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New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYU Langone physician facing termination after reposting pro-Palestinian content

A petition to reinstate the physician began circulating online soon after the medical center removed him from residency for posting content in support of Palestinian resistance on his private Instagram account.
Alisha Goel
An online petition circulated after an NYU Langone physician faced termination for reposting pro-Palestinian content. (Graphic by Alisha Goel)

A physician at NYU Langone Health is facing termination from his residency program after reposting a message encouraging Palestinian resistance on his private Instagram account last Friday. Tens of thousands have signed an online campaign to reinstate him, and many have claimed his removal is the result of discrimination against pro-Palestinian speech. NYU Langone said the physician was removed because his post condoned violence.

Zaki Masoud, who is employed at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island, was identified by the nonprofit watchdog organization StopAntisemitism soon after he posted a photo of Palestinians reading “Let them call it terrorism” and “We call it liberation” on his private Instagram story.  The medical center removed Masoud from his position following the circulation of his repost online. 

“This individual has been removed from service and a process leading to termination has commenced,” NYU Langone spokesperson Steve Ritea wrote to WSN. “We will not tolerate reprehensible statements condoning hatred or violence, which have no place at our institution. All employees are held to this high standard.”

Last Tuesday, a petition calling for NYU Langone to reinstate Masoud began spreading across social media, which has garnered over 84,000 signatures. The petition claims Masoud was removed from his position because of his “support for Palestine” and said the medical center’s decision to initiate the termination process “appears to be rooted in discriminatory practices.” 

“Dr. Masoud’s commitment to the medical profession and his embodiment of the principles of care and compassion stand in stark contrast to the unfair treatment he is receiving,” the petition reads. “Terminating him based on his support for Palestine is not only a violation of his rights but also sets a troubling precedent of discrimination against an individual based on their heritage and peaceful expression.”

Masoud did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The university did not answer questions related to the petition.

Almost a month ago, Hamas — the Palestinian militant group controlling the Gaza Strip — violently assaulted Israeli towns, killing more than 1,400 civilians and taking around 200 hostage. In response, the Israeli military began a ground invasion in Gaza and ordered the evacuation of more than a million Palestinians to the south of the region. Israel has killed over 9,000 Palestinians in its siege so far, according to figures from the Gaza Health Ministry. 

In several other incidents on campus surrounding the Israel-Hamas war, NYU students and faculty have been identified online for promoting both pro-Palestinian speech and anti-Arab sentiments on campus. Most recently, NYU Langone professor Benjamin Neel faced backlash online for reposting cartoons many claimed to be “racist” and “anti-Arab.” Ritea said Neel was recently suspended from his position as director of NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, but didn’t say whether his suspension was related to the posts. 

Neel declined to comment on this story. 

Last month, Ryna Workman, the former president of NYU Law’s Student Bar Association, lost a job offer and was removed from their position after they sent a message in the group’s weekly newsletter saying “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life” in the conflict and supporting Palestinian resistance, which the university condemned. The rest of the organization’s members resigned soon after due to personal safety concerns. 

In another on-campus incident, two NYU students were identified after footage of them removing posters of Israeli hostages outside the Stern School of Business circulated online. 

Most recently, NYU was named twice in a U.S. Senate resolution condemning “antisemitic student activities” across college campuses since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. The resolution criticized Workman’s message for being antisemitic as well as members of NYU’s Students for Justice in Palestine for rejecting peaceful discourse in on-campus demonstrations

Rafael Jacobs, president of the student group Law Students Against Anti-Semitism, said there is a difference between “making pro-Palestinian statements” and “justifying Hamas’ brutal terror attack.”

“Dr. Masoud would have been trusted with treating patients. How would a Jewish person feel comfortable being in his care with his conscious disregard for human life?” Jacobs wrote to WSN. “Free speech is a virtue, it is a privilege, but celebrating the murder of innocents is reprehensible and NYU rightfully took action.”

An SJP representative did not respond to requests for comment.

Contact Maisie Zipfel at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Maisie Zipfel
Maisie Zipfel, Deputy News Editor
Maisie Zipfel is a first-year double majoring in Journalism and Politics, and double minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Spanish. She is a Yerba Mate enthusiast, a Taylor Swift fanatic and an anti-Greek Life turned sorority girl (Deeph or Die). When she’s not writing in the WSN basement you can find her isolated in Palladium for NYU’s Competitive Dance Team practice, obsessing over her Four-Year Plan or trying to weave in time to take a nap. You can reach her on instagram @maisiezipfel, on LinkedIn (her favorite social media platform) @MaeZipfel or preferably on Venmo @mkzipfel.
Alisha Goel
Alisha Goel, Photo Editor
Alisha Goel (she/her) is a junior majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Integrated Design and Media. When she is not at WSN, she is developing video games/apps, reading a long book, or creating mildly disturbing art with her photography. You can find her at @03alisha17 on Instagram.

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  • N

    NORMANNov 17, 2023 at 7:08 pm

    While the subject is garish and indigestible, I can only praise the neutrality and objectivity in reporting how October activity has affected dialog and decisions at NYU. The esoteric clashed with the pragmatic putting NYU in a limelight. Response at NYU represents an incredible number of scenarios throughout the world. NVK

  • M

    MGNov 6, 2023 at 8:59 am

    Its frustrating to feel silenced when you feel the survival of your people is at stake. However, from an institutional perspective you could see how division could be created between coworkers and how patients could feel discriminated against and put the organization at risk of lawsuits. As a democracy we have freedom of speech. As a capitalist society, your employer has the right to fire you for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all (except for clear cases of discrimination based on religion, race, sexual orientation, etc). I don’t know that either doctors statements will meet those exceptions to at will employment. The first amendment keeps you from getting in trouble with the law, it does not protect you from your employer.