughout most of 2021, the Israel lobby waged a war at the University of Bristol. Its main target was David Miller, then a professor of sociology there.

Backed by the Israeli government itself, the lobby ran a long-term campaign that resulted in the summary firing of Miller for still undisclosed reasons. But it’s evident that Miller’s anti-Zionist politics were the true reason.

Miller is probably the UK’s leading expert on the Zionist movement, the Israel lobby and Islamophobia. The firing of Miller was an unprecedented victory for Israel and its lobby.

For the first time ever, a hostile foreign power was able to impose its will on a British academic establishment to such an extent that it was able to get a professor fired for his critical views on that same hostile foreign power.

The lobby got its man using its usual tactic – fabricated allegations of anti-Semitism.

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Miller was incessantly smeared as an anti-Jewish bigot by people whose real agenda was quite plain to see: defending Israel and Zionism, come what may.

Despite years of such disinformation targeting Miller, two internal Bristol investigations by a QC vindicated Miller. In both internal reports – which I obtained for The Electronic Intifada – the QC said that not only had what Miller said not been anti-Semitic, but he had no case to answer for in the first place.

The University of Bristol went ahead and fired him anyway.

Miller is currently going through the motions of an internal appeal with the university. I use that phrase because, given the disgraceful and dishonest way the university authorities have acted all along, I consider it close to impossible that they would reinstate him, unless forced to do so.

It seems likely that Miller will have to take his case to an employment tribunal. He will almost certainly win the case. But that could take a long time, and meanwhile, the damage to his academic career has been done. He seems to be finished on British campuses.

This is a tragedy and a massive injustice, not only for students at the University of Bristol and for Miller himself, but the whole country and – indeed – the whole world.

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The firing of Miller is a severe blow to the concept of academic freedom in this country. It means that Israel – acting through its agents in the UK – now has, to a certain extent, a veto on who can and cannot teach on British campuses. The consequences of this are chilling.

But, predictably, the fake, right-wing “free speech” brigade has absolutely nothing to say about all this. They only seem to care about ridiculous culture-war issues and the (habitually exaggerated) threat of so-called cancel culture.

But what US group Palestine Legal has accurately dubbed the “Palestine exception to free speech” is increasingly spreading to the UK.

Who was responsible for this?

It has become apparent that Israel is utilising a small minority of young British students as pawns in its proxy war against academic freedom and in defence of Zionist racism on campus.

Ironically, it was exactly this insidious campaign of disinformation that Miller was trying to draw attention to in the first place, and for which he was attacked and smeared.

Like a large majority of people in the UK, most students support the human rights of the Palestinians and want to see equality for them and an end to occupation and Israeli apartheid. But a small minority of students are convinced Zionists and are willing to play dirty in order to impose their will on campus.

Israel has worked for many decades to construct this situation. British students as young as primary school age are groomed, brainwashed, radicalised and recruited into the Zionist movement.

Two of the key pro-Israel propagandists on campus at Bristol were prime examples of this very real phenomenon.

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Sabrina Miller and Edward Isaacs of the Jewish Society (affiliated with the Union of Jewish Students, which is in turn constitutionally committed to promoting Israel’s interests and is also linked to the Israeli state itself) both played leading roles in the successful campaign to have Miller fired.

Both are clearly people to watch in the future. Sabrina Miller’s career in right-wing journalism has taken off since she made her reputation by getting her namesake fired and writing about it all over the mainstream media. Following an internship with The Spectator, she’s gone straight into a job with the hard-right libertarian news blog Guido Fawkes. How long before she lands a lucrative The Times or The Telegraph column?

Isaacs, on the other hand, seems to have been groomed for the world of Tory politics.

He’s not even 21 yet and is already one of the country’s leading anti-Palestinian propagandists. He was a star speaker at the Israeli government’s bogus “7th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism” earlier this year where – surrounded by Israeli flags – he declared himself a “proud Zionist” and called for the University of Bristol to sack Miller.

More recently, he hobnobbed with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at a Number 10 Downing Street reception.

Both Sabrina Miller and Isaacs were radicalised into the Zionist cause while still school children. Both were awarded the United Jewish Israel Appeal’s elite “Israel Fast Track Fellowship”.

Had they been Muslim schoolchildren, they would likely have been referred to PREVENT by now.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.