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April 2018

Why Israel’s DNA Is So Revolutionary Daniel Johnson AND Tzipi Hotovely

Daniel Johnson: One of the issues that I know you’ve been very much embroiled in is this question of whether Israeli law will apply to the West Bank. This is clearly in the interests of not just settlers but Arabs too, Palestinians as well, so how are we going to resolve that and how are you going to present this to the world not as a bid to move the goalposts, but simply as doing justice?

Tzipi Hotovely: For many years the real argument about the settlements was not made. We made security the only issue. But since I got to the foreign ministry, I have put the issue of justice on the table. I think it’s very important to do so because if you make security the top issue then you end up with many countries saying, well, if this is not your land, we don’t care about your security interest, we might be tolerant about it but just give this land to whoever it belongs to. So I stood in the foreign ministry in my first speech and I said, “This is our land, this is the land of the Jewish people.” I think that, as simple as it sounds, this is a real revolution in the way we defend the case. For many years we said, “This is a conflict area, there are 200 areas under conflict in the international arena, please look at that like you look at any other.” What I am saying is, “No, this is where Israel started.” You can’t defend Tel Aviv if you don’t defend Hebron and Jerusalem, because this is where the heritage started.

There are two Israeli stories. One is of modern Israel — a modern state, re-established in 1948, the Zionist story of 100 years. This story is problematic — you know why? Now I am, of course, a big Zionist, and I think the Zionist movement is maybe one of the biggest miracles of the 20th century if not all humankind, this revival by re-establishing a state after 2,000 years in exile. But what is missing from the story is: what makes a bunch of people coming from Russia, Yemen, Morocco, Britain, from America, re-create a state in the Middle East?

I love telling this story: Arthur Balfour is asking Chaim Weizmann why he insists on establishing Israel in this region, because this is a very problematic area. And Weizmann said, “Would you like to have Paris as your capital?” To which Balfour replied, “Excuse me, Mr Weizmann, London belongs to the British people.” So Weizmann looks at him and says, “Well, Jerusalem belonged to the Jewish people way before London was established.” I use that as an anecdote when I meet audiences because I want them to have the sense of feeling that this is not occupation. We are not occupiers in our own land, as I always say. I fight this concept of occupation. This year is the 50th anniversary [of the Six Day War]. The thing that I put on the table in the foreign ministry is to fight the very basic idea of occupation. We’re not occupiers, even according to international law. Because there was never a Palestinian state.


Everything about Voltaire was confected, starting with his name — only one of 178 noms de plume that he used. (Admittedly, he would not be the only would-be celebrity to reinvent himself.) Most of the bon mots attributed to him are spurious, including his last words. (Asked on his deathbed to renounce Satan, he supposedly said: “This is no time to make new enemies.” But this joke was first attributed to him two centuries later.) Others, such as “the best is the enemy of the good”, were plagiarised. Or take one of the most commonly quoted: “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Not only did Voltaire never say it, but nothing in his life suggests that he would have defended anyone or anything to the death.

For Voltaire was an arch-egotist. He made one fortune, inherited another, and pleased himself. From his cavalier treatment of women — his mistresses included a widow, a married woman and his niece — to his envious treatment of younger rivals such as Rousseau, he demonstrated little of the nobility that posterity conferred on him. On the contrary: he admired and was admired above all by enlightened despots. He was only too happy to correspond with Catherine the Great and Frederick the Great, neither of whom were friends of liberty. Frederick, indeed, lured Voltaire to his court: the first in a long line of French intellectuals to serve as useful idiots. Napoleon “loved” Voltaire, finding him “always reasonable, never a charlatan, never a fanatic”.

Yet there was a fanatical side to Voltaire. He liked to depict himself as a scourge of “superstition”, which could mean Catholicism or Judaism, and as a foe of religious persecution; but he himself had no time for religious freedom. He urged his fellow philosophe d’Alembert to annihilate “infamy”, by which he meant the Church: “écrasez l’infame”. To Frederick (a notorious unbeliever) he wrote: “Our [religion] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most sanguinary that has ever infected this world. Your Majesty will do the human race an eternal service by extirpating this infamous superstition, I do not say among the rabble, who are not worthy of being enlightened and are apt for every yoke; I say among honest people, among men who think . . .” Such words have a sinister resonance today, when Christians are widely persecuted. And Voltaire’s open contempt for the masses gives the lie to the suggestion that he was any kind of liberal, let alone a democrat, or even that he had really learned much about what makes a free country from his time in England.

