Tribunal: University of Bristol unlawfully sacked David Miller over his anti-Zionist views

Professor David Miller

In a landmark ruling, an employment tribunal has found that the University of Bristol unlawfully dismissed Professor David Miller because of his anti-Zionist views. 

At the hearing in Bristol, Professor Miller successfully claimed discrimination based on his philosophical belief that Zionism is inherently racist, imperialist and colonial aswell as being a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

This judgment yesterday establishes for the first time that anti-Zionist beliefs are protected in the workplace.

And it concluded that his opinion about Zionism being a racist and settler-colonial ideology were “coherent and cogent.”

Miller, who has always denied any antipathy towards Jews or Judaism, will now be entitled to compensation which will be decided at a later date.

Commenting on the ruling he said: “This is not just a victory for me, but also a victory for pro-Palestine campaigners across Britain. Over many years, anti-Zionists have faced harassment and censorship in Britain due to the efforts of the Israel lobby. Many people have faced disciplinary procedures and lost their jobs for manifesting their anti-Zionist beliefs.

“Before I took my case, it was unclear whether a belief in the idea that Zionism is a racist, imperialist, and colonial ideology could be protected under the Equality Act 2010 as a philosophical belief. 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.”

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Miller was dismissed in October 2021 following complaints by Jewish students and the Communist Security Trust about his views on Israel and Zionism. Right-wing and pro-Israel media also published several articles criticising him.

But the judgment said: “The University acted unreasonably in treating the claimant’s conduct as a sufficient reason for dismissal. The reason for dismissal was tainted by discrimination and the dismissal was outside the range of responses open to a reasonable employer… because the actions of the claimant did not amount to gross misconduct and also because inadequate attention was given to the possibility of a sanction short of dismissal.

“We conclude that the claimant did not commit repudiatory breach of contract. The relationship between the claimant and the University was not so damaged that trust and confidence was undermined to the extent that the employer should no longer be required to retain the claimant in employment.”

On the ideology of Zionism, the judgement added: “We conclude that the claimant’s account as to the nature of Zionism is at least coherent and cogent. The claimant is an academic with expertise in Zionism and the Zionist movement. He referred to numerous academic works in his evidence which support his view of the nature of Zionism. Of course, we do not endorse or comment on this analysis in any way, other than to conclude that it is at least tenable and coherent.”

‘Organised campaign’

Professor Miller is an academic sociologist, specialising in state and corporate propaganda, public relations and lobbying. He was employed by the University of Bristol as a Professor of Political Sociology, and he continued working for the University until he was dismissed on October 1, 2021.

He argued at the tribunal that since at least March 2019 he was subject to an organised campaign by groups and individuals opposed to his anti-Zionist views, which was aimed at securing his dismissal.

He said that that the university failed to investigate or support him in respect of this campaign and instead subjected him to discriminatory and unfair misconduct proceedings which culminated eventually in his summary dismissal.

The University of Bristol denied the allegations and said that Miller was fairly dismissed because of gross misconduct in relation to statements and comments he made in February 2021.

The university, which had previously cleared Miller of the allegations in two internal inquiries, said it was “disappointed”, adding: “We recognise that these matters have caused deep concern for many, and that members of our community hold very different views from one another. We would, therefore, encourage everyone to respond in a responsible and sensitive way in the current climate.”

‘The Zionist movement cannot be negotiated with. It must be defeated’

Professor Miller further commented: “I hope this case will become a touchstone precedent in all the future battles that we face with the racist and genocidal ideology of Zionism and the movement to which it is attached. The determination that I was sacked for my anti-Zionist beliefs is a vindication of the case I made all the way through this process. The University of Bristol maintained that I was sacked because Zionist students were offended by my various remarks. However, it was plain from the evidence provided by the university’s own witnesses, that I was sacked because of the anti-Zionist nature of my comments.

“This verdict is also a vindication of the approach I have taken throughout this period, which is to say that a genocidal and maximalist Zionism can only be effectively confronted by a maximalist anti-Zionism. The self-justifying and defensive approach of the sort illustrated by many on the Left and even in the Palestine Solidarity movement will not work. The Zionist movement cannot be negotiated with. It must be defeated.”

He added: “Taking this vital case cost a lot of money. Unfortunately, I am unable to recover my legal costs against the University of Bristol, and I still have tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees outstanding. Please help share in this victory by making a donation at:”

Rahman Lowe’s Zillur Rahman, who represented Prof Miller, said: “This is a landmark case and marks a pivotal moment in the history of our country for those who believe in upholding the rights of Palestinians. The timing of this Judgment will be welcomed by many who at present are facing persecution in their workplaces for speaking out against the crimes of the Israeli state.

University of Bristol. Pic: Stu22 /

“I am delighted for our client, David, who has been vindicated. His courage in fighting against the vicious campaign that was waged against him by Zionists within and outside the university, now sees him as a trailblazer for others that will follow. What is interesting about this case is that when David expressed his beliefs about Zionism which led to him being dismissed, they weren’t that widely known. However, the genocide Israel is committing at present, has woken the world up to the very belief David holds and was manifesting, which is that Zionism is inherently racist and must be opposed.

“Whilst I am happy for David, it is clear that what took place has had, and will continue to have an impact on his career. As a result, we will be seeking maximum compensation for the losses he has suffered and the hurt caused by the discrimination.”

And the Islamic Human Rights Commission, which also supported Professor Miller, said: “The decision by an employment tribunal yesterday that anti-Zionist views are protected under equality law is a significant milestone for Palestinian liberation advocates operating in England and Wales.

“In deciding that the University of Bristol unlawfully sacked and discriminated against Prof. David Miller the law has provided a protective shield for Palestine campaigners who fear that their livelihoods may be targeted on account of their anti-Zionist views.

“For far too long pro-Israeli groups have cynically held the slur of anti-Semitism as a proverbial sword of Damocles over the heads of anti-Zionist British employees. Yesterday’s decision will come as a huge relief because it effectively means that anti-Zionism is a legally acceptable philosophical position to hold. It will make British workplaces safer spaces for Palestine supporters.

“Prof Miller is a brilliant scholar who has done more than anyone to expose the anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian media/political bias. A trenchant critic of Israeli apartheid and brutality, Prof Miller has a history of impeccable research in the areas of Zionism and Palestine. He has identified Zionism as being one of ‘five pillars’ of Islamophobia, designed to discredit the Palestinian cause by painting it as extremist. There is no doubt that his opponents were trying to take him down in order to silence him.

“We hope that this decision sends a strong message to Zionist groups and apologists that they can no longer expect to threaten Palestine advocates’ livelihoods with baseless charges of anti-Semitism.”

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