Introduction by CAMPAIN
Chris Friel was a teacher of mathematics and philosophy who upon retirement acquired a PhD in Catholic studies, focussing on a long-term interest, the philosophical theologian Bernard Lonergan. However, back in 2018 he was outraged by a leader in the Tablet (a left of centre Catholic weekly) about Jeremy Corbyn and the mural scandal, that appropriated language used in Vatican II to describe the vast destruction of cities and their inhabitants.
Chris has no party-political affiliation, but his discoveries have caused him to engage in three years of investigative journalism research into the antisemitism allegations against Jeremy Corbyn and other supporters of Palestinian cause (and coincidentally into the case of the Australian Cardinal Pell about which he discovered new evidence). His work has been meticulous, examining the statements by parties involved, even tracking the tweets of pro-Israeli players. He has published his findings on these and other topics in Academia.edu.
One of his analyses concerns Professor David Miller, the Bristol academic who has been researching power and lobbying in the UK. As you probably know, the University of Bristol sacked David on October 1st on the grounds that he “did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff.” This came after a prolonged campaign involving the press, both Houses of Parliament, and even a complaint to the police.
Chris finds that a series of pro-Israeli groups including the political website Harry’s Place, the Community Security Trust (CST) and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) have been involved in orchestrating the campaign against Miller. Several individuals also wrote hostile articles about him, the most significant being David Hirsh’s “The Meaning of David Miller,” to which Chris formulated a detailed rebuttal, ”The Demeaning of David Miller”. He attributes the campaign against Miller to groups particularly concerned over Miller’s conclusion that parts of the Zionist movement were causing Islamophobia. The campaign was in effect a smokescreen designed to obscure the accusers’ true motives.
The short paper below illustrates Chris’s in-depth analyses in this field.
My Work on the Miller Case, by Chris S. Friel
Professor David Miller, a Bristol academic researching power and lobbying, was sacked by his university on 1 October because he “did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff.” This came after a prolonged campaign involving the press, parliament, and the police, but most likely the final decision came when the Campaign against Antisemitism (CAA) announced that it would take legal action against Bristol University. Strangely, the University authorities reached their conclusion after a QC they had hired had concluded that the complaints against him were baseless.
I have argued that named groups (such as the political website Harry’s Place) have been involved in orchestrating the campaign against Miller, perhaps out of a concern for Miller’s research that investigated parts of the Zionist movement causing Islamophobia. That is, I reject the alternative narrative suggesting that Miller’s teaching of young Jewish students manifested antisemitism or even hate speech and made them feel uncomfortable.
In what follows I will detail some of my work as touching on Miller, using hyperlinks in the text.
Thus, as well as Harry’s Place, a major protagonist is the Community Security Trust (CST) that publishes an annual report on antisemitic discourse. Miller was first mentioned in their 2018 Antisemitic Discourse Report, which I have reviewed at length. With four others, Miller published "Bad News for Labour" for which I have both a short and a long review.
Miller came under intense pressure in March 2021, and I have defended his cause against Daniel Finkelstein, David Feldman, Oliver Kamm, and Keith Kahn-Harris. Most significant is the attack by David Hirsh, of which I have this rebuttal, including a timeline with a detailed chronology of events.
After this, the Jewish News made a significant contribution, an exclusive giving voice to one of the anonymous students who complained via the Community Security Trust in February 2019, and to which I respond here.
To adapt the phrase of an Israeli general, I characterise the antisemitism campaign against the UK Labour Party (or at any rate, MuralGate) as “purposely timed hysteria,” orchestrated by the same people who were active behind scenes in the campaign against Miller. Here is a summary statement based on the many papers I have written about this. As well, I have three other pieces (here, here, and here) that underline the involvement of Jonathan Hoffman and Richard Millett, veteran pro-Israel stalwarts. These should be of interest to anyone following the impending libel action by Mr Millett against Mr Corbyn.