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September 16, 2016 6:41 pm

Firing of York U Faculty Member for Antisemitic Posts Called ‘Victory’ by Canadian Jewish Groups

avatar by Lea Speyer

York University lab technologist Nikolaos Balaskas. Photo: York.

York University lab technologist Nikolaos Balaskas. Photo: York.

The recent firing of a York University faculty member over antisemitic and anti-Zionist social media posts represents a welcome start to combating campus Jew-hatred, major Canadian Jewish groups and college activists told The Algemeiner.

Referring to the Wednesday termination of Department of Physics and Astronomy lab technologist Nikolaos Balaskas, who accused Jews of being “followers of the Evil One,” Amanda Hohmann, national director for B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights, said the move was “only a first step.”

The school’s decisive action against Balaskas, Hohmann told The Algemeiner, was “very positive, especially coming from a university where there have been ongoing and very public issues of antisemitism and extremist anti-Israel sentiment.”

“It is incredibly heartening to see that the administration, in this case, not only took the allegations seriously but took real action to correct the problem,” she said, referencing her organization’s complaint to York over Balaskas’ offensive comments.

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Hohmann told The Algemeiner, “B’nai Brith Canada will continue to work closely with York to ensure that its students are not subjected to a toxic, discriminatory and unsafe campus environment.”

Eli Razimor, president of York’s Israel Student Association (ISA), told The Algemeiner that the firing of Balaskas was “a victory against both antisemitism and anti-Zionism.” He said the ISA “commends York for taking this situation seriously” and for showing commitment “to taking effective actions in dealing with antisemitism.”

He also thanked B’nai Brith Canada for filing the initial complaint.

According to Robert Walker, national director for Hasbara Fellowships Canada — the country’s largest grassroots pro-Israel campus advocacy organization — Balaskas’ termination demonstrated for the “countless Jewish students across Canada,” whose universities are often “hotbeds of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activity,” that “York University takes our students’ concerns seriously.”

Rena Silver, president of Hasbara at York, echoed this statement, saying she was “no stranger to the constant threat of antisemitism on campus” and was “glad” her school’s administration took action to ensure “students have an environment free of intolerance and xenophobia.”  

News of Balaskas’ firing was first reported by Canada’s CIJ News. According to the report, his termination was based on “continued conduct, actions and behaviors” which were “unacceptable and inconsistent” with his “obligations and responsibilities as an employee of York University.”

Balaskas was originally put on paid suspension on August 31, pending investigation into his social media postings, the report said. Reference to his employment at the school on his personal Facebook page was also removed.

During a meeting with York officials in September, Balaskas admitted a number of his posts might have been “disturbing” to some, but said “persons are not forced to read these posts,” adding he did not “believe in censorship,” according to CIJ News.

The world today is an “evil society,” Balaskas said, according to the report, and his posts served as a “wake-up.”

As reported by The Algemeiner earlier this month, B’nai Brith Canada became aware of Balaskas’ social media presence after receiving complaints from a number of Jewish York students. Following an internal investigation, B’nai Brith Canada offered Balaskas’ postings as evidence to the university of his violation of school policy.

One of the posts read: “Many of the [Nazi] concentration camps were run by Jews. Most of the Jews running the camps were Zionist Jews who had cut a deal with Hitler. Most of the Jews in the camps were Torah Jews who did not support Zionism, usury, slavery or the Babylonian Talmud.”

Another, from July 2014, called 9/11 a “Zionist attack on New York City…which could not have happened without the full knowledge of high-level American traitors.” And in June 2015, Balaskas called the story of Anne Frank a “hoax.”

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