…by Stu Littlewood, Britain
[ Editor’s Note: Stu takes us back into the belly of the beast in the British University battleground where various Jewish/Zionist lobbies, including the Israeli Embassy itself, move heaven and earth to prevent any criticism or even questioning of anything Israel has ever done in regard to its Palestinian open air concentration camps.
If it had a justifiable case it could present such, but it does not. Hence it puts pressure on university officials to do its dirty work, usually by harassing, threatening and even firing of university professors to scare others into quietly ramming the Israeli political line down everyone’s throats.
There is some organized resistance, but that does not include many in British government. I am not picking on them, as it is the same in the US. No politician wants to whiz the Israeli Lobby off even over a minor issue, as there are no minor issues with them.
They conduct themselves like the Little Dutch Boy story we learned as kids where he had his finger in the dyke, where the story ran that if he took it out, the hole would grow larger, eventually breaking the dyke and his people would suffer a general calamity.
Governments are the proper entities to protect their people from this growing form of higher education political terrorism being hardwired into the institutions. But then that brings up another uncomfortable question.
If push came to shove, would the politicians support their own people, or go over to the Zionists? Many say that they have already done the latter, to which I certainly would have to sadly agree… Jim W. Dean ]
First published October 29, 2021
UK universities are falling like ninepins to the warped and deceitful influence of the pro-Israel lobby. Dr. Somdeep Sen, Associate Professor of International Development studies at Roskilde University, accepted an invitation from Glasgow University’s Department of Politics and International Development to talk about his new book ‘Decolonizing Palestine: Hamas between the Anticolonial and Postcolonial‘.
The book was published by a leading university press after the usual peer review and is considered to be a distinguished contribution to the field of inquiry.
But the organisers received a message of concern from the University’s Jewish Society regarding the title and content of his talk and Dr. Sen was asked to provide information about his presentation. This is an insulting demand and not usually made but the Jewish Society said the event might lead to negative repercussions for Jewish students.
The fact that the book features Hamas, the inconveniently legitimate – i.e. democratically elected – rulers of Gaza who annoyingly exercise their perfect right to put up an armed resistance against Israel’s illegal military occupation, no doubt has something to do with the UJS complaint.
The fuss has led to an intervention by Prof The Baroness Afshar, the president of BRISMES (British Society for Middle Eastern Studies) on behalf of its Committee on Academic Freedom, and Professor Neve Gordon, vice-president.
Haleh Afshar is a Persian lady and a professor of politics and women’s studies at the University of York; Neve Gordon is an Israeli specialising in international law and human rights and well known for his support of BDS and criticism of Israel as an apartheid state.
Writing to Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, the principal of Glasgow University, they say that by insisting Dr Sen provides information in advance the University appears to have got tangled in its own ‘Protocol for Managing Speakers and Events’ and may have breached academic freedom.
So BRISMES have asked to see a list of previous occasions where the University has asked for scripts in advance and on what basis. BRISMES also expresses concern that such a breach “demonstrates the pernicious effect of the IHRA definition of antisemitism which the University has adopted and which has been widely criticised by legal experts and scholars… for its conflation of criticism of Israel and Zionism with antisemitism”.
And they point to a decision earlier this year by Glasgow University needlessly apologising for a peer-reviewed article in a post-graduate research journal in 2017 analysing pro-Israel advocacy groups operating in the UK.
The apology assumed a racist intent despite the lack of any evidence and has attracted a 500-strong petition criticising the University’s handling of the matter. Signatories include internationally renowned philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky, Nobel Prize winning chemist George Smith and film director Ken Loach, with supporters from 28 different countries.
Chomsky, professor of linguistics emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: “The capitulation by the University of Glasgow is a serious blow to academic freedom that should not be allowed to stand.”
BRISMES complain that the University’s actions produce “a chilling effect when it comes to public debate and research on Israeli government policy, pro-Israel advocacy and Palestinian groups” and consequently threaten diversity of viewpoints within the field of Middle East studies.
David Miller has ‘No case to answer’
Meanwhile Asa Winstanley, in the Electronic Intifada, reminds us that Bristol University, after firing Prof David Miller earlier this month, stated that an independent report by a leading lawyer had “found that Professor Miller’s comments did not constitute unlawful speech”. This expert conclusion raised obvious questions about the management’s fitness for purpose.
