Senior Hamas Terror Planner Mazen Faqha Assassinated in Gaza

By Miriam Elman

(Re-published from Legal Insurrection | March 26, 2017) Mazen Faqha was a Hamas official responsible for organizing a 2002 suicide bombing attack in Israel.

Found guilty and given a life sentence for the crime that killed nine people and injured scores more, he was among the over 1000 terrorists—many of them also with blood on their hands and serving life sentences—released in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange to free hostage IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Faqha was deported to Gaza.

From there, according to Israeli officials, he became a “key planner” in setting up Hamas terror cells in the West Bank, directing them as they organized and launched deadly terror attacks against Israelis.

On Friday March 24th, 38-year-old Faqha was assassinated by assailants using silencers, The Times of Israel reports:

Faqha was shot dead near his home in Tel el-Hawa, a neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City, by [unknown] assailants using a weapon equipped with a silencer. He was hit by four bullets to the head … Hamas said Israel was to blame and vowed revenge … The identity and motive of the assailants was not immediately clear. There was no official comment from Israel on his killing.”

Below I review the fallout from the killing of Mazen Faqha …

Thousands of militants and civilians in Gaza and the West Bank turned out for his funeral processions, and a swirl of accusations by various Palestinian terror groups, which are blaming Israel for “waging a clandestine war” and are now threatening retribution.

Early Sunday morning (EST), Israeli media reported that the IDF was being put on high alert in expectation of Hamas retaliationI begin with Faqha’s victims.

August 2002 Egged Bus Bombing

Born and raised in the West Bank village of Toubas, Mazen Faqha was a senior Hamas commander in the Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), which carried out many suicide bombings during the bloody second intifada.

Faqha had a hand in a number of these attacks, but he was sentenced in 2003 for planning a suicide bombing on a civilian passenger bus near Safed in the north of Israel the prior summer. 

Here’s a summary of the terror attack from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with the names and photographs of those killed. 

Nine people were killed and some 50 wounded in a suicide bombing of Egged bus No. 361 traveling from Haifa to Safed at the Meron junction in northern Israel shortly before 9:00 Sunday morning. There were many IDF soldiers on the bus, which exploded as it was traveling near the entrance to the burial site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, frequently visited by Jewish worshippers. The blast blew off the roof of the bus, which then burst into flames, killing or wounding nearly everyone inside, witnesses said. Among those killed were twere three soldiers, four Israeli civilians and two Philippine women. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Overnight on Sunday, IDF troops captured Hamas commander Mazan Fukha, responsible for dispatching the suicide bomber, in the West Bank town of Tubas together with two of his deputies.”

For his crime, Faqha received nine life sentences—one for each person he killed. But he was jailed for only 8 years, when he was released in 2011 for IDF soldier Shalit, who by then had been held captive for 5 years in Gaza.

Under the conditions of his release, Faqha was supposed to refrain from engagement in terror or incitement to violence. In fact, he returned to terror activities, resuming a leadership position in the Qassam Brigades.

Thousands Attend the Funeral of a Slain Hamas Terrorist

Yesterday, thousands of Hamas supporters called for “revenge” during Faqha’s funeral in Jabalia, northern Gaza. The top brass of Hamas reportedly delivered fiery eulogiesHamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, headed the procession from Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital, where Faqha’s body was initially taken, to the al-Omari mosque, and from there to Sheikh Radwan cemetery.

Here’s some images from the funeral, where even children were spectators. Many more images can be found on the Internet. It’s also important to note that the funeral march included members and leaders from Gaza’s various political factions and armed groups, and not only Hamas supporters. Although more subdued, in the West Bank hundreds of Palestinians reportedly also marched to Faqha’s childhood home in the small village of Toubas. There, they viewed the Gaza funeral on TV.

Did Israel Assassinate Mazen Faqha?

As of this writing, Israeli officials haven’t commented on Faqha’s killing.

In fact, as noted by Avi Issacharoff for The Times of Israel, there’s “no firm evidence” of Israeli involvement.

But multiple terror groups—including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Islamic Jihad—stated that “Zionist fingerprints” were evident in the killing which had “clear marks of Mossad [Israel’s spy agency]” …

To the read the whole post, click here.

 

Israel Passes Law Barring Foreign BDS Activists From Entry

By Miriam Elman

(Re-published from Legal Insurrection | March 9, 2017) On Monday night (March 6), Israel’s parliament (the Knesset) passed in its second and final reading a law barring the entry of foreign nationals who have “knowingly and publicly” called for boycotting Israel or who “represent an organization” that calls for such a boycott.

The law extends the ban to those foreign visitors (excluding permanent residents) who back the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement and to those who support the boycott of settlement goods in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank.

From Inside Higher Education: Writing for the blog Legal Insurrection, Miriam Elman, an associate professor of political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, described the ban as “a perfectly reasonable move for Israel to prevent foreigners from abusing tourist visas in order to try to destroy Israel.” “Israel isn’t particularly unique in refusing entry to people determined to be threats to the state, but the law makes such bans more transparent because individuals would no longer be refused entry into Israel on a case-by-case basis, left solely up to the discretion of the government,” she wrote.

