Home>Education/Schools>Arizona Law School Group Pens Scorching Anti-Israel Letter

At least 100,000 people demonstrated in London in solidarity with Palestinians, Oct. 29, 2023. (Photo: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr)

Arizona Law School Group Pens Scorching Anti-Israel Letter

NLG at UA, joined by ASU blames ‘genocide’ on ‘Zionist, settler colonial project’

By Ken Kurson, November 9, 2023 6:38 am

A leading law school group at the University of Arizona just put out a statement regarding the violence in the Middle East that, even by the recent standards of American universities, is striking in its absolutism in favor of Palestine and condemnation of Israel.

The letter is titled “National Lawyers Guild at the University of Arizona Resolutely and Unapologetically Supports the Decolonization of Palestine.”

The first sentence reads “Human freedom demands the end of colonization, imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and cisheteropatriarchy.”

And from there, it actually gets more strident.

“The path towards peace means liberation and decolonization. Palestine—by which we mean all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the borders of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt—is occupied by a Zionist, settler colonial project that refers to itself as Israel. Our use of the name ‘Israel’ is not meant to lend legitimacy to said project.”

Last night, the Arizona Globe reached out to Mia Burcham, who is listed as an officer of the National Lawyers Guild at the University of Arizona. The Globe also reached out to Student leaders at the ASU branch of NLG, including Co-President Lyth Shahin and Outreach Coordinator Timmy Basista. This story will updated if they choose to respond.

The letter goes on to take shots at the university’s president, Robert C. Robbins, who has won praise as a rare voice in academia willing to unequivocally condemn anti-semitism on his university campus.

In the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, the National chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine called for a “Day of Resistance” using posters featuring a paraglider to celebrate the Hamas terrorists who had mutilated, shot and burned alive more than 1400 civilians in Israel and taken hostage hundreds more, including Americans. SJP didn’t simply use an ugly and cruel image; in its “toolkit” for the Day of Resistance, SJP declared support for Hamas, a group that is officially labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

A snippet from the letter ‘National Lawyers Guild at the University of Arizona Resolutely and Unapologetically Supports the Decolonization of Palestine.’

Robbins said, “The national organization [of Students for Justice in Palestine] has made statements endorsing the actions of Hamas in Israel, which are, of course, antithetical to our university’s values. … I want to be clear that SJP is not speaking on behalf of our university.”

In a fit of chutzpah, the UA’s SJP canceled its planned pro-Palestine rally, writing, “Due to President Robbins’ inflammatory letter, we no longer feel safe holding our rally on campus.”

As Arizona Republic editorialist Phil Boas wrote: “Wrap your mind around that. The SJP students didn’t feel safe to celebrate the mass murder of Jews.”

The National Lawyers Guild letter specifically addresses Robbins by name, saying “We condemn the language utilized by President Robert C. Robbins and the attacks he made by calling our movement ‘objectionable or hateful.’”

It is striking that future lawyers in particular would compose a letter so stridently anti-Israel, even compared to the wave of anti-Israel sentiment currently in vogue on American college campuses. Recently, two dozen prominent Wall Street law firms sent an unprecedented memo to the nation’s top law schools warning that they will be paying attention in future hiring to the views expressed publicly during law school by applicants. The mega firms signing the letter include Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Debevoise & Plimpton, and Kirkland & Ellis. Another firm that signed, Davis Polk & Wardwell, already rescinded job offers  made to three students who belonged to organizations at Harvard and Columbia that blamed Israel for the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

The NLG letter, with its expressions of agreement in wiping Israel from the world map — it explicitly embraces “from the river to the sea,” the anti-Israel chant that got congresswoman Rashida Talib censured, but goes further still in putting the word “Israel” in quotes as though the country doesn’t even really exist – makes clear that its signatories find themselves purely on the side of the angels in this long-running dispute.

One graduate of the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona who did not want his name used told the Globe that he had been in touch with a classmate about the letter. “I went to law school with a girl who lives in Tucson now.” He says she told him, “Admin is freaking out about it.”

There’s a call to arms at the end of the letter, cajoling those who read the letter to “Join us on November 9th for a demonstration beginning at the College of Law courtyard at 12 pm.”

In addition to the NLG chapters at AU and ASU, the statement is endorsed by Students for Justice in Palestine, the Latino Law Students Association, South Asian Law Students Association, Environmental Law Society, Justice Advocates Coalition, and several individual law students from the classes of 2024, 2025, and 2026.

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Ken Kurson
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