To post or not to post, that is the question.

Shakespeare Martineau has defended its CEO after she appeared to support controversial comments posted by an associate on the networking platform.

Many firms have chosen to stay silent on the Israel-Palestine crisis when the alternative risks alienating staff and clients if the messaging is perceived to be more favourable to one side than the other.

But Shakespeare Martineau appeared to take a less cautious approach when Sarah Walker-Smith, its Chief Executive, lent her support to a real estate disputes solicitor at the firm posting about the plight of the Palestinians.

“I have struggled to find the words during the past two months, to post on this particular platform, regarding the devastating aggression being currently perpetrated against the world’s most oppressed nation - Palestine 🇵🇸”, wrote Selica Khan.


“When I studied WW2 and the holocaust at A Level, my inner voice told me I would never stay silent in the face of such injustice”, she said, thanking “all my connections who are posting about the genocide and injustice in Gaza tirelessly and unwaveringly”.

Khan’s post comprised a gallery of images which, she said, summarised the sentiments she wished to express.

“You cannot take a neutral stance on genocide”, one of the images stated. Another instructed people who were wary of expressing an opinion because “both sides are at fault” to “get educated”.

They also declared “I stand with Palestine” while the most controversial image bore the slogan, “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free”, which critics regard as a call to extinguish Israel from the map.


“Selica, thank you for sharing this”, Walker-Smith responded.

“You don’t need to be educated about the background to be able to call for an immediacy [sic] ceasefire, as there is no justification for the killing of innocent people whatever the background and history of any conflict”, she said.


The visibility of her position was praised by Somaya Ouazzani, the CEO of legal recruiter Mimoza Fleur, who described how lawyers were being censored for expressing pro-Palestine views on the conflict.

“Sarah Walker-Smith you are without fail one of the very few law firm leaders that is bold enough, just enough and wise enough to have commented in the way you have”, said Ouazanni.

Ouazanni said that pro-Palestinian lawyers were looking to leave firms which prevented them from expressing their views.

“I have kept a confidential tally of the number of lawyers that have approached me of late wanting to extricate themselves from their firms because of the censorship, the lack of understanding, absence of compassion, silencing. I have had smart, educated, free thinking lawyers tell me that their managing partners have called them up asking them to unlike a post, or called into a meeting with HR and reported to the Law Society because they’ve “liked” a post that had condemned what they are witnessing in Gaza. You deserve a standing ovation! 👏”

Walker-Smith replied, “I am both saddened and amazed to read this. I do understand many leaders are scared of saying the wrong thing and I would put myself in that camp as well but I think it’s better we try to speak out, even if we get our words slightly wrong, then say nothing at all - leadership isn’t a spectator sport. Just wish I could do more for everyone hurting from this terrible crisis”.

Shakespeare Martineau told RollOnFriday its CEO hadn't realised what she was endorsing.

“Sarah does not profess to be an expert on the issues and her comments clearly indicate she is in a learning process – in no way does she advocate hate of any kind and was unaware of some of the images in the original post", said a spokesperson.

"Sarah is looking to show compassion to all of those experiencing hurt because of the conflict", they said.

The firm also appears to have had a word with its assocate about amending her post. “We advocate for free speech and respectful dialogue, but we are aware that there are some phrases that cause offense and after conversations with our team member the post has been edited", said the firm's spokesperson.

Khan's post is now prefaced with a note clarifying that "Since making this post it has been brought to my attention that one of the pages in this carousel contains the phrase "from the river to the sea" - this was included in error when I copied it from Instagram. The rest of the carousel does summarise the points I wanted to make - but that slide in particular, and how it could be interpreted, is not reflective of my views ✌ 🙌".


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Anonymous 08 December 23 09:58

From a legal perspective, you would not want to support the side which has been in breach of international law and has been committing human rights violations for over 70 years. That and killing thousands of children by dropping bombs designed to collapse buildings on top of them.

Anon 08 December 23 10:16

Shouldn’t support people who rape torture and murder young women and girls . Then hold the ones not killed as hostages for continued rape & torture….

Anon 08 December 23 10:27

There’s nothing particularly controversial is any of these messages. The one picture that could be misinterpreted has been addressed- fail to see the issue?

Also anon at 10:16 who are you referring to?! And who posted support for those groups?

Anon 08 December 23 10:39

I can't see the issue with the post or the CEO's comments. They just want the killing and bloodshed to end. Doesn't any decent human want the same?

