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Scottish PSC welcomes the overwhelming votes by University and College Union (UCU) Scotland Congress to pass motions to defend Professor David Miller and to reject the discredited IHRA working definition.
David Miller, a UCU member, is under attack by Israel lobby groups who are calling for his dismissal from Bristol University. He is a target not only because of his political views, a supporter of Palestinian rights and an opponent of Israel and its political ideology, Zionism, but also because of his academic work which includes extensive research into the ‘Israel lobby’, the network of pro-Israel organisations which exist in the UK. He is also well known for his research on Islamophobia, including links between the Zionist movement and anti-Muslim networks globally.
One of the tactics used by Israel and its supporters to stop international civil society from responding the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel for its human rights abuses (BDS), is through the so-called IHRA definition of antisemitism and to accuse BDS supporters of being antisemitic. The IHRA is being used to protect Israel from criticism, has been rejected by Jewish academics and experts in antisemitism, and its use for this purpose has been rejected by the person who devised it. The decision by UCU Scotland Congress to reject the IHRA and to oppose it wherever it is being advocated in Higher Education is a significant move toward defending academic freedom and freedom of speech.
Defend David Miller, defend academic freedom
UCU Scotland congress
- condemns the attack on Professor David Miller by Zionist lobby groups and the call for his dismissal from Bristol University following his address to the online conference held by the Labour Campaign for Free Speech on 13 February;
- calls on Bristol University to defend Professor Miller, his academic freedom and right to free speech;
- mandates UCU officers, in liaison with the Bristol UCU branch and UK officers, to write to the Vice Chancellor of Bristol University expressing our outrage at the treatment of Professor Miller and the inadequate response so far in his defence;
- Agrees to promote campaign material to members to encourage support for David Miller.
Rejecting the IHRA definition
Congress notes with concern the pressure on English universities from the UK Secretary of State for Education to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism (IHRA);
- Has been widely discredited by experts
- Does nothing to tackle antisemitism
- Has been deployed primarily to undermine the successful campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel for its breach of international law in treatment of the Palestinians
Whilst there is no requirement on Scottish universities to adopt IHRA, there may be pressure to do so.
Whilst the Scottish Government has adopted IHRA, it has made clear that public bodies are entitled to make their own decisions including adoption of BDS
UCU has already rejected a forerunner of IHRA.
- Rejects IHRA as a definition of antisemitism
- Is committed to challenging antisemitism
- Commits to oppose IHRA in HE and wherever it is being advocated