Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cruising the Web

On the 70th anniversary of Israel's birth, Jeff Jacoby reminds us how Jews were expelled from Arab lands. Few people remember those refugees today; instead the concentration is on the Arabs who voluntarily fled Israel, not those Jews forced from their homelands.
The “Jewish nakba” of the 1940s is now largely forgotten. Yet in terms of the number of people affected, property lost, and history erased, the catastrophe that befell the Jews of the Arab world dwarfed what happened to the Palestinians.

Jews had been living in the Arab lands since time immemorial; in countries like Egypt, Iraq, and Libya, Jewish communities flourished centuries before the advent of Islam. Jewish life was integral to Middle East society, drawing on some of the world’s most ancient cultural roots.

But with the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in Palestine, antisemitic fury erupted across the region and those roots were ripped out. As the UN in 1947 debated whether to adopt the partition plan authorizing a Jewish state, Arab leaders had warned that violence against Jews would be uncontrollable. Addressing the UN General Assembly, the Egyptian ambassador Heykal Pasha threatened “the massacre of a large number of Jews” if the partition plan were adopted.

In reality, the waves of expulsion and expropriation that ensued were orchestrated less by Arab mobs than by Arab governments, which passed harsh new laws stripping Jews of their property. In time, some 900,000 Jews were dispossessed or banished. Most of them made their way to Israel, which welcomed them as new citizens. Many had little more than the clothes on their backs; they had no choice but to rebuild their lives from scratch, while dealing with the trauma of upheaval and shattering loss as best they could.

Fortunately for them, that’s what they were expected to do. Unlike Palestinian refugees, the Jews expelled from Arab countries were not encouraged to keep believing that they would return and reclaim their lost homes. They were not kept in refugee camps for decades, or denied the right to become citizens of countries that took them in. The grievous psychological injuries suffered by the Jewish refugees were allowed to heal. Not so the Palestinians. Their cynical leaders sought to keep their wounds festering, the better to exploit them as a political and propaganda tool against Israel.
Jacoby reminds us of the millions in the 1940s and since who have been refugees from their homes due to war. True success for these refugees is if they can be peacefully resettled somewhere to build new lives. Instead, the Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 have become weapons of propaganda to be used against Israel in the minds of Arabs and westerners instead of being allowed to build new lives in Arab or other lands.
Jews and Palestinians weren’t the only refugees in the 1940s. Terror, poverty, and persecution put tens of millions of people to flight during and after World War II. Vast numbers of ethnic Germans were expelled after the war from the Soviet Union, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. The partition of the Indian subcontinent displaced 14 million men, women, and children. Driven by terrible circumstances, countless human beings had to run for their lives and start over in a strange land.

As countless human beings, from Syria to Myanmar, still do.

Then as now, the best hope for refugees lies in resettlement, not in dreams of return. The Palestinian refugees’ worst catastrophe wasn’t displacement, a fate they have shared with much of mankind. It was being fed a lie — that the clock will be turned back, and the last 70 years undone. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the 1948 refugees, whether they live in Lebanon or Jordan, in America or the West Bank, are not refugees. They are at home. That is how they should think of themselves. That is how they should insist that the world think of them. No one is going back to the 1940s. Once Palestinians stop believing otherwise, the “nakba” will be at an end.
But they won't because their personal tragedies are of more use to their cynical leaders than actual improvement in their situations.

The media continues their bias in reporting on Israel. The latest example is how they depict the deaths of Palestinians who tried to storm into Israel. Jim Geraghty notes this language choice from an NBC report on the hundreds of Palestinians trying to enter Israel.
On Monday and Tuesday, Artema’s audacious “Great March of Return” faces what could be its most formidable and perhaps final test: an attempt by hundreds of thousands of protesters to breach the razor wire fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

By 7:15 a.m. ET Monday, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said 16 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces and more than 500 others wounded. The Israeli Defense Forces accused Hamas of “leading a terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people” and warned that troops would “act forcefully” to “prevent attacks on Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.”

Broad buy-in is part of the strategy. Organizers say the “Great March of Return” is financed by small donations and governed by a central committee of about 27 seats populated by representatives from some 18 political and civil society groups — including the dominant West Bank political party Fatah, as well as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both of which are recognized by the U.S. as terrorist organizations.
Geraghty comments,
Just how many people do you have to kill before Western media organizations stop calling you a “civil society group”? Some might find car bombs, suicide bombers, and rocket attacks “uncivil.”