Unwanted Candor A scholar is sued for reporting the facts in a Title IX harassment case. KC Johnson

Amid a national debate about due process and fairness in campus Title IX adjudications, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently observed, “there’s been criticism of some college codes of conduct for not giving the accused person a fair opportunity to be heard, and that’s one of the basic tenets of our system, as you know: everyone deserves a fair hearing.” Few academics have more powerfully made these criticisms than Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis, whose 2015 Chronicle of Higher Education essay lambasting Title IX’s application to campus sexual-assault and harassment allegations prompted a university Title IX investigation—against Kipnis herself. Though Kipnis was exonerated, the investigation was a form of punishment, since professors normally aren’t questioned by lawyers hired by their school as the result of publishing in their area of expertise. The experience prompted Kipnis to write Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, which explores how Title IX has come to threaten the rights not only of accused students but also of faculty.

One chapter of Unwanted Advances took readers inside a Northwestern University sexual-assault and harassment hearing against philosophy professor Peter Ludlow. Though the university cleared Ludlow of his sexual-assault charges, it found him guilty of sexual harassment, and he resigned. Kipnis lawfully obtained the university’s investigative file and about 1,000 text messages between Ludlow and one of his accusers, a female graduate student.

The graduate student, Lauren Ledyon-Hardy, was a Kipnis critic before the book appeared, twice criticizing her in op-eds in which she charged Kipnis with violating the Northwestern faculty handbook by writing an “alarmingly inaccurate” essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education. She further denounced Kipnis’s “repugnant moral and political views” and hailed the parties who filed Title IX complaints against the professor as “pretty reasonable”—without revealing that she was speaking of herself. Ledyon-Hardy’s conduct exemplifies Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen’s concern that “Title IX is too often conscripted to serve purposes antithetical to the education of citizens in a democracy, in which disagreement, dissent, or disapproval should lead to argument, not to an infinite loop of institutional investigation.”

After Unwanted Advances appeared, Ledyon-Hardy turned to the courts, alleging that Kipnis’s book was defamatory and improperly disclosed private facts. Her complaint faulted Kipnis for falsely portraying her as excessively “litigious”—a complaint that Ledyon-Hardy ironically sees as remediable through a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit’s core, which focused on Ledyon-Hardy’s disagreement with how Kipnis presented evidence, threatens both academic freedom and investigative work about Title IX. Yet U.S. District Court Judge Jack Blakey has greenlighted the suit. The judge tipped his hand when he allowed Ledyon-Hardy to litigate under a pseudonym—despite her previous op-eds, signed with her real name, criticizing Kipnis. (Kipnis and her publisher, HarperCollins, have filed a response to the complaint, and discovery has commenced in the case. The next stage, absent a settlement, would be motions for summary judgment before the district court.)

Happy Graduation Snowflakes! By Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ****

Springtime means rebirth, baseball, and . . . new stories about how 99.89 percent of college-graduation speakers are certified lefties. Those of us with opposing viewpoints are left with few options; most of us just suck it up, grin, and sit there — although the grinning part is becoming more of a challenge. You see, our side of the aisle is not so easily agitated into social-protest mode. Still, it would be refreshing to hear at least one college president come clean in his commencement remarks. Just put it all out there for (progressive) mass consumption. To wit:

Hello, everyone . . . Happy Graduation!

Four years of relentless indoctrination is now complete. Most of you no longer trust markets, capitalism, or your parents. You are now officially social-justice warriors; you truly “Feel the Bern.” Accordingly, our job is done. But before you leave for the real world — a hate-filled place without safe spaces, speech codes, Play-Doh, warm cookies, and coloring books to help you “recuperate” from dissenting points of view — a few words of review, and caution.

In the good-news department, our annual giving goal of $1 billion was easily surpassed last year. The school’s endowment is now $59 billion, which means only a 6.5 percent tuition-rate increase for next year! For this good fortune, I can only thank the deity that I am forbidden to mention by name under threat of ACLU lawsuit. So thanks to this unnamed deity for maintaining such high demand for our elite degree among so many of your status-seeking but naïve parents.

More good news: We are excited to announce the construction of what our faculty are calling “Fascist City.” This complex will consist of a number of poorly constructed buildings that our students will be encouraged to destroy whenever a conservative speaker arrives on campus. In this way, our young activists can meet and riot at a central location with no fear of police brutality. Further, our faculty have agreed to purchase and supply bricks (for throwing) free of charge. I also want to thank the newly salaried student government of our very own campus political party, “Bernie’s Young Socialists,” for contributing fire-resistant protest signs (so they may be repurposed). One can never be too environmentally conscious when protesting “the man”!

Students at CUNY Law Protested and Heckled My Lecture about Free Speech on Campus By Josh Blackman

Editor’s Note: The following piece first appeared on Josh Blackman’s blog. It is adapted and reprinted here with permission.

On Thursday, March 29, students at the City University of New York School of Law protested and heckled my lecture about free speech on campus. You can watch video of the entire event, which lasted about 70 minutes, below. The protest and heckling took place during the first eight minutes of the recording.

