“Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life,” Workman wrote. “This regime of state-sanctioned violence created the conditions that made resistance necessary. I will not condemn Palestinian resistance.”
But the post came with a consequence: Workman no longer has a job after law school.
“These comments profoundly conflict with Winston & Strawn’s values as a firm,” the Chicago-based law firm wrote in a news release. “Accordingly, the Firm has rescinded the law student’s offer of employment.”
The Israel-Gaza war is still in its first week, but some people in the United States and around the world have lost their jobs, or have faced discipline or backlash, for their criticism of Israel. The backlash has been directed toward people of different backgrounds, from a law student and an airline pilot to a basketball writer and an adult-content influencer.
The blowback has come at a time when at least 25 Americans have been killed since the cross-border assault by Hamas militants. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Tel Aviv on Thursday in a show of support for Israel, is grappling with the issue of unaccounted-for Americans who may have been killed or taken hostage by Hamas. In Gaza, authorities warned of dire water and electricity shortages after Israel ordered a “full siege” of the densely populated, impoverished Palestinian enclave.
“Never tweet” turned into a Twitter meme years ago — long before the platform became X — as a way of warning people not to write online posts that could get them in serious trouble, or cost them their jobs. That idea has been put to the test during a war in which thousands of civilians have been killed in the days since the Hamas surprise attack on Saturday and the targeted counterstrikes Israel has launched on Gaza.
The backlash has played out at places such as Harvard University, where student groups are taking back their signatures in a letter that holds Israel “entirely responsible” for the violence. The fallout has resulted this week in a doxing truck coming to campus that displays the faces of the students critical of Israel.
The series of posts with consequences began Sunday, when Jackson Frank, a basketball reporter who had recently joined the PhillyVoice to cover the Philadelphia 76ers, criticized the franchise’s statement supporting Israel and denouncing Hamas.
“Solidarity with Palestine always,” he wrote in a post on X that has since been deleted.
The website responded by firing Frank this week, not long before the start of the NBA season.
“Mr. Frank is no longer employed by PhillyVoice.com,” PhillyVoice CEO Hal Donnelly said in a statement to the New York Post this week.
Jackson Frank, who recently became the Sixers beat writer for PhillyVoice, was let go following a tweet showing “solidarity” with Palestine in response to the team’s remarks about Israel.
“Mr. Frank is no longer employed by https://t.co/8HRAUM3hY7 as of today,”
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) October 9, 2023
Frank, who said that he will still be covering the team on his Patreon account, told The Washington Post in a statement that he stood by his comments “and condemn organizations for involving themselves in geopolitics without any sort of context or nuance.”
“The Sixers and other sports organizations have not uttered a word, let alone criticized [Israel], about any of the violence Palestinians have endured for decades and are enduring as we speak from the settler-colonial power of Israel,” Frank said.
Not long after Frank was fired, an Air Canada pilot was dismissed after he shared anti-Israel photos of himself during a protest in Montreal. StopAntiSemitism.org, a U.S.-based group, shared Instagram screenshots of Mostafa Ezzo wearing Palestinian colors while he was in his Air Canada pilot uniform. He was also seen holding a sign that made reference to Hitler: “Keep the world clean.”
“Burn in hell,” he wrote in a caption in a post.
Ezzo — an Air Canada first officer on 787s, according to his since-deleted LinkedIn page — was initially grounded Monday from work for his “unacceptable posts,” with the airline saying, “We firmly denounce violence in all forms.” The company announced Wednesday that Ezzo had been fired.
“We can confirm the pilot in question no longer works for Air Canada, following the process initiated on Monday,” the airline wrote on X. Ezzo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The backlash to people’s Israel posts have stretched to all corners of the internet — including Playboy’s Centerfold, a platform similar to OnlyFans that connects content creators to their fans. Hours into the war, Mia Khalifa, a Lebanese American adult-content influencer who had partnered with Playboy, began criticizing Israel to her more than 5.7 million followers on X.
“If you can look at the situation in Palestine and not be on the side of Palestinians, then you are on the wrong side of apartheid and history will show that in time,” she wrote over the weekend.
If you can look at the situation in Palestine and not be on the side of Palestinians, then you are on the wrong side of apartheid and history will show that in time
— Mia K. (@miakhalifa) October 7, 2023
After Khalifa continued to post her support of the Palestinian people, Playboy announced its decision to end its business relationship with the former adult-film star and delete her Centerfold channel. Her page has since been taken down.
“Over the past few days, Mia has made disgusting and reprehensible comments celebrating Hamas’ attacks on Israel and the murder of innocent men, women and children,” the company said. “We expect Mia to understand that her words and actions have consequences.” Khalifa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musicians and actors have also faced backlash for their social media posts but on a lesser scale. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis was criticized for publishing a post to Instagram that showed a photo of Palestinian children looking up to the sky with a caption that included “Terror from the skies” and an Israeli flag emoji. The post was deleted after some pointed out that the children in the photo were from the Palestinian territories, not Israel.
Something similar happened Wednesday with singer Justin Bieber, who shared a “Praying for Israel” post to his 293 million Instagram followers that showed a photo of destroyed buildings in Gaza instead of Israel. The pop star later replaced the photo with a post saying, “Praying for Israel,” without an image.
“To [villainize] all Palestinians or all Israeli people to me seems wrong,” he wrote in a post earlier in the day. “I’m not interested in choosing sides, but I am interested in standing with the families who have been brutally taken from us.”
Still, some critics were surprised that Bieber and others would get key details wrong, and share them on social media, during the early days of the war: “Justin Bieber posting ‘praying for Israel’ using a picture of a destroyed Gaza is actually insane.”