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  • Senate Discusses Ideas Raised in Exec Board, Nov. 6

    At this week’s Senate meeting, ASCMC senators considered a transparency constitutional amendment and discussed a proposal to build a hammock lounge in Mid Quad. Regarding the ASCMC Constitution, President Pro Tempore Thomas Shalke '18 spoke about the updates he has made to it (the full change-log can be found below). He focused on the most significant update: the provision that “at the discretion of the president pro tempore, electronic communications pertaining to votes shall be presumed public and may be included in the next set of minutes.” For example, a couple weeks ago, the ASCMC Executive Board held a vote within an email chain regarding the status of student club 5C InterVarsity. Under the new amendment, the conversation surrounding the vote in this email chain would have been disclosed in the subsequent minutes. Shalke announced that there would be a vote on the updated constitution in the ASCMC Executive Board meeting next Sunday, and a vote in Senate next Monday. Constitutional Changes Log: Added non-discrimination clause Added 50%+1 majority for votes and explained abstentions All electronic communications pertaining to voting are presumed public and will be published if either the Pro Tempore or Board feel it is appropriate Give the CO Chair a vote on Board Fixed some numbering issues Tightened language in order to maintain 10,000-word length The majority of the meeting included a discussion of a hammock lounge in mid quad. For the past few months, Executive Vice President Patrick Elliott '19 and Campus Improvements Committee Chair Biniyam Asnake '20 have been working on getting the lounge approved with the help of Ken Eppinger at Story House. Elliot and Asnake will be requesting roughly $1,500 from Senate and about $3500 from the Executive Board. The hammock lounge in question is a free-standing structure, which Asnake likened to playground equipment. If implemented, CMC students will be able to either clip their own hammock onto the structure or rent one for a few days. CMC trustees have approved ASCMC to purchase a hammock lounge, namely David G. Mgrublian who spoke with Eppinger about the idea. Still, there are several concerns among ASCMC members. Senators expressed hesitation about using such a large part of the budget since Asnake asserted that the general fund is at a “historic low.” Schalke explained that there is less money in the general fund due to the excess money in the ASCMC budget taking a larger a hit than usual because of “unforeseen circumstances.” Elliott noted that he is investigating whether or not the infrastructure budget could be tapped into, and when asked, he noted that Dean of Students is not interested in pitching in. Furthermore, there are concerns about liability, since ASCMC would be funding the hammock lounge; therefore, all thefts and damages would come out of ASCMC’s pocket. Asnake stated that students would be required to sign a waiver through DoS to rent their first hammock in order to limit liability issues. Some Senate members questioned why hammocks had to be rented instead of remaining in the structure permanently. Elliott responded that Kammok, the hammock company, estimated that the hammocks would only last six months if constantly kept outdoors. Other members of Senate inquired about possible noise complaints from Mid Quad residents, and whether students would be likely to use the hammocks since they would be in very close proximity to each other, resulting in a lack of privacy. Asnake likened the hammock lounge to a regular lounge and noted that due to the low number of students on campus, noise levels were not likely to be too much of a concern. Elliott acknowledged these concerns and said he would pursue them if the plan moves forward. The structure would also be compatible with other hammocks, so some suggested alternatives to buying the $85 Kammok brand ones. Administrative Affairs and Appropriations Committee Chair Connor Bloom '19 suggested that students could bring their own hammocks, or that the dorm presidents could pitch in to provide them. Elliott responded that ASCMC is trying to provide an item that the whole student body can use, not just students who can afford their own hammocks. Student Engagement and Consortium Affairs Chair Elliot Behling '19 suggested a cheaper brand called Eaglenest Outfitters that sells hammocks for $50 to $70 and often has sales where they are sold for even cheaper. The Environmental Affairs Committee is working with the mailroom to reduce paper usage. The committee also hopes to improve awareness about checking out greenware for free.

  • Trump v. Biden on Trade

    As the 2024 presidential campaigns ramp up, much media attention has focused on marquee issues like President Joe Biden’s age and former President Donald Trump’s continuing legal battles. As a result, less attention has been paid to a crucial concern for many economists and financial analysts: trade policy. For decades, the United States enjoyed widespread, bipartisan support for free trade policies. Since the 1992 ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), presidents from both parties have signed dozens of agreements to facilitate global trade. Free trade policies are supported by economic theories that CMC students encounter as early as their freshman fall in Econ050. While international trade can produce relative winners and losers, it makes all nations better off in aggregate. Reducing barriers to import and export minimizes deadweight loss from tariffs and prohibitions. In just the last decade, however, the free trade consensus has faced new scrutiny. Critics argue that free trade deals have actually been damaging America. They claim that, while some large companies may profit from open trade, everyday Americans are hurt because of the opportunities and jobs lost to foreign nations. American politicians have started to respond to this frustration over the effects of globalization with increasingly protectionist trade policies. Donald Trump put this issue at the core of his 2016 campaign, promising to impose tariffs and pull out of free-trade agreements. Trump vowed to renegotiate deals to ensure that international trade policy was putting “America first.” Although it contradicted the long-standing conservative economic strategy of lowering barriers to trade, this sentiment was extraordinarily successful, particularly in Rust Belt states such as Ohio and Michigan. Now President Biden has followed suit. His administration has imposed higher standards on trade partners’ environmental practices and working conditions. The Biden administration has argued that, since foreign competitors don’t enforce stringent child and wage labor laws or environmental standards, these nations unfairly gain an advantage over American companies. This shift in the direction of American trade policy has raised alarm bells for foreign governments and businesses that have long benefitted from American trade deals. Large domestic corporations such as General Motors also heavily rely on these agreements. Trump’s recent announcements about tariffs have been especially concerning to international business leaders. Trump has promised to impose a 10% tariff on all imported goods. He has also floated plans to raise Chinese tariffs to 60% or higher. Economists and financial analysts are wary of these protectionist trade policies. One global strategist at Rabobank, Michael Every, warned that such policies would “shake up every asset class–equities, FX, bonds, you name it.” If a 10% tariff on imported goods is enacted, the tax would “distort global trade, discourage economic activity, and have broad negative consequences for the U.S. economy.” By disrupting the global markets that the U.S. also relies on, further protectionist policies may hurt American businesses in the process. While “America first” policies have been popular with American voters, they may come at the cost of damaging international relationships. Biden has expressed interest in engaging in trade with developing economies such as India, Brazil, and Indonesia. However, the Council on Foreign Relations recently released an article arguing that Biden’s turn against free trade will make it “hard to win friends.” In the article, Edward Alden argues that enforcing labor and environmental standards will halt trade with the same nations he is hoping to form relationships with. Until the election, it will be important to monitor how corporations, international headers, and American voters respond to changing trade policy. The result will have major implications all over the globe.

