Badenoch: People using views on Israel as an excuse to display antisemitism

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Badenoch: People using views on Israel as an excuse to display antisemitism

The minister for women and equalities told MPs that this has been seen at protests and in universities.

Kemi Badenoch
Kemi Badenoch

People in the UK are using their views on Israel as an “excuse to display antisemitism”, according to Kemi Badenoch.

The minister for women and equalities told MPs that this has been seen at protests and in universities.

Ms Badenoch also referenced a recent employment tribunal judgment involving a university academic, adding the Government will consider it “carefully”.

Professor David Miller, who was sacked after making comments criticising Israel, successfully claimed at an employment tribunal that he experienced discrimination based on his anti-Zionist belief in a landmark ruling.

He was found to have been unfairly and wrongfully dismissed by the University of Bristol in October 2021.

Speaking during equalities questions, Ms Badenoch told the House of Commons: “In light of some of the commentary around the employment tribunal’s judgment in the case of Professor Miller and Bristol University, I want to clarify that antisemitism must continue to be challenged wherever it arises.

“We have seen people in this country use their views on Israel as an excuse to display antisemitism.

“We have seen this at protests on our streets and we see this in our universities.

“It is therefore important to underline that this ruling does not change the fact that while academics have the right to express views, they cannot behave in a way which amounts to harassment of Jewish students.

“Disguising this as discourse about Israel would be no more lawful than any other form of antisemitism and the Government will consider the ruling carefully, and will continue to do everything in our power to protect Jewish people across our country.”

The tribunal heard Prof Miller, during a lecture at the university in 2019, said the Zionist movement was one of five pillars driving Islamophobia in the UK.

No further action was taken against Prof Miller after an investigation of a complaint.

Further complaints were made to the university after he took part in an event called “Building the campaign for free speech” in February 2021, in which he spoke of being publicly criticised for his views on Palestine and Israel.

Disciplinary proceedings followed that culminated in Prof Miller’s dismissal in October 2021.

Prof Miller launched employment tribunal proceedings claiming unfair dismissal, breach of contract and discrimination or victimisation on grounds of religion or belief.

At the conclusion of proceedings, Prof Miller successfully claimed discrimination “based on his philosophical belief that Zionism is inherently racist, imperialist and colonial, a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010”, his legal representatives Rahman Lowe announced on Monday.

“This judgment establishes for the first time ever that anti-Zionist beliefs are protected in the workplace,” the firm said.

Prof Miller said he was “very proud” to have established that anti-Zionist views qualify as a protected belief.

The University of Bristol said in a statement that it acknowledged the judgment of the tribunal but is “disappointed with its findings”.

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