Two dozen top US law firms have sent a letter to more than 100 law school deans advising them to take an "unequivocal stance" against antisemitism on their campuses, which we assume includes protests opposing the Israeli government's longstanding treatment of Palestinians (who are technically 'semitic'), Bloomberg reports.
The letter, signed by firms including Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Wachtell Lipton Rosen and Katz LLP (which we imagine aren't exactly headed by supporters of Palestine), follows several incidents in which law students saw job offers rescinded over their support of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. In anticipation of Israel's response, protests have broken out across the world - which have only been fueled during retaliatory bombings of Gaza.
Antisemitic incidents have soared since the war began, and the conflict has bitterly divided dozens of campuses, including Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania. Presidents at Harvard, Penn and Columbia University have announced task forces on antisemitism.
At Cornell University, a series of antisemitic incidents culminated in a junior engineering student being charged with making online death threats to Jewish students. A swastika was found drawn in Columbia’s International Affairs building, and videos have circulated of what appears to be Harvard students harassing a Jewish student during an anti-Israel protest. -Bloomberg
"Anti-Semitic activities would not be tolerated at any of our firms. We also would not tolerate outside groups engaging in acts of harassment and threats of violence, as has also been occurring on many of your campuses," reads the letter, written by Joseph SC. Shenker, senior chair of Sullivan & Cromwell, after Jewish law students from top universities contacted him. He then circulated the draft to other firms, which then sent a copy to the various law schools they're associated with.
Jewish students attacked at Harvard. pic.twitter.com/fg5KhjqHTK— Theo Jordan (@Theo_TJ_Jordan) November 1, 2023
When Shenker was asked if law firms will curtail recruiting from schools which have allowed concerning behavior, he said "People can draw their own conclusions. The letter speaks for itself."
"We’re asking the deans to create a safe environment for all their students where one is treated with respect," he continued. "That’s what we require at our firms. I believe the deans are working towards that."
Hours after the Hamas attack last month, over 30 student groups at Harvard blamed Israel - and it was only after former Harvard president Larry Summers spoke up before the school's leadership denounced the attack, claiming that the students don't speak for them.
At New York University, the student bar association president also laid blame on Israel in a post to law students. Law firm Winston & Strawn rescinded an employment offer to that student, who was previously a summer associate, after learning of the “inflammatory” comments. Davis Polk & Wardwell also rescinded job offers to three law students at Harvard and Columbia after organizations they were part of made controversial statements about the Hamas attack. -Bloomberg
"As employers who recruit from each of your law schools, we look to you to ensure your students who hope to join our firms after graduation are prepared to be an active part of workplace communities that have zero tolerance policies for any form of discrimination or harassment, much less the kind that has been taking place on some law school campuses," reads the letter.