York University fires employee for anti-Semitic social media posts

The firing of a vicious anti-Semite by York university is considered an encouraging step, as the campus is known for its anti-Israel hostility.

Following an investigation into anti-Semitic posts, a long-time laboratory technologist at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at York University was fired from his position.

In a letter from the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Science at York University, which was obtained by CIJnews, Nikolaos Balaskas was terminated for cause effective September 14, 2016 because of “continued conduct, actions and behaviors” which are “unacceptable and inconsistent with your obligations and responsibilities as an employee of York University.”

“This is a very positive step, coming from a university where there have been ongoing, and very public, issues of antisemitism. 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,” said Amanda Hohmann, national director of The League For Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.

Hohmann added, “Unfortunately not every administration is prepared to act with such decisiveness, as the ongoing saga surrounding Prof. Anthony Hall at Lethbridge University shows. I hope that the administration in Lethbridge can use the excellent example set by York University on this matter, and take appropriate steps to ensure that their students are not similarly subjected to hatred and antisemitism on campus.”

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In some of his posts, Balaskas accused American-Israeli dual citizens of divided loyalties, called Jews “followers of the Evil One” and claimed that “Zionists” committed the 9/11 attacks.

Balaskas’ posts were flagged by B’nai Brith Canada – a leading Jewish advocacy group which combats anti-Semitism and racism – which immediately contacted York President Mamdouh Shoukri’s office to file a complaint about deemed “anti-Semitic” social media posts, including on Facebook, which he authored or shared between 2014 to 2016. The complaint prompted an investigation by York’s Human Resources Department, B’nai Brith Canada was told in late August.

On August 31, 2016 Balaskas was placed on paid suspension and removed reference to his employment at York University from his Facebook profile.

During a meeting with York representatives in early September, Balaskas – who described himself as the “messenger” – said even although it was unfortunate that the social media posts impacted York staff or students and acknowledged that some of the posts he shared or attempted to share had been deemed “disturbing, nonetheless, “persons are not forced to read these posts.” He admitted that some of his posts had been blocked by Facebook, yet he attempted to re-post them because he does not “believe in censorship.”

He added that “we live in an evil society,” and that these posts are a “wake-up,” his “conscience is clear” and he would feel guilty if he did not share this with York students, as it was “good for them to know of these posts.”

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After the meeting, Balaskas was prohibited from attending any York facilities and told to refrain from discussing this matter with anyone other than union and York representatives.

Following investigation, the university concluded that Balaskas was aware that his Facebook posts were not restricted and were available to the public, and that he knowingly did not limit these posts, which were visible to York students, staff and faculty members.

By: Ilana Shneider, CIJnews