  • SJP Response to Forum Writer

    BY CLAREMONT SJP “If you want to stop Netenyahuism from growing, you have to fight to liberate the Palestinians. You have to fight to emancipate the Palestinians… As long as the Palestinians are occupied, Netenyahuism is the most adequate form of government in Israel.” Dr. Vjiay Prashad’s observation expresses Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine’s essential understanding: there can be no democracy in Israel until Palestine is liberated. The current objections held by liberal Israelis are misplaced. Netanyahu is a product of the occupation of Palestine, not a historical anomaly. Because the occupation itself systematically impedes civil and human rights, the author’s claims that the University of Haifa is “liberal” and “opposed to the Netanyahu government” have no relevance to our campaign, which specifically asks for Pitzer to suspend this study abroad program until: 1) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and 2) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities. The implication that Israeli universities are “natural allies” to SJP’s cause is a gross inaccuracy. As detailed in SJP’s campaign website, the University of Haifa directly opposes Palestinian liberation. Teddy Katz, former Israeli graduate student, interviewed over 135 Palestinians and Israelis to investigate the Tantura massacre for his graduate thesis. Despite receiving glowing academic reviews, the University of Haifa revoked his degree and accused him of libel. Allies to whom, then? One can only assume the author once again means “liberal” Israelis. The author also claims that a boycott eliminates the educational “opportunity” to study abroad in “the West Bank” or “in the Gaza Strip.” First, this begs the question of who exactly this “opportunity” is for, considering there are Palestinian students at the Claremont Colleges who would not be allowed to participate. There are over 7 million Palestinian refugees today, and many of them cannot enter the entirety of occupied Palestine because the Israeli government denies their right to return. An academic institution, such as the University of Haifa, that resides in this inaccessible territory is not an institution that values all students equally. Without all students being able to study abroad at the University, the institution is antithetical to academic freedom. Further, the University of Haifa is located about 100 miles North of Gaza and 20 miles Northwest of the West Bank. Mentions of both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are inaccurate and misguided, as the Israeli military consistently controls who enters these areas, including the passing of new restrictions in September 2022. Between 1947 and 1948, more than 40,000 Palestinian citizens of Haifa were forced from their homes. The University of Haifa was founded 15 years later, in 1963, on this stolen land. Next, the author falsely uses “Arab” and “Palestinian” interchangeably. The fact that the University of Haifa is “more than 40% Arab” has no bearing in reference to how many Palestinian students attend the University and, more importantly, obscures the racist reality of the occupation that undoubtedly influences their education. As stated by historian and activist Ilan Pappé: Half of the Palestinian students at the University of Haifa suffered from racist policies by the universities and attitudes by their lectures. Even during Ramadan, the university and the lectures did not allow any concessions as they would for Jewish students for their holidays. These are not marginal actions, but integral parts of the university policy. The author’s claim that the University is the “most diverse school in the Middle East” - a source for this would be nice - demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what diversity and equity actually mean. Palestinian students that make up this “diversity” are subject to racist policies and an inequitable education. Further, traveling to occupied Palestine to speak to these students and “learn first-hand” from them prioritizes non-Palestinian students’ desire to reach their own “conclusions” above the lived experiences of Palestinian students at the University, as well as negating the decades of work of Palestinian activists and scholars. The author then, randomly, invokes anti-Arab stereotypes, seemingly aiming to portray the state of Israel as a beacon of equity while painting a brush over the rest of the MENA region, citing discrimination against women, migrants, and LGBTQ communities. While there is truth to the claim that these marginalized communities face discrimination in Lebanon, these complex socio-political structures cannot be summarized in a single sentence. For further reading on the experiences of sexual minorities in Lebanon, we recommend Disruptive Situations by Ghassan Moussawi, as well as this response to the ethnography and how it connects to pinkwashing. The author, along with many students learning about SJP’s campaign, then asks, “Why Israel?” Firstly, the US funnels billions of dollars in military aid to Israel annually, amounting to a total of about $260 billion given to Israel by the US since 1946. The University of Haifa itself is home to Israeli army cadet programs, demonstrating a direct relationship between the University and the Israeli Occupation Forces that the US government funds. As discussed in “Why Israel?” by Pitzer Professor Daniel Segal, Israel relies on US military aid to continue the occupation of Palestine. Pitzer College, therefore, has a responsibility to withdraw any relationship it has with the state of Israel that contributes to the ongoing occupation. The second reason discussed by Professor Segal is that Palestinians themselves are asking for US support through BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) campaigns. Palestinian students at the University of Haifa have voiced support for academic boycotts, stating: We the Palestinian students in Haifa University refuse to be used as ‘the diversity’ pretension to whitewash its racist policies towards Palestinian students…Since we the Palestinian students in Haifa University are banned from supporting or calling for the boycott of Israeli universities and Israeli academia in general, we thank the rallying students for rising the Palestinian cause in American universities. Supporting the current call to suspend Pitzer’s study abroad to Haifa is one way that we, as students in the US, can support Palestinian liberation. The Pitzer student body and faculty of 2018-19 understood the importance of this boycott when they voted to suspend the program then. We hope the current student body will once again heed the call of Palestinians and reaffirm Pitzer’s support for this boycott. To learn more about Suspend Pitzer Haifa, visit SJP’s website. In solidarity, Claremont SJP

