NEW YORK (VINnews) — A professor at the University of Bristol has been sacked over derogatory comments he made about Israel, according to a Jewish Chronicle report.
Prof. David Miller, who teaches political sociology at the university, accused Israel of trying to ‘impose its will over the world.’ He has also gone on record as stating that Israel is an “enemy of peace”.
When students complained about his views, Prof. Miller accused the students of being part of a “drive to stop anyone speaking out about Palestine”. He added that the students were being exploited as “political pawns by a violent, racist, foreign regime engaged in ethnic cleansing.” Dozens of people complained that Miller’s comments were “inciting hatred against Jewish students”.
The university, which initially defended Miller’s academic freedom, announced Oct 1st that a disciplinary hearing had found that Prof Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour it expects from its staff.
In a statement, the university said: “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.
“Balancing those important considerations, and after careful deliberation…the university has concluded that Prof Miller’s employment should be terminated with immediate effect.”
It said the university regards the “principle of academic freedom as fundamental” and would like to “reiterate that we take any risk to stifle that freedom seriously”. The university said Prof Miller has a right of internal appeal.
Miller responded by saying that the university had “embarrassed itself” with its decision and accused it of bowing to a pressure campaign against him directed by Israel. He added that “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.”
The president of Bristol Jewish Society, Edward Isaacs, thanked the university for its decision in a tweet. He wrote: “The fight against antisemitism is vast, but I hope today’s news goes a long way to showing positive change can be made and that we should never settle for anything less than a society free from all forms of hatred.”
Prof. Miller’s statements which were made in February had previously spawned an uproar, with more than 100 politicians calling action over the comments. At the same time, academics supported Miller’s right to state his opinions and initiated a support campaign for the professor, criticizing the “unnecessary investigation” into his comments.