In December 2016, the Israeli Students Association at York University received numerous complaints from Israeli students at Ryerson concerning the social media use of a Contract Lecturer within Ryerson’s Department of Geography & Environmental Studies.
After a thorough investigation, it was concluded that the lecturer is in fact using her publicly-accessible Twitter page to spread anti-Semitism. She repeatedly uses the anti-Semitic slur “Zio”. “Zio” is an ethnic slur that has been popularized by David Duke and the American Klu Klux Klan. She calls members of the public “zio-trolls” and uses the pejoratives “zio-murderer” and “zio-fanatic”. Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, a human rights advocate and member of the House of Lords, says that “Zio” is a “modern-day racist epithet” and “a term of abuse, pure and simple”. London Mayor Sadiq Khan says “the use of the word ‘Zio’ has become a racist term against Jewish people in the way ‘homo’ was used in the 60’s and 70’s”.
Furthermore, the lecturer makes xenophobic generalizations about Israelis and shares links to infamous neo-Nazi websites. For example, one article that she shared features classic anti-Semitic imagery and asserts that the “Rothschilds and their minions” are engaged in a “planetary hostile takeover operation”.
The lecturer’s apparent anti-Semitism and xenophobia appear to be in violation of Ryerson’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy. Given her public promotion of anti-Semitism, Jewish and Israeli students at Ryerson may quite reasonably feel unsafe, unwelcome, or intimidated in her classes.
The Israeli Students Association, in conjunction with Ryerson students, submitted a complaint on December 12th, 2016. Despite acknowledging the complaint and forwarding it to the Office of Vice Provost Faculty Affairs and Human Resources, Ryerson University has made no further efforts to engage with students on this issue. Ryerson University must act immediately to correct this egregious oversight.
In fact, soon after the complaint was filed, the lecturer made her Twitter page and the offending posts inaccessible to the public. This suggests that the Ryerson administration notified her of the complaint and counselled her to make her social media accounts private. In lieu of any communication from the Ryerson administration, we can assume that their solution to this complaint was to simply sweep it under the rug.
B’nai Brith Canada has since contacted Ryerson University and is pursuing the complaint.
This article has since been re-published at The Algemeiner.