  • Don't Ban Haifa

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, the most right-wing and religiously conservative in Israel’s history, has proposed a judicial overhaul that would place unchecked power in the hands of the executive, remove protections afforded to individuals and minorities, and deepen the divisions in an already fractured society. In broad terms, the rupture in Israeli society has divided people into two camps: those who want a more secular and pluralist state and those with a more religious and Jewish nationalist vision. I sympathize with my peers in Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), who are fighting against this anti-Palestinian vision for Israel. However, I strongly disagree with their advocacy of an illiberal suspension of Pitzer College’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa. SJP’s pressure to end Pitzer’s participation in this program is part of the larger Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to punish Israel to incite political change. Israel’s policies, particularly its blockade of Gaza, its attacks on Hamas, and its settlements in the West Bank have inspired retaliatory action by American students and academics. Boycott advocates liken modern-day Israel to South African Apartheid. If boycotts, divestment, and other economic sanctions helped to end Apartheid, the same tactics can work to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories – so goes the argument. But let us ask a simple question: on whom would a boycott put pressure? The obvious answer is Israeli institutions of higher education, the ostensible targets of the boycott. But that answer unveils the confused logic of this SJP effort. Israeli universities, like American ones, are overwhelmingly liberal and opposed to the Netanyahu government. An analogy would be trying to put pressure on the Trump Administration by boycotting Pitzer. An academic boycott is the least effective of weapons. It punishes SJP’s natural allies while leaving the intended target unaffected. It would also prevent American students opposed to Israeli government policies from seeing and learning about their impact in person. As Oona Eisenstadt, Professor of Jewish and Religious Studies at Pomona, put it during a Salvatori Center lunch discussion last year – “Can you think of a better opportunity for 5C students interested in Israel/Palestine relations than a semester at Haifa University?” She’s right. The program is an opportunity in which students can travel to the West Bank and learn first-hand from Palestinians about their experiences while attending the most diverse school in the Middle East. Among Pitzer’s core values is the promotion of intercultural understanding. Central to this is its robust study abroad program that, in the words of former Pitzer President Melvin Oliver, “enables students to reach their own conclusions about the world’s most vexing challenges through on-the-ground, face-to-face experience.” There is also an issue of consistency and double standards. Pitzer’s study abroad program sponsors students to travel to places that include Kunming, China, and Beirut, Lebanon. China is among the most egregious violators of human rights in the world, a non-democracy without basic rights for its citizens, charged with genocide against the Uighur minority and terrible oppression in Tibet. According to Amnesty International, Lebanon discriminates against women, migrants, and LGBTQ+ people. Certainly, Pitzer’s study abroad programs in those countries do not amount to endorsements of the human rights violations of their respective ruling regimes. Just as those programs are not endorsements, the banning of a study abroad program in Israel is not a meaningful act of criticism, or an effective approach to changing government policies in Israel. It’s a symbolic posture that would accomplish nothing other than increasing our own ignorance of what’s really happening there.

  • LA Zoning Laws: Disastrous for its Economy and the Climate

    BY THEODORE SIASAT IMAGE COURTESY OF DAVID McNEW -- GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA Getting around Los Angeles without a car is incredibly frustrating. We've heard the stories: nightmarish congestion on the 405, blood-curdling traffic at LAX, and $50 Ubers to go out for dinner. It doesn't have to be like this. Cities like San Francisco and Seattle show that, with expanded multi-use land zoning and enhanced walkability, we don't have to rely on cars. Zoning is the practice of designating pieces of land for certain types of developments. Historically, it has been used to exclude people from housing based on race and income. LA has zoned 80 percent of residential land for single-family homes, meaning that affordable options like duplexes and apartments are banned in those zones. A study by UC Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute shows that the dominance of single-family zoning marginalizes low-income people and people of color to regions with less resources. LA's zoning has negative effects on its economy, climate, and overall attractiveness as a place to live. Single-family zoning makes cities more reliant on cars and less walkable because multi-modal transportation is less easily accessible as potential riders and destinations are more spread out. Our laws have made LA spread out and car-centric. LA can be better. Mixed-use zoning and multi-family zoning incentivize people to drive less and walk more. At the height of COVID-19 lockdowns, Angelenos enjoyed a rare sight: smogless, clear skies, which experts say were brought by reduced vehicle traffic. Higher walkability in cities is also correlated with higher retail spending, increased numbers of job opportunities, and reduced motor-related fatalities. You don't need an urban planning degree to understand why this is true — the more accessible businesses are, the more people will access them. Opponents of “upzoning,” as the practice is often referred to, assert that opening residential zones to denser developments will decrease property values and destroy quiet neighborhoods. As multi-family units are built, single-family homes might become less attractive, reducing their value. This could have an immense impact on people who have lived in single-family zoned areas for generations. The neighborhoods they have lived in for generations would change dramatically as their property values decrease and less people live in suburban homes. Quiet suburbs would be replaced by high-rise apartments with noisy businesses all over. Removing single-family zoning could also spur on gentrification. As residential spaces open up to dense developments, real estate developers would rush to build inexpensive apartments that have higher rent; a study shows that the median rent for new apartments is 78 percent higher than the median rent nationwide. This explains the “gentrification apartment” phenomenon, which refers to a particular type of boxy apartment building that is often associated with high rents in low-income neighborhoods. If upzoning just leads to these types of apartments, then getting rid of single-family zoning doesn't make housing more affordable— it just increases prices and kicks people out of their home neighborhoods. Opponents also argue that upzoning does not account for parking space in dense developments and will reduce the amount of green space in cities. As cities are “densified,” so to speak, room for parking and for green spaces will be replaced by high rises and mixed-use buildings. This could potentially lead to places looking like concrete jungles, like New York City, where single-family zoning is scarce. Parking would be extremely frustrating for people who need to drive, and children and families would not have access to green spaces like there currently are in suburban neighborhoods with single-family zoning. Many of these fears of multi-use zoning can be alleviated with the right policies. Reduced parking spaces would not be as large of a concern as it is in suburban developments currently, because not as many people would need to drive. Additionally, regulating how and where multi-family and multi-use zoning is placed is important to address affordability, maintain a dynamic city, and regulate noise. Seattle requires developers to offer lower rates in new developments, and San Francisco is known for its abundant green spaces in the city. LA can be much easier to live in. Rezoning is one of the first steps in this process.