The legislation, which passed with 46 votes in favor and 28 against, was sponsored by center-right political parties and had been in the works for over a year, as discussed in detail in my prior post, Will Israel Bar Entry of Foreign BDS Activists?

As noted, the law aims to combat anti-Israel, BDS-promoting tourist activism that’s gone on unimpeded in the country for years. These foreign activists foment and participate in often violent protests, then take film of the Israeli police response in order to demonize Israel in furtherance of the boycott movement.

To my mind, it’s a perfectly reasonable move for Israel to prevent foreigners from abusing tourist visas in order to try to destroy Israel.

How Israel’s New Anti-BDS Entry Law Will Work

The new legislation is supposed to improve the current situation by replacing an existing law that grants any foreign visitor from a friendly country an automatic 3-month entry visa, except for those who the Interior Minister specifically barred.

The new law flips the situation around such that entry for individuals affiliated with designated pro-BDS organizations would be automatically banned, unless the Interior Minister allows it.

So a key component of the law is “shifting the burden” from the state to the foreign activists themselves. Now, instead of the Ministry of the Interior having to account for why someone shouldn’t be admitted into the country, it’ll be up to the BDS-supporting visitors to “persuade the state” why she or he should be allowed in.

The law aims to address the absurd situation that’s developed in Israel where foreign BDS activists enter Israel under false pretenses and routinely take advantage of automatically issued tourist visas to engage in political warfare against the state.

Every nation on the planet is entitled to control its borders and determine which foreign nationals can enter. Israel isn’t particularly unique in refusing entry to people determined to be threats to the state, but the law makes such bans more transparent because individuals would no longer be refused entry into Israel on a case-by-case basis, left solely up to the discretion of the government.

I wrote in my prior post:

“By making the default option not to grant a visa unless the government says otherwise, the new law would effectively identify and advertise which of the dozens of NGOs currently operating inside Israel are deemed to be harmful to the Jewish state.”

Bottom line: As Naftali Bennett—education minister and leader of the Jewish Home party—said on Twitter (see in Hebrew below) when it passed, the law is “necessary and logical” and “let’s Israel defend itself from those who wish it ill.”

Barring Entry Only to Major BDS Leaders Who Call for Israel’s Destruction

Will a left-wing Jewish American college student who tweeted using the hashtag #BDS or who called for a boycott on her Facebook page be turned away at Ben Gurion Airport because of the new anti-BDS entry law?

What about someone who made a one-time donation to a BDS-supporting organization, or who signed a pro-BDS petition at some point in the last few years?

None of these people would be blocked (although, as I noted in my prior post, there’s always the chance that an over-zealous Interior Ministry official will enforce the law improperly).

The law is meant to advance steps to “oppose those who call for Israel’s demise.” But it’s supposed to apply to “major BDS activists” and foreign BDS campaigners “with standing” who can “really impact the situation” by getting others to boycott Israel. It’ll apply to “known organizations” and their main activists and won’t involve any “blacklists” of other individuals.

It certainly won’t be applied to someone who just “posts a comment on Facebook against Israel.”

In the category of those who would be blocked from entry by the new law are BDS-backing foreigners who spend their time in Israel not doing touristy things but collecting false information and ‘evidence’ about Israel’s alleged perfidy and malevolence to spread on social media and to share back home to captive audiences.

Also included will be BDS activists who act to harass and obstruct IDF and security personnel by organizing or participating in violent protests, making contact with representatives of terror organizations, and inciting Palestinians or Jewish settlers to violence …

To read the whole post, click here.

The Internet of Things & You: Exercise Caution

By Christopher Folk

(Re-published from Crossroads: Cybersecurity Law & Policy | March 4, 2017) As we continue to move to a world in which all things are networked and even toys now have connections to the cloud, people need to be cognizant and careful.  According to the Hacker News, in 2015 the toy manufacturer VTech revealed that they had suffered a data breach which resulted in the exfiltration of personally identifiable information (PII) of nearly 5M adults as well as photos of roughly 200K children.  Not only did the breach involve the PII of adults, but also the names, gender, and birthdates of children, which raises a number of additional potential issues, according to the article.  

“Therefore, this is one area where the threat of either legal liability or, dare I say, regulations can be implemented.”

Fast forward to 2017, and yet another toymaker has fallen victim to a massive data breach. Hacker News reported that CloudPets, developed by a California-based company, Spiral Toys, exposed the voice recording of more than two million parents and children as well email addresses and passwords for over 800,000 accounts.  CloudPets are stuffed animals that allow parents and children to send voice messages back and forth via the Internet, according to the article, which further states that Spiral Toys was advised at least four times that their data had been exposed and they failed to take any ameliorative steps.

I have and will continue, to make the argument that cybersecurity requires a baseline approach, especially as the number of connected devices grows at a seemingly exponential rate.  So long as manufacturers are not required to meet minimum cybersecurity hygiene standards, the number of incidents such as those referenced above will crop up as seemingly innocuous devices become the target of choice due to their lax security protocols and lack of safeguards.

