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.
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 on 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.