War between Israel and Hamas has sparked extensive (mostly) online activism about the conflict — and led to a rash of firings or other workplace discipline from employers concerned about their employees’ views of the conflict.
Artforum’s top editor David Velasco was fired by his publisher, Penske Media, after posting an open letter on the site calling for a cease-fire and suggesting Israel is responsible for the beginning of a genocide; Michael Eisen was removed as editor-in-chief of the science journal eLife after retweeting a satirical article critical of Israel; and Maha Dakhil, a top executive at the Hollywood talent firm Creative Artists Agency, stepped back from leadership roles after reposting an Instagram story that implied Israel was committing genocide. That’s in addition to multiple law students who had job offers revoked after publicly criticizing Israeli actions. The statements range from expressions of sympathy for Palestinians to strident anti-Israel criticisms that seem to minimize Israeli loss of life.
The situation is making Genevieve Lakier, a professor of law at the University of Chicago whose work is focused on the changing meaning of freedom of speech in the United States, very nervous.
“It feels like the new McCarthyism,” said Lakier, who’s one of the leading legal scholars on matters of free speech.
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