In the instances above, the cybersecurity measures in place were either non-existent or rudimentary at best. The encryption was weak, the databases were public, and arguably these companies failed to meet the duty of care owed to consumers and what is likely valuable PII. The databases were reportedly devoid of either social security numbers or credit card information; however, the fact remains that the available data could (and still may) be used as one piece of the puzzle by which additional information can be gleaned, email addresses can be targeted, and passwords can be leveraged to attempt to access additional accounts (in many cases, users have a single password that is used across multiple sites).

This situation should raise a number of red flags for all of us. Consider the world in which we live—our cars are connected, our appliances are connected, children’s toys are now connected. In each case we are providing at least limited information in order to access and utilize all of our connected devices and in so doing we put a large amount of trust that companies will safeguard that data.  

However, as we continue to see, that is often not the case. This is further exacerbated by the “make it work mantra,” wherein the majority of users simply want products to perform as advertised. Thus, consumers will often forego research and understanding of how/where their data is going and will be used so they can get the product to function as quickly as possible.  In the case of these toys, consider a parent who is faced with a child who just wants the toy to do whatever it has been billed and advertised as doing. They are not interested in using complex passwords that are difficult to remember and enter; they are unlikely to research the toy company to determine if they are using two-way encryption or if they offer multi-factor authentication for their devices—they just want the item to work. This scenario raises a whole new set of issues regarding the “human side” of cybersecurity.

Although this is one area where technology could be implemented to manage the cybersecurity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and still provide ease-of-use, the problem is that companies are ultimately profit-driven. In the absence of financial incentives to bake in additional technology to help safeguard data, while simultaneously enhancing ease-of-use, companies choose the lowest cost-alternative, nearly universally. Therefore, this is one area where the threat of either legal liability or, dare I say, regulations can be implemented via legislation that mandates that companies—especially those in the realm of IoT—take certain steps toward cybersecurity.  

One of the keys will be to draft intelligent legislation that does not merely require that cybersecurity protocols to be baked-in but that additional cybersecurity have “enhanced ease-of-use.” That is, opting out of additional security measures would be purposeful and intentional rather than merely a button to click to get the product to function online, versus navigating through burdensome security-driven setup. Until then, I encourage everyone to become device-aware and consider the information you are providing to IoT companies in order to get something simply “to work.”  In many cases, you may find that having a connected device is neat in theory but scary in practice. Companies perform cost-benefit and risk analyses on a daily basis—so too, should consumers.

http://blog.cybersecuritylaw.us/2017/03/04/cybersecurity-the-internet-of-things-iot-you-exercise-caution/

Christopher Folk is a candidate (2017) for both a master’s in Forensic Science and Technology (Syracuse University) and a Juris Doctor degree (SU Law).

Israel’s Decision Making Process on National Security Needs an Overhaul

By Lauren Mellinger

(Re-published from BICOM.org,uk | March 3, 2017) Sirens sounded after rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Air Force responded with retaliatory strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza as Israeli media reported the discovery of 15 new tunnels underneath the Gaza border. These events took place over the past few days but they closely resemble the situation described in the State Comptroller’s new report on the Israeli government’s conduct in the lead-up to, and during, 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. The only additions are the recent election of hard-line militant Yahya Sinwar to serve as Hamas’s new leader in the Gaza Strip and the public focus on Hamas tunnels. With the threat of another war looming, what happened in 2014 is relevant to what happens now.

Operation Protective Edge lasted 51 days, resulting in the death of 74 Israelis, and more than 2,000 casualties in Gaza (Palestinian and Israeli authorities continue to dispute exactly how many of those were Hamas fighters ), as well as further deterioration of Gaza’s infrastructure. According to the State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s audit of the government’s preparation and conduct leading up to and during the war, not only was the war likely avoidable, but it was poorly managed and failed to achieve its stated goals, which, while not clear at the outset – another criticism found in the report – eventually focused on eliminating the tunnel threat.

The new report examines the tunnel threat and cabinet decision-making. It illustrates systemic flaws in the planning, preparations, and wartime decision-making processes of the security cabinet and the military.

The key findings in the report are as follows:

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon failed to present any non-military options to the security cabinet on the situation in Gaza andthe ministers rubber stamped the military plans presented to them. Moreover, the National Security Council failed to provide the cabinet with a range of opinions and alternative courses of action.
  • Though Netanyahu and Ya’alon considered the tunnel threat to be “strategic” and “significant,” the severity of the threat, as well as an updated threat assessment of the situation in Gaza, was not adequately conveyed to the security cabinet, and hence no substantive discussions were held about the tunnels.
  • Ministers lacked the requisite intelligence regarding the tunnel threat. As a result when the matter was mentioned in the security cabinet, they did not express a high degree of interest in it prior to 30 June 2014, and (apart from then Economy Minister Naftali Bennett) did not ask the military to present them with operational plans to combat the threat.
  • The failure of defence officials to present the requisite information to the cabinet ministers – thus creating a significant gap in their knowledge and ability to render decisions in an optimal manner leading up to and during the war – was not intentional, but rather a systemic oversight.
  • The Shin Bet and Military Intelligence (MI) did not coordinate properly with respect to the Gaza Strip, resulting in, among other failures, significant intelligence gaps in the lead-up to the war.
  • The security cabinet’s role and authorities remains ambiguous.