  • Anon. Reply to Campus Activism

    CMC students’ well-intentioned efforts to combat prejudice have veered into the realm of counterproductive activism, which inadvertently harms the very communities they aim to uplift. It's time to take a step back and ask ourselves: Have the fiery debates, finger-pointing, and self-congratulatory events truly ameliorated the social divide at CMC, or have they merely created the illusion of progress? Campus climate surveys reveal an unsettling truth: while the majority of students report positive interactions with their peers, there is a pronounced gap between this widespread satisfaction and the experiences of Black, Latino, and LGBTQ+ students. These disparities demand attention. However, the current state of campus activism might be hindering, rather than helping, progress on this front. Activism should not be about participation prizes or padding one's resume but about making a tangible difference in the lives of marginalized communities. Unfortunately, the focus on optics and self-promotion detracts from the actual work that needs to be done. The college community must remember that all students attend classes, eat in dining halls, and have real emotions. Verbal attacks only foster division and create hostility, hindering genuine progress. Accusations of insufficient DEI efforts, followed by demands to set ego aside, lead to unproductive and hypocritical situations. The college should promote open and honest dialogue. Rather than addressing the systemic issues at hand, some individuals resort to personal jabs and character attacks, undermining their own credibility and distracting from the real concerns. Such juvenile tactics only serve to further polarize the campus community and foster an environment of hostility and mistrust. Isn't the goal to build an inclusive and just campus for all? If so, I am not sure how attacks or even rewards in the name of false progress are helping. Consider the recent case of a student who received additional compensation for work she had already been paid to complete as an elected ASCMC officer. No other officers were given additional pay, as it should be—extra pay for fulfilling one's duties is unjustifiable. That money could have supported an affinity group, but instead, it ended up in a student's pocket. Remember, these stipends are funded by your student fees. CARE events, designed to raise awareness and promote social justice, often attract the same attendees time and time again. While it's commendable that a core group of individuals is dedicated to these causes, the question arises: Are we genuinely reaching the people who need to hear these messages the most? Or are we just reinforcing our beliefs in an echo chamber? ​​Not everyone feels comfortable attending niche events, and this isn't a failure of the wider community. Whether you like it or not, Brad and Chad are not coming to those events, and no effort is made to meet them where they're at. Instead of approaching disagreements with pitchforks and torches at the ready, the campus community must foster an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation. By engaging in respectful conversations, the college can address the concerns of marginalized communities more effectively and create genuine change on campus. This op-ed isn't meant to silence student activists or brand them as "uncivilized." Instead, it seeks to boldly expose the unspoken hypocrisy, unmasking actions that masquerade as virtuous but are, in reality, mere signaling. Some will attack this article because being antagonistic often seems easier than admitting one's own shortcomings. We have reached a point where it is deemed acceptable to call someone a "prick" in a public meeting or to demand a public apology from an ASCMC officer of color for expressing legitimate concerns about safety at a Halloween event. The fact that these ideas are likely to be met with hostility only serves to prove the point that there is a need for a more constructive, respectful approach to activism on our campus. The college community must work together to ensure that its activism creates a legacy of genuine progress, rather than becoming an empty performance that ultimately harms the communities it aims to support. So, let's take a deep breath, put down the megaphone, and start talking to each other like humans.

  • Book Bans and the First Amendment

    BY HENRY LONG IMAGE COURTESY OF THE MIAMI HERALD Throughout his term as Florida governor, Ron DeSantis has signed several K-12 public education reforms into law. The Parental Rights in Education Act, known colloquially as the Don’t Say Gay Bill, grants parents more power to prevent their children from learning about certain topics in school. The Individual Freedom Act, also known as the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E) Act, prohibits the teaching of specific ideas related to race. Another law adjusts the requirements for the acceptance and retention of books in school libraries. Republican governors across the country are taking similar steps to adjust K-12 public school curricula. As such, it might be enlightening to examine Supreme Court precedent related to these kinds of K-12 public education cases. The Supreme Court has generally recognized that state and local authorities have broad discretion over educational curriculum—within certain constitutional limits. Some of the earliest Supreme Court education cases reveal these limits. In Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) and Bartels v. Iowa (1923), the Supreme Court ruled that state laws proscribing the teaching of foreign languages were unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. According to the Court in Meyer, “the purpose of the legislation was to promote civic development by inhibiting training and education of the immature in foreign tongues and ideals before they could learn English and acquire American ideals.” In his majority opinion, while Justice McReynolds did not question “the State’s power to prescribe a curriculum,” he wrote that “no emergency has arisen which renders knowledge by a child of some language other than English so clearly harmful as to justify its inhibition.” The Court has also been clear that a state’s jurisdiction over the curriculum can be limited on Establishment Clause grounds. In Epperson v. Arkansas (1968), the Court found an Arkansas statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment since the law was found to be religiously motivated. On behalf of the majority, Justice Fortas wrote that “a State’s right to prescribe the public school curriculum does not include the right to prohibit teaching a scientific theory or doctrine for reasons that run counter to the principles of the First Amendment.” The Court also ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) that a Louisiana law prohibiting the teaching of evolution unless accompanied by the teaching of creationism was unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Justice Brennan, on behalf of the majority, wrote that “because the primary purpose of the Creationism Act is to endorse a particular religious doctrine, the Act furthers religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.” In a concurrence, Justice Powell clarified that “nothing in the Court's opinion diminishes the traditionally broad discretion accorded state and local school officials in the selection of the public school curriculum.” The Supreme Court has also identified limits to compulsory student speech under the First Amendment. While the Court found that a compulsory pledge of allegiance was constitutionally acceptable in Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940), they reversed their decision just three years later in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). In the latter case, Justice Jackson, on behalf of the majority, wrote that “Boards of Education . . . have, of course, important, delicate, and highly discretionary functions, but none that they may not perform within the limits of the Bill of Rights.” Thus, the Court has repeatedly affirmed the broad discretion of state and local authorities in matters of educational curricula—provided that their discretion remains within constitutional bounds. Supreme Court precedent on the removal of books from school libraries is more complicated. The Court has only faced one case on this issue—Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico (1982). In the case, the school board removed books it characterized as “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Sem[i]tic, and just plain filthy.” The final ruling was messy—the Court only came to a plurality and not a majority decision. The plurality, led by Justice Brennan, acknowledged that while schools have broad discretion over the acquisition of new library books, “the First Amendment imposes limitations upon a local school board’s exercise of its discretion to remove books from high school and junior high school libraries.” While schools could remove books from libraries if they were “pervasively vulgar” or of questionable “educational suitability,” the plurality held that schools could not remove books in a “narrowly partisan or political manner.” The plurality based their conclusion on a “right to receive ideas.” Justice Blackmun, in his partial concurrence, denies that students have any such right. Justice White’s partial concurrence sided with the majority on the ruling but dismissed its constitutional pontification as unnecessary. Regardless of these disagreements, however, Pico demonstrates that schools’ power to remove books is not unlimited. Supreme Court precedent has repeatedly affirmed the discretionary authority of state and local officials to dictate K-12 public school curricula. These precedents mean that as governor, DeSantis has broad leeway to mandate the teaching of certain topics and bar the teaching of others in a K-12 public school classroom. That said, there are limits to this authority. Opponents of DeSantis’s laws have already filed and may continue to file lawsuits under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and others may file suits challenging DeSantis’s laws as unconstitutionally vague. The courts have already blocked the portions of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act that apply to public colleges and universities. Many of the legal decisions will hinge on how the laws are enforced—both by DeSantis’s Department of Education and by teachers in the classroom. If the application of the laws violates students’ due process rights, limits student expression of certain viewpoints, or is conducted in a narrowly partisan manner, courts might object on constitutional grounds. Ultimately, while DeSantis’s K-12 education laws are no doubt controversial, it remains to be seen whether they will be found unconstitutional.

