A UK professor was unfairly fired over his anti-Zionist beliefs, a tribunal ruled

Advertisement
A UK professor was unfairly fired over his anti-Zionist beliefs, a tribunal ruled
David Miller outside the Bristol Civil Justice Centre on October 17, 2023., in Bristol, United Kingdom.PA Images via Getty Images
  • A UK professor was unfairly fired over his anti-Zionist beliefs, an employment tribunal ruled.
  • David Miller was dismissed after making a series of anti-Zionist comments in February 2021.
Advertisement

A professor fired for his anti-Zionist beliefs was unfairly dismissed, an employment tribunal ruled on Monday.

David Miller, a professor of political sociology at the UK's University of Bristol, was dismissed in October 2021 because of gross misconduct in relation to a series of statements and comments he made in February 2021, per court records of the ruling.

During an online event entitled "Building the Campaign for Free Speech," Miller criticized Zionist activities and linked Jewish student groups in the UK to political objectives allied with Israel.

After the event, he was quickly confronted with charges on social media of having been antisemitic.

Shortly after, Miller wrote an article titled "We must resist Israel's war on British universities," in which he described Jewish students on British campuses as "political pawns being used by a violent, racist foreign regime engaged in ethnic cleansing."

Advertisement

The university said at the time that it carried out a full independent investigation and a disciplinary hearing into Miller's statements, and found that they did not constitute unlawful speech.

However, it said that Miller "did not meet the standards of behavior we expect from staff" and terminated his employment with immediate effect on October 1, 2021.

Miller filed an appeal against the university's decision, which was rejected in February 2022.

Two days later, he took the university to the employment tribunal on the grounds of direct belief discrimination, indirect discrimination because of belief contrary, harassment related to belief contrary, unfair dismissal, and wrongful dismissal.

Miller claimed that the university unfairly and discriminatorily mistreated him during the course of the procedures, which ultimately resulted in his dismissal.

Advertisement

He also claimed that since at least March 2019 he has been the target of a coordinated campaign by people and organizations opposed to his beliefs, with the ultimate goal of getting him fired.

The university failed to support him during that campaign, he said.

Jewish students at the University of Bristol, meanwhile, claimed that the university failed to support them, saying that Miller's positions made them feel unsafe.

The employment tribunal said in its 108-page ruling on Monday that Miller had been wrongfully fired and had been subjected to prejudice because of his philosophical beliefs in violation of the UK's Equality Act 2010.

Cases of firings and resignations have also occurred on US campuses in recent months.

Advertisement

Since Hamas' October 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, tensions around the conflict in the Middle East have spread across elite US institutions like Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania, with donors pulling funding over institutions' responses to Hamas' attack and alleged antisemitism on campus.

Penn President Elizabeth Magill and Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned from their respective roles in December and January, linked to the issue.

In a statement on X, Miller said the ruling was not just a victory for him but for all pro-Palestine campaigners across Britain.

"I'm proud to say that, with this case, we have proven that anti-Zionist beliefs, of the sort that I articulated, should be protected," he said.

The Union of Jewish Students, which represents Jewish societies at UK universities, said in a statement that it is "disappointed" by the judgment which it said would "ultimately make Jewish students less safe."

Advertisement

The UJS added: "This may set a dangerous precedent about what can be lawfully said on campus about Jewish students and the societies at the center of their social life."

The Community Security Trust, a British charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats, said it was "extremely concerned" by the ruling in a statement on X.

Meanwhile, Campaign Against Antisemitism, a volunteer-led charity dedicated to exposing and countering antisemitism through education and zero-tolerance law enforcement, said it hoped the University of Bristol would appeal the decision.

{{}}