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U of O doctor suspended for pro-Palestinian posts says he's been reinstated, won't go back

Dr. Yipeng Ge says he's been reinstated at the University of Ottawa after being suspended in November 2023 after publishing a series of pro-Palestinian social media posts. Despite the reinstatement, Ge told CBC he feels he can't return to the institution. (Twitter - image credit)
Dr. Yipeng Ge says he's been reinstated at the University of Ottawa after being suspended in November 2023 after publishing a series of pro-Palestinian social media posts. Despite the reinstatement, Ge told CBC he feels he can't return to the institution. (Twitter - image credit)

A resident physician at the University of Ottawa's faculty of medicine who was suspended over pro-Palestinian social media posts says he's been reinstated but has no plans to return to the institution.

Dr. Yipeng Ge, 29, was sanctioned by the university last November after it got several complaints about a series of pro-Palestinian posts he'd made, ones that included references to "apartheid" and "settler colonialism."

At the time of his suspension, Ge had been a fourth-year public health and preventive medicine resident and was completing a residency at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

His research has focused on Indigenous health, anti-racism and decolonization.

"I feel incredibly harmed by this process, and I don't know how to continue within this institution because of what's happened," Ge told CBC on Friday.

"I've given almost eight years of my life to this institution. And for them to do something like this without any kind of conversation beforehand, I find [it] just incredibly appalling and egregious."

University spokesperson Jesse Robichaud told CBC Friday it would neither confirm Ge had been reinstated nor comment on the "confidential" deliberations by the faculty's postgraduate professionalism subcommittee.

Four days earlier, the University of Ottawa's school of epidemiology and public health posted a photo of Ge on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, with a message that the school was "thrilled to welcome back our outstanding learner and colleague."

Fellow doctor said messages were antisemitic

In November, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an associate professor of family medicine at the U of O, drew attention to a number of Ge's posts on his own Substack page, calling them examples of "antisemitism."

One such post included a photo of a handwritten message on an Ottawa telephone pole with several slogans, including the words "Zionism = Genocide of Palestinians."

Dr. Yipeng Ge shared this image on social media last year. In a post on his Substack page, Ge's colleague, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, called the message an example of "anti-semitism."
Dr. Yipeng Ge shared this image on social media last year. In a post on his Substack page, Ge's colleague, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, called the message an example of "anti-semitism."

Dr. Yipeng Ge shared this image on social media last year. In a post on his Substack page, Ge's colleague, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, called it an example of anti-semitism. (Substack)

Ge told CBC he never said those words himself, but just shared the photo of the poster, which he did not make.

"There's this disproportionate discipline — and often heavy-handed discipline — for speech or commentary, often in the form of social media posts, with respect to calling for health and human rights for Palestine and Palestinians," he said.

"The attacks are meant to discredit, call into question someone's character and integrity, and really take them down as a professional, to isolate them and to silence them and to make them feel incredibly afraid and to make the broader community feel incredibly afraid to speak about Palestine whatsoever."

Ge also resigned from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) board of directors in December after facing a similar backlash at that organization.

Workplace consequences rising, says UN

According to a United Nations statement from November 2023, there's been a "wave" of people worldwide — including journalists, academics, athletes and protesters — who've been censored, suspended, blacklisted or threatened with workplace consequences for showing solidarity with the victims of the war in Gaza.

Ge said he accompanied a group of graduate students to the West Bank last March while taking courses at Harvard University.

He said it was "incredibly eye-opening to be on the ground and to know of the conditions that people are living through —through a system of apartheid and different classes of citizenship."

Ge said he's now weighing his options for what to do next and is considering transferring to another university.

"With what I've experienced, I cannot continue within this institution," said Ge. "The subsequent conversations that I've had with faculty leadership and their lack of insight, remorse ... even after my reinstatement and everything, they don't feel like they've made a mistake.

"I cannot see them as respectable colleagues."