Bronx lawyers have criticized a recent anti-Israel proclamation made by the union representing public defenders and lawyers from Legal Aid Society. The newly formed group, Bronx Independent Lawyers for Justice, consisting of at least 45 private attorneys, expressed their outrage at the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, Local 2325, for its “antisemitic and historically inaccurate position” in the proclamation. The lawyers are concerned that this position may impact public perception of the entire defense bar in the Bronx. In response, the group has raised over $8,000 to support the American Friends of Magen David Adom, a nonprofit organization that funds Israeli ambulance and emergency services.
The Bronx Independent Lawyers for Justice described the union’s declaration as “Hamas propaganda” and called on state and city representatives to refrain from funding defense organizations that discriminate against and disparage any region or nationality. They categorically rejected the antisemitism and revisionist history propagated by city and state-funded public defenders. The Local 2325 proclamation, which vehemently opposed the Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, was initially released on October 20. Despite a lawsuit filed by a group of Legal Aid attorneys to block it, the proclamation was ultimately approved by a vote of 1,067-570.
The private attorneys of Bronx Independent Lawyers for Justice believe it is their duty to denounce the union’s stance, which they consider to be outrageous and unprofessional. They emphasized the need to differentiate between long-standing conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis and the actions of radical Hamas terrorists. The lawyers questioned whether even if Israel were an apartheid state that had oppressed Palestinians, it would justify the attack by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the death of 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians.
The proclamation issued by Local 2325 represents lawyers from various public law offices, including the Legal Aid Society and Bronx Public Defenders. The Legal Aid Society denounced and condemned the proclamation, and several of its lawyers have personally expressed their opposition to the union’s stance. The Bronx Defenders also distanced themselves from the proclamation, stating that they did not approve or participate in its drafting or publication.
Officials from the union have not yet commented on the criticism from Bronx lawyers. Overall, lawyers from Bronx Independent Lawyers for Justice are seeking to raise awareness and challenge the union’s stance, while emphasizing that it does not represent the entire defense bar in the Bronx.