On Wednesday, September 14th, York University dismissed faculty member Nikolaos Balaskas after he was found to propagate anti-Semitism on his public Facebook page.
Students from the Israeli Student Association (ISA), a CAMERA-supported group, tipped off B’nai Brith about the nature of Balaskas’ social-media use in June. ISA and B’nai Brith worked together to document Balaskas’ many instances of anti-Semitism and the applicable university policies which they breached. An investigation was launched by the university in mid-August after B’nai Brith Canada filed a formal complaint.
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.”
In a letter notifying Balaskas of the termination of his employment, the university stated that his posts “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 termination letter also referenced comments made by Balaskas on September 8th in a meeting with university officials. Balaskas said that it was his “duty and obligation to post this material” and described himself as the “messenger.”
Eli Razimor, the President of ISA, said that the dismissal felt like “A rare sense of justice being served on our side. 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,” he said. Razimor cited the “anti-Israel and violence-promoting mural in the Student Center” as an example of the administration ignoring Jewish students’ concerns.
It is encouraging that York University swiftly took action after B’nai Brith submitted a complaint. The university should be commended for their conduct throughout the investigation. The university’s decision to terminate Balaskas’ employment should serve as a precedent – there must be zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and xenophobia on campus.
Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and member of Israeli Students Association (ISA) at York University Ben Shachar.