The former director of a New York University cancer center is suing the hospital and the university itself over his dismissal, alleging he was terminated because of pro-Israel social media posts some online claimed were racist against Arabs.
Benjamin Neel, the former director of NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, said he was fired this month without due process and that he was discriminated against because of religion, Washington Square News, NYU’s student newspaper, reported.
Neel, who’d held the director role for nine years and is still a tenured professor at the university but no longer sees patients, said he was fired for reposting tweets on X that criticized those who supported violence against Israelis. Some online accused Neel of sharing anti-Arab sentiment, “racist tropes, justification of collective punishment to glorification of violence.”
Among the retweets was a cartoon showing a group of protesters holding signs including one that says “BEHEADING IS RESISTANCE” and “I HEART HAMAS,” the New York Post reported. A third retweet is a cartoon showing negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a member of Hamas who is holding a piece of paper saying: “DEMANDS — DEATH TO ALL JEWS.”
NYU Langone Health said all employees were reminded several times last month about the institution’s 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,” Steve Ritea, a spokesman for the hospital, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “NYU Langone stands by our decision and looks forward to defending it in court.”
Ritea said Neel is making emails among colleagues public “in an effort to pressure” the hospital.
“Some of those emails were critical of specific decisions by university leaders for not taking a stronger stance on the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks and for not holding accountable those who engaged in discriminatory speech,” he said. “Hypocritically, Dr. Neel is now lashing out for being held accountable for such conduct.”
Neel was initially suspended before his termination on Nov. 10, the newspaper reported. In the 20-page complaint, he said he had a 10-minute human resources interview but was not engaged in any process before his firing.
Neel’s attorney, Milt Williams, called his firing a “travesty.”
“We believe Dr. Neel is the first person to lose their job and have their reputation besmirched for re-posting content on his private social media account that challenged those individuals who are seemingly celebrating the death of innocent people in Israel,” Williams said in a statement to the Post. “Moreover, a careful review of Dr. Neel’s social media account would reveal that he has taken balanced positions on Israel-related issues.”
Fox News Digital has reached out to Williams.
At the time of Neel’s suspension, Dr. Zaki Masoud, a resident at NYU Langone Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, Long Island, was slated to be terminated for allegedly making antisemitic statements. Masoud was removed after allegedly posting a message in support of Palestinians.
Neel became a “sacrificial lamb” because the hospital needed to justify Masoud’s termination, his lawsuit claims. A petition to reinstate him has garnered more than 89,000 signatures.
“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 filing states.