September 17, 2020
New York State Department of Health
Office of Professional Medical Conduct
150 Broadway, Suite 355
Albany, New York 12204-2719
Re: Investigation and Disciplinary Action Against Walid Khass, MD
Dear Esteemed Members of the New York State Health Department’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct and Members of the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct,
We write on behalf of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit Israel education organization, to file a formal complaint against Walid Khass, MD, a pediatric resident physician at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital (“NYP”). It is our understanding that Dr. Khass began his residency at NYP in 2019. Likely unbeknownst to Board officials at the time of his hiring, Dr. Khass has allegedly posted alarming and violent discriminatory and antisemitic statements on his public Twitter account for years. His purported comments specifically target Jews, Israelis and Zionists, repeatedly call for violence, express blatant mistrust for Jews, refer to Jews and Israelis by derogatory names, convey antisemitic conspiracy theories, and most egregiously—particularly for a medical professional in charge of protecting lives—include sentiments indicating his wish that Jews should die.
Dr. Khass’ public discriminatory and antisemitic comments apparently date as far back as 2012 and intensify starting in 2014. In one particularly hateful tweet, Dr. Khass supposedly asks if, “You Ever Just Wanna Take A Zionists Hair From The Sides And Ride Him Like The Pathetic Donkey He Is, Because Same 😊.” In a separate tweet, Dr. Khass allegedly states, “Send Mosquitos To Israel,” in response to a tweet indicating that mosquitoes are responsible for more deaths than all wars combined. When asked if the acronym “smh” stands for “shake my hand,” Dr. Kass supposedly responded, “no it means yekta3 el yahood [Kill the Jews] YASSSSS…”
Dr. Khass evidently continued to express similar sentiments presumably throughout medical school, at least as recently as 2017. In a tweet on February 9, 2017, he apparently emphasized his hatred of Zionism—which is a core part of Jewish identity— stating, “Trump Trust Me, The Only People Ruining Our Country Is The Zionist Israeli’s…#FreePalestine.” Dr. Khass began his residency in 2019, presumably the same year he graduated from medical school. Therefore these alleged statements made contemporaneously during Dr. Khass’ medical studies demonstrate an obsessive and continual spewing of hatred, bias and discrimination against Jews, Israelis and Zionists, spanning years.
We commend NYP for removing Dr. Khass from its residency program upon discovering his antisemitic statements and are dismayed to learn that this decision was subsequently reversed by a New York Supreme Court. We are alarmed by the court’s determination to disregard the health and safety of New York’s Jews, particularly when New York boasts the largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel. We question the court’s wisdom when Dr. Khass would be in a position to make life and death healthcare decisions during his residency for a population he publicly detests. Dr. Khass allegedly posted vile, discriminatory and antisemitic tweets, making it nearly impossible to believe that he can serve as a competent medical professional able to treat his Jewish patients without animosity. We share NYP’s grave concern that Dr. Khass’ posts would, “interfere with the [p]rogram’s ability to serve a patient population consisting of a large number of Orthodox Jews.” Dr. Khass’ reported behavior highlights his obvious fixation with and contempt for Jews and also raises serious doubts about whether he possesses the competence and compassion necessary to practice medicine.
Because of the Supreme Court’s failure to protect Jewish and Israeli patients from the very real threat posed by Dr. Khass’ apparent animus toward Jews, this Office and Board should take all necessary measures to ensure that Dr. Khass’ treatment of each patient comports with the standard of care for the practice of medicine in New York. While this may not be an exhaustive accounting, this Office and Board should investigate whether Dr. Khass has violated, at a minimum, the following applicable rules and provisions.
Potential Violations of the American Medical Association Principles of Medical Ethics
The American Medical Association (AMA) is built on a series of ethical statements designed to benefit the patient. As such, the AMA has adopted nine principles essential for physicians’ behavior. Based on his public comments, Dr. Khass may have violated at least eight of these principles, with his social media posts alone appearing to violate principles I, II, III & IX:
I. A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights.
II. A physician shall uphold the standards of professionalism, be honest in all professional interactions, and strive to report physicians deficient in character or competence, or engaging in fraud or deception, to appropriate entities.
III. A physician shall respect the law and also recognize a responsibility to seek changes in those requirements which are contrary to the best interests of the patient.
IV. A physician shall respect the rights of patients, colleagues, and other health professionals, and shall safeguard patient confidences and privacy within the constraints of the law.
V. A physician shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, maintain a commitment to medical education, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when indicated.
VII. A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health.
VIII. A physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.
IX. A physician shall support access to medical care for all people.
Dr. Khass’ repeated hateful and violent statements against Jews, Zionists and Israelis indicate an apparent pattern of behavior unsuitable for a physician, demonstrate a blatant inability to provide the medical competency, respect and access required to practice medicine, fly in the face of applicable legal provisions requiring medical professionals to conform to minimal standards of care, and thus appear to run afoul of the majority of the foregoing AMA ethical principles.
Potential Violations of New York State Education Law § 6530
Medical professionals in New York are subject to penalties for violations of professional misconduct defined by New York Education Law Article 131-A § 6530. New York Public Health Law § 230 establishes a state board for professional medical misconduct. Any licensee found guilty of misconduct under New York Education Law § 6530 may be subject to penalties set forth in New York Public Health Law § 230-a, including, but not limited to censure and reprimand, suspension and revocation. New York Public Health Law § 230(7)(a) includes medical residents as licensees subject to disciplinary proceedings for professional misconduct. Therefore, this Board may penalize Dr. Khass, a medical resident, for violations found under New York Education Law § 6530, including the following:
(5) Practicing the profession with incompetence on more than one occasion;
(6) Practicing the profession with gross incompetence;
(20) Conduct in the practice of medicine which evidences moral unfitness to practice medicine.
Dr. Khass’ repeated discriminatory statements against Jews and Israelis would appear to establish incompetence to practice medicine as it relates to all patients. His biases indicate an unfitness to practice medicine consistent with the standards set forth in New York law and are therefore sufficient for this Board immediately to investigate his actions and determine whether a larger penalty is warranted, including his complete suspension from any dealings with patients.
Dr. Khass has a reportedly long and well documented history of publicly expressing hatred toward and discriminatory animus against Jews, Zionists and Israelis. Such hatred poses serious ethical violations, puts the lives of Jewish and Israeli patients in jeopardy, and has no place in the medical profession. We urge this Office and Board immediately to conduct a full investigation of Dr. Khass and to take any other available steps necessary to ensure that he is prevented from any contact in which he could harm patients in New York through the practice of medicine.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this critical matter. We look forward to hearing back from you by September 30, 2020.
The information regarding Dr. Khass’ tweets are all publicly available at https://canarymission.org/individual/Walid_Khass. The Twitter account associated with the tweets no longer exists, however the existence of this account and its hateful language are a matter of public record via Khass v. New York Presbyt. Brooklyn Methodist Hosp., 2020 NY Slip Op 30541(U).