Heh 08 December 23 10:57

If only law firms always took the same approach to The Current Thing of saying nothing at risk of alienating their clients/fee earners.

Lawyers do law. Concentrate on that. Things aren't going to change because Partner X at Rinse Em LLP says she's "had enough" and "can't stay silent any longer".

Shut up and justify your increased hourly rate. Are you billing me for your linkedin shenanigans?

Golf and waffles 08 December 23 11:02

Top drawer support from the CEO. Say what you want about their leadership but other firms should take note. Whatever your views firms are nothing without their people and people shouldn’t be censored if what they are saying is not illegal!!!

Anon 08 December 23 11:02

Israel is an occupier, coloniser state, which has murdered thousands of innocent civilians a in a short time span, and is issuing illegal methods of warfare.
It’s extremely tragic and dystopian that we are living in a time where intelligent people are being silenced like this.

Anonymous 08 December 23 11:06

"Sarah does not profess to be an expert on the issues" - but was nevertheless happy to run her mouth off about them to the biggest audience she could find. Chat poop, get bopped.

Anon143 08 December 23 11:08

It's not controversial to speak out against a modern military funded with billions of western taxes using their artillery to bomb / besiege farmers.

Bibi 08 December 23 11:26

The average age of all the thousands massacred in Gaza: 5 years. No one cares.

Weaponization of a slogan which calls for those subject to apartheid to be free from apartheid and have equal citizenship alongside Jewish people: everyone loses their shit.

Truly dystopian.

Anon 08 December 23 11:30

Well done to Shakespeare Martineau and the leadership team. While others refuse to take a stand, and refuse to acknowledge the genocide taking place, I congratulate you on your humanity.

Anonymous 08 December 23 11:35

“…while the most controversial image bore the slogan, “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free”, which critics regard as a call to extinguish Israel from the map….”

Errr… it’s not only critics who say this - it’s actually Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad themselves that say this is what it means and it’s in their charter. They also happen to be trying to do exactly that…

Anonymous 08 December 23 11:36

All the people above tutting that it’s not a story that the ceo has been put back in her box. Ha!

Anonymous 08 December 23 11:55

Absolutely nothing but support meant from SHMA CEO in her comments. Never afraid to speak out.

Anonymous 08 December 23 11:57

“Anon 08 December 23 10:16

Shouldn’t support people who rape torture and murder young women and girls . Then hold the ones not killed as hostages for continued rape & torture….”

What a twisted narrative you are telling to justify the killing of innocent civilians (mostly children) in their tens of thousands. Shame on you.

Lawyers misinterpret 08 December 23 12:07

Sorry but how is from the river to the sea calling for the erasure of Israel. Surely to be free means not being blockaded in to a small box of land and bombed to kingdom come.

People need to get a grip. “Kim, there are people dying” well done to the CEO for having a backbone. Maybe why they are actually doing well in this climate.

Anonymous 08 December 23 12:12

"praised by Somaya Ouazzani, the CEO of legal recruiter Mimoza Fleur" - who has become an intriguingly vocal presence on LinkedIn since the start of the conflict. Going from an occasional "as a woman..." and "as a hard working mum..." type contributor to a one-woman news bulletin who posts about Gaza multiple times a day, every day, and is unfailingly up to the minute in adopting all of the latest anti-Israel lines that come out of the 'Free Palestine' media machine. It's a remarkable level of commitment that must be almost equivalent to a second job. So very little surprise to see her making a cameo here to amplify this kind of 'controversial' messaging.

Anonymous 08 December 23 12:25

How anybody can fail to see that this is genocide is beyond me! Khan's comments are very brave and spot on. Happy to see a reputable firm take a strong stance on such a topic.

Unanimous 08 December 23 12:26

What’s being said here is unanimously agreed by most decent people. Killing 16000 plus people and 7000 babies should be the point when every leader needs to speak up or stay silent forever. They found the courage to speak with Ukraine so need to be consistent

Anonymous 08 December 23 12:27

We are supposed to be living in a “free country”. Why do people get so insulted by the words of others? But not so insulted by the killing of humans? A phrase like “from the river to the sea” causes so much upset when it is clearly calling for freedom but the killing of humans doesn’t seem to have the same affect on people. The world has gone mad.

Anonymous 08 December 23 12:33

I see nothing but positive support from a company CEO to an employee who is clearly impacted by world events- well done SHMA. There should be more of this.

