I am an asylum attorney. I am also Jewish. In my role as a lawyer, I represent many Muslims and many people from the Middle East, including Palestinians. Today, I want to discuss what it means to be a Jewish attorney representing Palestinian asylum seekers during this time of conflict.

I'd like to start with a message I recently received from one of my Palestinian clients, about his family in Gaza.

For context, this client had worked against extremism and fears harm from Hamas if he returns to Gaza. We were emailing about how the current war could impact his asylum case. Here is my client's email (posted with his permission)--

My family is still alive, struggling to find clean water, bread and food, and have been out of electricity for 34 days, but they are still alive. My father-in-law lost 14 members of his relatives, seven of whom were children. My in-laws have managed to flee Gaza through the Rafah Border with Egypt and are now refuging in Cairo.

I appreciate you breaking down how the developing situation may affect my case depending on where things stand by the time my court hearing date comes. I am also very doubtful that Hamas will be eliminated, and even if they are eliminated in the north, what about in the south? They are there too, and Israel knows it. Is Israel going to do the same thing in the south, force civilians to flee to god knows where so that they can eliminate Hamas? The situation is already catastrophic, the Gaza strip is destroyed and the conditions are unbearable already. The only thing left is just to wipe off everybody and we have already seen entire families completely wiped off (the relatives of my father-in-law is just a small example, and by the way they were located in the south when they were bombed). Look, the attack that was launched by Hamas and the killing of innocent civilians, mainly at the music festival were horrific, barbaric and are absolutely unjustified. No good human being could agree and/or accept the killing of innocent, unarmed civilians. On the other hand, what the Israeli army and air forces are doing in Gaza right now is just 10 times worse than what Hamas did. I am right now afraid I will lose my entire family to one of these airstrikes. Last week a bomb fell on a house near my family's house and it killed 27 people from the same family, many of whom were women and children. As soon as I heard where the strike was, I called my father. He picked up and told me that he was out there helping other people dig out [bodies] from under the rubble. The bombed house was less than 50 meters away from [my] family's. My father is a retired medical doctor. He went there to see if he could be of any help, but unfortunately, there were no survivors. Sorry for this long paragraph, I just felt the need to give you an idea of what is going on, and what my family is going through right now.

This is incredibly heart breaking.

I have also been in contact with people on the Israeli side. For example, a counselor at my children's summer camp was murdered at the music festival on October 7. His name is Ilay, and he would have turned 24 earlier this month. He was remembered as "kindhearted, charming, and empathetic," and for "his warm smile and his sense of humor." Ilay was someone who you could talk to "about anything and he’d listen intently, completely invested in every word." "Ilay’s perspective on life seemed far beyond his young age; he knew how to let the little things go and focus on what’s important." "Ilay loved to surf and was looking forward to starting university, where he planned to study business and entrepreneurship." His cousin remembers that Ilay was like a big brother. She states that--

Their family is shattered over his death: “I saw my grandfather cry for the first time. His first grandchild, his pride and joy, was murdered.” Instead of looking forward to what the future holds together, Arbel, Ilay’s girlfriend of 6.5 years and his high school sweetheart, must now face it without him.

When the attack at the music festival began, Ilay "took cover with several others." Understanding that they were cornered, he "tried to stop the terrorists with his bare hands." "It comes as no surprise to those who knew him that Ilay’s final act was one of heroism." "In doing so, he saved the lives of 3 women."

This is also a heartbreaking story. And of course, there are many, many more just like these.

As an attorney, it is my duty to try to assist Palestinian asylum seekers like my client. I do not do this work in spite of the conflict. I do it because of the conflict. By treating my Palestinian clients with respect and doing my best to help them, I hope I am also helping to heal the division between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Muslims and Jews.

I recognize that my clients and I represent just one small piece of a much larger story, but it is my piece of the story and it is not insignificant, at least not to my clients or me. And so I will continue to do my part to help repair this damaged world one case at a time, one person at a time, one relationship at a time.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com