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September 5, 2017 12:50 pm

College Lecturer Promotes Antisemitism Through Social Media

avatar by Ben Shachar

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A mock Israeli checkpoint set up during a past “Israeli Apartheid Week” at the University of California, Los Angeles campus. Photo: AMCHA Initiative.

In December 2016, the Israeli Students Association (ISA) at York University received numerous complaints from Israeli students at Ryerson University. The complaints concerned the social media use of Valentina Capurri — a contract lecturer at Ryerson’s Department of Geography & Environmental Studies.

After a thorough investigation, York’s ISA found that the lecturer had used her publicly-accessible Twitter page to spread antisemitism.

Capurri repeatedly used the antisemitic phrase “Zio,” which is a slur that has been popularized by David Duke and the American Klu Klux Klan. She called members of the public “zio-trolls,” and used pejoratives such as “zio-murderer” and “zio-fanatic” in her tweets.

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, a human rights advocate and member of the British House of Lords, says that “Zio” is a “modern-day racist epithet” and “a term of abuse, pure and simple.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, says that “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.”

In her tweets, Capurri also makes xenophobic generalizations about Israelis, and shares links to infamous neo-Nazi websites. For example, one article that she shared featured classic antisemitic imagery and asserted that the “Rothschilds and their minions” are engaged in a “planetary hostile takeover operation.”

Capurri’s apparent antisemitism and xenophobia appear to be in violation of Ryerson’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy. Given her public promotion of antisemitism, Jewish and Israeli students at Ryerson may — quite reasonably — feel unsafe, unwelcome or intimidated in her classes.

The York ISA, in conjunction with Ryerson students, submitted a complaint to Ryerson officials on December 12, 2016. Despite acknowledging the complaint and forwarding it to the Office of Vice Provost Faculty Affairs and Human Resources, Ryerson has made no further efforts to engage with its students on this issue. 

In fact, soon after the complaint was filed, Capurri made her Twitter page and the offending posts inaccessible to the public.

This suggests that the Ryerson administration notified her of the complaint, and advised her to make her social media accounts private in response. 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. Ryerson officials must act immediately to correct their appalling behavior.

Contributed by York University CAMERA Fellow and member of CAMERA-supported group Israeli Students Association at York University Ben Shachar.

A version of this article was originally published on the CAMERA on Campus blog here.

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  • Harvela

    Understandable but wrong thinking . No university should be considered out of bounds for Jewish / Israeli students. There are numerous means to deal with the situation including legal redress as the university has a duty of care to all its students which is sadly lacking in this case. Pressure sponsors , philanthropists and institutions including Christian Friends of Israel to withdraw funding projects. Use all means which remain within the law . Be creative

  • DontMessWithAmerica

    Very simple. Take her and the school to the Human Rights Court and sue for as much as possible.

  • Lash

    As much as they do about Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, most of sub-Saharan Africa, China, N. Korea, Myannamar, Pakistan, Iran,etc,etc!

  • Dvirah Talbi

    Certainly if they are true; which most of the time they are not: I have yet to see an accusation which is not ultimately proven a lie. Also, there is a big different about protesting a specific action or policy and the kind of racist name-calling described here.

    • bertha yellowfinch

      Dvirah Talbi, oh, I get it. It’s about YOUR guidelines. Again. Do something smart for a change. Listen to what other people say and stop defending the horrific behaviors of israel.

      • Dvirah Talbi

        People lie. Let them bring proof; in most cases, for example using Palestinian body parts for Israelis, poisoning their water, etc., all the accusations were proven false. Please specify exactly the behaviors you are protesting and bring proof that they are for real, then I’ll agree with you.
        Your reply implies that the accuracy of the information upon which you base your opinions is not important to you – not, as you put it, part of your guidelines. But if so, what credibility do you expect to have with anyone who prefers living in reality to living in a fantasy?

  • Abraham Zilkha

    That is OK but not fabricated claims such as “Israeli genocide”.

  • Erica Ling

    Why the shock ? This is the reality of our Western universities. Inherent anti-Semitism bolstered by Arab donations and rabid Islamic activists and benignly tolerated by our liberal “intellectuals ” all in the name of cultural diversity.

  • robert Davis

    I believe the antisemite leftwing scum is the worse enemy of jews and Israel. The reason for this I presume is their avidity for money and corruption.

  • Monty Pogoda

    Perhaps the mafia could have travelling representative?