Crazies everywhere 08 December 23 12:33

“It's a remarkable level of commitment that must be almost equivalent to a second job. So very little surprise to see her making a cameo here to amplify this kind of 'controversial' messaging.”

It is like a second job but one she isn’t getting paid for unlike the Israeli propaganda trolls. Nothing she has said is factually inaccurate and if bringing attention to people (mainly children) being killed offends you- maybe you should go outside and touch some grass.

I think she’s hurting and using her platform for good. Same as the OP and CEO

Anonymous 08 December 23 12:50

Hey Lawyers Misrepresent, maybe do a little basic research on the phrase to understand where it comes from and who uses it, and why they do.

Anonymous 08 December 23 12:54

Frankly, anyone who wants to be vocal about demanding a ceasefire, without including at least some reference to the fact that a release of the 07 October hostages would be the best first step in that direction, is a bit suspect to me.

Like, do you really want an end to the violence? Or do you just want Israel to stop fighting back and to start offering up concessions to terrorists already (and effectively reward them for engaging in terrorism)? Because if it's the former then I fail to see how an immediate release of hostages can't be the foremost demand in your mind.

So it's very odd how infrequently it comes up amongst those who say a ceasefire is what they want.

Somaya Ouazzani 08 December 23 13:10

Credit to this platform for publishing this piece. It is the right time for firms to be speaking about this. However, this piece does miss both dimensions of this conversation. The other equally important aspect to this - as I discussed in a post I published on LinkedIn two weeks ago (and linked below), many Jewish lawyers feel isolated and marginalised and unable to share how they feel. Proper thought and attention needs to be given to this issue because it's not going to go away.


Crazies everywhere 08 December 23 13:21

Comment at 12:54 I think you would benefit from reading the OP and educating yourself on the conflict. Perhaps then you wouldn’t be so condescending and misinformed whilst peddling the same bland rhetoric that most of the sane people are no longer buying.

Israel isn’t worried about the hostages otherwise they could have been more strategic to bring them home. Instead they have bombed indiscriminately and took out a number of their own people as collateral damage.

Israel also have thousands of Palestinians including children detained. Do you condemn that? Do you condemn collective punishment? or do you just sit on the internet saying all lives matter but actually only certain lives?

In the modern age where the internet exists, it’s a wonder people can peddle such nonsense. Also not every post needs to be prefaced with apologies and condemnation of the 7oct. The death on one side is heavily disproportionate and you clearly can’t tell who is the terrorist and oppressor!

Anon 08 December 23 13:22

Strange how every ROF article involving Israel/Palestine gets a stream of basically pro-Hamas comments underneath it… all probably from the same individual.

Lydia 08 December 23 13:37

I am in favour of free speech. I support Israel in this but know some people take a different view (the wrong view) but hopefully they will come round to support Israel in due course. These is always hope.

Deluded 08 December 23 13:37

“ Frankly, anyone who wants to be vocal about demanding a ceasefire, without including at least some reference to the fact that a release of the 07 October hostages would be the best first step in that direction, is a bit suspect to me.”

Do you think if they released the hostages that Israel would stop bombing the f out of them? Why are they doing the same to the West Bank which isn’t controlled by hummus and which has no hostages? You don’t read much do you?

If you have a law degree you clearly went to some crappy polytechnic that hands them out like smarties because you’re clearly incapable of critical thinking

ScoobySnacks 08 December 23 14:42

Now this is how you govern. 👏

It is all about supporting staff and knowing that morality has a place in what you do. It is so refreshing to see this.

Well done to Selica Khan for her post, Sarah and Somaya for their support.

The other posts on supporting Israel in its campaign of ACTUALLY forcing babies, disabled people, the elderly and the rest to places around Gaza, bombing them as they go- history has a place for people who do this. Social media will never let the victims story be forgotten.

Robert Horwitz 08 December 23 15:55

Beautiful example of true leadership. We don't always agree on everything but this is an issue we cannot stay silent on - never again should always mean never again.

Shed Singer 08 December 23 15:58

There is nothing principled about having compassion. Nor is it evidence of leadership to express an opinion. However it is not leadership to express views and opinions on complex, nuanced and contentious and seemingly intractable issues based on disputes and conflicts that go back centuries. You only need to see the comments to realise how divisive this subject is. Everyone has views and opinions but commercial social media is not the place for poorly informed and written soundbites. However well meaning they devalue the subject and just lead to polarised exchanges at a very simplistic level

Anonymous 08 December 23 16:03

2Do you think if they released the hostages that Israel would stop bombing the f out of them? Why are they doing the same to the West Bank which isn’t controlled by hummus and which has no hostages?"

