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Muslim lawyer in US denied job for supporting Palestine

26-year-old Jinan Chehade, a graduate of Georgetown University Law School with Moroccan and Lebanese heritage said that she was recently rejected from a job opportunity because of her online advocacy for Palestine. In response, she has filed a discrimination case in court. Chehade shared with an Anadolu reporter that her hometown of Bridgeview, a Chicago suburb known for its significant Arab community, is sometimes referred to as "little Palestine."

Anadolu Agency DIPLOMACY
Published June 11,2024

A US Muslim lawyer said that she was denied a job because of her posts supporting Palestine, and has taken her discrimination case to court.

Jinan Chehade, 26, a graduate of Georgetown University Law School whose mother is Moroccan and father is Lebanese, told an Anadolu reporter that Bridgeview, a suburb of Chicago where she was born and raised, is called "little Palestine" by some due to its large ethnic Arab population.

Emphasizing that she has known about the Palestinian issue since her childhood, Chehade said growing up in Bridgeview "really made me who I am and is the reason I went to law school to begin with."

She added: "I grew up in a very highly politicized community where we were constantly, post-9/11, demonized for being Muslim or being Arab."

Saying she has taken part in demonstrations against what is happening in Gaza since the age of 5, Chehade added that she chose to pursue the legal profession in order to make a difference.

- Support for Palestine branded 'terrorism'

Chehade said that after she was accepted to a job at Foley & Lardner, a leading US law firm, she was summoned for an informational meeting hours before she was due to start working.

"At first, I thought that this would just be an opportunity to tell them about what's happening in Gaza, to tell them that I was worried for my family in Lebanon and my extended family, you know, in Palestine and Gaza.

She continued: "Unfortunately, when I went to the meeting, it was not that environment at all. It was a very hostile environment in which they interrogated me about my social media, related to Palestine, about my advocacy, about even SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) students … about my background and identity."

"So ultimately, they framed my advocacy for Palestine as supporting terrorism, which, as we know, is a very racist smear with no factual backing," she added.

But, she noted, people who openly voice support for Israel are not treated the same way, showing a double standard.

She stated that the decision to withdraw the job offer was "devastating," adding: "That's when I decided to not only speak out but fight back … and pursue a lawsuit … I wanted to set a precedent to show that these law firms cannot discriminate against us without accountability … That people who look like me and people who advocate Palestine cannot be tossed aside simply for speaking up for human rights."

- 'No regrets'

Chehade took her fight against the law firm's discrimination to federal court and said: "I have no regrets about speaking up for Palestine or advocating the way I did.

"I think, especially in this time, silence is complicity and they threaten us."

She added: "The only thing I hope is that we get justice and we make sure that if another attorney or law students wants to speak up for what's going on or speak up for their family, they are not fired and discriminated against in this way.

"So it's important now more than ever that we're on the front lines of speaking out against this genocide. And so I would tell everybody that everybody has a role. We all need to be outspoken about what's happening in Palestine. And we can't give into this fear-mongering that's going on," she explained.

Since this spring, when pro-Palestine protests on US campuses spread quickly, students and others have complained of discrimination and double standards against people who support the Palestinian cause, a trend also seen outside academia.

Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, 2023 attack by Hamas, despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire.

More than 37,000 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and nearly 85,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.