Three Ivy League law students who backed anti-Israel letters lose job offers

Three Ivy League law students who backed anti-Israel letters lose job offers
Three  Ivy League law students who backed anti-Israel letters lose job offers

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — An elite law firm has rescinded job offers for three Ivy League students associated with letters expressing support for Palestinians that blamed Israel for the Hamas attacks.

Davis Polk & Wardwell said the views "are in direct contravention of our firm's value system".

It added that student leaders who signed onto the statements are "no longer welcome in our firm".

The students, who have not been named, attend Harvard and Columbia.

However, an email sent by the managing partner, Neil Barr and seen by the BBC, indicates that a door has potentially been left open for a reversal of the decision.

It said the firm was talking to two of the students "to ensure that any further color being offered to us by these students is considered".

The decision on Tuesday by the firm, which employs around 1,000 attorneys and has annual revenues of $1.7bn (£1.4bn). comes as the views taken by US university students about the conflict in the Middle East continue to cause controversy on and off college campuses.

After the 7 October attacks, which left at least 1,400 Israelis dead, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and more than 30 other student groups put out a letter stating: "We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

The backlash was immediate, with some university donors threatening to stop giving money and a Harvard Jewish centre calling the statement antisemitic.

Some of the student groups and leaders named as signatories later distanced themselves, some saying they were unaware of its full contents before it was published.

Others have had their faces featured on billboards that are being driven around the Boston area by conservative group Accuracy in Media.

"We're merely amplifying the messages that the students have put out themselves. If they regret their messages they can apologise and we will take their pictures down," Adam Guillette, the organization's president, told the BBC.

A similar letter, signed by more than 20 student groups at Columbia, read in part: "The weight of responsibility for the war and casualties undeniably lies with the Israeli extremist government and other Western governments."

Both letters were published as a picture of the full scale of the attacks was still developing and before the start of the current Israeli strikes in Gaza, which have reportedly killed more than 3,000 people.

Davis Polk & Wardwell is not the first law firm to revoke a job offer over the statements.

Winston & Strawn withdrew an offer to the former president of the New York University Student Bar Association, Ryna Workman, who wrote to fellow students that "Israel bears full responsibility" for the Hamas attacks.

They said, in a statement, that they were also removed as student body president and have received death threats.

"This attention on one student's email to their fellow law students is entirely misplaced and a dangerous distraction," the statement read.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (Fire) said the current conflict in the Middle East had led to one of the most fraught moments for student free speech in a decade.

"From a legal perspective, corporations have the right to rescind job offers, private citizens can say they never hire anyone from Harvard. But Fire urges pause," Alex Morey, Fire's director of campus rights advocacy, said.

"Do we want to live in a society where everybody has to have one orthodox view to get a job?" — BBC

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