Thursday, February 9, 2017

Winnipeg doctor maintains he was fired from his job for criticizing Israel

Dr. Hussam Azzam, claims he was fired as chief medical officer for St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg for his criticism of the Israeli government.

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A spokesperson for the hospital confirmed that Azzam had left the hospital but said that it was hospital policy not to comment about personnel matters. Azzam took on the role of chief medical officer and executive director of the clinical programs in November of 2016. His name has been removed from the staff directory.
In recent posts on social media, Azzam clained that he was let go for criticizing actions of the Israeli government against Palestinians. In a tweet Azzam said: Shocked & stressed for losing my job just because of who I am, what I represent & exercising my #FreedomOfSpeech in Canada, in 2017 @CJPME
Bernie Beltan, who edits and published the Jewish Post and News, said he received a short message from Azzam on Linkedin in which the doctor told him he is not an anti-Semite. Beltan said: He sent me a very nice message. It was short and polite and it told me nothing because he said he can't talk." Azzam said he is under instruction from his lawyer not to talk to the media. The news media does not appear to be doing much to follow up on this story in spite of--or perhaps because of--the seriousness of Azzamès charges. Beltan broke the story on Azzam apparently.
Azzam is listed an an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Manitobaès Rady Faculty of Health Science and also a clinical instructor at the northern Thompson General Hosptai on the U of M website.
The series of tweets in which Azzam claimed he had been released because of his anti-Israel pro-Palestinian views have been deleted. Several 2014 tweets supported boycotts of Israel and had suggested that the Israeli government had engaged in terrorism. Azzam said that his tweets expressed only his own views and he had no formal ties to any anti-Israel groups after he posted links with photos to the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheidm and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.
Azzam is Jordanian born. He has practised in Manitoba since 2008. He was trained in obstetrics and gynaecology in Quatar and England. He worked in Thompson in northern Manitoba until last June. He was vice-president of medical services and chief medical officer of the Northern Regional Health Authority from 2012 until last September. He had also been a councillor of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba but resigned when he he took on his new job in St. Boniface last November 25.
St.. Boniface spokesperson Helene Vrignon would say only that Azzam was no longer at 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."
Harold Shuster, a member of Independent Jewish Voices in Winnipeg, who say they are in solidarity with the Palesitinian struggle for self-determination, said: "This should send a chill down every Canadian's spine. This is a real threat to our freedom of speech..Your place of employment should not dictate whether or not you can express your freedom of speech." Ranah Abdullah with the Canadian-Palestinian Association of Manitoba who informed Shuster of the firing said she was not prepared to comment. Azzam too continues to refuse to comment on the basis of legal advice. No details of the firing have been made available leaving the public unable to understand how this event happened or whether it was justified.

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