MuBANY's Statement on Recent Events
As a bar association with a history of standing against all acts of hate and violence, MuBANY condemns the killing of innocent civilians in Israel and hopes for the safe return of all hostages. We also deeply mourn the killing of many innocent Palestinians since Hamas’s attack and pray for the end of indiscriminate violence in Gaza. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are affected.
MuBANY recognizes that the dehumanization of Palestinians has led to a deafening silence on the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. By UN estimates, over 1.1 million Gazans have been displaced as of today, many of whom are being denied access to basic needs including water, food, and electricity. We must not lose sight that these conditions have already worsened where hospitals cannot provide care and basic necessities and children are left without nourishment. Respect for human rights, dignity, and international law is among the core values that we all share.
MuBANY members have been impacted by this crisis in several ways, including at the workplace and in institutions of higher education. We are compelled to address the stifling of voices in both contexts. In workplaces, we have seen an alarming increase in intimidation and attempts to suppress views even remotely empathetic to Palestinians and the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire – an atmosphere of fear and ostracization that the Muslim-American community has not experienced since 9/11. At institutions of higher education, which are meant to be bastions for the free exchange of ideas, law students and faculty have felt vilified and deeply uncomfortable following statements from their institutions which have supported exclusionary rhetoric. Many feel silenced, fearing retaliation for exercising their First Amendment rights due to widespread bullying online and offline (including, doxxing, harassment, social media censorship, blacklisting, canceling, disciplinary action, or outright termination from employment). More often than not, anti-Palestinian sentiment is laced with tacit anti-Muslim undertones.
This heightened atmosphere of fear has led to so many of our concerns being realized. This past weekend, we witnessed a horrific anti-Muslim hate crime in Chicago. MuBANY expresses its deep sadness and horror over the brutal murder of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American child, and the critical injuring of his mother by their landlord. Before stabbing the child 26 times, the landlord purportedly yelled, “You Muslims must die!” Soon after this attack, a Sikh teen was assaulted on a bus in New York City and allegedly told, “We don't wear that in this country,” referring to his turban. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sikh community who are often targeted as the mistaken subjects of Islamophobia.
We must remember that the reckless depiction of the events that have occurred can have real life consequences, often for minority and marginalized communities. We urge our leaders and institutions to be mindful of the increase in hate crimes, violence, and marginalization, which are contrary to the American values to which we adhere. As the Muslim community knows far too well from the early 2000s, a rise in anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, and reckless rhetoric only encourages veiled and explicit Islamophobia and further endangers our communities.
As institutions push to champion diversity, we must not arbitrarily punish those who advocate for the protection of Palestinian human rights. Institutions should make clear that the targeting of their students and/or employees for being members of pro-Palestinian organizations is unacceptable and such affiliations are not by themselves anti-Semitic. Such tactics of intimidation and harassment will only silence perspectives that serve as beacons of diversity in our multicultural and multiethnic society. In many of our institutions, our Muslim colleagues advise human resources and business functions about the norms and cultural practices of our clients, or bring a unique perspective to the classroom and public discourse. We call upon employers and law schools to foster safe spaces for constructive dialogue, empathy, and support. We encourage employers who have concerns about the positions taken by their employees, to engage those employees. Employers should provide an opportunity for dialogue and avoid punitive and career-ending measures. We also call upon leaders to promote messaging that acknowledges that many of their members may also be devastated by the loss of Palestinian lives, and support them with resources to navigate this unprecedented time.
MuBANY recognizes that this heightened atmosphere has an impact for many communities, including the Jewish community. MuBANY stands with leaders of the legal community who promote humanity and call out all acts of injustice, including Mary Smith, the President of the American Bar Association, who recently condemned “the rise in antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia that we have seen in public discourse.”
We also remind the community-at-large that your Palestinian and Muslim colleagues are also grieving. Indeed, many individuals have family members who have been killed or displaced, or know someone who has been affected by recent events. Please check in with your colleagues, clients, faculty, and students and remind them that they are not alone.
Open and meaningful dialogue is a necessary catalyst for change and peace. In the coming weeks and months, MuBANY will host events to foster dialogue to increase our collective understanding and to encourage listening, empathy, and solidarity during this time of divisiveness.
Verily, with hardship comes ease. (Quran 94:5)