We can argue about whether Palestinians should be able to cross that border, but what do you think will happen if you try to cross an Israeli border? That the armed border guards will just politely ask you to turn around? The Israeli military already made clear exactly what they’ll do: “open fire on any armed Palestinian up to 300 meters from the border fence.” The military reporter also said “the directives included an order to open fire at any Palestinian protester if he comes within 100 meters of the border fence.”

Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, D.C., writes that provoking a conflict that spurs a lot of Palestinian civilian casualties is the only card Hamas has left to play
Yes, conditions are wretched within Gaza, but whose fault is that? Hamas tries to blame Israel for its own decisions to ignore the conditions of its citizens while funding terrorist efforts against Israel.
At what point do the Palestinians start holding Hamas accountable for the decisions it makes?

A desalinization plant would cost about $100 million and wastewater treatment options range in cost; as of 2013, Hamas’s budget was $700 million. But they spend a lot of that on rockets and arms instead of maintaining the basic services of a functioning society, such as water and sewage and electricity.

Ibish concludes that “if Israel continues to use live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, even at the border, Hamas will continue to reap the benefits.”

How significant are those benefits, though? Bad publicity and international condemnations for Israel? Israeli leaders get denounced 20 times before breakfast. A lot of Europeans are always up for some rhetorical Israel-bashing, but how often do they really take action to improve life for Palestinians? A lot of people have died waiting for Western nations to react to outrages, both alleged or indisputable. The United States and Europe just watched so many people get killed in the Syrian civil war that they lost count of them, and that multi-year conflict created a refugee crisis so bad that it reached Europe, and they still intervened only minimally. Just what does Hamas think the rest of the world is willing to do to Israel?

Ben Shapiro has more on media bias
favoring terrorists over Israel.
Take, for example, this Washington Post headline: “Israelis kill dozens of Palestinians in Gaza protesting US Embassy move to Jerusalem.” This makes it sound as though a bunch of peaceful protesters gathered in Gaza for a sit-in. Not so much. The same article quotes one of the “protesters,” 23-year-old Mohammed Mansoura: “We are excited to storm and get inside…Whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.” The New York Times similarly headlined, “Israeli Troops Kill Dozens of Palestinian Protesters.” The Wall Street Journal headlined, “Scores Killed, Thousands Injured as Palestinians Protest US Embassy Opening In Jerusalem.” That same article acknowledged, however, that “Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, which controls the territory, suggested last week that more than 100,000 people could storm the fence on Tuesday. Israeli military officials say it has information that Hamas is using the protests as a pretext to stage an attack into Israel. Earlier in the morning Israel’s military dropped leaflets over Gaza warning residents not to approach the border.”

Organizers of the “protests” are telling demonstrators that they should attempt to burst through the border fence, and lying that Israeli soldiers were “fleeing their positions.” According to the Jerusalem Post, “Some 35,000 Palestinians were reported by the IDF as taking part in violent protests at 12 different locations along the fence, throwing stones, explosive devices, and Molotov cocktails at the fence and IDF troops, burning tires, and other burning objects with the intention of setting fires in Israeli territory. The Jerusalem Post witnessed at least six incendiary kites, with two setting fires in fields near Kibbutz Nahal Oz.” At one outpost, Palestinians laid an explosive device. The IDF spokesman, Ronen Manelis, says that Hamas is paying families to protest, and that Hamas was planning to use the protests as cover to abduct soldiers.

As always, Hamas and other terrorist groups hide their terrorists among civilian populations in an attempt to portray Israeli troops as targeting civilians. That’s untrue. Israel has utter air and ground superiority – if it wanted to kill protesters en masse, there would be no logistical problem in doing so. Israel stringently attempts to protect civilians on both sides.
Why headline stories to make it sound as if it is Israel that is harming peaceful protesters when it is clear that that is not the case?
The media’s willingness to do Hamas’ dirty work in distributing their propaganda is horrendous. These are not protesters being killed. These are rioters attacking a sovereign nation’s border and attempting to harm its soldiers. To cover them as peaceful protesters merely hoping to spread flower power is a lie, and a lie on behalf of one of the world’s worst terror organizations.
But there are those in the West who would prefer to side with the terrorists if it gives them an opportunity to make Israel look bad. It's as if a sovereign nation has no right to protect its borders. Remember that when Israel chose to withdraw from Gaza in 2005, they forced Israelis living there to leave. This was hugely controversial in Israel, but they did it and handed over the territory to the Palestinians. Then Hamas took control and conditions have deteriorated ever since. That is their fault, not Israel's. They chose to focus solely on terrorist attacks on Israels rather than strengthening their economy and helping their citizens. They're now using these rioters to launch missile attacks into Israel which has the responsibility to protect its own citizens against these violent attacks. It is only in this topsy-turvy world where terrorism is praised and self-defense is slammed that we have these reports and the response among certain westerners who detest Israel, the only free democracy in the Middle East.

