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uOttawa doctor suspended over pro-Palestinian posts resigns from Canadian Medical Association board

A resident doctor at the University of Ottawa who was suspended by the school for pro-Palestinian social media posts last month has resigned as a board member for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

Dr. Yipeng Ge wrote in a lengthy letter addressed to the CMA Board of Directors and posted to social media that the relationship with the medical association had become “untenable” and “irreparable” following criticism of his social media posts which expressed solidarity with Palestinians since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Dr. Ge had been serving as a resident board member for the CMA since August, one of two positions open to medical learners on the board.

He is a fourth-year resident in public health and preventative medicine at uOttawa and was suspended by the university in November after posts which included calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing war.

Ge alleges that he experienced bullying, harassment and intimidation from multiple people within the CMA leadership related to his posts.

“Instead of being first and foremost seen as a ‘human-being’ I was being managed as a risk to the organization. I believe what I have experienced is a failure of the CMA leadership to meaningfully reflect on the role that anti-Palestinian racism has played in its response to my social media posts,” Ge said.

“Similar reprisals are happening to so many other across academic institutions and workplaces, including healthcare organizations, across Canada.”

In a statement to the medical association’s website, the CMA said Ge notified the board of his decision on Dec. 21.

“In late November, Dr. Ge posted on social media certain posts that were received as harmful by some members of the medical profession. The CMA and Dr. Ge both agreed to participate in a restorative process to repair relationships,” the medical association said in the statement.

“We accept Dr. Ge’s decision to step down from the Board following this process. Dr. Ge is a keen advocate, and we thank him for serving on the Board.

“The CMA remains firmly committed to denouncing and confronting antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism, and Islamophobia, in all their forms.”

Ge defended his posts in the letter saying he did so in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in the context of his support for their rights of self-determination and struggle for human rights.

Ge alleges a physician colleague shared his social media posts publicly on multiple platforms and “misrepresented” them. Ge also alleges the physician shared the posts with CMA leadership. The physician was not named in the letter.

Earlier this month, uOttawa associate professor of family medicine Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, wrote a blog post on the website Substack and claimed that Ge’s social media posts were antisemitic.

They included screenshots and articles with posts that said “Ottawa standing with Gaza” and a photo of a sign stating “from the rivers to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which Freedhoff called “genocidal.”

“Unfortunately, my posts have been given an interpretation that is not supported either by their context or plain meaning. I have done my best to share my perspective,” Dr. Ge wrote in the letter.

“Context and intent are important to consider when the phrase “from the river to the sea: Palestine will be Free” is referenced. The inability to hold multiple truths and interpretations of this phrase at the same time is deeply concerning to me.”

Ge says as a result of the posts, he attempted to find reasonable opportunities to find a path forward with the CMA, but alleges the attempts to repair the ‘harm’ he had experienced with the board were unsuccessful.

“My relationship with the organization has become untenable and irreparable, leaving me with no choice but to resign,” he said.

The CMA is a national association of physicians and medical learners that advocate on national health matters with over 75,000 members.

A profile on Ge on the medical association’s website states that he is passionate about health and social equity.

A change.org petition was started in support of Ge following his suspension from uOttawa last month, and has received over 97,000 signatures as of Friday.

“We express solidarity with Dr. Yipeng Ge for advocating for the human rights of Palestinians, including their right to healthcare and the right of physicians in Palestine to practice medicine safely, without threat of violence and with adequate resources,” the petition says.

Ge states in his letter that the negative way in which his posts have been interpreted have caused further division and represents an attempt to silence dialogue with the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

“This experience, I have come to learn, is a manifestation of anti-Palestinian racism – repression that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames or dehumanizes Palestinians and in their own narrative.”

Ge says he does not support or condone hate speech against any group.

Other physicians and individuals in the academic world have also faced repercussions for their social media use as a result of the Israel-Hamas war.

At least five medical doctors in Ontario are being investigated of potential professional misconduct after sharing their views on Israel and the Palestinian territories publicly and through social media posts.

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