NYU Langone has been sued by a prominent cancer specialist who said he was “unceremoniously dumped” by the medical center after being fired for his pro-Israel posts in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.
Dr. Benjamin Neel, who is Jewish, was the director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Center in Manhattan for nine years before being suspended and then fired on Nov. 10. Neel filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court earlier this month alleging that he was fired over his reposting of satirical cartoons that were critical of Hamas.
Neel still is a tenured professor with Langone and oversees a laboratory, but lost the director role that gave him over half his annual income, the suit claims.
Neel reposted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, mostly political cartoons that were critical of Western defenders of Hamas’ attack, questioning whether negotiating a two-state solution is possible with Hamas in power and the accuracy of the list of approximately 7,000 people said to have been killed by Israel’s bombings issued by the Gaza Health Ministry.
Neel is seeking over $500,000 in damages, claiming his 40-year reputation as a renowned cancer specialist is in “tatters.”
Neel is at least the second Langone employee to be relieved of their duties for social media postings on the ongoing war. Dr. Zaki Masoud, a resident at NYU Langone–Long Island in Mineola, was fired earlier this month for making antisemitic statements on social media.
StopAntisemites, a non-partisan organization that combats antisemitism, posted on X in October screenshots of social media posts from Masoud calling for the support of Palestinian resistance.
“Let them call it terrorism. Extremism. Barbarianism,” the Instagram post shared by Masoud, who is Palestinian, said. “We call it liberation. Decolonization. Resistance. Revolution.”
Langone said on X that Masoud was removed from service and it was beginning a process to terminate his employment.
“We will not tolerate reprehensible statements condoning hatred or violence, which have no place at our institution,” the medical facility said. “All employees are held to this high standard.”
Neel contended in his lawsuit that he was fired by Langone so the institution could appear neutral in limiting political and religious expression.
“Dr. Neel became a political casualty of NYULH’s effort to terminate Dr. Masoud and other physicians: Dr. Neel was offered up as sacrificial lamb so that NYULH could feign impartiality in its effort to curb political and religious expression,” the suit claimed.
Langone Senior Director of Media Relations Steve Ritea said in a statement that Neel disregarded Langone’s standards, which employees were reminded of several times recently.
“Several times since last month, we reminded all employees of our high standards, as well as our Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy,” Ritea said. “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 our decision in court.”
Since his firing, over 90,000 petitioners have signed an online petition calling for Masoud’s reinstatement.
The petition, posted on change.org, said the post that Masoud shared did not promote hatred or violence and that he was exercising his right to express solidarity with Palestinians.
“Dr. Masoud’s posts did not contain hate speech or discriminatory language towards any group,” the petition said. “The decision to terminate Dr. Masoud appears to have been influenced by external pressure from social media without due consideration of the context and nature of Dr. Masoud’s peaceful actions.”