David Miller rebuts Daily Telegraph smears

Professor David Miller

Professor David Miller has written a twitter thread rebutting the false and malicious claims about him made by Daily Telegraph journalists. This was a flagrant attempt to undermine academic freedom in the context of discussing Palestine and Israel.

Reprinted by permission of the author
The Sunday Telegraph has published a hit piece on me by @camillahmturner and @ImogenHorton98
Let’s review the inaccuracies and weasel words used to insinuate antisemitism even while explicitly denying they are making such an allegation.

photo of Bristol University
Bristol University accused of failing to heed Jewish students’ complaints Bristol University has become embroiled in a row with Jewish students after rejecting their complaint about a lecturer who taught that parts of the Zionist lobby is funding Islamophobia. https://bit.ly/2kskIwY

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2. The key element of the story is that two Jewish students allegedly felt ‘uncomfortable and intimidated’ following a lecture I gave on Islamophobia.

mentions 3. In my response (which the Telegraph reported) I said that ‘Students of all backgrounds can find some of the material challenging if it goes against their existing beliefs or knowledge-base.’

mentions 4. In order to elevate this story to newsworthiness the Telegraph needed to be able to link the student response to some hint of racism. Here’s how they did it.

mentions 5. First they accurately quoted my slides in which I note that ‘ultra Zionist funders are active’ in funding Islamophobia and that ‘parts of’ the Zionist movement are involved in spreading Islamophobia. These are simply factual statements.

mentions 6. I referred the Telegraph to my colleague Hilary Aked (@poxymoron) who shows how ‘a considerable faction of right-wing Zionists, of the sort who have long dominated pro-Israel politics, are often linked to organised Islamophobia promotion.’

The undeniable overlap: right-wing Zionism and Islamophobia A considerable faction of right-wing Zionists, of the sort who have long dominated pro-Israel politics, are often linked to organised Islamophobia promotion. https://bit.ly/2kEFnxB


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7. I also referred to a piece I co-wrote with my colleague Sarah Marusek on how Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation received money from a financial fraudster linked with illegal Israeli settlements and an American Islamophobic network

The brothers who funded Blair, Israeli settlements and Islamophobia | Middle East Eye Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation received money from a financial fraudster linked with illegal Israeli settlements and an American Islamophobic network https://bit.ly/2lMuD0i


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8. The @Telegraph did not share this evidence with their readers.

mentions 9. But then they referred to a slide from my lecture which allegedly ‘depicts a complex web of Jewish organisations, charities and philanthropists’
mentions 10. However, the slide does not list ‘Jewish’ organisations. Rather it portrays the ‘British Zionist scene’. It was taken from p.34 of our 2013 report on BICOM the pro Israel lobby group. BICOM in its network
mentions 11. Here is a link to the full report, in which there are many other facts and discussion of BICOM and its place in the wider UK Zionist movement: bit.ly/2lMoEbS


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12. At the heart of this misrepresentation is the failure of the @Telegraph and many of those who have criticised me, including the @CST_UK who first raised this complaint with Bristol University, to distinguish between ‘Jewish’ and ‘Zionist’ groups.

mentions 13. I note that the IHRA working definition includes an appended example of antisemitism: ‘Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.’
mentions 14. By that standard @Telegraph, @camillahmturner and @ImogenHorton98 as well as @CST_UK would appear to stray into the territory of antisemitism.
mentions 15. The Telegraph goes on to state: ‘While there is no suggestion of anti-Semitism.’ But of course that is exactly the suggestion they are seeking to make. Thus the article is tagged on their website with the term ‘antisemitism’. Daily Telegraph listing under antisemitism
mentions 16. I invite @Telegraph, @Camillaturner and @ImogenHorton98 to have this removed. It is defamatory and contradicts the assertion they make in the body of the text, presumably under legal advice.
mentions 17. The piece goes on to undercut the disavowal of antisemitism by claiming: ‘students said they felt that, taken as a whole, his lecture was reminiscent of “anti-Semitic language, tropes and conspiracy theories”. Prof Miller has strongly denied the suggestion.’

mentions 18. What ‘suggestion’ am I denying here? That students ‘felt’ that, or that ‘taken as a whole’ the lecture was ‘reminiscent’ of antisemitic content. The lecture ‘as a whole’ was about Islamophobia about which I have written at length.

Pegida anti-Muslim rally
The five pillars of Islamophobia Vague categories like ‘extremist’ and ‘radicalisation’ are trawling Muslims in a very large ‘counter-terrorism’ net. https://bit.ly/2maMKO1
mentions 19. In fact what I said in my response to @camillahmturner was: ‘These are weasel words. You are unable to produce a single word, phrase or sentence of mine that might legitimately be labelled antisemitic…
mentions 20. …You resort to vague phrases like ‘taken as a whole’ and ‘reminiscent’. These are incapable being supported by any evidence.’ That response was not published by the @Telegraph. I have a feeling that @IpsoNews are likely to take a dim view of this.
mentions 21. I am pleased, however, that in addition to defending academic freedom that @BristolUni also correctly judged that the complaint received from the Union of Jewish Students was devoid of merit. That there was (of course) no material in my lectures that was ‘hostile to Jews’.
mentions 22. To conclude – I simply state that the @Telegraph story is devoid of merit. It has no newsworthy content and the only way it could be shoehorned in was by distortion – conflating Zionist with Jewish groups and insinuating antisemitism, while explicitly disavowing it.

 

David Miller is Professor of Political Sociology in the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol. His books include What is Islamophobia? Racism, Social Movements and the State  and Impact of Market Forces on Addictive Substances and Behaviours: The Web of Influence of Addictive Industries

 

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One thought on “David Miller rebuts Daily Telegraph smears”

  1. I think Professor Miller is absolutely right.
    I would be interested to see more information about the links between Mick Davies (who let Jeremy Newmark of JLM ill-repute “off the hook” and Michael Levy (former Blair fund-raiser).
    Is it possible to get his talk on their connections with BICOM posted here?

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