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Johns Hopkins doctor placed on leave after anti-Palestinian posts

Social media posts were deemed by the hospital to have disparaged Palestinians in a way that went against the organization's employee conduct rules.
Johns Hopkins doctor placed on leave after anti-Palestinian posts
Posted at 7:49 PM, Nov 16, 2023

Johns Hopkins placed Dr. Darren Klugman  on leave after he was accused of making statements about Palestinians on social media that were deemed too inappropriate for the organization, Scripps News Baltimore reported. 

In a statement from Kim Hoppe, the vice president of communications and chief communications officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the hospital said, "We at Johns Hopkins share the concern of many about the deeply disturbing social media posts made by a faculty member in the school of medicine regarding the ongoing crisis in the Middle East." 

In the statement released by Hoppe, it said, "The faculty member who made these statements has been placed on leave, and thus will have no interaction with students or patients while we conduct a thorough investigation under our policies and procedures."  

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group that saw the story, called for Klugman's license to be revoked saying in a statement, "When you are entrusted with the livelihood of patient populations, then you have a responsibility to demonstrate that you can take care of those individuals in an impartial, objective way," said Zainab Chaudry. She is the Maryland director for CAIR. 

Chaudry said her office has been flooded with messages from concerned neighbors, patients, and even staff at Johns Hopkins after seeing these tweets posted to Dr. Klugman's account.

Before he was put on leave, Klugman acted as the director of pediatric cardiac critical care at Hopkins. 

The tweets he allegedly posted refer to Palestinians as "blood thirsty morally depraved animals," Scripps News Baltimore reported. In one instance, in response to a user saying, "Israeli policy-makers are calling quite literally for a large-scale slaughter," the doctor is said to have replied by writing, "G-d willing." 

In a statement released by Hoppe, it said, "Johns Hopkins Medicine and Johns Hopkins University are committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for working, learning and patient care for every member of our community and all those we serve. Statements that explicitly threaten or extol violence against groups or individuals on the basis of national origin, race or religion violate our policies and do not represent our values."

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Chaudry says after the tweets started making the rounds on social media, she's heard from families who have decided to move their children to a different hospital.

"One particular family specifically said that they did not feel comfortable. They were not Palestinian-American; they are Muslim-American. They are visibly Muslim; the mother wears a headscarf. And the mother said she felt really vulnerable. She didn't feel that she could trust this institution to take care of her child."

We asked the regional director of the American Jewish Committee, Alan Ronkin, for his take. He says there's no need to engage in that kind of inflammatory rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from. He says it's possible to condemn Hamas without condemning all Palestinian civilians too.

"To paint everybody with one broad brush, I think is inappropriate and ultimately not helpful. I don't think Hamas is interested in any sort of a solution that doesn't involve the eradication of Jews, but that doesn't mean every Palestinian feels that way."

CAIR has filed a formal complaint against Dr. Klugman with the Maryland Board of Physicians, calling for his license to be revoked.

CAIR was also forwarded an email by a Hopkins staff member, which was an apology from Dr. Klugman to his colleagues. He calls the tweets "regrettable" and "hurtful," and said they in no way reflect his beliefs, and that he's devastated by the impact this has had on his Hopkins family.

This story was originally published by Elizabeth Worthington at Scripps News Baltimore with additions from Scripps News. 

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