A Tale of Two Anti-Semitic Academics

Hate Speech research Scott Poynting

Hate Speech researcher Scott Poynting

A guest post from a reader:

The London School of Economics published an article written by Dr Sandra Nasr, a lecturer in Middle Eastern politics at Australia’s Notre Dame University, that accused Israel of treating Palestinians as “sub-human”, described Zionism as being based on “superiority and entitlement”, and linked to a Holocaust denial website.

The contemptible and dangerous article was published on Dec 03 and was removed on Dec 04. Eight days after the original post, on Dec 11, the Vice-Chancellor of Notre Dame University dissociated the institution with the anti-Semitic article of Dr Nasr.

Compare this “speedy and proper response” with a similar strain of anti-Semitism at the University of Auckland: Professor Scott Poynting wrote a disgusting letter that the Waikato Times published on Nov 30. Whaleoil drew attention to this and Poynting, an expert in hate speech, tried to sue Whaleoil for defamation. At the same time, the Waikato Times published letters from the New Zealand Jewish Council and AUT Professor of History, Paul Moon, highlighting Poynting’s hypocrisy and anti-Semitism.   

The University of Auckland, two weeks on, has said nothing to distance themselves from the hate of its Professor.

Ivory towers are not immune from bigotry but we should expect that, like the Notre Dame Vice-Chancellor, those in power will do what they can to shut down hate speech when it is voiced. It should not be a staff member from a different university that speaks out first.

Of interest, it seems that Dr Nasr and Professor Poynting could have fermented their Jew/Israel-hatred while mixing in the same circles. Dr Nasr is a colleague of Prof Poynting, having contributed a chapter (“Israel’s other terrorism challenge”) to a book he is editor of. They are also both friends of the International State Crime Initiative, that names leftists Chomsky, Falk, and Pilger as honorary fellows. Their hypocritical anti-Israel activism has seen them both sign a July 2014 “Open letter to Israeli Academics” that claimed Israel had committed “war crimes” – nevermind the independent experts – and spoke not of Hamas. They also both signed a letter in March this year supporting a conference that questioned Israel’s right to exist and asking that it not be cancelled.

There is a difference between criticising a country and seeking its destruction. The combined picture that emerges is one of pure hatred and clear anti-Semitism. It is worth considering the responses to these two bad apples. One was quarantined swiftly, while the other ferments. The silence from University of Auckland academics and executive is deafening.


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