Lecturer defends colleague

The University of Sydney. Photo: Tvphotos/Dreamstime.com

THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has welcomed an investigation by the University of Sydney (USYD) into academic Tim Anderson’s support for a colleague who wore a Yemeni badge that said “Death to Israel” and “Curse on the Jews”.

After PhD candidate and former tutor Jay Tharappel came under fire for wearing the badge, which features the slogan of the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist group, Anderson took to social media, saying Tharappel was “under attack from zionists [sic] for wearing a Yemeni (Ansarallah) badge because it says ‘Death to Israel'”.

The staunch Bashar al-Assad supporter later tweeted that a Sydney Morning Herald story on the controversy was “a smear piece”.

A USYD spokesperson ­confirmed to The AJN Anderson was being investigated over the incident.

Anderson, who has travelled to Syria and met personally with Assad, last year called the sarin gas attack in Syria’s Idlib province a “hoax” and has called the Syrian civil war a United States “fiction”.

The self-described Stalinist also regularly accuses Israel of genocide, calls it an “apartheid state” and advocates its dismantling.

He has also pushed the bizarre idea that South Korea is occupied by the US and is not a democracy. He and Tharappel recently visited North Korea together.

ECAJ president Anton Block said Anderson’s “repugnant support” for Syria’s Assad and Kim Jong-un of North Korea, and his “hateful, eliminationist attitudes towards Israel, are of no consequence of themselves”.

“What is concerning is that students and members of the general public might be misled into believing that his views should be taken seriously simply because he holds an academic position at a leading university,” he said.

“Propaganda masquerading as scholarship has no place in any university and we can only ¬≠welcome the investigation into the incident that the university is currently undertaking.”

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich called the incident “profoundly troubling, though not surprising given the irrational malice and unchecked hostility preciously shown by Dr Anderson towards Israel”.

“Defending the wearing of a ‘Death to Israel’ badge is reprehensible and goes way beyond legitimate political expression,” he said.

“While everyone has a right to voice their opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, supporting the destruction of the Jewish State is morally indefensible, anti-Semitic and should be condemned by Sydney University immediately.”

GARETH NARUNSKY