NYU Langone nurse fired after comments about Gaza

New York City-based NYU Langone Health fired a nurse after she gave an acceptance speech for a health system nursing award during which she labeled the conflict in Gaza a "genocide."

Hesen Jabr, a Palestinian American labor and delivery nurse, had just received the Sebastian Brun Compassionate Care Award on May 7 when she ended her remarks by tying her work with mothers in mourning to the situation in Gaza.

"It pains me to see the women from my country going through unabashed losses themselves during the current genocide in Gaza," she said, according to a video posted to her Instagram. "Even though I can't hold their hands and comfort them as they grieve their unborn children and the children they have lost during this genocide, I hope to keep making them proud as I keep representing them here at NYU."

Israel has strongly denied accusations it is carrying out a genocide of Palestinians during its war with Hamas in Gaza.

Ms. Jabr wrote on Instagram that on her next shift back to work May 22, she was "dragged into an impromptu meeting with the President and Vice President of Nursing at NYU Langone to discuss how I 'put others at risk' and 'ruined the ceremony' and 'offended people' because a small part of my speech was a tribute towards the grieving mothers in my country."

"I was sent back to work my shift while the hospital spent the day 'figuring out' what to do with me," she wrote May 28. "After working almost the entire shift, I was dragged once again to an office where I was read my termination letter by the director of human resources … and escorted off the premises by a plain clothes police officer."

Steve Ritea, an NYU Langone spokesperson, told Becker's that Ms. Jabr had been warned after a previous incident in December "not to bring her views on this divisive and charged issue into the workplace."

"She instead chose not to heed that at a recent employee recognition event that was widely attended by her colleagues, some of whom were upset after her comments," Mr. Ritea wrote in an email. "As a result, Jabr is no longer an NYU Langone employee. As an institution dedicated to healing, NYU Langone remains committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment, free of discrimination, for all of our employees and patients. We have regularly reminded all employees of our high standards, as well as our Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy, and all are held to those."

This is not NYU Langone's first time disciplining an employee for speaking out on the conflict in Gaza. A former cancer center director is suing the health system after he was fired over Twitter posts that caricatured Palestinians, while a medical resident was suspended for defending Hamas' deadly October attack against Israel on social media. Meanwhile, multiple health systems have criticized by employees for their statements — or lack thereof — on the situation in the Middle East.

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