In this post, I will recount the events that led up to the protest, and describe my experiences during the encounter. In future writings, I will provide my own commentary. Here, I will try to lay out the facts to the best of my recollection, aided by the (sometimes) inaudible recording.

In October, the CUNY School of Law Federalist Society invited me to speak on a panel discussion about theories of constitutional interpretation. I had planned to speak about originalism. Alas, the students were not able to find any other professors who were willing to participate in the event. After several rounds of emails, I suggested an event about free speech on campus. It is a talk I had given before, without any problems, at Southern Illinois, Texas Southern University, the University of Massachusetts, Barry University, the University of Oregon, and my home institution, the South Texas College of Law Houston. The Federalist Society chapter agreed that this would be a good topic for CUNY. Alas, once again, the chapter was unable to find any other professor who would participate in the event. (This is fairly common.)

Three days before the event, the president of the chapter wrote, “We passed out the flyers today (first day back from spring break) and a large number of students are already up in arms about the event.” The Office of Student Affairs explained that “some enraged students, . . . apparently, are planning to protest.” I asked why they were protesting. The president provided an explanation:

These students saw first, that this is a Federalist Society event; and second, they saw a few of your writings (specifically a National Review article praising Sessions for rescinding DACA and ACA), and instantly assume you’re racist; and third, our event being titled about free speech is reminiscent of events that claim free speech just to invite people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter.

He explained that “we have the support of the administration” and the event would proceed as scheduled.

Hours before the event began, Mary Lu Bilek, the dean of CUNY Law, sent an email to all students:

As a law school, a public institution, and a school within the CUNY system, we are committed to academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, and expression of all points of view, including the freedom to disagree with the viewpoints of others.

CUNY Law Students Disrupt Free-Speech Lecture By Jack Crowe

Students at the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School protested and attempted to shut down a lecture on free speech by accusing the speaker of holding racist views and belittling his commitment to the rule of law.

Josh Blackman, a newly tenured professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, was invited to campus by the CUNY Law School Federalist Society, and had prepared a lecture on free speech. Three days before the event, the president of the Federalist Society chapter informed Blackman that a group of “enraged” students intended to protest his lecture but assured him that he had the administration’s full support.

“These students saw first, that this is a Federalist Society event; and second, they saw a few of your writings (specifically a National Review article praising Sessions for rescinding DACA and ACA), and instantly assume you’re racist; and third, our event being titled about free speech is reminiscent of events that claim free speech just to invite people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter,” the chapter president told Blackman.

Upon arriving at the event, Blackman was met by dozens of law students shouting phrases such as “Legal objectivity is a myth” and “He’s a white supremacist,” according to his account, which is corroborated by a video of the incident.

Most of the protesters were carrying signs with messages espousing their support for social equality and assigning racist motives to Blackman.

Trump and the Unitary Executive By Andrew C. McCarthy

Fire Mueller. Pass a law so Trump can’t fire Mueller. Meanwhile, let’s impeach Rosenstein and Wray.

There’s a lot of dingbattery going around.

Elementary Constitutional Principles
In our system, we have a unitary executive. All executive power is vested in a single official, the president of the United States. That means subordinate executive officers do not have their own power; they are delegated to exercise the president’s power. When they act, they are, in effect, the president acting.

Let’s say you are exercising your own power, and you do something that I disagree with but that is within the bounds of reason. I have no choice but to respect the exercise of your discretion. But if you are exercising my power, which means that I am accountable for your actions, it is my way or the highway. And I don’t need a reason to dismiss you; I get to do it simply because I’d rather have somebody else exercising my power. I don’t need cause, and I don’t need to explain myself.

That is how it is with the president. It’s his power. On this, the Constitution imposes only one notable limitation: The chief executive is not permitted to hire top executive officers at will; they must be confirmed by the Senate. Once they are confirmed, though, he may fire them at will.

Prosecutorial power is executive in nature. Federal prosecutors therefore exercise the president’s power. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller have no power of their own; they exercise President Trump’s prosecutorial power for as long as that arrangement suits President Trump. The president does not need cause to fire them. He does not need to explain any dismissal to Congress — “Gee, it’s Thursday and I feel like firing someone” is good enough.

If lawmakers believe the president is abusing his power by firing good public servants arbitrarily, they can impeach the president. Or they can try to bend the president into better behavior by cutting off funding, refusing to confirm nominees, or holding oversight hearings that embarrass the administration. Congress has these powerful political tools. But it does not have legal means to usurp the president’s constitutional power. Those powers do not come from Congress. They come from Article II. The Constitution cannot be amended by a mere statute or a regulation. Congress may not enact a law that purports to place conditions on the president’s power to dismiss subordinates who exercise his powers.

