NYU Langone Health leader fired over tweets speaks out

A former NYU Langone Health leader said he has become "radioactive" after the health system fired him for violating its social media policy.

Benjamin Neel, MD, PhD, was relieved of his duties as director of NYU's Perlmutter Cancer Center in November after he reposted tweets on X (formerly known as Twitter) about the Israel-Hamas war. He later sued the New York City-based health system for wrongful termination.

"Because they tarnished my reputation, I lost two consulting jobs and was told by a famous colleague from a major center in Boston that I was 'radioactive,'" Dr. Neel told The Times of Israel.

Dr. Neel remains a tenured professor at NYU's medical school but NYU Langone Health cut off $500,000 in funding for his lab, according to the March 31 story.

After Israel invaded Gaza following a deadly attack by Hamas in October, Dr. Neel retweeted posts satirizing the war's protestors as supporters of the terrorist group. One cartoon had them holding signs with messages such as "Proud of Our Rapist Martyrs" and "Killing Kids for Dignity." In another, he posted "An oxymoron" under a picture of a demonstrator with a flag denoting both LGBTQ rights and Palestine. The health system fired him Nov. 10.

"It's been a Kafkaesque hellscape," he told the Times. "A little over two weeks before the termination, dean and CEO Robert L. Grossman [was] singing my praises for transforming the cancer center and being an extremely rigorous and accomplished scientist whose work had led to cancer drugs in clinical trials.

"Then, the same leadership unceremoniously terminated me as center director, rendered me a virtual nonperson at NYU, and is attempting to destroy my reputation and my career. To put it mildly, it's been extremely stressful in multiple ways, emotionally, physically, socially and professionally."

An NYU Langone Health spokesperson declined to comment to the news outlet, citing the pending litigation. Despite the fallout, Dr. Neel told the newspaper he stands by the content of the social media posts.

"I think the only moral position is to challenge those who celebrate the murder, rape, mutilation, defilement, and kidnapping of innocent Israeli citizens — and American and other citizens, including Muslims," he said in the interview.

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