The director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism has said Bristol University’s “apparently dilatory” investigation into David Miller and claims of harassment of its Jewish students “is doing no one any good”.
Professor David Feldman said he had “made it very clear that some of the things that David Miller has said are antisemitic and that needs to be acted on by Bristol University”. Birkbeck had been consulted by “many institutions, including universities, on how to address the issues of antisemitism on campus”, which was “an important part of our public-facing activity”.
He said Birkbeck would be happy to “give advice to any university, including Bristol”, on the matter, adding: “Professor David Miller has been publicly denounced over antisemitism, so it is right and proper that Bristol University investigates that. There needs to be due process. However, without knowing the details, it does seem to be taking a long time to resolve the situation”.
This year Feldman wrote an opinion piece for Ha’aretz in which he said Miller had “overstepped the mark” between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
Feldman said all previous surveys had shown that the number of “ideologically committed antisemites in the British population is relatively low, at 5 percent or lower, but the percentage of people who would assent to one or more negative stereotypes of Jews is much higher, up to 30 percent.”
This was replicated in political parties, “and across the spectrum, not just the Labour Party. It needs to be addressed through educating people and making them aware of the language that they use and the tropes that they draw upon. Discipline alone [such as expulsion] works only in the most egregious cases, and won’t get to the heart of the problem.”
Feldman was speaking to Jewish News after Birkbeck secured new grants totalling more than £1million, which, he said were a result of “the academic quality and the reputation of the Institute”.
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