The Trump Resistance is the greatest show in town Roger Kimball

Among the many occasions of unintended comedy that the election of Donald Trump has vouchsafed a grateful world, perhaps none is more comic than that huddled mass of garrulous disappointment calling itself “The Resistance™.” Hillary Clinton had hardly got outside her last goblet of Chardonnay in the wee hours of November 9, 2016 before “the resistance party,” a “grassroots movement fighting against the hateful and authoritarian agenda of Donald Trump and the radical right,” was infesting the internet. Mrs. Clinton herself waited until May 2017 to announce her new political organisation aimed at funding “resistance” groups that are “standing up to President Donald Trump.” Media pundits across the country warned their audiences against “normalising” the President. “Trump is not a legitimate President,” screamed one typical member of the fourth estate, “Normalising fascism, the marriage of authoritarianism and nationalism with a business controlled government, is wrong.”

You can understand their anguish. Someone they did not favor was elected president of the United States in a free, open, democratic election. Can you believe it? Their candidate lost. Even worse, the opposing candidate was elected without their permission, over their strenuous objections, unremitting ridicule, and against their hermetically sealed certitude that such a thing was impossible, impossible! O tempora, O mores! The 2016 presidential election worked the way the Constitution said it was supposed to work, not the way Hollywood millionaires, Ivy-educated pundits, angry feminists, or partisan opponents wanted it to work. Clearly, end times are nigh.

No wonder the Resistance™ is so voluble and tenacious. Just a couple of days ago the comedy site Vox, reporting on the many rallies against President Trump that continue to provide free entertainment at college campuses and other redoubts of privilege across the country, noted that “While the rallies people are attending may not always be Trump-specific, they are certainly Trump-related.” Indeed they are.

Future Warfare: Protecting the Grid By Tim Connors

The First Gulf War put American technological advantage on display against an adversary with no means to respond. Media images released throughout the campaign paid tribute to smart bombs, long-range rockets, and vastly improved ground, air and sea-based systems. America’s technological abilities were awe-inspiring.

A quarter-century later, the United States continues to seek technological superiority. Laser weapons, artificial intelligence and unmanned systems—the very stuff of sci-fi movies—are within our grasp. Unfortunately, such advances do not provide the comfort level they previously did.

Unlike the hapless Iraqi Army circa 1991, today’s potential threats and adversaries have the means to respond. Gulf War-era technological advantages like night vision and GPS are becoming commonplace. Advances in computer and information technology enable adversaries to develop new tactics in cyberspace. And nation states have invested in weapon systems and strategies that offset American advantages.

Geography, another traditional American advantage, no longer acts as a protective security barrier. Terror cells and cyber warriors have already shown they can penetrate our borders and deliver devastating blows. The Homeland is no longer a safe haven to build might and project power. Our factories, military bases, and infrastructure will high priority targets in a future war.

Scott Pruitt, Warrior for Science Democrats and liberal journalists attack the EPA head for insisting on transparency, shared research, and rigorous peer review. John Tierney

Imagine if the head of a federal agency announced a new policy for its scientific research: from now on, the agency would no longer allow its studies to be reviewed and challenged by independent scientists, and its researchers would not share the data on which their conclusions were based. The response from scientists and journalists would be outrage. By refusing peer review from outsiders, the agency would be rejecting a fundamental scientific tradition. By not sharing data with other researchers, it would be violating a standard transparency requirement at leading scientific journals. If a Republican official did such a thing, you’d expect to hear denunciations of this latest offensive in the “Republican war on science.”

That’s the accusation being hurled at Scott Pruitt, the Republican who heads the Environmental Protection Agency. But Pruitt hasn’t done anything to discourage peer review. In fact, he’s done the opposite: he has called for the use of more independent experts to review the EPA’s research and has just announced that the agency would rely only on studies for which data are available to be shared. Yet Democratic officials and liberal journalists have denounced these moves as an “attack on science,” and Democrats have cited them (along with accusations of ethical violations) in their campaign to force Pruitt out of his job.

How could “the party of science,” as Democrats like to call themselves, be opposed to transparency and peer review? Because better scientific oversight would make it tougher for the EPA to justify its costly regulations. To environmentalists, rigorous scientific protocols are fine in theory, but not in practice if they interfere with the green political agenda. As usual, the real war on science is the one waged from the left.

The EPA has been plagued by politicized science since its inception in 1970. One of its first tasks was to evaluate the claim, popularized in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, that the use of DDT pesticide was causing an epidemic of cancer. The agency held extensive hearings that led to the conclusion that DDT was not a carcinogen, a finding that subsequent research would confirm. Yet the EPA administrator, William Ruckelshaus, reportedly never even bothered to read the scientific testimony. Ignoring the thousands of pages of evidence, he declared DDT a potential carcinogen and banned most uses of it.