A New York University Law School student and student bar association president who blamed Israel after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on the country, which killed more than 1,400 people, and whose job offer from an international law firm was rescinded because of their statements refused to back off their remarks in an exclusive interview with ABC News.
Ryna Workman, who uses the pronouns they/them, told ABC News that they felt speaking out was a matter of standing up for "Palestinian human rights," despite the backlash the comments garnered.
"I will continue to speak up for Palestinian human rights and use whatever platform I have available to me to call for a ceasefire and end this occupation that's harming the Palestinians," Workman told ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis on Tuesday.
Asked if they would change anything about their statement or condemn Hamas, Workman stood their ground.
"I think what I use my platform for, and who I condemn was pretty clear by my message," Workman told ABC News. "I think I will continue to condemn apartheid and military occupation."
Davis also asked "Do you condemn Hamas' actions on Oct. 7?" In response, Workman said "I think what I use my platform for and who I condemn was pretty clear by my message."
And Davis asked several times if there was room for empathy for the Israelis who died.
"I will continue to use my voice to uplift the voices of Palestinians and the struggles they're going through," Workman said.
"I think whether or not my empathy goes to Israelis or to Palestinians is really not the question here. What the question is, is will we call for an end to this genocide and will we call for a cease fire?"
On Oct. 10, just three days after the Hamas attack, Workman wrote a statement in the law school's student bar association's weekly newsletter, signed as the president of the association, supporting the Palestinian people and laying blame on Israel.
"This week, I want to express, first and foremost, my unwavering and absolute solidarity with Palestinians in their resistance against oppression toward liberation and self-determination," Workman wrote in their statement. "Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life. This regime of state-sanctioned violence created the conditions that made resistance necessary."
After Workman sent their statement, members of the NYU community quickly denounced them for blaming Israel for the attack and not the terrorists. Hamas was labeled a terrorist group by the State Department in 1997.
"Acts of terrorism are immoral," NYU's spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News. "The indiscriminate killing of civilians and hostage-taking, including children and the elderly, is reprehensible. Blaming victims of terrorism for their own deaths is wrong."
Soon after Workman's original statement, their job offer with the law firm Winston & Strawn was rescinded and they were removed as student bar association president. The law firm and NYU sent ABC News statements citing Workman's message as the reason for their actions.
"While those consequences were devastating for me, I think that at that moment, and continuously, I'm still focused on the devastation that's happening in Gaza right now," Workman told ABC News.
Other pro-Palestinian students in colleges and universities around the country have faced blowback for what critics call a lack of empathy for the victims of the Hamas attack, including the more than 200 hostages taken by the group.
After multiple student groups at Harvard University, led by the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, released a statement on the day of the attack saying Israel was "entirely responsible for all unfolding violence," a backlash was sparked on campus from Jewish student groups. The president of the university said in a statement on Oct. 10 that the student group's letter did not speak for the university.
Also in the wake of the statement, billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and other CEOs reportedly called for the release of the names of students within those organizations so they could avoid hiring them. A doxxing truck drove near the campus revealing the names and pictures of the groups' leaders and labeling them antisemitic.
Workman posted on social media that they will participate in a national student walkout on Wednesday for the end of the siege on Gaza by Israel. As of Wednesday, at least 6,500 have died in Gaza as a result of Israel's retaliatory strikes, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Those figures cannot be independently verified.
"I think this walkout is an opportunity for students to find their voice again," Workman said. "And to feel the collective power that their voice has when they walk out not only with the students at their institution like we'll be doing at NYU, but with students across the country."
Editor's note: This story has been updated for clarity.
ABC News' Armando Garcia and Victoria Moll Ramirez contributed to this report.
NYU law student who blamed Israel after Hamas attack defends remarks originally appeared on abcnews.go.com