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Chomsky and Pilger among 400 academics to back uni professor over Israel-Palestine views

A WORLDWIDE campaign to defend a University of Bristol professor against alleged harassment and victimisation over views he expressed on Israel and Palestine is being backed by more than 400 leading academics and writers.

Professor David Miller’s supporters include Professor Noam Chomsky and journalist John Pilger, who have written to the university’s president and vice-chancellor Professor Hugh Brady demanding an end to the alleged persecution.

Prof Miller gave a lecture on Islamophobia two years ago, and was asked to make a statement on Israel and Palestine.

After doing so he was subjected to “well-orchestrated efforts” to misrepresent his views as anti-semitic. There were also calls for him to be sacked.

His supporters say in their letter to the vice-chancellor: “We oppose anti-semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism.

“We also oppose false allegations and the weaponisation of the positive impulses of anti-racism so as to silence anti-racist debate.

“We do so because such vilification has little to do with defeating the harms caused by racism. 

“Instead, efforts to target, isolate and purge individuals in this manner are aimed at deterring evidence-based research, teaching and debate.

“As a result, important scholarship is omitted, and this curtails the public’s and students’ right to learn and to engage in thoughtful debate.

“At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has reinvigorated public consciousness about the structural factors entrenching racism, attempts to stifle discourse on Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism are particularly regressive and inconsistent with the values the University of Bristol espouses.”

They urge the vice-chancellor “to vigorously defend the principle of academic freedom, the right to free speech and evidence-based, research-informed public discourse. 

“We hope that you will uphold the integrity of academic debate.”

The university was invited to comment.

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