York U staffer under investigation for anti-Semitic posts

Vari Hall at York University
Vari Hall at York University

York University is investigating a faculty member for his public, anti-Semitic Facebook posts.

Adir Krafman, Hillel Ontario’s associate director of advocacy and strategic communications, said he was tipped off by a student that Nikolaos Balaskas, a laboratory technologist in York’s department of physics and astronomy, was sharing posts and comments that contained  “some of the oldest and most pernicious anti-Semitic tropes.”

Krafman said the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Hillel Ontario raised the issue with York’s administration. “Several senior staff members at York confirmed that they were aware of the issue and that an internal investigation had already been launched,” he said.

B’nai Brith Canada also said it alerted York to the issue on Aug. 22. “York responded two days later, telling us that its human resources department had launched an investigation,” said campus advocacy co-ordinator Aidan Fishman.

Balaskas shared a post as recently as Aug. 29 that said, “Jewish Bolshevik mass murderer Genrikh Yagoda was responsible for between seven and 10 million deaths. The fact that you’ve never heard of him is exactly why the Jews should not have total control of the media.”

Under the post, he commented, “Let us never forget this covered-up Holocaust where 66 million Russian Orthodox Christians were systematically killed from 1917 to 1945… Pray that these same Zionists, haters of God and His children, do not succeed in their goal of bringing about World War III.”

In another post dated July 13, he blamed Jews for the Holocaust, saying that “armed Zionist partisans/resistance fighters were considered as terrorists by the Nazi Germany government before World War II started, and their violent acts only made matters worse for Jewish civilians, which culminated in the Holocaust… This time, the oppressors are not Nazis but Zionists, and their victims are fellow Semitic Arab martyrs and heroes whose own holocaust is still ongoing.”

On Aug. 14, he posted a comment that was originally posted two years earlier that exposed some of his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

“Know thy enemy. If the Zionists (the same Communists of Jewish roots who killed 100 million Christians from 1917 to 1945 and were responsible for the persecution and deaths of millions more Jews) will ask for forgiveness, compensate their victims (including the thousands they murdered in the U.S. on 9/11) and renounce violence forever, we can permit them to live in peace with the rest of mankind. The big worry among world leaders is that if the Zionist crimes against humanity are exposed and will be tried in world court for war crimes, the Zionists will not go down alone but will take everyone (New York, London, Moscow, Tehran, etc.) down with them in a global Nuclear Holocaust.”

In addition to sharing articles from JewWatch.com, an anti-Semitic website, Balaskas also wrote posts saying Jews declared war on Germany and forced England into the war, that Israel is home to an organ-trafficking centre, and that Israel is responsible for genocide against the Palestinians.

Krafman said Balaskas is in violation of York’s hate propaganda guidelines and its racism policy. “It is deeply concerning that someone in a position of authority over students would be promoting anti-Semitic hatred on campus,” Krafman said.

York defines hate propaganda as the “public promotion or incitement of hatred against an identifiable group… based on such factors as colour, race, religion or ethnic origin.” Its policy dictates that depending on the situation, faculty or staff could be fired or subject to criminal prosecution.

Hillel Ontario and CIJA are asking York to clarify its policies to make them more specific and easier to enforce when it comes to faculty that promote racist, hateful or anti-Semitic material online or in classrooms.

York spokesperson Barbara Joy confirmed the school is investigating, but wouldn’t offer details because it is “a confidential employee matter… York University takes all allegations regarding inequity and discrimination seriously. As such, upon learning of the concern, we took immediate steps to begin an investigation. Our human resources department is leading the process,” Joy said.

Marc Newburgh, CEO of Hillel Ontario, said the “development is the latest in a series of events that have, over a very long period of time, alienated and marginalized the Jewish student community at York University. It is critical that this investigation is conducted promptly, thoroughly, and with great care.”

Balaskas did not reply to a request for comment.