Crossing the Border, Trump Style

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A demonstrator protests Trump’s travel ban at Los Angeles international airport, Feb 4, 2017. (photo: Ringo Chiu / Reuters)

We offer three vignettes of travelling to the U.S. in recent days.


1.  The son of Muhammed Ali is detained at Ft. Lauderdale

“Where did you get your name from?”

“Are you Muslim?”

These were the questions asked of Muhammad Ali Jr. at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport on February 7, before being detained for “several hours” by immigration and customs officials. Yes, that’s Muhammad Ali Jr., as in the son of the Champ, one of the greatest athletes and humanitarians to ever walk the earth. That’s Muhammad Ali Jr., as in the son of a man whose funeral in June was televised across the nation; a man who was lionized by political leaders who are now turning a blind eye to — or actively defending — what’s happening to this country. That’s Muhammad Ali Jr., detained for hours in the country of his birth, 20 minutes from his house because of those two questions: “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?” He answered, “My dad was the heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali,” and, “Yes, I certainly am.”

They didn’t believe his answer to the first question, and could not abide the answer to the second.

[Read the full article here . . . ]


2.  A British schoolteacher is denied entry on a trip with his schoolchildren

A British Muslim schoolteacher travelling to New York last week as a member of a school party from south Wales was denied entry to the United States.

Juhel Miah and a group of children and other teachers were about to take off from Iceland on 16 February on their way to the U.S. when he was removed from the plane at Reykjavik. The previous week, on the 10 February, a U.S. appeals court had upheld a decision to suspend Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned entry to the country from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The trip proceeded as planned but pupils and colleagues were left shocked and distressed after the maths teacher, a British citizen who had valid visa documentation, was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel.

[Read the full article here . . . ]


3.  A 70-year-old Australian children’s book author is interrogated on her 117th trip to the U.S.

The Australian children’s book author Mem Fox has suggested she might never return to the U.S. after she was detained and insulted by border control agents at Los Angeles airport.

Fox, who is famous worldwide for her best-selling books including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and Possum Magic, was en route to a conference in Milwaukee earlier this month when she was stopped.

She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was questioned by border agents for two hours in front of a room full of people — an experience that left her feeling like she had been physically assaulted.

[Read the full article here . . . ]

An Open Letter to President Donald Trump From a Bishop of Jerusalem

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I urge you to reflect upon the foundational values of the United States and of Jesus, and to seek a different path toward the twin goals of security and opportunity in the land of the free.

By Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan
Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
February 1, 2017


“Our Lord not only commanded us to welcome the stranger, Jesus made it clear that when we welcome the stranger into our homes and our hearts — we welcome him.” (Matt 25:35)


Dear Mr. President,

Salaam and grace to you from Jerusalem, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I write to you from the Holy City of Jerusalem in a spirit of prayer. I pray that your presidency will be a fruitful one. I pray that under your leadership, the United States of America will continue to uphold and promote its time-honored values of diversity, equality, pursuit of happiness, and of liberty and justice for all.

I pray that as President, you will uphold and promote these values, not only for the citizens of your country, but also for your neighbors. May your commitment to the foundational values of your country extend also to those living in areas of conflict and suffering. I offer this prayer from my office in Jerusalem, where we are still praying and working for a peaceful, just solution for the two peoples and three religions of this land. We long to realize the liberty, justice, and equality in diversity that your country exemplifies for the world.

I have heard about the recent executive decisions you have taken regarding immigrants and refugees, and I am worried.

Continue reading “An Open Letter to President Donald Trump From a Bishop of Jerusalem”

The Middle East “peace process” was a myth — Donald Trump ended it

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(photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

The final interment of the already moribund “two-state solution” would force all concerned to face what is obvious to any honest observer.

By Rashid Khalidi* / The Guardian
February 18, 2017


For decades, an imposed reality of one-state — the only sovereign entity enjoying total security control — has existed between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. This one state is Israel. Irrespective of the label one uses for it, this is the only outcome that this Israeli government will accept, whatever subaltern, or helot, or “autonomous” status it deigns to allow the Palestinians.


“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.” With these words at a joint press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump may have finally dispelled the already receding mirage of any just solution.

Trump was clearly seeking to please his guest, spurred by the zealots in his government, four of whom, Public Safety Minister Gilad Erdan, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Sports Minister Miri Regev, and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovley, just publicly came out against creation of a Palestinian state.

