IS, Al-Qaeda Reach Accord in Syria (AP-Washington Post)
Leaders from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, met in northern Syria last week and agreed on a plan to stop fighting each other and work together, a high-level Syrian opposition official and a rebel commander said.
The groups also agreed to open up new fronts against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
During the meeting, IS offered to send fighters to help the Nusra Front in an assault it launched last week on Western-backed rebels from the Hazm Movement near the town of Khan al-Sunbul in northern Syria.
Nusra did not need the assistance because Hazm decided not to fight - 65 Hazm fighters defected to Nusra.
Leading Muslim Brotherhood Theologian Calls to Kill the Jews - Ekaterina Kudashkina (Sputnik News-Russia)
Valentina Colombo, Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels, said in an interview:
A few days ago Yusuf Qaradawi issued a...call to the Arab and Muslim peoples. And the title of this call was "Save al-Aqsa."
At the end of the statement Qaradawi quotes Hadith, a saying of Muhammad: "The time would not come until the Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: Oh, Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!"
The meaning of this is that Qaradawi, who is the main theologian of the Muslim Brotherhood, is calling to kill Jews.
Qaradawi is the President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars. He is also the President of the European Council for Fatwa and Research based in Dublin. So, he is part of the European context.
If a person like him calls to kill the Jews, we do not know what can happen next Friday in mosques or in the next days in the streets of Europe.
A Turkish Quest to "Liberate" Jerusalem - Burak Bekdil (Gatestone Institute)
Both Turkish President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu have declared countless times that Gaza and Jerusalem (in addition to Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia and the Maghreb) are Turkey's "domestic affairs."
Davutoglu said on November 7: "Al-Aqsa [mosque in Jerusalem] will one day be liberated. The Israelis should know that the oppressed Syrians have a protector. The oppressed Palestinians too have a protector. That protector is Turkey....Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is both our first prayer direction and has been entrusted with us by history."
President Erdogan added that protecting Islamic sites in the Holy Land is a sacred mission.
The writer, a columnist for the Turkish daily Hurriyet, is a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
No Palestinian State Can Be Established Except through Israel - Haviv Rettig Gur (Irish Times)
The popular fantasy among too many supporters of a free Palestine that suggests Israelis can be brow-beaten into a prompt withdrawal from the West Bank is rooted in simple ignorance.
The Palestinians are too weak, are divided into two territories, and are too entwined with the Israeli economy - even Hamas in Gaza uses Israeli shekels as its currency - to have any hope of a prosperous, free future without first achieving reconciliation with Israel.
To this day, the Palestinian Authority refuses to drop its demand for an unlimited number of descendants of Palestinian refugees to be allowed into Israel. But the Jews will not easily give up their national identity or state by accepting a Palestinian right to Israel.
Israel is not the fragile political structure that Palestinians or their supporters imagine. It is a nation, a distinct culture and identity, speaking a language spoken nowhere else. It has two million schoolchildren, and it is grimly determined to fight any war it must in their defense.
Why Does the West Give Abbas a Free Pass? - Melanie Phillips (Jerusalem Post)
Numerous Western media outlets described the murderous attacks by Palestinians ramming their cars into Israelis in the street as "car crashes" or "traffic accidents."
Yet Fatah's official Facebook page featured cartoons, lyrics and other messages encouraging Palestinians to run over Israelis with their vehicles.
Referring to all Jews visiting the Temple Mount as "settlers," Mahmoud Abbas has whipped up hysteria and incited war on Israel, declaring: "We will not allow our holy places to be contaminated," praising the Palestinians hurling missiles from al-Aksa as "heroes."
Marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, Abbas declared: "He who surrenders one grain of the soil of Palestine and Jerusalem is not one of us," and that "Jerusalem will be solely Palestinian."
Independence for the Paralyzed Via a Cellphone - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
In a few months, individuals who cannot use their limbs due to conditions like ALS, paralysis, Parkinsons, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries will be able to make phone calls, surf the Internet, read and send email, even play games, all on their cellphones.
The Sesame Phone will enable those suffering from near-paralysis to interact with their smartphones like anyone else, said its inventor, Oded Ben-Dov.
The Android phone operating system has been completely reengineered to allow users to control devices using voice commands or head gestures. "With our device, touch is not even necessary," said Ben-Dov.
American Firefighters Train for Emergency Volunteers Project in Israel - Marc Shapiro (Baltimore Jewish Times)
The Emergency Volunteers Project (EVP), a non-profit Israeli organization that deploys emergency service workers to back up first responders in Israel during times of conflict, held a two-day training session on Oct. 28 and 29 in Baltimore County.
During extended conflicts, such as the recent Gaza war, Israeli firefighters and medics in the reserves are called up, leaving fire stations and hospitals understaffed.
When the Israeli government asks, EVP sends seasoned firefighters and medical personnel to help fill in that gap. The organization has trained 500 volunteers since 2010.
"It's helping out my fellow brothers," said Ken McGee, a master technician at Fairfax County Fire and Rescue who is not Jewish. "It's that fraternity; it doesn't matter color, culture or country."