The report noted that during Netanyahu’s third term – from March 2013 through June 2014 until the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by a Hamas cell based near Hebron – the security cabinet held no discussions about the dire conditions in the Gaza Strip, or whether the failure to alleviate these conditions would provide an impetus for Hamas to commence hostilities. While Shapira has taken some criticism from members of the government, a number of his findings – particularly about the lack of cabinet discussions on Gaza and the Prime Minister’s utilisation, or lack thereof, of the security cabinet – corroborates with the findings from MK Ofer Shelah, based on his work on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee (FADC), which began an investigation into Operation Protective Edge in September 2014. The investigation was never completed after new Knesset elections were announced in December 2014.

The flawed decision-making process depicted in the report was not unique to Operation Protective Edge. Israel’s Prime Ministers often prefer to engage with a kitchen cabinet rather than the larger security cabinet when it comes to decision-making, due to a fear of leaks and Israeli Governments consisting of multi-party coalitions and the cabinet comprised of the Prime Minister’s political rivals. Furthermore, the primacy of the defence establishment and the corresponding weakness of civilian institutions – such as the Foreign Ministry – often lead the government to focus on military options rather than giving adequate consideration to diplomatic alternatives.

Shapira’s report largely reiterates the hallmarks of a flawed systemic decision-making process on matters of national security that has existed for decades – despite the various commissions of inquiry and comptroller audits that, over the years, have underscored the need for reform.

Following the investigation into the government and military’s failings in the lead-up to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Agranat Commission found the independence in decision-making to be highly problematic, and highlighted the need for broader input from cabinet ministers on matters of national security. The 2008 final report of the Winograd Commission following the Second Lebanon War found “serious failings and shortcomings in the decision-making processes and staff work in the political and the military echelons and their interface” as well as “serious failings and flaws in the lack of strategic thinking and planning, in both the political and the military echelons”.

The military has internalised many of the lessons of Operation Protective Edge and previous rounds of violence with Hamas. In August 2015, IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eisenkot published a new IDF strategy highlighting the major changes in Israel’s strategic landscape, particularly with respect to non-state actors, while clarifying the IDF’s role in prolonging the periods in-between wars as well as defining the concept of “decisive victory” in an era of protracted asymmetric conflicts. Eisenkot also declared that the tunnel threat would be a “top priority“ for 2016, though as the news this week indicates, more needs to be done on this front to mitigate the threat.

The frequency of military escalation between Israel and sub-state actors over the past decade has led the government to strive to keep the focus on the achievements in each period of hostility – namely, “quiet” and the benefits of deterrence. Yet, while the military prepares for the next round of fighting and some improvements to civil defence are implemented, the requisite changes in the political elite’s decision-making process have failed to advance

Click here to read the full article.

INSCT alumna Lauren Mellinger (JD/MAIR ’10) is a BICOM Research Fellow and a Ph.D. candidate at King’s College, University of London.

Corri Zoli Assesses President Trump’s Speech to Congress on WSTM/WTVH

On Feb. 28, 2017, President Donald J. Trump addressed a Joint Session of Congress to outline in more detail his foreign and domestic policy priorities. The wide-ranging speech touched on several national security issues, including immigration, border control, and the ongoing struggle against terrorism, both at home and abroad. Syracuse, NY-based TV news stations WSTM and WTVH asked INSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli to discuss Trump’s performance in live interviews after the address. 

Gorsuch: A Justice Concerned with the Separation of Powers is the Right Man at the Right Time

By Tara Helfman

On the evening of January 31, 2017, the steps of the Supreme Court resembled a frantic game of Mad Libs. Clusters of protestors had gathered in front of the high court to await President Trump’s nomination of a successor to the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia almost one year earlier. Bundled against the cold, they held fill-in-the-blank signs that spoke more eloquently to the politicization of the nomination process than any stem-winder ever could:

“OPPOSE ________”
“Lost in this political arms race is the judicial record of a man whose entire judicial philosophy is predicated on a profound commitment to the separation of powers.”

But that night, a president who had won office in part by promising Americans the best of everything, from the “best wall” on the border with Mexico to the “best deals” with our trading partners, delivered on one of his campaign promises. “When Justice Scalia passed away suddenly last February,” President Trump announced, “I made a promise to the American people: If I were elected president, I would find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court.” The hyperbole is excusable: Neil Gorsuch is certainly one of the best jurists.

His educational background is impeccable: a B.A. from Columbia, a J.D. from Harvard, and a D.Phil. from Oxford, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. His professional background is unimpeachable: clerkships on the D.C. Circuit and the United States Supreme Court, years in private practice, and a stint at the Department of Justice as deputy associate attorney general. And for the last 10 years, Gorsuch has served on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has earned a reputation for uncompromising textualism, rigorous originalism, and lucid, engaging judicial opinions.