For decades, Israeli governments, pursuing the colonization of the entirety of “Eretz Israel,” have systematically destroyed the prerequisites for a solution involving a contiguous, sustainable, sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Nevertheless, the myth that a real Palestinian state is on offer, and that there actually is a genuine “peace process,” endures as one of the greatest examples of magical thinking in modern times.

Continue reading “The Middle East “peace process” was a myth — Donald Trump ended it”

Trump’s “One-State” Remarks Embolden Right-Wing Zionists — Jewish and Christian

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At a press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump signaled openness to a one-state solution in the Middle East. (photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

President of oldest US pro-Israel group salutes “new sane era” as Trump’s views underscore divisions among Jews and influence of evangelical Christians.

By Ed Pilkington / The Guardian
February 17, 2017


Critics of the one-state solution point out that it would destroy the fundamental character of Israel as a democratic Jewish state: Arabs and Palestinians would numerically be dominant in a single state and that in turn would either eradicate the Jewish nature of the country or force it to forgo democracy by relegating the Palestinians to second-class status.


Donald Trump’s apparent readiness to accept a one-state solution to the Middle East conflict that would permanently rule out a Palestinian nation is emboldening rightwing Zionists in the US — both among Jewish Americans and the much larger pool of pro-Israeli evangelical Christians.

Some Zionist groups welcomed with delight the president’s unexpected comment on Wednesday that tore up the longstanding US adherence to a two-state solution in which Israel would coexist peacefully alongside a fully-formed Palestine.

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like,” he said.

Continue reading “Trump’s “One-State” Remarks Embolden Right-Wing Zionists — Jewish and Christian”

Trump’s Radical Anti-Americanism

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(illustration: Tom Bachtell / The New Yorker)

As the President rejects our foundational principles, all we can turn to is our instinct for shared defiance.

By Adam Gopnik / The New Yorker
February 13, 2017


Within two weeks of the Inauguration, the hysterical hyperventilators have come to seem more prescient in their fear of incipient autocratic fanaticism than the reassuring pooh-poohers. There’s a simple reason for this: the hyperventilators often read history.


Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, the couple who did so much to bear witness to the terrible truths of the Second World War, came to town last week to introduce their new memoir to an American audience. In it, there is a photograph that can only be called heartbreaking in its happiness, unbearable in its ordinariness. It shows an eight-year-old Serge with his sister and their Romanian-Jewish parents walking along a promenade in Nice, in 1943, still smiling, still feeling confident, even at that late date, that they are safe in their new French home. Within a few months, the children and their mother were hiding in a false closet, as Gestapo agents took their father to Auschwitz, and his death.

What the photograph teaches is not that every tear in the fabric of civility opens a path to Auschwitz but that civilization is immeasurably fragile, and is easily turned to brutality and barbarism. The human capacity for hatred is terrifying in its volatility. (The same promenade in Nice was the site of the terrorist truck attack last year.) Americans have a hard time internalizing that truth, but the first days of the Trump Administration have helped bring it home.

Continue reading “Trump’s Radical Anti-Americanism”

How to Make America Greater: Allow More Immigration

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A rally at Battery Park on Jan 29 protested President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration to the United States. (photo: Yana Paskova / The New York Times)

President Trump will make America smaller.

By Eduardo Porter / The New York Times
February 7, 2017


Few things would make the economic pie bigger than free flows of people from poor countries to rich ones. Immigration — not trade liberalization or the elimination of barriers to capital flows — offers the best shot at raising the incomes of the poor and increasing economic output around the world.


He may not be thinking in these terms. But as he barrels ahead with his promise to restrict immigration — barring people from some Muslim-majority countries, limiting work visas, expelling millions who are here illegally — the president might want to ponder how this fits the theme of making America “great again.”

For his plan, at the scale he promises, would shrink the American economy and impoverish the world. If greatness is what he pursues, a straightforward way to bulk up the economy — not to say bolster global growth — would be to allow many more immigrants in.

Continue reading “How to Make America Greater: Allow More Immigration”

Executive Powers Run Amok

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(illustration: Harry Campbell / The New York Times)

By John Yoo / The New York Times
February 6, 2017


As an official in the Justice Department, I followed in Hamilton’s footsteps, advising that President George W. Bush could take vigorous, perhaps extreme, measures to protect the nation after the Sept. 11 attacks, including invading Afghanistan, opening the Guantánamo detention center and conducting military trials and enhanced interrogation of terrorist leaders. . . . But even I have grave concerns about Mr. Trump’s uses of presidential power.