EMS Lt. Scott Weiner of Chestnut Ridge and First Engine Lt. Scott Goldstein of Pikesville spent a week at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon during the war on a weeklong EVP medical mission.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Kissinger: Israel Should Not Seek Final Peace Deal with Palestinians until Mideast Chaos Subsides - Dovid Efune
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told a New York audience on Tuesday that considering the widespread upheaval in the Middle East, it is a mistake for Israel to pursue a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.
After describing the regional turmoil, Kissinger advised against seeking a "permanent settlement" until "the fundamental issues that I described here move to some resolution....The overall solutions will have to be discussed within the context of a solution of the various upheavals and the settling down of these upheavals."
"The survival of Israel and the maintenance of its capacity to build the future is one of those principles that we will pursue even if we have to do so alone," he added. "Israel is, has been, a representative of the principles in which America believes. It is the one country on whose geopolitical support America can always count." (Algemeiner)
- Eight Egyptian Sailors Missing, Five Injured in Attack on Naval Vessel - Amro Hassan
Eight Egyptian sailors were reported missing and five injured when an Egyptian naval vessel was attacked and set ablaze Wednesday in the Mediterranean by "terrorist elements" about 40 miles off the port of Damietta, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir said Thursday.
All four boats used by the assailants were destroyed after air and naval reinforcements were called in, and 32 attackers were arrested. (Los Angeles Times)
- The Fighters of Iraq Who Answer to Iran - Babak Dehghanpisheh
Qais al-Khazali is the head of a militia in Iraq called Asaib Ahl al-Haq.
Together with the Badr Brigades and Kataib Hezbollah, these three small Iraqi Shi'ite armies, all backed by Iran, have become the most powerful military force in Iraq since the collapse of the national army in June.
The militias are key to Iran's power and influence inside neighboring Iraq.
Iran's population is overwhelmingly Shi'ite, as are the majority of Iraqis. Tehran has built up its influence in the past decade by giving political backing to the Iraqi government, and weapons and advisers to the militias and the remnants of the Iraqi military.
The main body funding, arming, and training the Shi'ite militias is Iran's Quds Force, commanded by Qassem Soleimani.
- UK to Bar British Jihadists from Returning - Steven Swinford
British jihadists who fight for ISIS in Syria and Iraq will be barred from returning to Britain for at least two years to prevent terror attacks, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced. Cameron said Britain had to take action to deal with the threat posed by "foreign fighters planning attacks against our people." More than 500 Britons have traveled to Iraq and Syria to take up arms with ISIS, and around half of them are thought to have returned to Britain. More than 200 people have been arrested for terror threats in the UK in the past year alone. (Telegraph-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu, Kerry and King Abdullah Meet in Jordan on Temple Mount Tensions
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordan's King Abdullah II met Thursday in Amman, Jordan, to discuss the recent surge of violence in Jerusalem. Kerry issued a statement praising the sides for their commitment to reduce tensions surrounding the Temple Mount.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah a-Sissi was updated on the meeting by phone, Israel Radio reported. Kerry said Netanyahu had "strongly reaffirmed his commitment to uphold the status quo on Temple Mount."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not attend the meeting. Kerry said it was "not the right moment" for Abbas and Netanyahu to meet, or for Israel and the Palestinians to come together to renew talks.
A senior Israeli government official said that Netanyahu spoke about the urgent need to stop the incitement that was leading to the violence. He said the dissemination of false information about an alleged change to the status quo on the Temple Mount must be stopped, and that the Arab press was publishing reports that were out of touch with reality. (Times of Israel)
See also Text: Kerry's Statement after Amman Talks (U.S. State Department)
- Palestinian Rioters Launching Fireworks and Firebombs Damage the Al-Aqsa Mosque - Itamar Eichner
Foreign diplomats gathered on Wednesday at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem for a special briefing on the escalation of Palestinian violence at the Temple Mount.
One video showed Palestinian rioters building a barrier made out of trash cans and furniture from inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and launching fireworks from within the mosque. The footage shows severe damage caused to the furniture and carpets in the mosque from the fireworks.
"The ridiculous accusations that Israel is planning to harm Al-Aqsa Mosque has no basis," a Foreign Ministry statement said. "Israel considers freedom of religion and worship as a supreme value. Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall are open to visitors of all religions, as are Christian holy sites in Jerusalem." (Ynet News)
- With Tunnels Being Destroyed, Gaza Returns to Smuggling by Sea - Yaakov Lappin
In recent months, the Israel Navy has intercepted a number of attempts by Gazan terrorists to smuggle in weapons by sea, a senior navy source said Thursday. The attempts involve Palestinian fishing boats that sail to the Egyptian coast, load cargo, and return to Gaza. "There has been an increase in these attempts in light of strict Egyptian enforcement against smuggling on the ground in Sinai," the source said. "This has made sea channels more attractive." (Jerusalem Post)
- Mobilize a Regional Coalition of Moderates to Confront the Radicals - Avigdor Lieberman
Just ahead of the Nov. 24 deadline for the talks on Tehran's nuclear program, the leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, once again called for Israel's elimination, writing that Israel "has no cure but to be annihilated."