None of this mattered to the Sharpie-wielding protestors on the steps of the Supreme Court, who finally had the proper noun they needed to finish their posters. Nor does it seem to matter to the Democratic leadership in the Senate. The fact is that, whoever the nominee and whatever his credentials, the battle lines in the struggle over Scalia’s successor had been drawn long before the nation ever heard the name Neil Gorsuch. They had been drawn almost a year ago, when Senate Republicans refused to give Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the vacancy, a hearing.

Article II of the Constitution vests in the president the sole power to nominate justices of the Supreme Court, but it vests in the Senate the power to confirm those nominees. When President Obama put Garland’s name forward in a tumultuous election year, Senate Republicans argued that the nomination was more properly left to the next president, whoever that might be. It was a gamble: Denying Judge Garland a hearing might have meant trading a moderate Obama nominee for an activist Clinton nominee. Candidate Trump upped the ante by releasing a list of 21 names from which he pledged to select a Supreme Court nominee.

Indeed, until the late hours of November 8, it seemed that the Republican Senate had overplayed its hand. But when Trump swept the Rust Belt table, Democrats branded the gambit nothing short of grand larceny, the “theft” of a Supreme Court seat that rightly belonged to President Obama’s nominee. To be sure, the Constitution does not require the Senate to give a hearing to every Supreme Court nominee, but why let reality stand in the way of rhetoric? Enter Judge Gorsuch, who is supremely qualified for the job, but whom Senate Democrats are effectively accusing of fencing stolen goods.

That opponents of the Gorsuch nomination have adopted #rememberMerrickGarland as their battle cry has less to do with the comparative merits of the nominees than it does with the procedural corner into which Senate Democrats have painted themselves. In 2013, under the leadership of Harry Reid, Senate Democrats changed the procedure for ending the filibuster of presidential nominees for executive and judicial positions from a super-majority of 60 votes to a simple majority of 51. At the time, some Democrats, including now–Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, resisted the rule change on the ground that it would annihilate any remaining incentives for bipartisan compromise on nominees. They were right: The “nuclear option,” as the rule change was called, has all but pitted the parties against each other in a zero-sum competition over presidential nominations.

Supreme Court nominees were exempted from the 2013 rule so, for the time being, Gorsuch will still need a 60-vote majority to agree to end debate on his nomination (the filibuster prevents the cloture of such debate). At that point, assuming the point is reached, he can be confirmed by what is likely to be a simple majority somewhere in the 50s. Now Senator Schumer is leading the charge in the Senate to resist confirming Gorsuch, citing the “unprecedented strain on the Constitution” unleashed by the Trump administration. In an op-ed in Politico, Schumer explained his party’s position: “[The President’s] actions show a lack of respect for the separation of powers—and that’s why Senate Democrats will do everything we can to make sure that the next Supreme Court justice will be an independent check on an out-of-control executive.” For his part, Trump has urged Senate Republicans to push the button and extend the nuclear option to high-court nominees.

Lost in this political arms race is the judicial record of a man whose entire judicial philosophy is predicated on a profound commitment to the separation of powers. Gorsuch’s understanding of this doctrine is not, as Senate Democrats are deploying the phrase, tantamount to wholesale judicial opposition to the Trump agenda. Rather, to Judge Gorsuch, the separation of powers is the very bedrock of political and individual liberty in the United States, the very genius of the American Constitution …

To read the full article, click below …

Patriotic Gorsuch

INSCT Affiliated Faculty Member Tara Helfman is an Associate Professor at Syracuse Law and an expert in international law, constitutional law, and the law of the sea.

SU Panel of Experts to Discuss President Trump’s Immigration Executive Order, Feb. 24, 2017

Action by President Donald J. Trump on immigration policy has been swift. Just a week after his inauguration, Trump issued an executive order (EO) temporarily halting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. It was immediately met with popular protests, scholarly analysis, and eventually judicial review in the forming of a temporary restraining order (TRO) upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“I worry the damage is already done,” says Ken Harper. “I know that some SU departments are seeing a decrease in student and faculty interest.”

Critics contend the Jan. 27 EO wrongly suspended travel for all immigrant and non-immigrant visa holders from the seven countries, including those holding resident alien, student, and business travel visas. The TRO lifted some of these restrictions, but a chilling effect on business and educational travel—including to and from Syracuse University—has been reported.

Trump’s immigration policy continues to evolve rapidly. The president, after resolving to push the original EO through the courts, now appears to be preparing a new executive order; the Department of Homeland Security has issued “guidance memos” that outline plans for “aggressive enforcement of immigration laws”; and confusion about how to implement the original EO continues.

For those confused by Trump’s immigration EO; interested in the legal, social, and political ramifications of Trump’s immigration policies; or even affected by the original “travel ban,” the International Law Society will host an interdisciplinary roundtable on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Empire Lecture Hall, 440 Dineen Hall, SU College of Law.