  • DeSantis Belly Flop

    Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the GOP has been largely defined by a struggle between populism and ‘establishment’ conservatism. During Pat Buchanan’s 1992 primary challenge, he skewered the incumbent George H.W. Bush as a “globalist” who was helping “bureaucrats in Brussels” to pursue a “European super-state” and undermine national identity. Bush – and the ‘establishment’– ended up prevailing narrowly in those primaries. But Buchanan did not go away, and neither did his ideas for many Republican voters. Donald Trump’s 2016 election represented a triumph of Buchanan’s ideas and the GOP's populist wing. After two impeachments, a failed coup, abysmal midterm results, a looming DOJ probe, and criminal charges for the former President, the Republican future remains in doubt. Is the GOP moving back towards the kind of establishment conservatism that dominated in the post Reagan years? Or will there be a new path that fuses elements of the Trump-era populism with more familiar tenets of conservative philosophy? Or is the future just more Donald Trump? At the beginning of the year, Ron DeSantis looked as if he might provide an answer. The Florida Governor gained national notoriety for his stance on issues that unified the party’s populist base with its older-guard establishment, all without eliciting meaningful resistance from Florida Democrats. This confluence of base and establishment appeal in a key battleground state made DeSantis a natural figure to lead a post-Trump Republican coalition. After his nearly 20-point reelection margin in 2022, and a poor performance for Trump-endorsed candidates across the country, the Governor seemed poised to assemble all of the various conservative factions skeptical of Trump under his banner. Until he didn’t. What went wrong? The issue that put DeSantis on the national political map was COVID. He established a national reputation by challenging restrictions, garnering praise from conservatives and becoming a regular guest on Fox News. He championed in-person learning and maintained open schools, while also prohibiting mask mandates for Florida's approximately 3 million public K-12 students. He also engaged in high-profile disputes with the Biden administration regarding vaccine requirements for workers. DeSantis' approach encountered significant controversy in 2020, but the tides shifted in his favor throughout 2021 and 2022. A combination of evolving circumstances and shifting perspectives on COVID propelled DeSantis to emerge as a winner in public opinion on the issue. Net migration to Florida sharply increased from 2020 to 2021, one study found. But in terms of electoral politics, the problem is precisely that DeSantis won and nobody is focused on COVID policy anymore. The other issues DeSantis banked on as unifying for the right – woke culture, abortion, and immigration – haven’t served him in the same way. Now, the Governor’s coalition is fracturing. Where DeSantis has faltered is in finding ways to unite Republicans who don’t like Donald Trump but may agree on little else. DeSantis' inclination to play to Trump’s right has caused more problems for him in the Republican primary than it did when he only had "woke" Democrats as antagonists. While there is enough space to situate himself to attack the "woke" without alienating the right-wing base, trying to be further right than Trump on such issues exposes DeSantis to risks with both the general electorate and his more moderate supporters. Last year, DeSantis signed HB 7, known as the Stop W.O.K.E. Act and officially called the Individual Freedom Act – an educational gag order. Among other things, it prevents teachers from discussing advantages or disadvantages based on race. Discussion of systemic racism is considered “critical race theory” and not allowed. In the 2021-22 school year, PEN America documented 565 books banned in Florida schools. DeSantis’s legislative attacks on ‘woke culture’ have begun to cost him. A top Republican donor, Thomas Peterffy, said he had paused plans to fund Ron DeSantis’s expected presidential run because of the governor’s “stance on abortion and book banning.” Abortion presents a similar conundrum for him. DeSantis has taken considerable heat from his own party since signing a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks. It’s a microcosm of the bigger problem facing the GOP as the 2024 election looms: Republicans lawmakers are divided on a post-Roe, national approach to abortion, and DeSantis’s positioning on the issue is unpopular to a clear majority of voters who are seeking a middle ground on the issue. DeSantis does not seem cognizant of the delicate balancing act he faces and has committed errors as a result. His strategic illogic is best illustrated by his approach to Ukraine. The GOP has two diverging and dominant views on Ukraine. The first view, espoused by GOP party leaders and figures such as Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, maintains that Russia's assault on Ukraine poses a threat to the liberal world order, and frames support for Ukraine as in America's vital national interest. The second view, championed by the populist wing, argues that the US has no vital national interests in Ukraine. Tucker Carlson has expressed indifference about Putin's actions in Ukraine, while Trump has suggested that the conflict will persist so long as the US continues to provide aid. DeSantis' lenient stance on the invasion has cost him support from the neoconservative right, which cares deeply about containing Russia, and would likely be needed as part of any successful anti-Trump coalition. DeSantis need not be a neocon to win this support, but neither can he reject U.S. support for Ukraine in the way he did. A Republican primary contest between populism and a more traditional brand of conservatism makes for a tidy ideological narrative. But 2024 is not shaping up that way. The dominance of Trump's supporters, their unwavering loyalty to him, and his confrontational political style seem to be preempting any effective challenge from democracy-supporting GOP governors, who might consider entering the campaign. DeSantis still looks like the only plausible challenger. And so far, his challenge to Trump doesn’t look very challenging.

