Toxic cocktail of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism – opinion

The minds of tomorrow’s leaders are being forged in universities around the world. Yet those students are being fed a diet of anti-Semitism on many Western campuses.

This is one of the greatest dangers facing the Jewish world.

It is not just student activist extremists who are poisoning the minds of their peers. The most dangerous incitement sometimes comes from academics. A professor’s imprimatur may appear to confer legitimacy on anti-Semitic groups, individuals, or ideas.

I can’t think of a better example of this toxic cocktail than Professor David Miller of the University of Bristol, who was fired earlier this month, a rare case of a British academic who was fired after repeated anti-Semitic remarks.

Miller is obsessed with anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and his classes have alarmed Jewish students. In a course entitled “Damages from the Powerful”, for example, Miller accused the “Zionist movement” of a hatred of Muslims, promoted in the UK by a sophisticated Jewish conspiracy.

He has also claimed that the new Labor Party leader is “receiving money from the Zionist movement,” while Miller himself spends his time in the company of high-profile figures expelled from the Labor Party in connection with anti-Semitism, describing allegations of anti-Semitism. -The Jewish racism against them as a “witch hunt”.

Earlier complaints to the University against Miller fell on deaf ears.

However, on a Zoom call in February, Miller crossed the line once again and described the “Zionist Movement” as “the enemy of world peace.” He added that Jewish students, by virtue of being Zionists, “foment Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism” and that those associated with Zionism, including Jewish students on their own campus, “must be directly targeted.”

Miller’s employer, the University of Bristol, came under increasing pressure from a united Jewish community in disgust and frustrated by the institution’s lengthy investigation with no apparent end in sight. The Jewish voices were joined by hundreds of prominent academics and politicians.

While the Jewish community and its allies showed just outrage, Bristol did not act. For too long, this has been the way university administrations have reacted to anti-Semitism on campus.

At Campaign Against Antisemitism, we were determined this time would be different. Our organization has long been a pioneer in innovative legal solutions and we began to pave the way for a potential legal challenge.

We immediately assembled some of the legal team that worked on our landmark Labor Party reference to the Equality and Human Rights Commission – Asserson Law Offices and attorney Derek Spitz – also bringing in specialist employment attorney Benjamin Gray. The circumstances were similar to those of the Labor Party under Jeremy Corbyn: blatant anti-Semitism and an institution that believed it could not be compelled to act.

A small group of Jewish students had the courage to step forward.

Put yourself in their position: You are in college to study and have the best time of your life, and suddenly you meet someone like Miller and are faced with the question of whether you should sue your own institution just to defend your rights.

Together with our legal team, we identified a possible claim against the University for creating a hostile environment for Jewish students due to its continued failure to hold Miller accountable and for violating the diversity and inclusion terms of its contract with students.

Following pre-action correspondence in the spring, legal proceedings began over the summer. The University thus knew that whatever its internal investigation, the facts were going to be presented in court.

Just a month later, Miller was fired.

The case was the last step for our organization to defend the rights of individual Jewish students. We believe that universities and student unions must be held accountable when they do not stand up for Jewish students or allow teachers to discriminate against or harass them.

The heroes here are the students who stepped up. As a Jewish community, we have a duty to show you that when you stand firm in principle, you will not be alone. We must unite around our students and be prepared to give our solidarity the force of legal action.

That is why Miller’s fall is the most important lesson he has ever taught.

Gideon Falter is the executive director of the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

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