W.A. university apologises for lecturer’s antisemitic comments

December 11, 2015 by Warren Hurst
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The Vice-Chancellor of Notre Dame University in Fremantle has dissociated her institution from overt anti-Jewish comments made in a blog posting by academic Dr Sandra Nasr.

Dr Sandra Nasr

Dr Sandra Nasr

Responding to a letter co-signed by Dr Colin Rubenstein and Jeremy Jones, respectively Executive Director and Director of International and of Community Affairs of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council , Professor Celia Hammond said that Nasr’s comments do not represent “in any way” the opinions of the university and were not “endorsed or sanctioned” by it.

Given that the comments were not only contentious but caused offence, she wrote the University was disappointed and that the institution apologised for them.

She concluded that “the University is addressing this issue with due seriousness in accordance with its relevant processes.”

In their letter, Rubenstein and Jones wrote that the posting by Dr Nasr, which appeared on, then was removed from, the website of the London School of Economics, contained a number of vicious slurs which amounted to racial and religious vilification.

They noted, “Anti-Jewish tropes relating to alleged, false, Jewish belief of superiority, depiction of adherents of Judaism as religiously-directed ‘ethnic cleansers’ and of Jews as ‘baying for blood’ have a long, undistinguished history, but in contemporary Australia are correctly identified with extreme right-wing bigots. The article contained all these deplorable stereotypes – but went even further, by providing a link to the writings of a Holocaust Denier who has been convicted for his anti-Jewish activities by a French Court. The post brought enormous discredit to the University of Notre Dame. This was not ‘merely’ an example of questionable scholarship but an example of racism and bigotry.”

Jeremy Jones, one of Australia’s most respected authorities in racism and a Co-Chair of the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, said that Nasr’s post was little more than a pot pouri  of prejudice, which would not have been out-of-place in any far-right wing propaganda leaflet. “I feel sorry for her students if this is an example of her ‘scholarship’,” he added.

Colin Rubenstein said the blog posting was embarrassing for the University, but “It is very heartening that Professor Hammond has treated this matter with the seriousness it deserves. Racism is no more tolerable in an academic guise than in any other forum, and brings discredit to the name of any academic institution with which it is associated. It is pleasing that Professor Hammond has implicitly acknowledged this with her speedy and proper response” he concluded.


6 Responses to “W.A. university apologises for lecturer’s antisemitic comments”
  1. Peter Hindrup says:

    : “Zionism, the ideological project to secure a Jewish homeland, relies upon notions of separateness, superiority and entitlement.”

    This is as accurate and succinct a description of Zionism and the Israeli policies as could be formulated. Those who have a problem with it ought to be what part of it is inaccurate.

    ‘Dr Nasr, an Amnesty International activist, also claimed Zionism amounts to deliberate “delegitimising” and “dehumanising” of Palestinians. ‘

    60 odd years of oppression and slaughter of Palestinians would support this contention, but I would like to see any fact based rebuttal of this statement.

    ‘ This type of rhetoric only goes to strengthen the concerns that Jewish students have at LSE, especially in light of the recent exhibition by LSE Palestine Society which used graphic imagery to remember the Palestinian terrorists that have been committing dreadful stabbings on a daily basis.

    “It is frankly offensive that the writer of this blog has chosen to state that there are “armed Israeli lynch mobs roaming Jerusalem’s streets looking for anyone who looks ‘Palestinian’”, when Israelis are living in fear about where the next stabbing attack is coming from.”’

    Unfortunate that the writer/s of this piece did not extend their concern to the Palestinians.

    Israelis living in fear of stabbings?

    What to the Palestinians who are under constant attack by the settlers? Of the bulldozed homes, of the shelling/bombing/strafings? The night raids where belongings are destroyed, occupants brutalised, family members, including kids abducted?

    What of the daily intimidation, brutality and insults at the innumerable check points?

    Having read a reposted copy of Dr Sandra Nasr’s article there is nothing excessive in it, nothing that can objectively be rebutted. But as usual, as is to be expected the Israeli’s and their supporters are ‘outraged’ at any accurate portrayal of Israel and the policies it pursues.

    Rather than cave in to the hysterical claims of Israeli outrage, why not request a detailed, point by point rebuttal of the article. If the complaints are justified this ought to be easily done.

    • Joan Taylor says:

      “Peter Hindrup, your understanding of the basis of Zionism is simply wrong. In no way does Zionism rely upon “notions of separateness, superiority and entitlement”. It relies on the right of self-determination of peoples. Article 1 para 2 and Article 55 of the UN Charter of 1945 refer to “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”. Under Article 56 of the Charter member States of the UN pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operation with the UN for the achievement of that purpose. Since 1945, self-determination has been a legal principle, binding on all States. If the Palestinians, who have never at any time in history had their own State, are entitled to self-determination, then so too are the Jewish people, who have had a 1500 year long history of statehood, and a distinct Hebrew language, culture and civilisation which are rooted in the land of Israel. There is no basis in logic or in principle by which you can affirm that right for one people and deny it to the other. That is why the Australian Jewish community has long endorsed the principle of two State for two peoples (see ECAJ Policy Platform section 32 http://www.ecaj.org.au/policy-platform/). Only certain Palestinians and their apologists seem to have difficulty with that principle.

      It is also extraordinary that Dr Nasr and you accuse the vast majority of Jews (who support Israel’s right to exist) of “notions of separateness, superiority and entitlement”, without specifying the textual or other basis in Jewish tradition from which you say such notions originate. It sounds suspiciously like you are alluding to age-old ignorance and misunderstanding of the concept of the chosen people, which is in fact all about religious obligations and has absolutely nothing to do with any claims of privilege or rights over others. This is ugly stuff from you and Nasr. You have both essentialised (negatively stereotyped) Jews as a group – based on ignorance and untruths – as countless others have done before you in the long history of anti-Jewish prejudice and persecution. Shame on you.

  2. Marta Mikey Frid says:

    In what subject did she do her doctoral thesis? Did she follow the lead of Abbas? No wonder the Universities are facing a world crisis in scholarship.

    • Naomi Robertson says:

      In response to the question of where Dr Sandra Nasr did her Ph.D., it was at Curtin University of Technology, presumably in Politics and International Relations. Her 2010 doctoral thesis has the charming title: “Tactical Terror: Israel in the Palestinian Territories”. So the University of Notre Dame knew who they were getting when they hired her as a Lecturer in History and Politics. This information may be found on her web page at that university.

      • Suzanne Aladjem says:

        If that’s the case then the university is also questionable

        • Martyn Green) says:

          I went back to Dr Nasr’s article to see for myself the basis of the accusations by Rubenstein and Jones (R&J) of racism and bigotry.
          Yes, she referred to “onlookers (not Jews in general) baying for blood” but she also provided a link to a video which indeed shows an incident where Israeli settlers were in fact doing this.
          She is accused of providing a link to a notorious holocaust denier but I’m unable to locate any such link.
          R & J have taken particular offence to someone going back to Jewish holy books and quoting selected passages to provide evidence that Jews believe they are superior, have a right to a promised land etc. Firstly she actually quotes passages/sources so if they are not correct it can be refuted and secondly, if it is not legitimate to argue in this way then all those commentators who dig out passages from the Koran to “prove” Islam is a religion of war and aggression are apparently just “right wing bigots”.
          I urge all J-Wire readers to actually READ Dr Nasr’s article before rushing to condemn it.

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