Faced with President Trump’s executive orders suspending immigration from several Muslim nations and ordering the building of a border wall, and his threats to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, even Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s most ardent proponent of executive power, would be worried by now.

Article II of the Constitution vests the president with “the executive power,” but does not define it. Most of the Constitution instead limits that power, as with the president’s duty “to take care that the laws are faithfully executed,” or divides that power with Congress, as with making treaties or appointing Supreme Court justices.

Hamilton argued that good government and “energy in the executive” went hand in hand. In The Federalist No. 70, he wrote that the framers, to encourage “decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch,” entrusted the executive power in a unified branch headed by a single person, the president.

Continue reading “Executive Powers Run Amok”

How President Trump Could Seize More Power After a Terrorist Attack

Wall Street Hope Revived as Trump Plans to Roll Back Rules
(photo: Aude Guerrucci / Getty)

President Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with highlighting a threat that does not exist.

By Ryan Lizza / the New Yorker
February 7, 2017


“I do believe the world faces a serious and growing terrorist threat. But Trump, either by ignorance or malice, is distorting the nature of that threat by targeting very well-vetted immigrants, including legal permanent residents and refugees. He simply does not have a strong national-security case to make against these people, which is why it is reasonable to wonder if he has some ulterior motive for taking such extreme steps against them.”
— Evan McMullin, former C.I.A. officer and Republican who ran for President as an independent candidate against Trump


Since September 11, 2001, ninety-four people have been killed in the United States in ten attacks carried out by a total of twelve radical Islamist terrorists. Each of the attackers was either an American citizen or a legal resident. More than half of the ninety-four murders occurred last year, when Omar Mateen, who was born on Long Island, killed forty-nine people at a night club in Orlando.

According to the comprehensive terrorism database maintained by the New America Foundation, since 9/11 there have been three hundred and ninety-six people involved in American terrorism cases, which New America defines as “individuals who are charged with or died engaging in jihadist terrorism or related activities inside the United States, and Americans accused of such activity abroad.” Eighty-three per cent of these individuals were American citizens or permanent residents. (Seventeen per cent were non-residents or had an unknown status.)

And yet, for more than two weeks, President Donald Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with highlighting a threat that does not exist: jihadist refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Continue reading “How President Trump Could Seize More Power After a Terrorist Attack”

Trump Needs a Holy War

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U.S. President Donald Trump walks through the White House on his way to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Jan 31, 2017. (photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

It’s an inconceivably scary thought that the Trump administration is simply winging it without a plan. But here’s the even scarier possibility — that there is, in fact, a plan.

By Bradley Burston / Haaretz Opinion
February 6, 2017


“We’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.”
— Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist


It’s an inconceivably scary thought that the Trump administration is simply winging it, breakneck, disrupting and detonating and taking America apart — and all of it without a plan.

But here’s the even scarier possibility — that there is, in fact, a plan.

A plan which would dramatically concentrate and expand Donald Trump’s power, inflame and mobilize his base, whip up and and leverage racism, Islamophobia and, at a later stage, if needed, anti-Semitism, in order to slough all shortcomings onto scapegoats.

He needs a war.

Continue reading “Trump Needs a Holy War”

U.N. Says Israeli Settlement Law Crosses “Thick Red Line”

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Laborers work at a new housing project in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, Feb 7, 2017. (photo: Oded Balilty / AP)

The United Nations condemns a new Israeli law legalizing dozens of unlawful West Bank settler outposts on illegally appropriated Palestinian land.

By Josef Federman / AP News
February 7, 2017


Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N.’s coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said the legislation “opens the floodgates to the potential annexation of the West Bank.” . . . It also marked the first time that the Israeli parliament has imposed Israeli law on Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank. The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory and Palestinians there are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote.


The United Nations’ Mideast envoy on Tuesday said a new Israeli law legalizing dozens of unlawful West Bank settler outposts crossed a “very thick red line,” while Israeli rights groups said they would fight to overturn the measure in the Supreme Court.

The explosive law, approved by Israeli lawmakers late Monday night, was the latest in a series of pro-settler steps taken by Israel’s hard-line government since the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. It is expected to trigger a number of challenges in the Supreme Court, while members of the international community have already begun to condemn it.

The law legalized dozens of outposts home built unlawfully on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. According to the law, Palestinian landowners would be compensated either with money or alternative land, even if they did not agree to give up their property.

Continue reading “U.N. Says Israeli Settlement Law Crosses “Thick Red Line””