UNITED STATES: Michael Bruce Eisen, an American computational biologist and the editor-in-chief of the open-access journal eLife, made a surprising announcement on social media platform X, revealing that he lost his position for publicly endorsing a satirical article posted on ‘The Onion’.
The Onion, renowned for its satirical take on socio-political issues, published an article titled “Dying Gazans Criticized For Not Using Last Words To Condemn Hamas,” satirically critiquing individuals in Gaza who did not condemn recent attacks on Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas.
On Tuesday (24th Oct), Mr Eisen tweeted, “I have been informed that I am being replaced as the Editor in Chief of @eLife for retweeting a @TheOnion piece that calls out indifference to the lives of Palestinian civilians.”
— Michael Eisen (@mbeisen) October 23, 2023
The sudden termination of Mr Eisen’s position was a direct consequence of his post on 14th October, where the geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, commended the article on X published by The Onion.
Eisen stated, “The Onion speaks with more courage, insight and moral clarity than the leaders of every academic institution put together. I wish there were a @TheOnion university.”
— Michael Eisen (@mbeisen) October 13, 2023
Mr Eisen’s post has since garnered some criticism. However, a day later, he tweeted, “Every sane person on Earth is horrified and traumatized by what Hamas did and wants it to never happen again.”
“All the more so as a Jew with Israeli family. But I am also horrified by the collective punishment already being meted out on Gazans, and the worse that is about to come. …The Onion is not making light of the situation. And nor am I. These articles are using satire to make a deadly serious point about this horrific tragedy.”
Every sane person on Earth is horrified and traumatized by what Hamas did and wants it to never happen again. All the more so as a Jew with Israeli family. But I am also horrified by the collective punishment already being meted out on Gazans, and the worse that is about to come. https://t.co/Lzl2jc5hiP
— Michael Eisen (@mbeisen) October 14, 2023
Israeli researchers call for resignation of Eisen and boycott of eLife
Following the controversy, there were demands from some Israeli researchers for Eisen’s resignation and for colleagues to refrain from submitting papers to eLife as long as he remained in charge.
I’m probably also going to regret getting back to this discussion, but since you’re making some thoughtful comments, I thought I’d try to explain why I think many people (myself included) found Prof. Eisen’s comments so offensive. It’s a bit long, so attached as an image. pic.twitter.com/I6kMTlHRiE
— Ben-David Lab (@BenDavidLab) October 15, 2023
In response, a petition was initiated, urging the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the publisher of eLife, not to remove or censor Eisen over his tweets.
The petitioners emphasized, “Our stance is not based on the merits of Eisen’s views. Rather, we believe that penalizing Eisen would establish a discouraging precedent for freedom of expression in academia.”
Other eLife editors also resigned, in protest of the journal’s decision against Mr Eisen
In the wake of Eisen’s statement, Lara Urban, a reviewing editor and early-career advisor at eLife, took to Twitter to declare her resignation from the journal.
“Mike’s dismissal for expressing his personal views sets a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech in our academic community,” wrote Urban, a genomics researcher at Helmholtz Munich. “[I]t validates cyber-bullying as a successful and legitimate tool to get scientists with controversial opinions fired.”
It is with great sadness that I have to resign as @eLife editor and early-career advisor after @mbeisen was fired as editor-in-chief for making use of his freedom of speech to stand up – once again – for the people who were silenced. A brief statement here: https://t.co/VN1H5wJZO1 pic.twitter.com/BV17wLId2f
— Lara Urban (@LaraUrban42) October 23, 2023
Furthermore, another eLife editor, Graham Coop, also utilized the same platform to announce his departure from the organization.
The British-American geneticist criticized eLife’s management of Eisen’s statement on X and his subsequent resignation as “extremely deficient.”
— Graham Coop (@Graham_Coop) October 23, 2023
Molly Fox Przeworski, an American population geneticist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, also expressed her thoughts on the incident.
She criticized the decision to terminate Mr. Eisen, calling it “discriminatory and a perilous precedent,” violating eLife’s code of conduct promoting respect for diverse opinions and experiences.
“It is also a violation of eLife’s own code of conduct, to be “respectful of differing opinions, viewpoints, and experiences.”
“I have therefore made the unhappy decision to resign as senior editor at eLife, after ten years working for the journal, ” she said.
— Molly Przeworski (@molly_przew) October 23, 2023
Guy Sella, an associate professor in the Columbia University Department of Biological Sciences, also publicly declared his decision on the same platform to step down as a reviewing editor at eLife.
In his statement, he empathized with Mr. Eisen, expressing his distress over the recent events in Israel and his profound apprehension about the situation evolving in Gaza.
For the same reasons, I too will resign as reviewing editor at @eLife.
— Guy Sella (@GuyS2747) October 23, 2023
DPM Wong defends SA closure for 55+, netizens demand autonomy for their own CPF savings
Coalition talks intensify as Prabowo-Gibran leads Presidential quick count
SDP Chief Chee Soon Juan receives POFMA order for comments on HDB policies
Indonesia Election update: Prabowo-Gibran commanding lead with 58.91%
AGC to evaluate further action on Kenneth Jeyaretnam over alleged falsehoods
Singapore fines man S$30,000 for illegally importing 2 tonnes of meat
Kenneth Jeyaretnam criticizes MSF’s POFMA on NCMP Leong Mun Wai’s Facebook post
SCDF annual report reveals 31% surge in AMD-related fires in 2023
Angry participants demand refunds for ‘delayed’ Sky Lantern Festival in Sentosa
SPF: At least 419 victims lost S$1.8M to fake buyer phishing scams since January
Love Aid Singapore raises US$60,000 in two days for Palestinians iftar meals
Indonesian lecturers spark “#JanganJadiDosen” movement, demand academic welfare reform
Singapore2 weeks ago
PM Lee encourages more births in the year of the dragon amid declining fertility rates
Singapore2 weeks ago
Singapore surpasses nursing recruitment target in 2023 amidst high attrition rates
Featured1 week ago
PA surveys community & govt confidence amid pending general election
Comments1 week ago
PAP Marcus Loh accuses WP’s MP of alleged dishonesty on debate about reserves
Civil Society1 week ago
Singaporeans stand firm in support for Palestine amidst police scrutiny
Civil Society6 days ago
At least 9 individuals summoned by police over Palestine solidarity activities on 2 Feb
Community1 week ago
Connectivity struggles in Tengah town prompt online user discussion
International1 week ago
Singapore Police investigate two events amid Israel’s genocide in Gaza