Winstanley now produces a few more details from a leaked document obtained by the Electronic Intifada. For example, the legal expert says quite definitely that “there is no case to answer against Professor Miller in connection with any of the matters I have investigated” and says Miller’s statements which were objected to “do not appear to me to be properly characterised as tropes or conspiracy theories but are, instead, specific and apparently defensible assertions of fact”.
The lawyer interviewed AA (the student complainant) and found that “the entire focus of AA’s discussion” was on a lecture by Miller “which AA had not attended [and] which AA did not appear to have discussed with any other student who did attend.”
‘Entirely without merit’
The leaked document also shows that AA acted in collusion with the Community Security Trust (CST), who had made the initial (rejected) complaint, as well as the Union of Jewish Students.
Both are Israel lobby groups. The lawyer recounts that “AA stated that CST had made a third party complaint about Professor Miller and then AA, being aware of the CST complaint, had decided to make a complaint [too].
“I also take into account the fact that AA linked the April 2019 complaint, during our interview, to that put forward by the CST (which had been rejected by the University the previous day), further that AA made clear that the complaint was made ‘in conjunction with’ the national UJS (Union of Jewish Students).
I am driven to the conclusion that this complaint was not brought in relation to matters which had affected AA in his/her capacity as a student. I further note that all but one of the talks/articles complained of…. had occurred before s/he was a student at Bristol.”
It seems the only part of the complaint which had anything to do with what Miller taught in class was an optional essay question he had set: “Critically discuss the idea that lobbying might be considered a form of corporate harm.”
The question didn’t even mention Israel or Zionism – let alone Jewish people – yet AA claimed the question could lead to a discussion of “anti-Semitic tropes.” The lawyer concluded that this aspect of AA’s complaint was “entirely without merit.”
According to Winstanley the lawyer, who was hired by the University to look into the case against Miller, concludes that there is “no basis for any disciplinary action … in connection with any of these matters.”
The Union of Jewish Students is reported to be funded by the Israeli embassy. Its constitution says the Union’s objects are to create meaningful Jewish campus experiences and inspire Jewish students to make an enduring commitment to their Jewish identity and Israel.
How a movement with such a central aim – commitment to a belligerent foreign power which for 70-odd years has oppressed, slaughtered and imprisoned the Palestinians and stolen their lands, homes and resources – is allowed to flourish on the campuses of Britain, needs to be explained.
The CST made the initial complaint against Miller in March 2019. It is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats. Its mission includes to “speak responsibly at all times, without exaggeration or political favour, on antisemitism and associated issues”. But not on this occasion apparently.
“In other words,” says Winstanley. “AA was effectively acting as an on-campus front person for two Israel lobby groups – themselves acting as cut-outs for the state of Israel.”
And the Support David Miller campaign group said on Twitter: “It could not be clearer: the University of Bristol has worked hand-in-glove with the UK’s Israel lobby to terrorize one of its own academics.”
Name the disciplinary panel who decided Miller’s fate
BRISMES has also intervened in the Miller sacking. Noting the University’s statement that an independent QC found that Professor Miller’s comments were lawful, BRISMES reminded Bristol’s management of its obligation “to secure free speech within the law according to Section 2(8)(c) of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, which states that the ‘institutional autonomy of English higher education providers’ means ‘the freedom within the law of academic staff at English higher education providers (i) to question and test received wisdom, and (ii) to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges they may have at the providers’.”
On that vital point about losing one’s livelihood, we still need to hear who sat on Bristol’s disciplinary panel and signed David Miller’s ‘death’ warrant. They need to be held up to public ridicule and threatened with losing their own jobs.
Miller has said he’ll take the matter to tribunal. I reckon the academic community is looking forward to a long-awaited showdown with university administrators over their cowardly surrender to Zionist pressure designed to stifle any attempt to challenge and expose the Israeli regime’s absurd claims to the Holy Land, its 70+ years of brutal military occupation, its non-stop slaughter of civilians, its continual thieving of Palestinian property and resources, and its wider ambitions.
30 October 2021
After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics, he served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. An Associate of the Royal Photographic Society, he has produced two photo-documentary books which can be read online at Radiofreepalestine.org.uk and Paperturn-view.com