A tribunal in the United Kingdom has ruled that an academic and professor was wrongly fired by a British university over his anti-Zionist beliefs, in the first case in the country that essentially protects those views on grounds of preventing discrimination.
David Miller, a Professor of Political Sociology, was let go by the University of Bristol in 2021 after a series of controversies that caused the institution to condemn his anti-Zionist views. Starting with a lecture at the University in 2019, in which stated that the Zionist movement was one of five pillars driving Islamophobia within the UK.
Although the Community Security Trust charity complained that his lecture was a “false, vile…anti-Semitic slur” at the time, it was around two years later that he was fired from his position at the University, following an event in February 2021 in which he admitted being criticised over his views on Palestine and Israel.
His sacking led to a widespread and fierce debate on the validity of holding anti-Zionist views under the values of freedom of thought and expression. The University and a disciplinary hearing claimed at the time, however, that Miller merely “did not meet the standards of behaviour” expected by its staff.
The academic then launched employment tribunal proceedings claiming unfair dismissal, breach of contract and discrimination or victimisation on grounds of religion or belief, the conclusion of which found yesterday that he had been unfairly and wrongfully dismissed.
According to his legal representative firm, Rahman Lowe, Miller successfully claimed discrimination “based on his philosophical belief that Zionism is inherently racist, imperialist and colonial, a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010”. The firm proclaimed that the judgment “establishes for the first time ever that anti-Zionist beliefs are protected in the workplace”.
Zillur Rahman, who represented the Professor, called it a “landmark case” which essentially “marks a pivotal moment in the history of our country for those who believe in upholding the rights of Palestinians”.
On his part, Miller expressed that he was “very proud” to have established that anti-Zionist views qualify as a protected belief under British law. “This was the most important reason for taking the case and I hope it will become a touchstone precedent in all the future battles that we face with the racist and genocidal ideology of Zionism and the movement to which it is attached.”