A first-year resident who was fired by Cleveland Clinic has apologized after her past anti-Semitic tweets about Israel and Jewish people were uncovered. Lara Kollab, a 27-year-old recent medical school graduate from Ohio, was let go by the famed medical center in September after the hospital learned of her past statements on her personal Twitter account.
“Several social media comments posted on my twitter account years ago have surfaced recently, causing pain, anguish, and a public outcry. I wish sincerely and unequivocally to apologize for the offensive and hurtful language contained in those posts,” Kollab said in a statement sent to Heavy on January 4 by
Ziad Tayeh, of the Cleveland-based Tayeh Law Offices. “This statement is not intended to excuse the content of the posts, but rather to demonstrate that those words do not represent who I am and the principles I stand for today.”
The tweets were discovered by the Canary Mission, a blacklist website that posts information on pro-Palestine students and professors.
“Lara Kollab has called for violence against Jews, spread anti-Semitism, trivialized the Holocaust, defended the terror organization Hamas and supported terrorists on Twitter,” the Canary Mission wrote. While the Canary Mission has generated controversy, the information it posted has been confirmed by Heavy and other media outlets. The tweets were posted while Kollab was in college and medical school.
Kollab was using the Twitter handle @ellekay_, an apparent reference to her initials. She had the name Lara on her profile and a Facebook page connected to her also used the name Elle Kay. Biographical details mentioned by Kollab on her anonymous Twitter account also match up with confirmed information about her, including the medical school she attended. Kollab also tweeted about a service trip to Honduras on the @ellekay_ account that Heavy confirmed Kollab took part in. Kollab also revealed her own identity on the Twitter account, tweeting at a friend in April 2012, “can you do me a favor and search ‘lara kollab’ and see if my profile comes up still :).”
Kollab deleted her Twitter account and other social media profiles, including her Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin pages, after the tweets went viral. A December 27 tweet by the Canary Mission set off the international media attention on Kollab, who had already been out of a job at the Cleveland Clinic for several months.
You can read her full apology below:
Several social media comments posted on my twitter account years ago have surfaced recently, causing pain, anguish, and a public outcry. I wish sincerely and unequivocally to apologize for the offensive and hurtful language contained in those posts. This statement is not intended to excuse the content of the posts, but rather to demonstrate that those words do not represent who I am and the principles I stand for today.
I visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories every summer throughout my adolescent years. I became incensed at the suffering of the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation. The injustice and brutality of the occupation continues to concern me, and I believe every champion of human rights owes it to humanity to work towards a just and peaceful resolution of this crisis.
As a girl in my teens and early twenties, I had difficulty constructively expressing my intense feelings about what I witnessed in my ancestral land. Like many young people lacking life experience, I expressed myself by making insensitive remarks and statements of passion devoid of thought, not realizing the harm and offense these words would cause.
These posts were made years before I was accepted into medical school, when I was a naïve, and impressionable girl barely out of high school. I matured into a young adult during the years I attended college and medical school, and adopted strong values of inclusion, tolerance, and humanity. I take my profession and the Hippocratic Oath seriously and would never intentionally cause harm to any patient seeking medical care. As a physician, I will always strive to give the best medical treatment to all people, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, or culture.
I have learned from this experience and am sorry for the pain I have caused. I pray that the Jewish community will understand and forgive me. I hope to make amends so that we can move forward and work together towards a better future for us all.
In One Tweet, Kollab Said She Would Give Jewish Patients ‘the Wrong Meds
The Canary Mission said about the tweets, ” “She has also compared Israel to Nazi Germany, spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and hatred of Israel, and accused Israel of exploiting the Holocaust. Kollab is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and a supporter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). She is also is affiliated with Al Awda.”
In one tweet, sent in 2012, Kollab wrote, “hahha ewww.. ill purposely give all the yahood [Jews] the wrong meds…” She was a college student at the time with plans of going to medical school.
She also tweeted about the Holocaust. On October 22, 2012, she wrote, “After this debate, I have to watch a movie on the holocaust and write a paper on it. I am going to be brutally unsympathetic. #sorrynotsorry.” On October 11, 2012, she tweeted, “If I have to write a paper about the holocaust, I’m going to bring palestine into it and my professor better like it.” When someone replied saying that the Holocaust never happened, Kollab responded, ” I think it did happen, it’s just exaggerated and the victimization of the jews (ignoring the others killed) is overdone.”
Cleveland Clinic Said There Are ‘No Reports of Any Patient Harm Related to Her Work’
Cleveland Clinic issued a statement on its website on December 31 saying that Lara Kollab no longer works there. “Cleveland Clinic was recently made aware of comments posted to social media by a former employee. This individual was employed as a supervised resident at our hospital from July to September 2018. She is no longer working at Cleveland Clinic. In no way do these beliefs reflect those of our organization. We fully embrace diversity, inclusion and a culture of safety and respect across our entire health system,” the statement said.
Cleveland Clinic issued a second statement on January 2 clarifying that Kollab was fired in September after the hospital learned of her social media posts.
“This individual was employed as a supervised, first-year resident at our hospital from July to September 2018. When we learned of the social media post, we took immediate action, conducted an internal review and placed her on administrative leave. Her departure was related to those posts and she has not worked at Cleveland Clinic since September. For first-year residents, multiple safeguards and direct supervision are required for patient care and prescribing medicine. In addition, there have been no reports of any patient harm related to her work during the time she was here,” Cleveland Clinic said in the statement. “In no way do these beliefs reflect those of our organization. We fully embrace diversity, inclusion and a culture of safety and respect across our entire health system.”
In 2017, Kollab graduated from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York in 2017, a school with Jewish roots. Touro issued a statement saying, “Touro College is appalled by the anti-Semitic comments reportedly made by Lara Kollab, a graduate of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. The mission of Touro College is to educate, perpetuate and enrich the historic Jewish tradition of tolerance and dignity.”
Kollab, a native of Westlake, Ohio, attended Kohn Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, near Cleveland, according to her now-deleted Linkedin profile. She studied biology, neuroscience and psychology there and graduated in 2013.