New York University Fires Jewish Head of Prestigious Cancer Center, Is Sued, After the Doctor Reposts Pro-Israel Cartoons on Social Media

Dr. Benjamin Neel sues NYU after he was fired due to ‘patient and employee complaints’ after he reposted political cartoons that denounced Hamas and supported Israel.

The Neel Lab

A professor at New York University’s medical school is suing the university after it removed him from his prestigious position as director of NYU Langone Health’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center for “reposting” social media posts supporting Israel in its war with Hamas.

According to a statement from the law firm representing the doctor, Benjamin Neel  has been “terminated” from his role at the cancer institute after retweeting three political cartoons on X, formerly Twitter, that supported Israel’s military operations at Gaza.  

“On October 31, 2023, Dr. Neel was informed that he was to be terminated from his position in response to ‘patient and employee complaints’ received regarding the three social media posts described in the lawsuit,” the law firm Walden, Macht & Haran, which is representing Dr. Neel, said.

In a statement to the Sun, a spokesman for the firm, Frank de Maria, added, “Dr. Neel was terminated as the Director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, but remains a tenured professor.”

NYU Langone Medical Center has not yet responded to the Sun’s request for comment.

Calls for Dr. Neel’s firing went viral after an anti-Israel account shared screenshots of the notable cancer director’s X account that showed his reposting of political cartoons, which, while employing satire to denounce Hamas and its supporters, did not contain any hateful or violent rhetoric.

The calls for Dr. Neel’s firing, Mr. de Maria says, “kicked off” with the X account endArabhate, which received 440 likes. The account may have been created for the purpose of targeting the cancer doctor, as that was its first post on social media platforms. Since then, the account has almost entirely been focused on covering updates to Dr. Neel’s status at the cancer center. 

The mysterious X account denounced Dr. Neel for his retweets, saying that “in these cartoons he shared, we see reprehensible hate filled language like, ‘Gazans rape Jewish girls.’  We see flagrantly racist depictions of Arabs, reinforcing dangerous tropes that intentionally aim to dehumanize.”

One cartoon that Dr. Neel retweeted showed presumably Western liberals defending Hamas with the caption, “The West has fallen.” 

Another cartoon lampooned the climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has harshly rebuked the Jewish state. It depicted her following a Hamas terrorist holding a bag labeled “Israeli babies.” She asks, in the cartoon, “How dare you…use plastic bags? We need to save the world.”

The last cartoon contained the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, sitting across from a Hamas terrorist and Prime Minister Netanyahu with the caption, “Could you meet him halfway?”

In response to Dr. Neel’s sudden firing, Walden, Macht & Haran says it has filed a suit against NYU and NYU Langone Health. 

In its press release, the doctor’s counsel stated, “NYULH deprived Dr. Neel of the expected due process in violation of his employment agreement.” 

The firm added, “Instead, on October 31, 2023, Dr. Neel was informed that he was to be terminated from his position in response to ‘patient and employee complaints’ received regarding the three social media posts described in the lawsuit.”

Per the firm, “The re-posts, which Dr. Neel made as a private citizen and are in no way associated with NYU or PCC, are objectively tepid and muted compared to the thousands if not hundreds of thousands of opinions currently circulating on social media sites.”

The statement adds, “The re-posts expressed sentiments similar to those made publicly and privately by NYU’s chief spokesman, executives, and board members of NYULH.”

In addition to firing Dr. Neel, the NYU’s medical center also fired a physician for posting pro-Hamas content online. On the same day of the acclaimed cancer doctor’s forced exit, an NYU physician, Zaki Masoud, was terminated for calling the October 7 Hamas terror attacks part of Palestinian “liberation” and “revolution,” as highlighted on X by StopAntisemitism. 

Dr. Neel’s lawsuit claims the simultaneous firings were not coincidental. “Dr. Neel was offered up as a sacrificial lamb so that NYULH could feign impartiality in its efforts to curb political and religious expression.”

The statement adds that Langone Hospital’s executive vice president and vice dean for education, Dr. Steven Abramson, had indicated that Dr. Neel was fired “to justify NYULH’s decision to terminate” Dr. Masoud. Dr. Abramson said, according to the statement, that Dr. Neel’s posts were “‘making it hard’ to fire ‘people like’” Dr. Masoud. 

In an emailed statement to the Sun, Steve Ritea, senior director of media relations for NYU Health, said that Dr. Neel violated the hospital’s standards which were designed to provide its employees and patients with “a safe and inclusive environment, free of discrimination.”

“Several times since last month, we reminded all employees of our high standards, as well as our Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy. Nonetheless, Dr. Ben Neel, as a leader at our institution, disregarded these standards in a series of public social media posts and later locked his Twitter/X account. NYU Langone stands by our decision and looks forward to defending it in court.”

Mr. Ritea said Dr. Neel, in his lawsuit, was publicizing internal e-mail exchanges between colleagues about the October 7 attacks “in an effort to pressure NYU Langone.”

He also said that Dr. Abramson “denies making the comments cited in the lawsuit.”

Dr. Neel is a renowned cancer specialist. In addition to formerly being the cancer director of NYU, he is a professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine. According to his NYU bio, the doctor’s research “focuses on cell signaling in cancer and developmental disease, as well as the biology of breast and ovarian cancer.”

“In addition to authoring more than 200 original papers, 25 reviews, and 2 books,” he states, he has “received multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute, as well as private foundations.”

The New York Sun

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