York University distances itself from Hamas-supporting staff member

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

York University distances itself from Hamas-supporting staff member

University 'aware' of sick social media posts but says they are personal views

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Sabrina Zissler (Linkedin)
Sabrina Zissler (Linkedin)

The University of York has distanced itself from sick social media posts by a member of staff who claimed Israel was “responsible for the murder of Israeli citizens” on 7 October and Zionists are “obsessed with rape and rape threats” – but refused to say what, if any, disciplinary steps it might be taking.

The university’s global partnerships manager, Sabrina Zissler, who has worked at York since 2015, posted on Twitter/X on 7 February that she felt it was “unfair to call it the Hamas attack when we now know that Israeli forces have killed most of them,” apparently buying in to conspiracy theories circulating on social media that the IDF was responsible for the murder of Israeli citizens on 7 October.

Zissler described Holocaust refugees seeking refuge in Mandate Palestine as “arrogant Zionists” and, in a post on 8 February, claimed: “[Zionists] already have a list of war crimes the length of the Gaza Strip. And then they wonder why Hamas resist. They’ve been left to their own device persecuted for 75 years and the <<international community>> is made of terrorists.”

Below a 9 February video of IDF soldiers dancing, Zissler wrote on Twitter/X: “If terrorist means, be the opposite of this, then YES by all means.”

Three days later, she reposted a story about a Southgate rabbi who had been caught with child abuse images. Zissler commented: “Zionists and their obsession with rape and rape threats. It needs to be clinically investigated”.

When a pro-Israel account, NudderingNudnik, highlighted Zissler’s timeline, she reacted by making her account, which has just over 500 followers, private. Her account bio says her views are her own.

After the CST antisemitism figures were made public last week — the highest recorded — Zissler commented on the CST, Board of Deputies and Office of the Chief Rabbi Twitter/X accounts that “your figures and claims are discredited beyond measure. Maybe deploy more energy in dismantling Zionism”.

York University has adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and, like many other universities in the UK has guidelines on what constitutes antisemitic behaviour. Post-October 7, many universities reminded students and faculty of these guidelines.

At York, the university website says: “Hate incidents are incidents which appear to the individual, groups or anyone else to be based on prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity. Examples of hate incidents are verbal abuse, intimidation, abusive phone calls, online abuse, graffiti or threats of violence. Where there is an overlap with criminal law, a hate incident may also be a criminal offence and if so, is referred to as a hate crime.

The guidelines say that antisemitism involves “discrimination, prejudice or malicious acts against individuals, communities or organisations because of their Jewish identity”.

The University of York spokesman told Jewish News: “We are aware of the comments posted on social media and we are managing this in accordance with the appropriate university policies and procedures”.

He added that “the comments were made in a personal capacity and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the university”. For reasons of confidentiality, the spokesman said, the university would not be able to comment further.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: