A nurse was dismissed for referring to the Gaza conflict as “genocide” during a compassion award acceptance speech.

A Nurse Fired for Expressing Her Views on Gaza War

A Palestinian American nurse, Hesen Jabr, was terminated from her position at NYU Langone Health in New York City for referring to Israel’s war in Gaza as a "genocide" during a speech accepting a compassion award. Jabr, a labor and delivery nurse, was being honored for her work in caring for mothers who had lost babies when she connected her experience to the suffering of mothers in Gaza.

In her speech, which she posted on social media, Jabr expressed her grief for the mothers in her native country who are going through "unimaginable losses" during the ongoing "genocide" in Gaza. Steve Ritea, a spokesperson for NYU Langone, confirmed that Jabr was fired following her speech. According to Ritea, Jabr was warned in December not to express her views on the Middle East conflict in the workplace, but she chose to do so at a recent employee recognition event, upsetting some of her colleagues.

Jabr defended her speech, stating that it was relevant given the nature of the award she had received, which was for bereavement and grieving mothers. She also cited the high number of deaths and displacement in Gaza, as reported by Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health and U.N. officials.

Israel has denied the genocide charge and maintains that it is working to protect Gaza’s civilian population. However, critics argue that Israel’s military campaign amounts to genocide, and the government of South Africa formally accused Israel of genocide in January.

This is not the first time that an employee at NYU Langone, formerly known as NYU Medical Center, has been fired over comments related to the Mideast conflict. A prominent researcher who directed the hospital’s cancer center was dismissed after posting anti-Hamas political cartoons. That researcher, biologist Benjamin Neel, has since sued the hospital. Jabr’s firing was not her first brush with controversy either; as an 11-year-old in Louisiana, she made headlines when the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on her behalf after she was forced to accept a Bible from her public school principal.