(September 9, 2019 / JNS) Bristol University in the United Kingdom has been accused of mishandling a complaint by Jewish students regarding a lecture slide that blamed the “Zionist movement” as one of the “five pillars of Islamophobia.”
In March, sociology professor David Miller claimed in a slideshow presentation that the “Zionist movement (parts of)” is one of the “five pillars of Islamophobia,” in addition to the “neoconservative right,” some of whose founders and leaders were Jewish. Examples included Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol, who was known as the “godfather of neoconservatism.”
The Community Security Trust, a charity that helps Jews with security and fight anti-Semitism, blasted the university as “an utter disgrace” over its handling of the complaint, which consisted of providing the school a copy of the slide that blames Zionism for Islamophobia.
“Professor Miller’s suggestion that CST in some way encourages, condones or generates Islamophobia or anti-Muslim prejudice is an entirely false and disgraceful slur,” wrote CST in a letter to Bristol vice chancellor Hugh Brady.
CST is a UK Jewish charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism & terrorism. We do not lobby for Israel: it is wrong to describe CST’s work as that of an “Israel lobby group” as this slide does, or to conflate combating antisemitism in the UK with pro-Israel lobbying /6 pic.twitter.com/Xh9AfrvPaL
— CST (@CST_UK) September 8, 2019
One Jewish student who contacted CST went on the record as feeling “uncomfortable and intimidated in class,” according to the organization.
Another said, “I don’t think it is right that I should have to sit in a lecture or seminar in fear.”
A Bristol University spokesperson told the London-based Jewish Chronicle in a statement that the school has “taken action in response to this to ensure that the lecture material in question is accurate, clear and not open to misinterpretation,” and that no disciplinary action was “currently being considered.”
The spokesperson added that there’s “no evidence to suggest that Jewish students feel unsafe here at Bristol,” but called for those who felt discriminated to reach out to its support services.
CST director of communications Mark Gardner told The Jewish Chronicle that his charity had been “deeply shocked by Bristol’s failure to seriously engage with the content of both our complaint and that of the Jewish students. The university has been an utter disgrace.”
In April, a student at Bristol University was told by the school’s ethnic minority officer to “be like Israel and cease to exist.”
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