  • Constitutional Fight for the Digital Age

    Jamal Bowman (D-NY) and supporters of TikTok hold signs during a rally to defend the app at the Capitol in March. Image Creator: J. Scott Applewhite | Credit: AP Throughout American history, free speech has been tested in times of global conflict. During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson signed laws that criminalized core First Amendment speech. It took the Supreme Court decades to reverse course and advance a broad vision of free speech protections. It remains to be seen how those broad protections will be applied to a rapidly changing social media landscape. China is infamous for using communication networks and tech companies to get ahead of its overseas competitors. This makes the data privacy practices of TikTok—an app with 80 million active American users—and its ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a national security concern for the United States. Avril Haines, President Biden's Director of National Intelligence, has warned about China using TikTok to “build frameworks for collecting foreign data” … and “target audiences for information campaigns.” FBI Director Chris Wray has highlighted the app’s capacity to advance Chinese “influence campaigns” and espionage efforts. Politicians from both parties want to restrict TikTok. Last year, lawmakers barred TikTok on government-owned devices. Montana recently became the first state to pass a market ban. Many lawmakers are pushing to halt TikTok’s operation in the United States altogether. Opposition to a TikTok ban comes mainly from the progressive Left and the libertarian Right. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and fellow “squad” members such as Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) have hundreds of thousands of followers and remain active on the platform. Rand Paul (R-KY) worries that a ban will alienate young social media users from the Republican Party. But even if these positions reflect elements of political self-interest, they appear to be right on the legal merits. An outright ban on TikTok is likely incompatible with the First Amendment and there’s little reason to believe that the courts would uphold one, should Congress pass it. A TikTok ban would fly in the face of jurisprudence supporting the right of the citizens to receive ideas, even from governments hostile to the United States. In Lamont v. Postmaster General (1965), the Supreme Court struck down a statute that empowered the Postmaster General to control the flow of foreign “communist political propaganda” through the mail. The plaintiff was Corliss Lamont, a socialist philosophy professor at Columbia. Even in the midst of the Cold War, the court unanimously ruled that Lamont had a right to receive ideas from the Soviet Union. The Supreme Court hasn’t wavered in applying such protections to social media. In Packingham v. North Carolina (2017), the justices ruled unanimously that a law prohibiting sex offenders from using social media violated the First Amendment. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, noted that individuals’ right to participate in political debate trumped even the government interest in preventing pedophilia. Under the Constitution, a law cannot broadly ban access to digital “public forums” for speech. In the final year of his presidency, Donald Trump tried to restrict both TikTok and the Chinese messaging app WeChat using emergency economic powers. A federal court ruled against him on First Amendment grounds. There is little reason to think that the Montana law, SB 419, will fare any better. If the law takes effect as intended next year, Montanans will be prevented from participating in protected forms of expression on the platform. Moreover, individuals from other states who use TikTok as a medium for self-expression will be unable to connect with an audience in Montana. These consequences establish a direct suppression of speech, which warrants strict scrutiny from courts. To say that a ban on TikTok would implicate the First Amendment does not necessarily mean that it violates it. But a ban would have to satisfy First Amendment scrutiny to survive a constitutional challenge. Montana’s uphill battle to justify its constraints on free speech rests on its ability to convincingly argue that the ban is narrowly tailored to protect users from Chinese government influence campaigns and data collection. Precedent protects an influence campaign as long as it does not amount to direct, foreign interference with an election. Data collection raises a more novel question. As Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman wrote in Bloomberg last week, “I can't think of another example in First Amendment history where the government tried to assert that reading or viewing some content would hurt you, not because the content itself is dangerous but because someone else might spy on you while you are consuming the content.” Montana’s forceful crackdown on TikTok coincides with the Biden administration’s ongoing negotiations with the company regarding its future in the United States. In April, White House officials directed TikTok to sever ties with its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, or else face a nationwide shutdown. However, for Washington to defend such a drastic measure, concrete evidence demonstrating TikTok to be a genuine threat is crucial. While there is good reason to be concerned about TikTok and user privacy, mere “potential” threats would likely fall short in a courtroom. Ban supporters highlight a 2017 Chinese intelligence law requiring private companies to hand over customer data to the government if Beijing ever requests such information. However, TikTok says it wouldn’t comply. In any case, the government would face a high burden of justification for an outright ban. Should judges decide that a TikTok ban represents a prior restraint on the speech of its users, the Biden Administration would have to prove an “exceptional government interest” to justify a ban. If a court determines that a ban is based on viewpoints espoused by TikTok — a real possibility, given the stated purpose of preventing Beijing from using the app to conduct covert influence campaigns — the administration would need to prove a “compelling government interest.” And even if judges were to rule that a TikTok ban was neutral regarding content and viewpoint – possible – the government would have to prove that its remedy was narrowly tailored. What arguments might the government use to navigate around these obstacles? Some proponents of a ban say the Packingham precedent doesn’t apply because legislation would target a company, not individual users. For example, the FCC banned Chinese-owned communications companies like Huawei, China Telecom, and ZTE from entering U.S. networks. The D.C. Circuit upheld banning all those companies from American markets without mentioning the First Amendment. The difference is that those companies sold communication equipment, whereas 80 million Americans practice speech on TikTok. The Huawei ban prevented US companies from using Huawei equipment. It didn't apply to consumers who owned Huawei products and didn't prevent them from buying new ones, either. Montana’s SB 419 goes out of its way to punish not the app’s users but Apple and Google if they leave TikTok available to purchase in the state. Constitutionally, that doesn't make an actual difference, and it wouldn’t for a federal ban either. Imagine a law barring cable providers from working with CNN. Targeting the cable providers wouldn't make it any less of an infringement on CNN’s speech. Like it or not, the First Amendment gives TikTok and its users the same protection. It seems that TikTok influencers, who make a living off the app, may have some breathing room before they have to find real jobs.

