MidEast

York University Fires Professor for Posting Anti-Semitic Material on Facebook

A professor at York University in Toronto who posted anti-Semitic material to social media has been fired by the university for violating its policies.

York found that Prof. Nikolaos Balaskas violated university guidelines by posting materials on Facebook that “target identifiable groups based on such factors as race, religion, and ethnic origin” and “denigrate particular religious faiths include those of the Jewish faith.”

The watchdog organization CAMERA summarized Balaskas’s violations:

Balaskas repeatedly invoked anti-Semitic tropes such as Jewish control of the media, Jewish culpability for the September 11 attacks, and Holocaust denial. Examples of anti-Semitic Facebook posts made by Balaskas included accusing “Jews” of murdering “89 year old SS hero” Johann Breyer; criticizing Pope Francis for “meeting with imposter Jews, who are really followers of the Evil One;” and asserting that “many of the concentration camps were run by Jews,” and that “most of the Jews running the camps were Zionist Jews who had cut a deal with Hitler.”

In an extremely concerning Facebook post, which many students felt constituted incitement to violence, Balaskas announced several conditions that Zionists must fulfill in order for them to be permitted “to live in peace with the rest of mankind.” These conditions included “ask[ing] for forgiveness” for the purported killing of “100 million Christians from 1917 to 1945.”

(Johann Breyer died two years ago of natural causes at the age of 89, while awaiting extradition to Germany for prosecution as a Nazi war criminal.)

B’nai Brith and York’s Israeli Student Association documented Balaskas’s postings and brought them to the attention of the university, which began an investigation in August.

On September 14, the university sent Balaskas a letter informing him of his dismissal citing his targeting of Jews. The letter also mentioned that when he met with the university’s administration he had defended himself by claiming that he was a “messenger” who had a “duty and obligation to post this material.”

The university said in its letter that it had previously suspended Balaskas three times, including a 10-day suspension last September, but did not note what those suspensions were for, the Toronto Star reported.

The firing of Balaskas provided “a rare sense of justice being served on our side,” according to Eli Razimor, the president of the Israeli Student Association. “York is often a hotbed for public anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist activities, many of which do not get dealt with appropriately by the university administration.”

The types of postings that led to Balaskas’ firing, including claiming Israeli complicity in the 9/11 terror attacks and Jewish control of of the media, were similar to those posted by Oberlin College Prof. Joy Karega. The Tower exposed Karega’s postings in February of this year. After an initially tepid response, Oberlin put Karega on paid leave and barred her from teaching any classes as her case was reviewed.

Both Karega and Balaskas were publicly defended by Kevin Barrett, a conspiracy theorist who is often interviewed on Iran’s PressTV and posts regularly to the website Veterans Today, which has been characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “squarely in neo-Nazi territory.”

[Photo: The City of Toronto / Flickr ]