Yale University associate professor Zareena Grewal is being called out for her dismissal after making contentious comments on social media in which she appeared to defend the activities of Hamas militants and called Israel a “murderous, genocidal settler state.” Grewal is an associate professor of American studies, ethnicity, race, migration, and religious studies. She is also a historical anthropological and documentarian.

Grewal’s social media post expressing sympathy for Palestinians after the latest Hamas attack on Israel sparked a controversy. She tweeted, “Prayers for the Palestinians.” Palestine has every right to oppose Israel as a murderous, genocidal colonial state by armed conflict and unity.”

Grewal then went on to post other tweets that seemed to support the attack’s horrific outcomes. She came under fire for remarks that appeared to draw a distinction between settlers and civilians, saying things like, “Settlers are not civilians.” This is not difficult. “No government on earth is as genocidal as this settler colonial state,” she added, alluding to Israel.

Netanel Cripse, a Yale undergraduate, started a Change.org petition to remove Zareena Grewal from the Yale faculty on the grounds that she encourages violence and falsehoods. More than 28,000 people signed the petition, calling on the institution to take the professor disciplinary action.

Grewal’s X account (formerly Twitter) has been made private, and she has not publicly replied to the criticism. A Yale spokeswoman upheld Grewal’s right to free expression in the face of the uproar, stressing that the remarks on her personal accounts reflect her own opinions.

In a statement, Yale University President Peter Salovey denounced Hamas’ attack on Israel and emphasized the school’s commitment to free speech. The debate draws attention to the continued difficulties colleges confront in striking a balance between the need to protect students from potentially harmful remarks and academic freedom.