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B.C. English instructor who called Hamas attack 'brilliant' no longer employed by college

The Langara College instructor had been reinstated after making remarks at an off-campus event in October.
Former Langara College English instructor Natalie Knight.

A Langara College English instructor who was placed on leave after characterizing the Oct. 7, 2023 attack by terrorist organization Hamas on Israeli citizens as “amazing” and “brilliant” is no longer employed at the post-secondary institution.

The college confirmed in a statement Friday that the instructor, “who made remarks at an off-campus event that did not and do not reflect the values of the College,” was “no longer an employee.”

However, according to the college, Natalie Knight’s favourable commentary on the Hamas attack was not the explicit reason for her departure; in fact, she had been recently reinstated. (The college’s statement was the first time the college acknowledged Knight’s reinstatement after the college’s student newspaper The Voice reported Knight’s change in status on Jan. 24.)

The college said an internal investigation was conducted and it was determined Knight’s comments “were not clearly outside the bounds of protected expression.”

Rather, the college stated Knight’s departure followed after she engaged "in activities contrary to the expectations laid out by the College” following reinstatement.

The college stated Knight’s reinstatement came with “the expectation they would comply with the College’s policies and initiatives which support a safe, respectful, and inclusive learning and working environment. Further, they were expected to take care to ensure any future remarks could not reasonably be interpreted as celebrating violence against civilians.”

The college suggested recent post-reinstatement activities on campus led to the dismissal: “The College takes seriously its responsibility to create a safe and respectful environment, free from discrimination. This is why we were very concerned about the events which unfolded at a rally on Langara campus this week.”

The college does not name Knight in its statement but it can be reasonably inferred it refers to Knight. The college also said the statement was “on the status of the employee involved,” in response to questions about Knight’s employment status posed to the college by Glacier Media this week.

The Voice reported Knight attended another pro-Palestine rally at the college this week. A picture of Knight by The Voice shows her holding a sign reading: “there is only one solution; INTIFADA; REVOLUTION”

On Jan. 25, Knight spoke on Instagram, explaining her version of events since Oct. 28, when she spoke out in favour of th Hamas attack.

Knight said the “ruling class, Zionists and imperialists,” including pressure from inside the provincial government, waged an effort to have her dismissed.

Prior to Friday’s statement by the college, on Jan. 25 Selina Robinson, minister of post-secondary education for the BC NDP provincial government, expressed disappointment in Knight’s reinstatement.

“I am disappointed that this instructor continues to have a public post-secondary platform to spew hatred and vitriol. I have met with [Langara College] leadership to express my concerns for the Langara and broader communities. They agreed that everyone deserves to feel safe,” said Robinson, who is Jewish and has publicly supported Israel’s military response in Gaza to the Oct. 7 attack.

Knight’s status was also the focus of a statement from Nico Slobinsky, vice-president of the pacific region at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

“Should Knight’s claim of reinstatement be true, it would be profoundly disappointing. This decision would send the very concerning message to Jewish and Israeli students, faculty, and staff that antisemitism is tolerated at Langara College,” stated Slobinsky.

On Instagram, Knight defended her comments: “We fully support the politics that were expressed in the speech,” said Knight, who claimed she was isolated by her critics to be made an example of.

Knight explained a clip of her speech was circulated on social media, then mainstream media after Oct. 28.

“What they clipped was a clear expression of support and actually celebration for Oct. 7 as an offensive against an occupying force.”

Glacier Media has reached out to Knight via United in Struggle but has yet to receive a reply.

In 2018, Knight obtained a doctorate in English from Simon Fraser University for her dissertation "Dispossessed Indigeneity: Literary Excavations of Internalized Colonialism."

The university said she passed “with distinction.”

Since then Knight has been reported to be active in other protests. Speaking to Global BC in November Knight claimed she had First Nations heritage from two tribes in the United States, where she moved from eight years ago. 

It was on Oct. 28, 2023 at a pro-Palestine rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery when Knight took centre stage with a microphone.

“We are members of a revolutionary mass organization in East Vancouver called United in Struggle,” said Knight in her speech.

“We unite workers, Indigenous people and all oppressed people to fight back against the ruling elite. Two years ago, two years ago in September 2021, six political prisoners dug their escape out of a maximum security prison using only spoons,” said Knight referring to a high-profile escape of Palestinian prisoners wherein spoons became a symbol of resistance against Israeli policies in the region.

“Amazing,” said Knight. “This was a feat of determination, of ingenuity; only eclipsed by the amazing, brilliant offensive waged on Oct. 7.”

It was Oct. 7, 2023, when Hamas, a military and political group in control of the Gaza Strip, attacked civilians, resulting in about 1,200 deaths, according to Israeli officials.

The attack resulted in a military response from Israel that has killed over 25,000 people, according to figures from Hamas’ health ministry, the Associated Press reported Jan. 21. The response, which Israel justifies as targeting hidden and underground outposts of Hamas militants, has led to allegations of genocide against the residents of Gaza.

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