Home News Canada Winnipeg doctor says he was fired for anti-Israel views

Winnipeg doctor says he was fired for anti-Israel views

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A Jordanian-born doctor is claiming he was fired by Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital as its chief medical officer and executive director of clinical programs for criticizing the Israeli government.

In a series of tweets that have since been deleted, Dr. Hussam Azzam said he was fired by the hospital for his anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian views.

He said the opinions expressed in the tweets were entirely his own and that he has no formal ties to any anti-Israel organization after he tweeted links with photos to the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).

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“Removed as St. Boniface Hospital Chief Medical Officer due to criticising Israeli government actions vis-à-vis Palestine & its people @CJPME,” Azzam posted Jan. 22 on his Twitter account AzzamMD, which has since been taken down, as has his Facebook profile.

Later on Jan. 22, he tweeted “Shocked & stressed for losing my job just because of who I am, what I represent & exercising my #FreedomOfSpeech in Canada, in 2017 @CJPME.”

In a Jan. 26 report, the Winnipeg Free Press described Azzam as a Palestinian and noted that he was interviewed by the newspaper at a rally for Gaza outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in 2014. Azzam has posted a link to the 2014 Free Press story on his personal website.

Bernie Bellan, the publisher and editor of Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News who broke the story, reported that he found “quite a few photos containing images that are highly critical of Israel and of American support for Israel” on Azzam’s Twitter feed.

One image that Bellan posted on Facebook is a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointing a missile at a baby tied to a post and holding a Palestinian flag. Standing behind Netanyahu is former U.S. president Barack Obama urging Netanyahu on.

Azzam was hired by St. Boniface in November, but he has practised in Manitoba since 2008. Born in Jordan, he was trained in obstetrics and gynaecology in Qatar and England. Up until last June, he was based in Thompson, in northern Manitoba. He was vice-president of medical services and chief medical officer for the Northern Regional Health Authority from 2012 until last September.

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He has also been a councillor of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, representing northern Manitoba. He resigned from the council on Nov. 25 when he assumed his new role at St. Boniface.

He is currently an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Manitoba’s Rady Faculty of Medicine and a member of the board of directors of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

Azzam did not respond to The CJN’s requests for comment. In an email to Bellan, he denied being a racist or an anti-Semite, but refused further comment on the advice of his lawyer.

St. Boniface spokesperson Hélène Vrignon would only confirm that Azzam is no longer associated with the hospital. “As you can appreciate, this is an HR matter, and our policy is to respect and protect the privacy of current and former employees,” she said.