Speaking at “President Donald J. Trump’s Immigration Order & Travel Ban” will be SU experts from the fields of political science, Middle East studies, immigration law, international law, human rights, and public affairs: Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Chair, Department of Political Science, Maxwell School; Ken Harper, Director, Newhouse Center for Global Engagement; Gary Kelder, Professor, SU Law; Andrew Kim, Associate Professor, SU Law; Stephen Pike, Assistant Professor, Newhouse School; and Corri Zoli, Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.

SU Law LL.M. students Kseniia Guliaeva and Amanda Freire de Almeida developed the idea for the panel after hearing from friends and colleagues in the wake of the Jan. 27 EO. “Many of us know people personally affected by the EO,” says Guliaeva, a Fulbright scholar from Krasnoyarsk in central Russia. “They have a lot of questions about what is happening, and they pushed us to organize this event.”

Freire de Almeida, from Belém, Brasil, says she has friends from Iran and other countries listed in the EO, some of whom are now reluctant to leave the US to visit family. “I believe that the travel ban has been very chaotic, but I believe that justice will prevail,” she says. When setting up the panel, she and Guliaeva wanted to ensure that many viewpoints would be heard, not just legal. “I hope the discussion will help the audience respect a diversity of views. When critiquing the EO, we can’t just rely on one perspective, we must open our minds in order to reach a common sense opinion.”

Panelist Mehrzad Boroujerdi says he also knows of SU students who aren’t travelling abroad and others reconsidering their decisions to attend the University. The panel, he hopes, will give students and others a more “holistic” view of issues surrounding immigration and Trump’s “travel ban,” although he is skeptical that even a revised order will calm the waters. “The EO was an ill-advised and draconian measure,” he says. “Re-writes will be tried, but if Trump insists on some of the more radical aspects, then protracted legal battles will ensue. Even if it is presented in a revised manner, it will have a chilling effect on research and studies at SU.”

I worry the damage is already done,” says Ken Harper, another panelist. “I know that some SU departments are seeing a decrease in student and faculty interest.” Harper, who works on international student projects, says he is concerned about how new immigration policies will affect SU’s international partnerships. “What better way to cut higher education institutions off at the knees than push international students away. We are in uncharted territory with this administration’s immigration actions.”

“The Jan. 27 EO came at a time of crisis in international affairs over immigration and refugees, a crisis that is testing whether norms and assumptions are sustainable,” say panelist Corri Zoli, putting the US immigration debate into its geopolitical context. “The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there’s an unprecedented 65 million forcibly displaced people on the move today, including more than 21 million refugees, more than half of whom are children. Many are fleeing conflict zones and rising ethnic and religious persecution in the Middle East and North Africa, while others are escaping from unsustainable economic and political conditions.”

As a young lawyer interested in a career in international law and human rights, Freire de Almeida believes that the strengths of American jurisprudence and separation of powers will balance the president’s executive powers in this case. “The US has a strong judicial system,” she says, “and you just can’t rely on presidential orders to create law.” Guliaeva, however, declined to predict what path Trump’s immigration policies will follow. “I will be able to answer that question with more authority after attending the panel discussion on Friday!” she says.

First It’s the Muslims: An Evolution to Dictatorship

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from Jurist | Feb. 3, 2017) How did a great country with a strong and respected place in the world, a center for culture and tolerance, elect a man who would plunge the world into what a commentator called “a place of anguish and fear”? This is a question many historians and policy makers asked themselves about Germany in the 1930’s.

“I have faced down dictators most of my professional life. To understand my adversary I have studied the twentieth century’s dictators, how they came to power, their psyche, and their methods of destroying their own citizens. There are patterns, similarities, regarding despots, dictators, and thugs who rise to and hold power in their countries.”

The manner in which Adolf Hitler came to power initially was legitimate and within the constitutional bounds of German law. An obscure former corporal in the German army, he ran for the highest political office in his country on a platform of nationalism, essentially declaring it time to make “Germany great again.” Stung by the humiliating terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany retreated inward burdened by reparations and eventual economic depression; this liberal democracy struggled to redefine itself in a post-WWI world. Hitler’s speeches declared that Germany could be a great country again, with a strong people, who could move forward to reclaim their historic place in Europe. All this rang true to a defeated people.

Hitler’s rhetoric in those days formed the murky beginnings of a far darker political dynamic, but the German people — Dem Deuctshevolk — shop workers, shopkeepers and farmers, looked beyond this darker theme and focused on a more promising future in a proud and assertive Germany. As he ran for Chancellor, Hitler focused on the economic issues of the time, promising to restore the German economy and bring back jobs. “German business first” was what a German citizen liked to hear.

Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, barely more than eight years after he was released from a Bavarian prison for the Beer Hall Putsch. The first year of his rise to power was a heady time where money poured into infrastructure and rebuilding the German army, in blatant violation of the Versailles Treaty. The concept of a people’s car, a Volkswagen, became a reality to be driven on the world’s first interstate road system, called the autobahn. German citizens saw jobs, better pay, and a brighter future.