Well, there was no bombing the day before the hostages were taken, so I think it's probably worth a try...

Also, and I think you might just be trolling here, there is no equivalent military campaign ongoing in the West Bank. A remarkable coincidence given the absence of hostage taking by the PLO. Possibly worth releasing the hostages in Gaza to see if the two things might have some causal relation.

Anonymous 08 December 23 16:04

"It is like a second job but one she isn’t getting paid for unlike the Israeli propaganda trolls."

So you think that she's acting just like a paid actor? But you're sure she isn't getting paid.

I'll take your word for it.

Anonymous 08 December 23 16:11

@Crazies - "I think you would benefit from reading the OP and educating yourself on the conflict."

Is there any form of education that is going to disabuse me of the notion that there was no bombing of the Gaza strip on 06 October, but a great deal of it on 08 October? Will that same rigorous curriculum assist me in understanding why I should not consider the events of 07 October to be the most significant factor in that remarkable discrepancy between the two dates?

Please help me to understand what this 'education' is going to tell me that will help me to understand how the release of the hostages taken on 07 October is not the foremost concern amongst the collective Israeli mind, and how their release would not be the most significant action that any party could take to end the conflict that you wish me to educate myself on?

Is there a reading list of some kind? Or do I just chant 'From the River' for as long as it takes to brainwash myself into believing that an armed conflict that was directly triggered by a terrorist attack can be abated by anything other than the return of the hostages taken during that act? I'm fascinated to know.

Are we reading the same thing? 08 December 23 17:01

Comment section is nuts. Did we all read the same linked in post because the post itself didn’t talk about anything but standing for Palestine (the nation not hanas) and a ceasefire and getting educated before discussing these topics. The river to the sea caption or whatever it is has been amended so maybe a lesson learned. No opinions just compassion and a call for ceasefire. The world needs less fighting but I guess a bunch of lawyers are the last people that want to stop fighting!

Chill on the politics and just call for an end to killing and release of hostages on both sides!

Anon 08 December 23 18:23

Agree. Anyone who suggests a ceasefire is immediately labelles hamas supporter. Ceasefire means no more killing of inoccent people.

Seamus 08 December 23 19:14

“From the river to the sea” is an antisemitic slogan which Hamas used in its 2017 charter. It is a call for the destruction of Israel and for the establishment of an Islamic state within the same borders.

Ignorance is no defence.

I feel for the dead and the suffering in both Israel and Gaza. The fact that the anti-war protests have been hijacked by extremists is regrettable.

Anon 08 December 23 19:36

Good for her - agree with everything she said. At least she has a backbone. It’s a genocide and Israel is a violent settlor colony apartheid state. These are facts and should not be controversial to any rational non-racist person.

Anonymous 09 December 23 10:34

@18.23 - does that 'no more killing of innocent people' also mean an immediate release of the innocent people taken as hostages on 07 October?

Or is that kind of a minor optional thing that you think Israel needs to be told to just talk about around a table, and which is all up for grabs depending on how much free stuff they give Hamas? A detail point, almost unworthy of comment?

Because if so I can kind of see why Israel isn't so keen on your suggestions.

War on terror 09 December 23 13:33

War on terror 2.0 - only when Hamas is permanently removed can anyone even begin to dream of peace….. and Palestinians must stay out of Israel

Whirlwind 09 December 23 13:36

palestinians sowed the terror wind surely they must reap the righteous anti terror whirlwind ?

Andrew 09 December 23 14:57

"From the river to the sea" is a slogan that has been used since at least the 1960s to call for the establishment of a single state in Palestine - a unified peaceful democratic secular state for everyone who lives there. There are some echoes of Zionist calls for a Jewish state in Palestine in the 1940s.

It was adopted more recently by Hamas and other violent extremists and terrorists and has become or at least perceived as antisemitic. But some right-wing Israeli politicians have used very similar rhetoric. Supporters of Likud reject any separate state for the Palestinians, and talk about Israeli sovereignty "west of the Jordan" or "between the sea and the Jordan"

Some more here:

In the absence of a "two state solution" there is either a one state solution or no solution.

