International Law

ABA withdraws 2 online statements on Israel-Hamas war

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Two statements on the Israel-Hamas war by ABA President Mary Smith have been withdrawn and are no longer available on the association’s website.

Smith’s statements, published on Oct. 9 and Oct. 17, have been replaced with a one-sentence explanation (here and here) saying they have been “withdrawn.”

An ABA spokesperson told and the ABA Journal that the statements were removed “because they were no longer timely.”

“We recognize the situation is highly charged and we respect the right of our members on all sides to air their views,” the spokesperson said.

Two arbitrators—Richard Ziegler of AcumenADR and Jack P. Levinhad publicly criticized the statements, objecting to Smith’s statements about “all parties” stopping hostilities and the need for “all parties” to uphold international law, including the ban on ethnic cleansing.

Ziegler and Levin said the statement about stopping hostilities was made only 48 hours after the Hamas onslaught, and that international law unquestionably permitted Israel to wage war. They said the Oct. 18 statement wrongly suggested Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing and other war crimes, and wrongly treated the conduct of Israel and Hamas as equivalent under international law.

Ziegler tells the ABA Journal he acted because he found Smith’s statements to be “deeply flawed.”

“I simply couldn’t sit silently by while an organization I had been a member of for decades so woefully fails in discharging its very important mission to educate the public” on important principles of international law, he said.

Ziegler said the draft letter to the ABA that he published on LinkedIn received more than 900 signatures, but he declined to provide the list of co-signers, saying the letter was only a draft.

The president of National Association of Muslim Lawyers, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, issued a press release Nov. 20 that warned the ABA was facing pressure over its previous statements. Mitchell said the ABA “did the right thing when it issued a balanced, fair and accurate statement that affirmed the importance of international legal protections for all civilians and recognized the value of all civilian life, including both Palestinians and Israelis.”

The ABA Journal covered Smith’s first statement in an Oct. 10 story. published much of Smith’s second statement in an Oct. 18 story.

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