Then the nibbling at Germany’s democratic principles began, subtle at first, but picked up over the next few years, and by the time of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, led to a state policy to shift power from the people to one person, a Fuehrer. Backed by the Reichstag, new laws were passed shifting the power to a single executive. Additionally, as this happened, Adolf Hitler began to raise the stakes against perceived enemies of the state by using fear to cause the German people to give away their freedoms one at a time to fight the threat — Bolsheviks, Slavs, and Jews. Claiming a conspiracy to keep Germany weak, various minorities were singled out as a threat to the country and its people. It was this existential threat from within and outside the country that Hitler built upon a fear so much so that the citizens of Germany turned to their leader, their Fuehrer, to protect them.

The intellectual elite of Germany and much of the middle class at first stood back, amused, embarrassed, disbelieving that this proud nation of culture, of tolerance, of openness would elect this small little man who ranted and raved about a great German nation, a Reich that would last a thousand years. They could not believe that he would last long politically and stood aside in the early years thinking that the political system in place would cause his demise. By the time they realized the shift of almost complete power to one man had actually happened, it was too late. They had only one choice: swear allegiance or leave. Some left when they still could, but most stayed and accepted their national fate.

I have faced down dictators most of my professional life. To understand my adversary I have studied the twentieth century’s dictators, how they came to power, their psyche, and their methods of destroying their own citizens. There are patterns, similarities, regarding despots, dictators, and thugs who rise to and hold power in their countries. Their track record is horrific with the destruction of over 95 million human beings at the hands of these dictators in the last century.

Understanding the similar conduct of largely ordinary men rising to absolute power can help us in many ways: from investigating and prosecuting them for violations of domestic and international crimes, identifying those politicians or political movements trending toward despotism, to prevention and counter measures to blunt their move to power. Liberal democracies today need to understand the past, the present trends, to protect our futures. The consideration of these traits are instructive today in the United States and elsewhere.

So what are those similarities among despots and dictators? First in a country where a dictator comes to power, there is an anger towards the establishment, a long term disappointment and lack of trust in their government.They use this loss of faith in the centralized government to start building a political base to gain power. Dictators want to “drain the swamp,” to clean house, to start over.

Second, the rising dictator uses fear to shift that frustration away from their policies to what is called “a boogey man.” Dictators for a century all used a “boogey man” to focus their citizenry away from their absolute power to a threat outside the country. The Three Pashas in Turkey blamed the Christian Armenians for the loss of the Ottoman Empire; Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews for weakening Germany; Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung focused on Western capitalism; and the Ayatollah of Iran blamed the Great Satan of America for their economic problems. Outsiders who were different, who had a different religion became an internal and external threat and were either accounted for and interned or deported. Those who sought admission to their country were banned for who or what they were.

Third, dictators view the press as their enemy and initially seek to limit press access to their regimes, then ban or control the press entirely. They consider the press an enemy of the state and take appropriate action. The liberal press is blamed for factual distortions. The dictator declares they are not using real facts and fashion their own truths, what you would call today “alternative facts.” Joseph Goebbels stated that “if you lie to the people long enough, they will believe it as the truth.” In a dictatorship the truth is the first casualty …

To read the whole blog, click here.

A Need to Be Responsive: Corri Zoli Speaks to Syracuse.com About the Trump Immigration EO

Trump immigration order: Is it a Muslim ban? What’s the case for it?

(Syracuse Post-Standard | Feb. 2, 2016) The partisan furor over President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, the problems caused by its rushed implementation and the campaign rhetoric that preceded it are drowning out discussion of the policy itself.

“Trump has an uncanny ability, in part through his ‘brute force’ use of language, to force difficult conversations.”

The executive order halts for 90 days the entry of immigrants and non-immigrants from seven nations – Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The countries are not named in the order. They were identified as “countries of concern” by the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to a 2015 law that tightened visa requirements for travelers after the Paris terror attacks.   

Trump’s executive order also shuts down admission of refugees from any country for 120 days, caps refugee admissions at 50,000 and indefinitely suspends admission of Syrian refugees.

During these pauses, the Secretary of Homeland Security is required to review security procedures and develop new screening procedures with the goal of, as the title of the order says, “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.”

Corri Zoli, director of research and assistant research professor at the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University, said the negative reaction to Trump’s order may have more to do with the political polarization around the new president than its content. The executive order is not all that different in its assumptions from the Obama-era law that drew little attention or protest, she said. 

The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 passed Congress with broad bipartisan support. The law closed security gaps that could have allowed terrorists to get to the United States through countries whose residents don’t need a visa to travel here. The law requires such “visa waiver countries” to strengthen their own security measures and to share information with the United States. It requires travelers or nationals from the “countries of concern” to obtain a visa, subjecting them to greater scrutiny.

Zoli said rationale for the 2015 law was the 6,000-plus Europeans who have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight with ISIS or other terror groups. Their European passports could have allowed them entry into the United States without a visa. The countries of concern also lack basic security protocols, do not cooperate with international police to identify fraudulent passports, or simply may be hostile to the United States. Meanwhile, refugees fleeing from war may have little or no documentation of their identities. All of these factors heighten the risk of a terrorist slipping through.

