American Jewry, antisemitism

Countersuit Filed Against Antisemitic NY Public Defenders’ Union

Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (UAW 2325)

A New York public defenders’ union has become a hotbed of antisemitic rhetoric, in the months following October 7. Now, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, has filed a complaint, accusing the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (UAW 2325) — thought to be the oldest union in the country — of passing an anti-Israel resolution which mention the Hamas atrocities only in passing. Jewish members opposing the resolution have been the subject of a smear campaign. The union subsequently fired formal charges against Jewish members, in an attempt to expel them from among its ranks.

From the Algemeiner:

Antisemitic conduct in the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA) took various forms, the complaint alleges. Members commended Hamas’ violence, chanted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and denied that the terrorist group had murdered women and children. In one incident, someone allegedly asserted that Zionist beliefs would prevent Jewish attorneys from “zealously” defending Muslims, Palestinians, and Arabs and lead them to conspire against them and sabotage their cases.

“If they support Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people, why would they not have a reason to collude with prosecutors and other adversaries to deprive our clients of justice in the courts,” ALAA member Marlen Bodden wrote in an “officewide” email on Nov. 16.

“It is a legitimate question,” Monica Dula responded.

A ranking official attempted to stop the conversation from descending into a pitch and catch of antisemitic tropes, but the idea that Jews would work against their clients had been planted weeks earlier. On Oct. 13, Saara Ashid suggested that a Jewish attorney does not “stand up for Black and Brown folk in the same way,” according to the lawsuit. She added, “I’m starting to worry about all of your clients.”

By Nov. 17, ALAA was scheduled to vote on a resolution that the complaint describes as a “1,147 word diatribe against the existence of the Jewish state, replete with deceitful blood libels designed to arouse the most ancient antisemitic hatreds.” Resolved to stop it from taking place, several Jewish members, accusing the union of breach of contract and fostering a professional culture that would discourage Jews from seeking legal counsel from ALAA affiliated attorneys, sought and were granted a temporary restraining order which delayed the proceeding.

Angered by the ruling, their colleagues allegedly sought to expel them from the union entirely, with one member accusing them “of snitching behavior.” A volley of similar comments were launched in an email thread over the next several days, the lawsuit notes, with Emmanuel Garcia writing “if you are a snitch please do us a favor and kill yourself” and David Tobias commenting “careful, snitches are in this thread, they might snitch on you and air strike your home with your family in it.”

ALAA then moved to file charges against its Jewish members, accusing them of attempting to “interrupt a democratic process on an internal union matter” and violating the union’s “core” mission. The anti-Israel resolution has since been passed and a trial of the members is forthcoming.