NLG STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF RYNA WORKMAN
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) expresses its strongest support for Ryna Workman, NYU law student and elected Student Bar Association (SBA) President, and their statement in support of Palestinian rights, amidst threats of their expulsion & discipline by NYU Law, the revocation of their job offer from Winston & Strawn, LLP, and harassment and doxxing against them by Zionists.
The NLG expresses its strongest condemnation of NYU Law in failing to defend its law students from corporate censorship, doxxing, harassment, and backlash, and for threatening or enacting disciplinary consequences against Ryna Workman instead of their harassers. The NLG calls on NYU Law to immediately cease any disciplinary investigation into Mx. Workman or their statement, apologize for failing to defend them, and publicly defend their right to speak.
The NLG additionally expresses its strongest condemnation of corporate law firm Winston Strawn, LLP, for its discriminatory decision to revoke Ryna Workman’s job offer over Mx. Workman’s solidarity with Palestinians, and calls on allies to refrain from working with Winston Strawn in the future.
On October 10, 2023, following three days of Israel’s ongoing genocidal attack on civilians in Palestine, Mx. Workman published a principled statement as SBA President refusing to issue a one-sided condemnation of Palestinian armed actions, and instead condemned the root causes of the ongoing suffering in Palestine: decades of Israeli military occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and other war crimes.
But following this brave and thoughtful statement, Mx. Workman, a queer person of color, has been relentlessly smeared by an array of right-wing propaganda organizations, internet trolls, and even by fellow classmates. Mx. Workman has been subjected to doxxing and harassment, along with racist and bigoted threats. Winston & Strawn, LLP publicly revoked a job offer to Mx. Workman, alleging that their opposition to Israeli colonization and their support for the Palestinian right to resist were ethically questionable.
Pathetically, NYU Law, through public statements by Dean Troy McKenzie, has refused to defend Mx. Workman and publicly ostracized them. Even more disturbingly, NYU Law has now indicated that it is investigating Mx. Workman and could discipline or expel them.
Notably, NYU Law has refused, when asked, to distance itself from comments by staff members arguing that all Palestinian civilians in Gaza should be treated as “terrorists.” Mx. Workman’s experiences are mirrored by those of prior NYU Law students who, despite sitting through numerous classes, workshops, and conferences making light of serious atrocities, repeatedly experienced discipline or repression when raising criticisms of Israel.
The NLG is fully aware of the role that corporate law firms, elite institutions, and other centers of power have played to promote American war propaganda and discredit opposition to it. The West’s backlash to solidarity with Palestine is emblazoned with insincerity, as U.S. political elites refuse to offer the same solidarity or sympathy to Palestinian resistance as armed groups in Ukraine, and refuse to condemn wholesale, indiscriminate Israeli massacres in Gaza. That the West’s clock of sympathy begins ticking only when Israeli settler society is attacked is as conspicuous as it is discrediting, and it is the responsibility of lawyers not to endorse such propagandistic and selective narratives.
The attack on Ryna Workman comes hand in hand with the smear campaign targeting the rallies for Palestine taking place across the world and U.S. President Joe Biden’s vague yet chilling invocation of “law enforcement” in response to the mass protests in support of the Palestinian people. It is not lost on us that the Israeli military and police have routinely taught American police officers violent tactics to oppress American citizens who dissent.
Attacks on lawyers, law students, and legal workers for speaking out on Palestine are attacks on solidarity itself, and we will not accept them.