“The sheer size of the immigrant population the U.S. deals with — not to mention all the categories of visa holders and travelers — makes these security policies need to be responsive to changing global conflict dynamics and terrorist changing strategies,” Zoli said.

Her reading of the executive order is that it is not a religious/Muslim ban, a nation of origin ban or a travel ban, “but it does aim to make for a better security screening system from countries of concern, even if one is just traveling through these repeatedly” …

… In a BBC interview, Jacobson responded to critics who pointed out that none of the terrorists who have attacked the United States came from the seven countries referred to in Trump’s order:

“… in terms of whether people from those countries have conducted past attacks, that’s not the point of the security measures that are taken in immigration, it’s meant to prevent foreign fighters in a new environment, one that didn’t exist 10 years ago, being infiltrated into the U.S. much as they’ve been infiltrated into Europe, and ISIS stated goal is to infiltrate people. That’s not something that existed several years ago. So I think it’s apples and oranges to say that just because no one from these countries has previously attacked that there isn’t a real threat.”

Zoli, of Syracuse University, said the president’s brash approach is forcing us to have discussions we’ve largely sidestepped in this country as millions of refugees streamed out of conflict zones and into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the European continent.

“Trump has an uncanny ability, in part through his ‘brute force’ use of language, to force difficult conversations and get us to break through on the sensitivities and political correctness barriers that had held the public back from dealing with some basic obligations of governance,” she said.

To read the full opinion piece, click here.

Will Israel Bar Entry of Foreign BDS Activists?

By Miriam Elman 

(Re-published from Legal Insurrection | Feb. 1, 2017) On Monday Jan. 30, Israel’s parliament (the Knesset) was set to pass into law a bill that bars BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) advocates from the country.

“Opponents are right that if the new law is executed poorly, it could defeat its purpose by increasing support for BDS.”

The bill would extend the ban to those who back the anti-Israel BDS movement as well as those who support the boycott of settlement goods in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank.

The bill has been in the works for over a year, passing its first Knesset reading back in November. Two weeks ago, the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee reportedly approved the final wording of the bill, sending it to the plenary for its second and third/final reading. That was supposed to happen on Monday evening (Israel time), when the bill was anticipated to garner a sufficient number of votes in favor to pass. On Monday afternoon (EST) I learned from several colleagues that the vote was postponed. They tell me that there’s no indication when the bill will be back on the Knesset agenda.

The delay is a shame. That’s because this is a bill that needs to become law—the sooner the better.

Below I summarize it, discuss the criticisms that have been raised, and highlight the type of virulently anti-Israel “tourist activism” that’s likely to be impacted if the bill becomes law (and the kind that won’t).

Not surprisingly, the anti-boycott bill has generated “outrage and dismay” from left-of-center legislators and NGOs in both Israel and the U.S. As I suggest below though, most of the criticisms are overblown. The law would be an important corrective to an absurd situation that’s developed in Israel where foreign activists routinely take advantage of the country’s democracy in order to work against it. Still, opponents are right that if the new law is executed poorly, it could defeat its purpose by increasing support for BDS.

Also included below is a short statement exclusive for Legal Insurrection from Lahav Harkov, the Knesset reporter for The Jerusalem Post.

Israel’s Latest Anti-Boycott Bill

The proposed legislation, which has been advanced by both right-wing and centrist Israeli lawmakers, seeks to prevent foreign nationals who have publicly called for a boycott of the Jewish state, or who work on behalf of a pro-BDS organization, from entering Israel.

Jonathan Lis reports for Haaretz.com:

The Knesset is likely to give final approval Monday evening to a bill that would forbid granting entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the settlementsHowever, the interior minister would be able to make exceptions to this rule if he deems it warranted in a particular case.”

The language of the bill rests on a legal definition of anti-Israel boycotts from a 2011 law, which allows citizens to bring civil suits against Israeli persons and organizations that call for the boycott of Israel and settlements.

So a key aspect of the bill is that it extends to cover settlement-boycott supporters who would also be barred from entering the country under the law (the ban wouldn’t apply to foreign nationals who already have residency permits).

The bill has been in the works for some months, gaining traction following the formation of a joint taskforce this past August. Convened by Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Deri, the taskforce was mandated to work on ways to prevent entry and to deport BDS activists who are illegally exploiting their tourist visas by engaging in political activities.

Note that representatives of international organizations are able to apply for humanitarian aid visas in order to work in the West Bank legally. But the terms of these visas prohibit recipients from engaging in political or legal activities. So the taskforce was asked to consider how Israel could rectify the situation in which BDS activists are routinely receiving 3-month tourist visas in lieu of the specific humanitarian aid visas, and are thus operating in the country illegally. The bill is a result of the taskforce’s effort.

It was approved for a first reading in the Knesset back in November, with 42 lawmakers in favor, 18 opposed and 7 abstentions. The bill had been on last week’s plenary agenda for a final reading and vote, but was postponed at that time too …

To read the whole post, click here.