  • WATCH: CMC Alum Jousts with White House Press Sec.

    Footage courtesy of C-SPAN In April, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre got into a tense clash with New York Times reporter Michael Shear (CM '90). Shear suggested the Biden administration was being selectively silent in response to legal issues involving former President Donald Trump. Note: This debate occurred in response to former President Trump's indictment in Manhattan. However, neither the White House press office nor the President has commented on Trump's recent indictment on 37 federal charges, either. With a former President facing criminal charges in multiple jurisdictions, American politics are in entirely uncharted territory. As these cases progress, there will be more pressure for the Biden Administration to respond. Biden's advisors privately acknowledge that their reason for not responding is political. Any remarks the Administration makes will give Trump ammunition for his claims of political persecution. If Biden comments, you can bank on Trump using the clip in his campaign ads. Still, it is unclear how not commenting helps Biden. Support for Trump’s arrest breaks down on partisan lines. Even though Trump was charged by an independent prosecutor, much of the public assumes the President to be behind charges issued by the Department of Justice. Republican lawmakers and Presidential hopefuls continue to disparage the rule of law. The President, whose constitutional oath is to uphold those laws, seems intent on doing so in silence. But the silence isn’t painless for Biden. As Shear wrote last week, “It prevents the president from defending the government’s legal system against Mr. Trump’s relentless, yearslong attacks, which are now amplified and echoed by his Republican allies.” — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — Click here to read a recent piece by Shear and his colleagues on how President Biden’s age is playing out in the 2024 Election. Click here to keep up with Shear’s day-by-day White House coverage for the New York Times.

  • The Supermajority Review

    Michael Waldman’s new book, The Supermajority, provides a compelling chronicle of how the American right captured the country’s highest court — culminating over three days in June 2022 when the six conservative justices issued a series of decisions that dramatically upended long-settled aspects of American law and society. During those three days, the court ended the national right to abortion, expanded gun rights, and restricted the federal government’s ability to regulate emissions that are worsening climate change. Waldman deconstructs the judicial philosophy of ‘originalism’ animating these decisions, and questions the supermajority’s fidelity to ‘textualism’ when it does not serve their desired outcomes. Before Waldman takes a closer look at those rulings, he paints a brief picture of the Court's history from the last two centuries. He begins with Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), two disastrous decisions, before moving to the “Black Monday” rulings that gutted major components of FDR’s New Deal, followed by the “switch in time that saved nine” which saw them upheld under the taxation power. He then takes readers all the way up to Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and through to Obergefell v Hodges (2015), which established marriage rights for gay couples. Waldman, a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, is president and CEO of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a law and policy institute that focuses on improving systems of democracy and justice. Perhaps surprisingly for a liberal critic of the court, he casts a critical eye on what he views as liberal excess in the actions that helped create the current right-wing judicial reaction. In his view, it is the backlash to the liberal judicial overreach of the 1960s that has produced a reaction in the form of the overwhelming organizational energy of the American right over the past 60 years – the huge infrastructure of think tanks, political action committees, and distinctly conservative news outlets. Waldman criticizes the Warren Court — which presided over landmark cases in the mid-20th Century that expanded rights in areas such as school desegregation, criminal defendant protections, and contraception — for losing its grounding in the law and public opinion, paving the way for the conservative resurgence that followed. Waldman writes that the decision in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established a nationwide right to abortion, was poorly reasoned and needlessly galvanized opposition by grounding its ruling “penumbras” rather than other possible bases, such as the Ninth Amendment, which says that all the rights not listed in the Constitution belong to the people, not the government. This sentiment is echoed by many pro-choice legal scholars, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who would have preferred to see abortion rights protected under equal protection for women. According to RBG, Roe vs. Wade “became a storm center because the court ventured too far in the change it ordered.” Rather than resolve the issue, the court’s broad ruling “halted a political process that was moving” to liberalize abortion already, she said, and instead launched “the mobilization of the right-to-life movement” that changed American politics. In a broader sense, Waldman charges the Left of that era with prioritizing individual rights over other social goods, resulting in a decline in notions of equality. He criticizes liberalism for relying so heavily on the Court to advance progressive policies. This, he writes, led to the weakening of the Left's political position and the strengthening of the Right’s. “The backlash to the 1960s lasted much longer than the 1960s did,” Waldman observes. “Most of us have spent most of our lives living in it.” Make no mistake, Waldman’s skepticism about the reasoning in Roe does not imply he doesn’t share the outrage over what can only be described as an act of judicial activism in overturning it. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, it repudiated the very idea that America’s highest court exists to protect people’s fundamental liberties from legislative majorities that would infringe on them. By overturning Casey, it called into question the core idea that the justices follow precedent. Casey stood for the idea that the court would uphold its past decisions absent a major, transformative reason to do so. Under Casey, lower courts would leave precedents in place. That norm is now gone, and it’s open season on fundamental rights. Parts of the book read like recaps of already well-reported stories. These sections may feel familiar to readers who keep up with the news about the court — Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni texting White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to stand with the President in attempting to overturn the 2020 election result; the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson in which Republicans attacked her record on pedophilia cases (an allegation the conservative National Review called “meritless to the point of demagoguery”); the Dobbs decision leak; unreported gifts by Justices recently reported by ProPublica, and so on. Nonetheless, Waldman’s takedown of originalism as deployed by the conservative justices is powerful and persuasive. He isn’t blind to why it can be a useful exercise to consider the meaning of the Constitution at the time it was written, and appreciates that in the hands of a witty and charming Justice like the late Antonin Scalia, originalism can be a compelling method of jurisprudential analysis. Originalism arose to limit and constrain judges interpreting the Constitution by making sure they would apply only the law as it was originally intended. Using originalism is meant to curb judicial overreach by making judges into neutral, objective decision-makers who only have to answer the question of what the words of the Constitution originally meant. The Supreme Court in Dobbs was not even pretending to follow a doctrine of originalism. It was using a different interpretive approach, historicism, coined by the German legal theorist Friedrich Carl von Savigny in 1814. The gist of historicism is to draw on historical legal materials to evolve the law in the “spirit of the nation” — Volksgeist in German. This historicism used in Dobbs does not constrain judges nor make them neutral or objective. It empowers them to interpret history to make laws in line with their own ideas about tradition. Turning the tables on the conservative justices, Waldman applies originalism himself to critique Scalia’s reading of the Second Amendment as conferring an individual right to gun ownership. Waldman makes the familiar claim that “bear arms” actually meant to serve in the military at the time of the founding, and cites regulations on gun ownership that date back to the colonial era and continued into modern American history. Clarence Thomas’s opinion in Bruen blatantly ignores this history and instead cherry-picks from dictionaries that didn’t even exist when the country was founded to extend Scalia’s understanding of the 2nd Amendment. Waldman uses textualism to critique the decision in West Virginia vs. EPA. That case concerned the interpretation of the amended Clean Air Act, which authorizes the EPA to regulate power plants by setting a standard of performance for their emissions. The statute read that EPA can regulate new and existing plants with different standards, but in each case, the standard should be “achievable through the application of the best system of emission reduction.” The supermajority rejected the plain text of the statute in favor of a “major questions doctrine” – nowhere to be found in the words of the constitution — that says Congress cannot delegate broad power to the executive branch in policy areas that are subject to rigorous public debate and skepticism (AKA almost every issue that relates to politics). Needless to say, that is utter nonsense. Throughout the book, Waldman describes how earlier extreme decisions of the court provoked enormous national backlashes. The greatest backlash of all was the Civil War, which arrived just three years after the hateful decision in Dred Scott v. Stanford. Concluding that the court has once again become a serious threat to American democracy, Waldman sees the tides turning again. Democratic successes in last year’s midterms – many based on rage over the fall of Roe v Wade – point to a new backlash in the making. This time the target is the conservative revolution that the court’s supermajority now incoherently pursues.

