Johns Hopkins Hospital has placed its director of pediatric cardiac critical care on leave while it investigates anti-Palestinian social media posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) from an account that allegedly belonged to the physician, which has now been deleted.

Dr. Darren Klugman, who is also an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is accused of making several hostile statements, one of which calls Palestinians “bloodthirsty morally depraved animals” and another that appears to call for all Palestinians to be massacred. In screenshots circulating on social media, an X account with Klugman’s name responds to a post about a “large scale slaughter” of Palestinians with “G-d willing.”

“We at Johns Hopkins share the concern of many about the deeply disturbing social media posts made by a faculty member in the School of Medicine regarding the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. The faculty member who made these statements has been placed on leave, and thus will have no interaction with students or patients while we conduct a thorough investigation under our policies and procedures,” said Kim Hoppe, vice president of communications at Johns Hopkins Medicine, in an emailed statement.

“Johns Hopkins Medicine and Johns Hopkins University are committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for working, learning and patient care for every member of our community and all those we serve. Statements that explicitly threaten or extol violence against groups or individuals on the basis of national origin, race or religion violate our policies and do not represent our values,” Hoppe said.

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Two Johns Hopkins physicians, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, said Klugman’s alleged comments create a culture of fear among doctors, staff and patients. They questioned the risk to patient safety from a physician who cares for highly medically vulnerable kids while harboring hatred toward a particular ethnic group. The doctors noted that Arab and Palestinian patients come from other states and countries as well as local neighborhoods to seek care at Hopkins, and many physicians employed there identify as Arab and/or Palestinian.

The physicians said the response from Hopkins leadership has been insufficient and slow as Klugman’s alleged posts, which surfaced on Sunday and have been met with concern and outrage by employees at all levels, were not acknowledged by the institution until Thursday morning, when an all-staff email announced that Klugman had been placed on leave.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a complaint against Klugman with the Maryland Board of Physicians on Tuesday, calling for the board to investigate his alleged actions and take disciplinary action, the group said in a news release.

“A doctor who harbors views that any ethnic group is less than human and expresses support for their extermination cannot be trusted to diligently uphold their ethical and moral obligation to serve the medical needs of their patient population to the best of their ability,” the release said. The organization called for Klugman’s medical license to be revoked immediately if the board determines he made the anti-Palestinian statements.

In an emailed statement, the Maryland Board of Physicians said it cannot disclose whether Klugman is under investigation, as this is confidential under the law. If an investigation results in disciplinary action, a description of the action taken will be made public on the board’s website.

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CAIR director Zainab Chaudry said there’s a “clear double standard” in the way that public, high-profile instances of hate speech are handled by the institutions involved and in the media when the target is Muslim, Arab or Palestinian, versus a member of a different oppressed ethnic or racial group. She said institutional and media responses are typically both swifter and more severe and require less public pressure when other groups are targeted — even when the offending comments do not reach the level of violence or hatred allegedly shown by Klugman.

Sarah True was a public health reporter for the Baltimore Banner. She previously worked as a freelance journalist covering healthcare and health policy, and has been both a medical social worker and a health policy analyst in a past life. She holds dual Master’s degrees in public health and social work.

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