As Israel defends itself following a deadly attack by Hamas terrorists earlier this month, a number of social media users have voiced criticism of Israel and pro-Palestine protests have erupted in cities around the world.
In some cases, such rhetoric was deemed so objectionable that individuals have lost their jobs or faced other consequences.
One recent example involves Michael Eisen, who, until recently, served as the editor-in-chief of the science journal eLife. After sharing an article from the satire website The Onion and adding his own thoughts on the conflict in a post on X — formerly Twitter — earlier this month, he confirmed that he had been fired from the position.
Eisen, himself a Jew, shared the article headlined: “Dying Gazans Criticized For Not Using Last Words To Condemn Hamas.”
He went on to heap praises on the outlet for its perceived willingness to speak harsh truths about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“The Onion speaks with more courage, insight and moral clarity than the leaders of every academic institution put together,” Eisen wrote. “I wish there were a [The Onion] university.”
Following up with the update about his position at eLife, he claimed that he was fired because he shared a “piece that calls out indifference to the lives of Palestinian civilians.”
— Michael Eisen (@mbeisen) October 23, 2023
In an attempt to downplay his implied criticism of Israel, he added that he is “horrified and traumatized” by the Hamas attack, but added that he is “also horrified by the collective punishment already being meted out on Gazans, and the worse that is about to come.”
Furthermore, Eisen claimed that neither he nor The Onion meant to diminish the seriousness of the situation, writing: “These articles are using satire to make a deadly serious point about this horrific tragedy.”
A number of his fellow scientists were not satisfied with his attempt to clarify his point of view, including Eleven Therapeutics CEO Yaniv Erlich, who called Eisen’s subsequent posts “empty words” that followed a week of silence regarding the plight of Israeli citizens.
“And now you dare to give us military advice from your privileged position of safety,” Erlich added. “What a moral bankruptcy.”
In a public statement announcing Eisen’s ouster, eLife did not specify which post led to the decision but confirmed that he “has been given clear feedback from the board that his approach to leadership, communication and social media has at key times been detrimental to the cohesion of the community we are trying to build and hence to eLife’s mission.”