  • Constitutional Crisis in Israel

    Israel lacks a formal written constitution. Instead, it operates based on "Basic Laws" that have been in effect for more than 65 years and are interpreted and applied by the Supreme Court. A vote on Monday by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to amend those laws and limit the power of the court has thrown the country head-on into a political crisis. In response to the vote, demonstrators occupied central areas in Israel's biggest cities last night, with police efforts to disperse them using water cannons proving ineffective. In a national address Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged calm, while also steadfastly defending his stance. Netanyahu saw passage of the law as so critical that he left the hospital less than 24 hours after emergency heart surgery to vote in the Knesset. Similarly, Israeli progressives saw the prevention of the law as so crucial that around 20,000 of them braved extreme heat to march the 40 miles from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem over the weekend. From a legal perspective, the vote on Monday removes the Supreme Court's power to strike down laws and government appointments deemed 'unreasonable.' This standard, incorporated into Israeli law during the 1980s, often served as a de facto system of checks and balances. Yet, Netanyahu's right-wing coalition partners criticized the court’s exercise of this authority as anti-democratic, arguing that it is merely a linguistic construct. Monday’s vote has triggered a full-scale confrontation between left and right, secular and religious, dove and hawk, over the soul and identity of the Jewish state. Many Israeli civil society groups have called on the Supreme Court to overturn the new law — a move that would all but guarantee a constitutional crisis. When Israel was founded in 1948, it went without a constitution because its early leaders — primarily secular Jews from Eastern Europe — could not reach consensus on the role of religion in relation to democracy. In the 1950s, the Knesset began introducing “Basic Laws," which were meant to serve as groundwork for a future constitution. In 1980, Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak, a strong advocate of human rights, introduced the concept of 'reasonableness' as a criterion for invalidating government decisions. In 2018, the court upheld a nation-state law declaring Israel a nation-state for Jewish people. Critics said it further downgrades the status of Israel’s Palestinian minority, which makes up about 20 percent of the country’s population. Although the 2018 ruling reflected a rightward shift in the Israeli electorate, the court's application of the reasonableness doctrine has more often led to progressive outcomes. The doctrine has been employed to compel the army to prosecute a colonel whose soldiers mistreated Palestinian detainees, to order the attorney general to press charges against bankers in a share price manipulation case, and to ban Arye Deri –– leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party who was serving as interior and health minister –– from government after an indictment for corruption. The new law could pave the way for Deri to lead three ministries in Netanyahu’s government despite his past imprisonment, to inhibit the court from blocking settlement-building and annexation of Palestinian land, and to aid the Netanyahu government in removing Israel’s current attorney general, Gali Baharav, who has overseen the prosecution of Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. This week’s vote was only one of a series of proposed changes that would point Israel in a more populist and authoritarian direction. Netanyahu’s justice minister, Yariv Levin, wants to grant the Knesset more authority in selecting judges. A separate law that would prohibit all public demonstrations of support for the Palestinian cause received its preliminary reading yesterday. President Biden has been reserved in his criticism of the new law, perhaps because he lacks personal influence with Netanyahu and his team. However, a Trump-era legacy might provide an unexpected counterbalance. The Abraham Accords, which Israel signed with Bahrain, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates, are now potentially jeopardized. The two Gulf countries – the UAE especially – have repeatedly and openly condemned Israeli leaders and policies In mid-March, a senior United Arab Emirates government official met with Netanyahu and reportedly warned him that the Israeli government’s conduct was straining ties between the countries. “The direction of this government goes completely against the Abraham Accords,” the official was quoted as having told Netanyahu. In light of straining ties with the US, Israel can ill afford to lose the security agreement. For now, Netanyahu appears to be acting against his own interest. Whether or not ensuing protests and unrest may cause him to back down, remains to be seen.

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