The line between exercising one’s right to free speech and facing professional consequences has become increasingly blurred. The Israel-Hamas conflict has made it challenging for Americans to express their opinions because some fear the loss of their jobs is they speak out in support off Palestine and not Israel.
Take comedian Dave Chappelle’s most recent show, where he bombed when he criticized the U.S. for backing Israel’s “war crimes” against Palestinians during a live performance in Boston on Oct. 19 at the TD Garden, The Wall Street Journal reported.
During his set, while Chappelle condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel he also blasted what he claimed were Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. One person in the audience told Chappelle to “shut up” after he said he didn’t think people should lose their jobs for supporting Palestinians, according to the Journal. Some walked out of the show.
But Chappelle didn’t back down; he criticized the Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water, and electricity to Gaza. And, he also accused Israel of killing innocent civilians and committing war crimes.
While Chappelle received pushback from audience members, others who have criticized Israel have found themselves jobless.
Law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell rescinded job offers to students from Harvard and Columbia Universities who had signed letters expressing pro-Palestinian views. Another prominent law firm, Winston & Strawn, withdrew a job offer to a student from New York University who had written a pro-Hamas column, Reuters reported.
Billionaire hedge fund manager and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management Bill Ackman demanded in a tweet the names of the Harvard students who signed a controversial statement, so he and other CEOs can avoid hiring them, Fortune reported.
Ackman, a Harvard grad, posted that “the names of the signatories should be made public so their views are publicly known.”
Ackman, reportedly worth $3.6 billion, added that he is “100% in support of free speech,” adding: “I do, however, object to students putting out a statement holding Israel ‘entirely responsible’ for terrorists’ heinous and despicable acts, but doing so anonymously under a corporate veil while leveraging the Harvard brand.”
Winston & Strawn rescinded a job offer for a law student who blamed Israel for the Hamas attack. Ryna Workman, president of New York University’s student bar association, wrote that “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life.” Workman job offer from Winston & Strawn was taken back because the comments “profoundly conflict with Winston & Strawn’s values,” the Chicago-headquartered law firm said in a statement Oct. 10, Bloomberg Law reported.
A sports journalist for the PhillyVoice was fired for saying that the Philadelphia 76ers’ social media post in support of Israel “sucks,” The Independent reported.
Jackson Frank, who was only a month into his job with the news outlet, was fired on Oct. 8 over a post on Twitter/X where he criticized the basketball team’s statement about recent events in Israel and said he stands in “solidarity” with Palestine.
“We stand with the people of Israel and join them in mourning the hundreds of innocent lives lost to terrorism at the hands of Hamas,” 76ers’ post read.
Frank responded by writing: “This post sucks! Solidarity with Palestine always.”
PhillyVoice.com CEO Hal Donnelly told The New York Post, “Mr. Frank is no longer employed by PhillyVoice.com as of today.”
He added: “We stand with everyone who is absolutely outraged by the senseless attacks in Israel, by the loss of innocent lives and violence against civilians.”
There is also a petition to oust a pro-Palestine professor for what the petition calls “promoting lies and violence.” The petition, titled “Remove Zareena Grewal from the Yale Faculty for Promoting LIES and VIOLENCE,” had 25,000 signatures in just over a day, Yale Daily News reported. The author of the petition is Yale student Netanel Crispe of the class of 2025.
According to the Change.org petition, Yale University professor Zareena Grewal’s social media activity condoned Hamas’s attack on Israel. The university has since defended Grewal’s right to free speech.
“Yale is committed to freedom of expression, and the comments posted on Professor Grewal’s personal accounts represent her own views,” University spokesperson Karen Peart told the News.
“My heart is in my throat,” Grewal’s tweet reads. “Prayers for Palestinians. Israel is a murderous, genocidal settler state and Palestinians have every right to resist through armed struggle, solidarity #FreePalestine.”
A tenured professor, Grewal teaches American Studies, Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and Religious Studies. Her tenured status protects her from firing without direct cause, in the interest of academic freedom, Yale Daily News reported.
According to the news platform Semafor, MSNBC benched Muslim anchors amid the Israel-Hamas war. MSNBC is denying this.
Semafor’s Max Tani filed a report and tweeted claimed ”MSNBC has quietly taken three of its Muslim broadcasters out of the anchor’s chair since Hamas’s attack on Israel last Saturday.”
Tani claims MSNBC hosts Ayman Mohyeldin, Ali Velshi, and Mehdi Hasan have been taken off the air in the face of pro-Israel sentiment.
An NBCU News Group spokesman told Mediaite in a statement that “We have and will continue to cover the barbaric terrorist attacks on defenseless civilians in Israel last weekend and the tragic war it has provoked thoroughly and in all their dimensions.”
This trend isn’t new. In 2018, CNN parted ways with contributor Marc Lamont Hill after a speech the college professor made on Israel and Palestine at the United Nations. While CNN never confirmed the reason, the firing came amid objections to Hill’s speech by the Anti-Defamation League and other pro-Israel groups, NBC News reported.
Hill, who had been a recurring political commentator on CNN, called for countries to boycott and divest from Israel in a speech given for the U.N.’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
“We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” Hill said in the speech.
Dave Chappelle (Photo via Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/p/CfuNaXTPqJZ/?hl=en&img_index=1)