The University of Victoria in the Canadian province of British Columbia is planning a course on antisemitism to be taught by academic Shamma Boyarin, who has allegedly posted tweets calling a former ADL President a “Zionist pig” and claiming that Jews had “actively contributed” to “ethnic cleansing and genocide.”
Mr Boyarin has taught religious studies and medieval studies at the University since 2008. The course description initially stated that “even the most fundamental aspects of antisemitism” were “controversial” and that students would “develop the ability to examine…instances of antisemitism with a critical eye.”
Following a protest by B’nai Brith Canada expressing concern that the course could become a “forum for antisemitic views” due to the academic teaching it, the course description was changed to state that students would “learn about antisemitism” through “key texts and moments,” and by exploring “the particular role” of Christianity in “developing and sustaining antisemitism in Europe.” However, the course was still being taught by Mr Boyarin.
In a Twitter post in May, Mr Boyarin allegedly called Abe Foxman, the former President of the ADL, a “Zionist pig.” In June, he allegedly tweeted that North American Jews had “actively contributed” to “ethnic cleansing and genocide” and had “raised our kids to take part in it.”
Mr Boyarin allegedly has a “protected” Twitter account under the name “Motley Jëw.” A protected account means that he can deny “follow” requests and that Tweets are only visible to his followers and cannot be retweeted.
In a letter posted on Twitter by B’nai Brith Canada (BBC) entitled “Academic Freedom Is No Excuse for Antisemitism,” BBC CEO Michael Mostyn wrote that moving the course away from modern antisemitism was “an important first step.” However, he added there was still concern “that instead of educating students on the scourge of Jew-hatred,” there was a small risk that “hostility toward Jews” would “be promoted.” He called on the university to “provide assurances to the Jewish community” that academic freedom would not be used as a “cover to falsely accuse Jews… of contributing to genocide” or “other antisemitic canards.”