And, of course, Iran is funding the terrorists.
Iran is funding Hamas’s campaign to promote violence and attacks against Israel under the cover of mass demonstrations at the border, the Shin Bet security service said on Monday.

Hamas has warned its own members to stay away from the security fence during Gaza’s mass protests, lest they get shot, while actively encouraging Palestinian civilians — particularly children and teens — to approach the border, the Shin Bet added, citing findings from a number of interrogations. If the fence is breached, however, armed Hamas gunmen are poised to enter Israel to carry out attacks.

“There is a prohibition for Hamas operatives to approach the border, from a fear that they will be killed or captured by IDF troops, unless the security fence falls and then they must enter, armed, into Israel under the cover of the masses and carry out terror attacks,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Note that they're encouraging civilians, "particularly children and teens" to endanger themselves. The whole goal is for these children to be killed so that Israel gets condemned. What people encourage the deaths of their children? And Iran is funding the whole thing, probably from money allowed it by the Obama administration.

Jay Cost presents a good history of the electoral coalitions in the 20th and 21st centuries to explain why the Democrats have turned against the Electoral College. They now face a disadvantage because of the fracturing of their partisan coalition of farmers and labor. And with that fracturing, they've lost control of states that they used to win.
By the end of the century, though, enormous changes had transformed the Democratic party, as evidenced by Al Gore’s narrow loss in 2000. Gore’s Electoral College vote was concentrated on the West Coast, the mid-Atlantic, and New England, reflecting the growing prominence of upscale whites and minorities in the party’s coalition. Meanwhile, George W. Bush swept the South. He also he did very well in the Upper Midwest. Gore held on to a sufficiently large share of working-class Democrats in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota to carry those states, but his margins were very thin.

The trend of 2000 became more pronounced in 2004. And in certain places, we saw it persist during the Barack Obama years as well. Though Obama held on to the Upper Midwest, the Democratic position in places like western Pennsylvania began to collapse, as this region — which had largely voted for Walter Mondale over Ronald Reagan — voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Similarly, states that had once been competitive for Democrats — West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana — all fell solidly into the Republican column. On net, this did not make a difference, because Obama further developed the “rising” Democratic coalition of minorities and upscale whites to win reelection, albeit with fewer Electoral College votes and a smaller share of the popular vote than he won in 2008.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the same basic coalition that Obama had expanded four years prior. But the last remnants of the old farmer–labor coalition bolted to Donald Trump, who nearly swept the Midwest. He even almost took Minnesota, which has not voted Republican since 1972. Also, in a telling development, he carried Ohio by eight percentage points, a larger margin than either side has enjoyed in 30 years.

These developments show that coalitions in this country change, for all manner of social, economic, and technological regions. This is part of the natural course of our politics, and not at all lamentable. In fact, I would suggest it is a sign of civic health.
Cost goes on to explain that, rather than trying to win back their old coalition, Democrats have turned on the Electoral College. The Democratic coalition today might be more numerous than the Republican coalition, but it's concentrated and that weakens it when it comes to counting the Electoral vote.
However, the new Democratic coalition — dominated by upscale whites and racial and ethnic minorities — is badly organized for capturing political power in the federal government. It is heavily concentrated in a handful of states that go comfortably for Democrats, leaving many states to go more narrowly for Republicans.

To wit: Donald Trump lost the popular vote by more than two percentage points in 2016, yet he carried 30 of 50 states and won 304 Electoral College votes....

All in all, the collapse of the Democratic farmer–labor coalition, and the rise of the new upscale–minority coalition, has resulted in Republicans now enjoying a noticeable edge in securing an Electoral College majority, and a huge advantage in winning a Senate majority.

I think this is why many on the Left are riled up about the Electoral College and the Senate. The structural biases of these institutions have long been noticed by just about everybody who cared to study the matter but are only recently being felt by Democrats.

I applaud Monday's Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal law banning 46 states from banning sports betting. Michael McCann explains over at Sports Illustrated why the federal government lost its case.
The takeaway from Monday’s ruling is that each of the 50 states can now license sports betting. However, the legal question considered by the Supreme Court was not so straightforward. New Jersey first highlighted that PASPA compels New Jersey to do what it doesn’t want to do: deny sports betting under New Jersey law. From this lens, New Jersey has insisted PASPA makes the state act against its own self-interest.

