Having achieved his suspension from the Labour Party, pro-Israel activists are now trying to get Professor David Miller fired from his academic job. It is quite clear that if these people succeed, they will not stop there. Other academics who are critical of Israel will be targeted and possibly fired. And it won’t take much of this to persuade other academics to stop speaking out against Israeli policies for fear of losing their careers.
The comments which have most upset Miller’s critics in the past concern the activities of the pro-Israel lobby in Britain. These are clearly not anti-Semitic. However, one comment does show Miller criticizing a Jewish-Muslim community initiative to distribute chicken soup to homeless people. At first glance, this does seems both ridiculous and even perhaps anti-Semitic. But, when looked at in context, it appears rather different. Here’s the full transcript of Miller’s comment during a Brighton Labour Left Alliance zoom meeting held in June 2020:
“Well, I think this is not just a question of the left. It’s a question of the attempt by the Zionist movement in this country – also it’s happened in France and Germany prior to this – to normalize Zionism on the left in those countries, yes, but also to normalize Zionism within the Muslim community. So, people say, you know, ‘Oh it’s all gone now, isn’t it, the anti-Semitism issue?’ Well no, it’s not, they’re not finished. They are continuing to operate against the left and they’re continuing in a way which the people in the left – I wouldn’t use the term quite left – haven’t noticed against the Muslim community. So, that’s something which we need to be conscious of.
The reason that they’re doing this, of course, is that the only two forces which can threaten them are the Muslim, [the] organized Muslim community, and the left. And they are panicked – as have been the leaders of our country, of our state, in the intelligence services – panicked by what they saw in 2003, and for a few years after that, of the organized Muslim community coming together with the organized left, to march against the Iraq war.
And, I don’t know if you all remember, but there was a moment which happened of unity there, where the Muslim Association of Britain and [the] Stop the War Coalition, which of course is a coalition of various other groups along with CND and others, came together. And MAB said: ‘Look, the theme of this demonstration should be Palestine. It shouldn’t just be about being against war, about Iraq, it should be Palestine.’ And there was, kind of, opposition in parts of the left and from some parts of the Stop the War coalition etc. to that. But it was agreed in the end. And that was a breakthrough moment for pro-Palestinian politics.
The main theme of this national demonstration, to which many thousands of people came, was Palestine. ‘Palestine is the issue,’ as John Pilger has put it in successive documentaries. And that scared the Israelis, it scared MI5 and MI6 and, in the [United] States, it scared the security establishment there. And they’ve been operating since then to attack and dissolve the possibility of Muslims and the left working together on questions of imperialism. And they’ve done that by, Kate [Connelly] mentioned, Prevent. I mean that’s what Prevent is for. Prevent is there to say, ‘Muslims are bad, you don’t really want to be getting involved with them, look at these funny things, they’re not good.’
And the deep Islamophobic nature of the Prevent policy is born out of that fear in the ruling class, the fear that there’s a force out there in society that can work together and defeat imperial ambitions. And, of course, it worries the Israelis. And, of course, the Israelis have sent people in to target that, to try and to try and deal with that, in relation to the Muslim community. In particular they’ve done this through inter-faith work, pretending that Jews and Muslims working together will be an apolitical way of countering racial misunderstandings. No, it’s a Trojan horse for normalizing Zionism in the Muslim community.
We saw it in [the] East London Mosque, for example, where the East London Mosque, unknowingly, held this project of making chicken soup with the Jewish and Muslim communities coming together. This is an Israeli-backed project to normalize Zionism within the Muslim community. And they’re doing that at the same time as they were doing the attack on Corbyn and the continued attack on the left to normalize Zionism on the Left.
You said they were successful – and I think we can debate the extent to which they were successful – but they did manage to peel off a certain section of the left. And we saw that in the beginning – we didn’t maybe realise [that] at the time – with what happened to Jackie [Walker] who was in the calls? just now, who was peeled off from Momentum and then elements of Momentum peeled off. I mean, if you look back at Jon Lansman’s statements on Israel going back many years, he is much more critical. He says things about the Zionist movement and about Zionism which would have him expelled from the [Labour] Party now. And so something happened there.
So, even elements of Momentum became turned by a kind of left-Zionism, by elements of the [Jewish Labour Movement], partly no doubt to do with the pro-Zionists in the AWL, the Alliance for Workers Liberty, pro-Zionist left. (I believe ‘Trotskyist’ is the appropriate term for them as well.) And so that, I think, is a real issue. And the Israeli Government, of course, have been involved in this from the beginning. First of all, let me finish off by saying this, first of all, two strategies here.
1. They prepared the ground, going back to the early 2000s, by redefining anti-Semitism to include anti-Zionism: the creation of the new ‘new anti-Semitism’. And they did that with hosting a huge number of events and conferences, including in London but also in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and many other places, to bring together the idea that anti-Zionism could be anti-Semitism and then the idea that anti-Zionism was always anti-Semitism. And that, of course, became the [European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia] working definition of anti-Semitism which was then transmogrified in 2016 into the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition. So that’s one thing which was then used as a stick to beat the Labour Party and indeed is being used as a stick to beat universities, student unions, colleges, local councils etc.. And that will continue going forward.
[2.] And then, on the other hand, they sent in their undercover operatives, and money from the [Israeli] Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which, of course, Asa [Winstanley] you’ve have written about extensively. And I’m sure there’s much more information to come about that. They sent in Shia Masot who was seen in that undercover documentary to spread money around. Many of these new Zionist hawk organizations, Sussex Friends of Israel, North West Friends of Israel, Glasgow Friends of Israel, Lawyers for Israel etc. etc., [and] a whole range of other groups that sprung up, in part, due to direct subventions from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
And people imagine this has come about by accident. Well no, it hasn’t. This has coming about by a deliberate strategy by the Israeli government and its allies in particular parts of the Zionist movement. And so, that’s not going to go away and so I kind of agree with you, Asa. But I think the problem is deeper than even you are suggesting and that’s something which we have to face. It’s there and not talking about it will not defeat it. It has to be confronted.”
To fully understand what Miller was referring to, one needs to read this article from the Middle East Monitor: ‘Was the Jewish-Muslim ‘chicken soup challenge’ cooked up by UK’s Home Office?’
Miller needs to be defended from very real attempts to have him removed from his academic job. Academics wishing to join Noam Chomsky and many others in showing support for David can sign this petition: https://supportmiller.org/