The Man on the Clapham Omnibus 09 December 23 17:13

Great work Lydia, we can always count on you to make a sweeping generalisation that is just plain wrong.
The following seem self-evident to me:
- murder and rape is wrong
- if Hamas or IDF murder and rape, that is wrong
- hating someone for being Jewish is wrong
- hating someone for being Palestinian is wrong
- most of the victims in this war are Palestinians, including children, who had no part in Hamas' attacks on Israel
- very importantly, Jewish people =/= Israel

I feel so bad for the Palestinians.

BDS 09 December 23 22:40

Support boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. It's non-violent and sends a strong message.

Definitions 09 December 23 22:47

Let's get this straight:

"Stop bombing children in their homes" does not mean "I support Hamas".

"From the RIver to the Sea Palestine shall be free" does not mean "Kill all the Jews".

"The IDF is a terrorist organisation" does not mean "I hate all Jews".

"Gaza is a concentration camp" does not mean "the Holocaust never happened".

There's too much colouring the message by people who are keen to promote this tribal "with us or against us" bullshit.

Anon 10 December 23 14:27

Best keeping politics out of the workplace. We have a right to do our jobs without every twitter storm shaping our experiences. Had this nonsense with trump, brexit etc, independence votes etc.

Anon 10 December 23 21:12

👏👏 what a great firm, supporting your employee for supporting a ceasefire. This is what more firms should be like.
I think the op was spot on and happy she got the support from the ceo. Genocide needs to be opposed.

Anon 11 December 23 09:36

The phrase "from the river to the sea" means "kill more Jews". Selica Khan should know this. SWS should know this. They should both be reported to the SRA for brining the profession into disrepute.

Anonagain 11 December 23 09:39

Even if they both regret the "river to the sea" bit, the claiming of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing are also incorrect and amount to incitement. They should both be reported to the SRA

09:36 and 09:39 11 December 23 11:10

The purpose of your comments is to shut down valid discussion on this topic. Describing what is happened is factually accurate and is not denied by the Israeli government - they endorse what they are doing and describe it as such. If they are not concerned about labelling their intent as such - why are you?!

Free Willy 11 December 23 14:03

@ 09:39 on 11 December:

...yet an increasing number of international human rights lawyers feel confident the definition of 'genocide' is met: mostly because the historically difficult to prove 'intention' is being very explicitly stated by various members of the Knesset.

@ 09:36 on 11 December:

The slogan calls for those subject to apartheid to be free from apartheid and have equal citizenship alongside Jewish people. Please do not weaponize it like your idol Suella tried to.

Anonymous 11 December 23 15:10

"Describing what is happened is factually accurate and is not denied by the Israeli government - they endorse what they are doing and describe it as such"

The Israeli government describe their current operation against Hamas as 'Genocide' and 'Ethnic Cleansing'?

Huge if true.

Spoiler: like almost everything else posted with a Free Palestine hashtag, it's complete nonsense.

Stop using Apartheid 12 December 23 09:46

Your use of Apartheid is is disgusting an ignorant Israel has never and will never an apartheid state. It is a pro-palestinian mockery of what South Africans genuinely went through and it shows not their ignorance but their disrespect of the plight that South Africans went through.

Have your fight but dont mislabel yours and hijack somebody's elses.

Anonagain 13 December 23 11:34

The phrase "from the river to the sea - Palestine will be free" is a call for ethnic cleansing; of Jews. Claims of Genocide and Apartheid are factually incorrect and incitement. Selica Khan and Sarah Wilson Smith are not being compassionate when they make and endorse this type of hate speech. They are being Antisemitic. The SRA should investigate

Anonymous 13 December 23 23:12

I lived in Israel for 5 years and I can assure you Israel is neither a jewish state nor democratic. It's current leadership is mostly neonazi racist genocidal maniacs that are silencing progressive jews as well. The way the government treat Palestinians, it is extremely heartbreaking and beyond anything I've seen and I worked with an NGO in SA and Burma at the height of the conflict there. Vast majority of Israelis want peace and Palestinians, it breaks my heart everytime but all they want is to have some dignity, peace and to be heard. They've never experienced freedom or security and I hope one day the world will finally see the reality that is American imperialism and Zionist extremists that are causing the pain and suffering of innocent people there.

@23 23:12 14 December 23 22:56

@23 23:12 - what do think of terrorism ? Women and girls being raped, tortured and executed ? Pro or against?

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