The University of Bern said Tuesday it has fired a lecturer for “unacceptable” comments on X, formerly Twitter, purporting to welcome the deadly Hamas attack on Israel.
The unnamed academic described the attack on October 7 which killed more than 1,400 people in what was the deadliest attack in Israel’s 75-year history as “the best pre-birthday present I’ve had”.
In another post, likewise since deleted, he wrote “Shabbat Shalom” (“Peace be Sabbath”) commenting on a video of the Hamas raid, which drew a furious Israeli response that has killed some 3,000 across the Gaza Strip.
The lecturer told 20Minuten daily that “I have always strongly condemned violence against civilians and attacks on Jews,” adding that he “fundamentally rejected Hamas policy and that of similar groups”.
But the university sacked him and said it had suspended the university’s co-director Serena Tolino for the duration of an investigation expected to last some two months into the institution’s Institute for Middle Eastern Studies and Muslim Societies for which the lecturer worked.
“The university management takes this affair very seriously. The circumstances and the events which have taken place within the Institute will now be carefully clarified,” university rector Christian Leumann said in a statement.
The university had initially last week suspended the academic after the “unacceptable postings on X” came to light pending further clarification.
In confirming he had been dismissed the university added it “condemns all forms of violence and support” for violence.
“The termination without notice is due to the intolerable behaviour and the resulting loss of trust,” Christoph Pappa, secretary-general of the University of Bern, told reporters.