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Friday, July 19, 2024

NYU law student has job offer withdrawn after posting anti-Israel message

A New York University law student has had a job offer rescinded by a top law firm and was voted out as president of the school’s Student Bar Association after stating that Israel is to blame for the Hamas attacks that have killed more than 1,000 Israelis.

“Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life,” wrote Ryna Workman in the Student Bar Association newsletter.

The message drew swift rebukes from members of New York University’s community, as well as from Winston & Strawn, a law firm where Workman had previously been employed as an intern. Winston & Strawn said in a astatementon Tuesday that it had learned of “certain inflammatory comments” regarding Hamas’ attack on Israel that was distributed to the NYU Student Bar Association, although the firm didn’t refer to Workman by name.

“These comments profoundly conflict with Winston & Strawn’s values as a firm,” it said. “Accordingly, the firm has rescinded the law student’s offer of employment.”

At the same time, a backlash is brewing at Harvard University over a similar anti-Israel message, with 34 student groups at the Ivy League school signing a controversialstatementthat said Israel is “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” related to the Hamas attack.

In that case, billionaire hedge fund investor CEO Bill Ackman called for Harvard to release the names of the students who are members of the organizations that signed the statement, saying in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) that he wants to make sure never to “inadvertently hire any of their members.”

“It is not harassment”

The stance from Ackman — a Harvard alum himself — is sparking debate over the ethical responsibility of students who were members of the organizations that signed the statements condemning Israel for the attack.

College students are known for pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior and engaging in speech that may be considered offensive. Yet in the age of social media, such remarks can have long-lasting consequences even if they are protected by the First Amendment.

One X user, who claimed to be a Harvard student, responded to Ackman’s by saying that many of the Harvard students weren’t aware that their organizations had expressed support for the anti-Israel statement.

But Ackmancountered that students have choices available to them, such as resigning from an organization if they don’t agree with the statement.

“Claiming that you had no involvement or knowledge of the statement, but remaining a member of the organization without it withdrawing the statement is perhaps the worst of the alternatives, as it appears to simply be an attempt to avoid accountability while continuing to be a member of the organization,” he wrote on X. “If you were managing a business, would you hire someone who blamed the despicable violent acts of a terrorist group on the victims?”

Ackman added, “It is not harassment to seek to understand the character of the candidates that you are considering for employment.”

Meanwhile, New York University officials also condemned Workman’s statement, with the dean of NYU’s law school, Troy McKenzie, saying the message “does not speak for the leadership of the Law School.”

“It certainly does not express my own views, because I condemn the killing of civilians and acts of terrorism as always reprehensible,” McKenzie wrote.

Workman, who wasn’t immediately able to be reached for comment, was also removed from their role as SBA president, according to astatementfrom the SBA.

“The remaining members of SBA are writing to clarify that we did not write, approve or see this message before it was published. SBA did not hold discussions about whether to issue a public statement about the conflict or the content of any potential statement,’ the group said in its statement.

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