Sneak attack

The war that we have carefully for years provoked Catches us unprepared, amazed and indignant. Robinson Jeffers Not long ago, Americans commemorated the seventy-fifth anniversary of a totally unexpected Japanese surprise attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. Former US president and World War II naval aviator George H. W. Bush presents one […]

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Sneak attack

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Honesty in politics

Amy B. Wang of The Washington Post [1] is calling on experts to answer an important and timely question: was Abraham Lincoln a “paragon of honesty,” or was he rather a “shrewd politician who was not above stretching the truth”? “Lincoln was certainly essentially honest,” but he was also “a consummate politician,” according to Pulitzer […]

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Honesty in politics

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Overcoming the legacy of colonialism

According to Barack Obama — then-president of the United States, “speaking… truth to power” in his own small way — Americans “have by no means overcome the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow and colonialism and racism” [1]. Moreover, “those who are not subject to racism,” or people of no color, “can sometimes have blind […]

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Overcoming the legacy of colonialism

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Keeping together, getting along

Mark Lilla, a professor of humanities at Columbia University, bless his heart, has called for “The End of Identity Liberalism” in The New York Times [1]. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming […]

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Keeping together, getting along

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Netanyahu condemns Irish legislation promoting Israel boycott …

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday strongly condemned an Irish legislative initiative which calls for a boycott of products produced in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

Netanyahu said in a statement that the goal of the proposed legislation is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel.

The initiative gives backing to those who seek to boycott Israel and completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice, he added.

Netanyahu also instructed that the Irish Ambassador to Israel be summoned to the Foreign Ministry on this matter. The meeting with the Irish ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, will be held on Wednesday, according to a report in Haaretz.

The Irish senate debated the bill on Tuesday. Beyond outlawing the import or sale of such products, it would also ban services originating from Judea and Samaria, the newspaper said.

The senate decided that debates regarding the bill will be formally adjourned until July. “This will allow the Irish government five months to progress a diplomatic approach and action at European Union level. It also gives more time for improvements, amendments and changes to the bill,” people involved in the matter told Haaretz.

The European Commission in 2015 issued guidelines for labeling products from Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and neighborhoods of Jerusalem liberated during the 1967 Six Day War.

The EU insists the labeling does not amount to a boycott of these regions, saying so-called settlement products have to be correctly labeled.

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In First, Judge Blocks Kansas Law Aimed at Boycotts of Israel …

TOPEKA, Kan. The American Civil Liberties Union won an early victory today in its federal lawsuit arguing that a Kansas law requiring a public school educator to certify that she wont boycott Israel violates her First Amendment rights.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law while the case filed in October proceeds. It is the first ruling addressing a recent wave of laws nationwide aiming to punish people who boycott Israel.

The law, which took effect on July 1, requires that any person or company that contracts with the state submit a written certification that they are not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel. The ACLU is also currently fighting a case filed in December against a similar law in Arizona.

The court has rightly recognized the serious First Amendment harms being inflictedby this misguided law, which imposes an unconstitutional ideological litmus test, said ACLU attorney Brian Hauss, who argued the issue in court. This ruling should serve as a warning to government officials around the country that the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing participation in political boycotts.

In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree wrote, [T]he Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.

Other Supreme Court decisions have established that the government may not require individuals to sign a certification regarding their political expression in order to obtain employment, contracts, or other benefits.

The ACLU represents Esther Koontz, who belongs to the Mennonite Church USA. In accordance with calls for boycott made by members of her congregation and her church, Koontz decided not to buy consumer products made by Israeli companies and international companies operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Koontz participates in this boycott in order to protest the Israeli governments treatment of Palestinians and to pressure the country to change its policies.

Having served as a public school math teacher for nine years, Koontz now develops her schools math curriculum and trains teachers on how to implement it. She is also qualified to train teachers statewide as a contractor with the Kansas Department of Educations Math and Science Partnerships program. When Koontz was asked to certify that she does not participate in a boycott of Israel, she said that she could not sign the form in good conscience. As a result, the state refuses to contract with her, and she is unable to participate as a trainer in the states program.

