New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYU condemns law student for statement on Israel-Hamas conflict

The law school’s Student Bar Association has started the removal process against its president after they made a pro-Palestine statement in the group’s newsletter.
Qianshan Weng
(Graphic by Qianshan Weng)

The president of the Student Bar Association at NYU Law is facing removal after they wrote in a newsletter that “Israel bears full responsibility” for the loss of life in the recent violence between the Israeli military and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. 

The SBA board voted to initiate the removal of president Ryna Workman on Tuesday. The group said it will hold a hearing before the end of October and that it is conducting a no-confidence vote as part of the removal process. 

Workman has also lost a job offer from the international law firm Winston & Strawn over the message. In their statement, Workman expressed solidarity with Palestinians and criticized the Israeli military for its “state-sanctioned violence.” They did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“This week, I want to express, first and foremost, my unwavering and absolute solidarity with Palestinians in their resistance against oppression toward liberation and self-determination,” Workman wrote in the Monday statement. “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life. This regime of state-sanctioned violence created the conditions that made resistance necessary. I will not condemn Palestinian resistance.”

Workman sent the message days after Hamas launched an attack on nearby Israeli towns that was met with airstrikes into the Gaza Strip, killing more than a thousand on each side. In response to Workman’s message, the university, law school dean Troy McKenzie and the SBA each issued statements saying they do not share Workman’s views. 

“Acts of terrorism are immoral,” NYU spokesperson John Beckman said in a public statement. “The indiscriminate killing of civilians and hostage-taking, including children and the elderly, is reprehensible. Blaming victims of terrorism for their own deaths is wrong.”

The SBA also said multiple students had been harassed and received death threats in its statement, and called for NYU Law to do more to protect students.

The student group clarified it was not involved in approving or writing Workman’s message. An NYU Law spokesperson referred WSN to the SBA’s public statement when the group was asked for comment.

Under the SBA Constitution, our directive is ‘to provide an effective medium for the expression of student’s views,’ and we regret that today’s Message distracted from this mission,” the SBA’s statement reads. “We want to be clear, first and foremost, that we mourn the tremendous loss of human life in the past several days.”

A member of the student group Law Students for Justice in Palestine — who requested to remain anonymous due to safety concerns — said the responses from the university administration were “irresponsible” and that Workman should not be punished for their “honest and brave” message. The student also said they believe Workman’s identity as a Black and queer person was a factor that contributed to the “racist” and “violent” responses they received.

“Not only was it true, it was more morally principled than the ridiculous statements that NYU President Mills and NYU Law dean Troy McKenzie put out,” the student wrote to WSN. “If we are all so concerned with the tragic loss of civilian life, as I believe we are, why is it that NYU’s statements are only concerned with the loss of Israeli lives?”

In a written statement to WSN, Rafael Jacobs — president of the student group Law Students Against Anti-Semitism — said what Workman wrote “actively threatened the safety of Jewish students on campus” and agreed with the SBA’s response to the message. 

“I applaud the remaining members of the SBA for condemning the SBA president’s statement,” Jacobs wrote. “It is unfortunate that the SBA president was able to unilaterally make such an appalling statement and it is comforting that it seems that the SBA Board is holding them accountable.”

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Bruna Horvath
Bruna Horvath, News Editor
Bruna Horvath is a sophomore studying journalism and English at CAS. When she’s not a News Editor, she’s a "Gone Girl" enthusiast, a Goodreads lover, and a Barnes & Noble frequenter. You can usually find her ordering an iced mocha, telling people her name is “Bruna” not “Bruno,” or on Instagram @brunaahorvath.
Qianshan Weng
Qianshan Weng, Multimedia Editor
Qianshan Weng is a junior studying Media, Culture and Communication and Journalism. You may pronounce his name as "chi''en-shan", or, if it makes your life easier, just call him "Ben." He grew up in Shenzhen, China, and has spent the last five years or so saying that he wants to learn Cantonese. The answers to the questions "when will he finally start?" and "why is this taking him so long?" remain mysteries, even to himself. You can reach out to him at [email protected]

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