To link such a contention to legal doctrine, New Jersey maintained that PASPA was incompatible with the so-called “anticommandeering” doctrine. This doctrine derives constitutional support from the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and, in a general sense, precludes Congress from ordering states to adopt a specific regulatory scheme when the federal government itself has not adopted a relevant scheme. PASPA fits within at least part of that argument: It doesn’t create a federal standard for sports betting, but it blocks 46 states from doing so under their own laws.

The more divisive question is whether PASPA goes further to “commandeer” New Jersey to adopt a particular scheme. The leagues and the Justice Department argued PASPA doesn’t commandeer New Jersey to adopt any scheme. From their vantage point, it merely stops New Jersey from legalizing sports betting. New Jersey disagreed, stressing that when the federal government prevents a state from pursuing a policy it wishes to pursue, the federal government has engaged in a form of commandeering. Much of the debate therefore centered on the appropriate meaning of “commandeering” in the context of constitutional law, and whether it requires forcing a state to take action or whether it also includes preventing a state from taking action.

New Jersey’s commandeering argument clearly resonated with Justice Alito, who noted “PASPA’s provision prohibiting state ‘licens[ing]’ of sports gambling schemes violates the anticommandeering rule. It issues a direct order to the state legislature . . . [and] unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do.”

To bolster this conclusion, Alito observes that “conspicuously absent from the list of powers given to Congress” in the U.S. Constitution “is the power to issue direct orders to the governments of the States.” To that end, Alito reasons that the leagues and Justice Department seem to have forgotten a common-sense understanding of the lay of the land when PASPA became law in the early ’90s. “At that time,” Alito writes, “sports gambling was generally prohibited by state law, and therefore a state’s political subdivisions were powerless to legalize the activity.” Alito then asks, “What if a state enacted a law enabling, but not requiring, one or more of its subdivisions to decide whether to authorize sports gambling? Such a state law would not itself authorize sports gambling.” A federal mandate like PASPA, then, would supersede the state’s sovereignty on the issue of sports gambling.

As a secondary argument, New Jersey underlined the apparent unfairness of the federal government treating Nevada more favorably than 46 states. In that regard, PASPA is an unusual federal law. Federal laws normally treat the 50 states equally. Not so with PASPA, which grandfathered out the four states that had already adopted sports betting systems.

This secondary legal argument connects to an American legal principle. Although not expressly stated in the Constitution, judges over the years have endorsed the so-called “equal sovereignty doctrine.” This doctrine simply instructs that the federal government can’t provide preferential treatment to certain states when states are owed equal treatment from the federal government. Of benefit to New Jersey, one of the judges who has long advocated for the equal sovereignty doctrine is Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
This case falls in a line of Supreme Court decisions to limit the power of the federal government over the states. For too long, the Court had basically permitted the federal government to do whatever it wished when it comes to asserting itself over the states. That started to roll back in the early 1990s under the Rehnquist Court. Ilya Shapiro explains why the sports betting decision is so important to our understanding of the limits of federal power.
In the first “anti-commandeering” case in more than 20 years, the Court resoundingly (7-2) reaffirmed a principle that should be obvious: the federal government can’t force states to pursue federal policy. That there were seven votes for that proposition underlines the renewed interest in federalism that’s spreading across the country.

Indeed, as important as Murphy v. NCAA is for the gaming industry, the reason this case was so closely watched is because of its implications on so many areas of policy that have revealed federal-state tensions of late. From environmental regulation to sanctuary cities, marijuana to guns, states are flexing their sovereign muscles in a way that strengthens our body politic. It’s insane to think that in a large, pluralistic country like the United States, so many decisions should be made one-size-fits-all in Washington. Federalism is good for red states and blue states alike.

Finally, a note on what the Court didn’t decide today: despite the protestations of the two dissenting justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor), it’s not at all clear that the federal government has constitutional authority to ban or regulate in-state gambling (if it decided to do so directly now that it can’t force the states to do its dirty work). If New Jersey and Nevada want to allow the March Madness money to flow, while Utah and Georgia don’t, what business is it of Congress? Justice Clarence Thomas was right to call this out—so remember this day if and when the justices ever reconsider their overexpansive Commerce Clause jurisprudence.
I don't really have strong feelings about the public policy itself on sports betting, but I do have strong feelings on federalism. If states want to allow sports betting, let them do it. Why should Nevada and three other states be able to allow the betting just because they were grandfathered in?

McCann analyzes the winners and losers from today's decision. Chris Christie has been vindicated, though it comes a bit late for him and his poll numbers. Las Vegas and off-shore betting sites are big losers. States that want to implement sports betting are winners. The sports leagues who opposed betting are losers, even though everyone knows that such betting already goes on. Addicts are losers, but then they were already finding ways to feed their addiction.