Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2869

Why David Miller is wrong about antisemitism

Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. Saying Jews are ‘over represented’ in positions of power is.
Issue 2869
Palestine supporters protest outside Downing street holding freedom for Palestine placards

Palestine supporters protest outside Downing Street in London last August (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Socialist Worker stands unequivocally for Palestinian freedom. We do not believe that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.

We oppose the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and its examples. And we also fight the way the IHRA has been used to restrict free speech about the apartheid Israeli state and criticism of Israel as a racist, settler-colonial state.

Socialist Worker has always opposed the use of fake antisemitism claims to attack Palestinians and the left, including the sustained assault on former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The way this issue has been abused makes it all the more important that when there is actual antisemitism that the left recognises it and condemns it.

We say that the tweets which the academic David Miller posted on 7 August are examples of antisemitism.

He wrote, “Jews are not discriminated against,” “They are over-represented in Europe, North America and Latin America in positions of cultural, economic and political power,” “They are therefore in a position to discriminate against actually marginalised groups,” and, “Judeophobia barely exists.”

Such allegations lump together all Jews without any recognition of class or other differences. Miller targets Jews, not the actual ruling class, and plays on the idea of Jews as ultra-rich and manipulative.

And he refuses to see the very real existence of antisemitism which, along with Islamophobia, has become a standard feature of far right propaganda.

One example is the repeated antisemitic speeches from Hungarian prime minister—and Tory favourite—Viktor Orban. But Orban is far from the only political figure who unleashes antisemitic attacks. Donald Trump has said Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal”.

The writer and activist David Rosenberg wrote that Miller “casually removes antisemitism from ‘actually existing racism’ and seems to homogenise and stereotype Jews as if they have a common and nefarious political agenda. He seems to ignore socio-economic differentiation among Jews, and their political, cultural and ethnic diversity.”

Bristol University sacked Miller in 2021 after some students attacked the content of his teaching.

Socialist Worker, while even then not agreeing with all of Miller’s views, defended him against the attack. A university investigation by a leading lawyer found there was no evidence that he was guilty of antisemitism or “unlawful speech”.

But he has crossed a line with these tweets. Those who stand in solidarity with Palestine, and face constant unfounded accusations of antisemitism, have nothing to gain by not accepting the facts about what Miller has done.

  • For the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine’s statement on David Miller go here

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