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Students lose job offers over Palestinian support


A prestigious law firm reportedly rescinded job offers for three students it said led groups at elite universities that expressed support for the Palestinian people and blamed Israel for the deadly October 7 Hamas attack .

Neil Barr, managing partner of Davis Polk & Wardwell, said in an email to staff that he had rescinded job offers for three law students in leadership positions at Harvard University groups and of Columbia who had issued statements, Reuters reported.

“These statements are simply contrary to our company values ​​and we have therefore concluded that rescinding these offers is appropriate to fulfill our responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive work environment for all Davis Polk employees,” Barr wrote in the email.

The students were not identified, but two held leadership positions in Colombian groups who signed a letter saying responsibility for the war and the victims “undeniably lies with the extremist Israeli government,” while that the other was affiliated with Harvard’s Palestine solidarity groups, The New York Times reported. More than 30 Harvard groups signed a statement that held the “Israeli regime fully responsible for all of the violence that is taking place.”

On October 7, Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the long-blockaded Gaza Strip, shooting people dead and taking some 200 captives to Gaza. Since then, Israel has bombed the territory and also cut off the supply of food, medicine, water and electricity.

Harvard University students rally to show support for Palestinians in Gaza in Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 14, 2023. A leading law firm has rescinded job offers for student members of groups that posted statements criticizing Israel over the current war.
Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Davis Polk said he was reconsidering the decision regarding two of the students, who fought their dismissals and argued they did not authorize their statements, but no decision has been made, according to The temperature.

Barr told the newspaper that the company did not want employees who supported the Hamas attack working for it.

News week contacted Davis Polk, Harvard and Columbia for comment via email.

Gaza’s health ministry said Israeli airstrikes killed at least 2,278 people in the territory, before an explosion at a hospital killed at least 500 more, the Associated Press reported. More than 1,400 Israelis were killed, mostly civilians, in the Hamas attack on October 7.

Since then, college campuses across the country have seen tensions rise as students stage protests to express solidarity with Palestinians and criticize Israeli airstrikes in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Davis Polk’s decision comes after another law firm, Winston & Strawn, rescinded a job offer it made to Ryna Workman, a New York University student and president of the association of the university’s student bar.

In an online newsletter, Workman expressed “his unwavering and absolute solidarity with the Palestinians in their resistance” and blamed Israel for “this enormous loss of life.”

“What motivates me is the resilience of the Palestinians right now,” Workman told The Intercept. “The fact that they’re still using their voice, they’re still strong, they’re still here and they’re asking us to continue to speak out and show up for them through this situation and not let this will be their end.”

Meanwhile, powerful donors have reportedly pressured universities to denounce students who have criticized Israel, while others have ended their relationships with universities.

The Wexner Foundation has severed ties with Harvard, while the University of Pennsylvania has lost one of its largest donors over what it sees as insufficient condemnation of the Hamas attack by the leadership. ‘university.

And after a negative reaction to the statement signed by Harvard students, Harvard President Claudine Gay issued a statement on October 10 condemning “the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas.” Gay said students have the right to speak for themselves, but do not speak on behalf of Harvard or its leaders. »

Penn President Liz Magill sent a message to the university community Sunday, calling the Hamas violence a “terrorist” attack for the first time.

Others have demanded that universities release the names of members of student groups who have signed statements critical of Israel so that companies know not to hire them.

“A number of CEOs have asked me if Harvard would publish a list of the members of each of the Harvard organizations that published the letter attributing full responsibility for the heinous acts of Hamas to Israel, in order to ensure (sic) that no of us inadvertently hires one of our members,” hedge fund manager Bill Ackman wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

newsweek-bbc

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