NYU Law Students Say Classmate Losing Job Offer Over Pro-Hamas Statement Is 'Violence'

Ryna Workman said 'Israel bears full responsibility' for Hamas attacks that have killed thousands

(Twitter/Getty Images)
October 17, 2023

New York University law students are rallying behind a student who lost a spot at a white-shoe law firm for defending Hamas, saying the firm’s decision to rescind their offer constitutes "violence."

The Chicago-based Winston & Strawn withdrew its offer of employment to Ryna Workman after the nonbinary NYU student issued a statement claiming "Israel bears full responsibility" for the terrorist attacks that have left more than 1,300 dead, including at least 30 Americans. The firm’s decision is just one instance of "systemic, concentrated violence" Workman has experienced since issuing her anti-Israel pronouncement, according to a letter of support obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter’s signatories, which include the Black Allied Law Students Association and the Women of Color Collective, accuses NYU of being complicit "in the abuses of the Israeli government," and condemns "the broader NYU administration for not protecting Ryna as a student and important member of our community."

Left-wing students and faculty across the country have attacked Israel in the wake of Hamas’s invasion, the largest attack in the Jewish state’s 75-year history. A professor at Cornell University said Hamas’s atrocities were "exhilarating," while a George Washington University professor described the terrorist group as "martyrs." Columbia University Law School’s initial statement on Hamas’s attacks vaguely mentioned "the violence in Israel," though the dean of the law school later condemned "the atrocious terrorist attacks on Israel and innocent civilians by Hamas" after the school’s statement drew criticism.

Workman, who serves as president of NYU Law’s Student Bar Association, on Oct. 10 issued a statement through the group’s newsletter that expressed her "unwavering and absolute solidarity with Palestinians in their resistance against oppression toward liberation and self-determination." Her statement went on to say "Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life."

The letter prompted swift backlash. The Student Bar Association board moved to remove Workman as president, and members of the group rushed to note that they did not "write, approve, or see" Workman’s statement. Winston & Strawn, where Workman worked as a summer associate, released a statement saying her comments "profoundly conflict" with the firm's "values" and revoked her job offer.

The signatories of the letter defending Workman note that she "has been an incredible leader in our community" and cite her habit of making "Halloween goody bags" for students as an example of how she is "an integral part of NYU law."

"We, too, condemn the violence of silence," the letter reads. "We are deeply ashamed of and angry with NYU Law, the NYU Law Board of Trustees, the Office of the Dean, and the broader NYU administration for not protecting Ryna as a student and important member of our community."

The letter claims that "people of color and marginalized communities on campus" may no longer be "safe" on NYU’s campus in light of Hamas’s attack. There have been no recorded incidents of violence against any NYU student.

Speaking to The Intercept Monday, Workman dismissed the blowback to her statement as a "dangerous distraction," and pledged to "continue to speak out for" Palestinians, whose "resilience" she said inspires her.