NYU Law Student Bar Association President Loses Job Offer After Blaming Israel for Hamas Terror Attack

Workman’s newsletter was met with pushback from NYU.
October 12, 2023
NYU Law School (PointsofNoReturn/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

New York University (NYU) Law’s Student Bar Association (SBA) president is facing widespread criticism and apparently lost a job offer at a law firm for stating in a newsletter that Israel was to blame for Saturday’s Hamas terror attack.

The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg shared a screenshot of the newsletter on X, formerly known as Twitter. SBA President Ryna Workman, who uses they/them pronouns, stated in the newsletter that they have “unwavering and absolute solidarity with Palestinians in their resistance against oppression toward liberation and self-determination.” “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life,” Workman wrote. “This regime of state-sanctioned violence created the conditions that made resistance necessary. I will not condemn Palestinian resistance.”

Workman said they are instead condemning “the violence of apartheid” as well as “settler colonialism,” “military occupation,” and “trapping thousands in an open-air prison.” “Palestine will be free,” Workman’s newsletter concluded.

“The elected student president of the NYU Law School Bar Association just sent out a message refusing to condemn Hamas’s mass slaughter and effectively cheerleading it,” Rosenberg posted on X. “Imagine being a Jewish student at NYU Law School who doesn’t know if their kidnapped grandmother is alive and seeing the head of your equivalent of the student council saying ‘grandma had it coming.’”

The Winston & Strawn LLP law firm announced in a statement posted to social media that “a former associate published certain inflammatory comments regarding Hamas’ recent terrorist attack on Israel and distributed it to the NYU Student Bar Association.” “These comments are profoundly in conflict with Winston & Strawn’s values as a firm,” the law firm continued. “Accordingly, the Firm has rescinded the law student’s offer of employment.” Workman’s LinkedIn account, which appears to have been deleted, reportedly stated that Workman was a summer associate at Winston and Strawn.

Winston & Strawn added: “As communicated yesterday to all Winston personnel, we remained outraged and deeply saddened by the violent attack on Israel over the weekend. Our hearts go out to our Jewish colleagues, their families, and all those affected.”

Workman’s newsletter was met with pushback from NYU. “Some of you may have seen a message from the president of the Student Bar Association regarding the horrific conflict in Israel and Gaza,” NYU Law Dean Troy McKenzie said in a statement. “This message was not from NYU School of Law as an institution and 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. The attack on Israel and the subsequent and ongoing hostilities have made this a period of extreme pain and distress for many members of our community.  Since the weekend, I have worked with administrators to provide support to students, faculty, and alumni who have been affected by this crisis.”

NYU is also distancing itself from Workman’s newsletter, as NYU spokesman John Beckman told The New York Post: “Acts of terrorism are immoral. 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 said in a statement on Tuesday that they “did not write, approve, or see” Workman’s statement 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 SBA said. “The ‘Message from the President’ reflects their personal views and does not represent the views of SBA as an organization or any of its officers. Under the SBA Constitution, our directive is “[t]o provide an effective medium for the expression of student’s views,” and we regret that today’s Message distracted from this mission.”

The SBA added that they have begun the process to remove Workman from her position and they will be holding a hearing sometime between October 17-24 on the matter.

They also said: “As a result of today’s statements, multiple students have received significant targeted harassment and death threats. We are horrified by these vile personal attacks and threats to students’ safety. The doxxing of any NYU Law student is unacceptable and disturbing. We urge NYU Law’s administration to do more to protect students’ privacy and safety in the face of targeted harassment.”

Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY) denounced Workman’s newsletter in a post on X. “If you are speaking to an Israeli mother whose child has been beheaded, I cannot think of anything more callous and cruel than telling a grieving mother: you had it coming. You and your people brought the beheading upon yourselves,” Torres wrote. “That is essentially what the President of the NYU Law Student Bar Association has done.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center also posted on X, “Whatever happened to personal responsibility for our actions, the rule of law, basic human decency. Providing cover for the #HamasTerrorist murderers of babies? Should be beyond the pale but for some not when it comes to Israelis.”

Workman did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

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