Judge Crabtree wrote in his opinion, She and others participating in this boycott of Israel seek to amplify their voices to influence change.

The lawsuit argues that the Kansas law violates the First Amendment for several reasons: it compels speech regarding protected political beliefs, associations, and expression; restricts the political expression and association of government contractors; and discriminates against protected expression based on its content and viewpoint. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down the law and bar the Kansas Department of Education from requiring contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel.

The Kansas law is similar to legislation that has been passed in other states. The ACLU does not take a position on boycotts of foreign countries, but the organization has long supported the right to participate in political boycotts and has voiced opposition to bills that infringe on this important First Amendment right. In the lawsuit challenging the Arizona law, the ACLU represents an attorney and his one-person law office, which contracts with the government to provide legal services to incarcerated individuals.

In July, the ACLU sent a letter to members of Congress opposing a bill that would make it a felony to support certain boycotts of companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. As a result, Senate sponsors of the bill are considering changes.

Todays ruling is here:https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/koontz-v-watson-opinion

Also documents filed in the case are here:https://www.aclu.org/cases/koontz-v-watson-challenge-kansas-law-targeting-boycotts-israel

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Laws Targeting Israel Boycotts Fail First Legal Test …

Issuing the first decision of its kind, a federal judge today blocked enforcement of a Kansas law targeting boycotts of Israel, ruling in an ACLU lawsuit that the First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts.

The Kansas law requires that any person or company that contracts with the state sign a statement that they are not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel. The ACLU brought the lawsuit in October on behalf of Esther Koontz, a schoolteacher who refused to sign the certification. Todays decision, an important victory for political speech, will allow her to resume her work. Thanks to the order, Kansas is prohibited from enforcing its law while the case proceeds.

This is the first ruling to address a recent wave of laws nationwide aiming to punish people who boycott Israel, and it should serve as a warning to other states with similar provisions, including one we are challenging in Arizona. It correctly recognizes that forcing an individual to choose between exercising their rights and contracting with the state is unconstitutional.

Here are the key takeaways from the decision:

The Supreme Court made this clear with its landmark decision in NAACP v. Claiborne, which found that a civil rights-era boycott of white-owned businesses in Mississippi was protected by the Constitution. Judge Daniel D. Crabtree relied on Claiborne in finding that the First Amendment clearly protects Esthers decision to band together with others in a boycott in order to:

express collectively their dissatisfaction with the injustice and violence they perceive, as experienced both by Palestinians and Israeli citizens. She and others participating in this boycott of Israel seek to amplify their voices to influence change, as did the boycotters in Claiborne.

Esther is a veteran math teacher and trainer who was told she would need to sign the certification statement in order to participate in a state program training other math teachers. She boycotts consumer goods and services produced by Israeli companies and international companies operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. She does so in order to protest the Israeli governments treatment of Palestinians and to pressure the government to change its policies. As a result, she could not in good conscience sign the statement and thus couldn’t participate in the state program.

The judge correctly recognized the political litmus test the state was imposing on Esther:

Plaintiffs harm stems not from her decision to refuse to sign the certification, but rather from the plainly unconstitutional choice the Kansas Law forces plaintiff to make: She either can contract with the state or she can support a boycott of Israel.

As the court held, that is not permissible.

Judge Crabtree also recognized the laws true purpose:

The Kansas Laws legislative history reveals that its goal is to undermine the message of those participating in a boycott of Israel. This is either viewpoint discrimination against the opinion that Israel mistreats Palestinians or subject matter discrimination on the topic of Israel. Both are impermissible goals under the First Amendment.

Some two dozen other states have passed laws specifically targeting those who oppose one side of the Israel-Palestine debate. They should all take note of todays decision.

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Laws Targeting Israel Boycotts Fail First Legal Test …

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Israel asks Irish ambassador to explain legislators calls …

JERUSALEM (JTA) The Irish ambassador to Israel was summoned for a clarification meeting over a legislative initiative in Ireland calling for a boycott of trade in West Bank settlements.

The summons to meet with officials of Israels Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday came at the order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in a statement Tuesday condemned the initiative.

The initiative gives backing to those who seek to boycott Israel and completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice, Netanyahu said.

TheIrish Senate postponed voting on the bill hours after Netanyahus statement. A new date for considering the initiative has not been announced.

The ambassador told Foreign Ministry officials that the initiative was raised by independent representatives in the Irish Senate and that the Irish government is opposed to the measure. The ambassador also said the proposed legislation is not a BDS initiative and that the Irish government opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, the ministry said in a statement.

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John J. Mearsheimer | American scholar | Britannica.com

John J. Mearsheimer, in full John Joseph Mearsheimer, (born December 14, 1947, New York, New York, U.S.), prominent American scholar of international relations best known for his theory of offensive realism.

After graduating from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1970, Mearsheimer served for five years as an officer in the air force, rising to the rank of captain. Unsatisfied with military life, he decided to pursue graduate studies rather than become a career officer. He received a masters degree (1974) in international relations from the University of Southern California, as well as a masters degree (1978) and a Ph.D. (1981) in government from Cornell University. He was later a research fellow at the Brookings Institution (197980) and a research associate at Harvard University (198082). In 1982 he became a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he was appointed the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science in 1996.

Like most international relations scholars of his generation, Mearsheimer was deeply influenced by Kenneth Waltz, the founder of the school of international relations known as neorealism. Whereas classical realists such as Hans Morgenthau had traced international conflicts to the natural propensity of political leaders to seek to increase their power, neorealists (or structural realists) such as Waltz located the cause of war in the structure of international relations. In Waltzs model the absence of an authority above states (the condition of anarchy) forces them to make alliances in order to contain the threats posed by rival powers. The international order, in other words, is determined by the balance of power between states. According to Waltz, the need for security leads states to favour the status quo and to adopt a defensive position toward their competitors.

Mearsheimers contrasting view, which he called offensive realism, holds that the need for security, and ultimately for survival, makes states aggressive power maximizers. States do not cooperate, except during temporary alliances, but constantly seek to diminish their competitors power and to enhance their own.

Mearsheimer based his theory on five core assumptions: (1) the international system is anarchic (there is no authority that exists above the states to arbitrate their conflicts), (2) all states have some military capability (however limited), (3) states can never fully ascertain the intentions of other states, (4) states value survival above all else, and (5) states are rational actors that seek to promote their own interests. Those conditions, according to Mearsheimer, create strong incentives for states to behave aggressively toward each other. Because states cannot know with certainty the present or future intentions of other states, he concluded, it is rational for them to attempt to preempt possible acts of aggression by increasing their military might and adopting an assertive position whenever their core security interests are at stake.

Although Mearsheimer recognized war as a legitimate instrument of statecraft, he did not believe that it was always justified. In fact, he was highly critical of the Iraq War (200311) and what he saw as an attempt by the United States to police the world. With regard to U.S. foreign policy, he advocated a strategy of global balancing rather than global hegemony. A superpower such as the United States, he argued, should not try to impose its rule on all continents but should intervene only when another major power threatens to rule a region of strategic importance. Mearsheimer thus judged U.S. participation in World War II to have been entirely appropriate, since Nazi Germany and imperial Japan sought to dominate their respective regions. However, he criticized post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy for overestimating the countrys military power and its capacity to project that power at will. Mearsheimer notably advocated the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Europe, arguing that their presence there was irrational, as no state currently threatened to dominate the continent.

In 2007 Mearsheimer coauthored with Stephen M. Walt a best-selling but highly controversial book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007). It contended that a powerful lobby skews U.S. foreign policy against the countrys national interests by securing unconditional support for Israel. Some decried the work as conspiratorial or factually weak, whereas others applauded its authors for having the courage to raise an important policy issue.

Mearsheimers other works include Conventional Deterrence (1983), Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (1988), Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics (2011), and scores of articles published in academic journals. He also frequently participated in public debates by contributing op-ed articles to the The New York Times and other national newspapers. In 2003 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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John J. Mearsheimer | American scholar | Britannica.com

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