His statement was issued against a backdrop of open indications that his regime is continuing with the military dimensions of its nuclear program, in defiance of its agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Western powers. The IAEA's latest report underscored that it "remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of nuclear payload for a missile."
The first step to mobilizing moderate forces in the Middle East in an effective coalition against the violent fanaticism of the region's terrorist groups and their state backers is to realize that there is no artificial distinction between "good" radicals and "bad" radicals. Introducing confusion into the ranks of the moderate elements, by relying in any way on the prime instigators of regional instability - Iran and Syria - will weaken the moderate camp and impair its ability to mobilize against the radicals.
The right approach is to establish a determined regional coalition of moderates which will confront all the radicals, including Iran, Syria, Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, Hizbullah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and their myriad affiliates. In such an anti-radical regional coalition, Israel would definitely be willing to play an active and effective role. If moderate Arab governments consider their true interests, they will discover in Israel a reliable - and indeed indispensable - partner in the struggle to ensure the defeat of those radical forces that seek to set the entire region ablaze. The writer is foreign minister of Israel.
- Iranian Nuclear Negotiator: "We Can't Just Turn Back the Clock" - Susanne Koelbl
Tehran diplomat Takht Ravanchi said in an interview:
"In our judgment the Americans do not want to appreciate what's happening on the ground in Iran as far as the nuclear capabilities and capacities are concerned. We have about 20,000 centrifuges, almost half of which are producing nuclear material, the other half are only spinning. We can't just turn back the clock....You have to keep the status quo. But we are ready to accept some limits to our activities for a specific period of time." (Der Spiegel-Germany)
- Iran Explains Why It Will Not Relinquish Nuclear Technology
The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran struggled through to victory over a tangle of U.S.-led threats, sanctions and war. After the revolution, grounds were paved for Iranian experts to show their capabilities and talents in scientific and technological fields. Authorities provided all the necessary tools, facilities and investments for young scientists. Now after 35 years, the country, which was formerly known as an underdeveloped nation, ranks 10 in the world in many fields.
Although the development of nuclear technology is a matter of national pride and principle, the U.S. and its cohorts have joined forces to stop the country from going any further in terms of development. Iran's superb progress in nuclear technology and uranium enrichment, which became a reality in recent years, has surprised the world.
Iran did join the nuclear club and it's the reason why the U.S. and its allies remain dogged to tear down its scientific centers and nuclear facilities. Notwithstanding the Western policy, as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei says, "Iran will never relinquish its nuclear program, as with its many ingenious applications the technology is a promising path to future security." Iran is a living example why development in nuclear technology guarantees a much more stabilized and independent presence and position in the international realm.
- Mahmoud Abbas Is Playing a Dangerous Double Game - Jonathan Spyer
The wave of shootings, automobile attacks and stabbings that hit Jerusalem this month has had a profound effect. The faces of the innocents murdered are all over the news. Talk of a third intifada is everywhere. Yet in a number of substantive ways the current reality differs sharply from the time of the two intifadas (1987-92 and 2000-04).
The West Bank has so far stayed largely quiet because the Palestinian Authority leadership appears to be playing a double game.
On the one hand, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is engaging in incitement, spreading fear and anger about supposed Israeli plans to upset the delicate rules for Jewish worship on the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque area. Meantime, his security forces are continuing to cooperate with the Israelis in ensuring relative quiet on the West Bank. This reflects the general lack of Palestinian enthusiasm to provoke another mass confrontation with Israel.
While the attacks on Israeli civilians have been presented in some news reports as spontaneous acts of rage, all of them were by committed members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, Herzliya, Israel, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
(New York Daily News)
- Israeli-Palestinian Security Cooperation Continues - Ben Caspit
To the Israel Defense Forces, it is not at all clear that we are in the midst of a third intifada. "We are constantly checking out the situation on the ground,'' a high-ranking military source in the West Bank said on Nov. 12. ''At this stage...there is a rise in the number of incidents, but all the stabilizing forces are still present with no small amount of influence....We aren't there yet."
On Tuesday, "the Palestinians commemorated 10 years since the death of Yasser Arafat. In the course of the day, we counted 36 incidents that took place in Judea-Samaria. All in all, a thousand Palestinians participated. This is a small number, even negligible. We don't see the masses out in the streets; this is not an uprising." "Hamas, from a distance, is trying to set the West Bank on fire and individuals are carrying out terror attacks, but...there is no organized terror infrastructure in the territories."
Abbas' security apparatuses continue to avert terror and cooperation with Israel continues as usual. "Terror operatives continue to be arrested and interrogated, while the number of arrests is either on an upward trend or remains stable. Security coordination with Israel continues to be sacred."
Additional stabilizing forces include the financial situation, Israeli deterrence and Israel's policy of restrained use of force. "Your average Palestinian knows what's happening around him. He keeps track of what is happening in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq...Egypt. He knows that compared to all these regions, he's in a better place." (Al-Monitor)
- The Hidden Hand of ISIS and Its Impact on Palestinian Escalation - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
The message of Islamic awakening, seen in the announcement of the establishment of the Islamic caliphate by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, embodies the dream of resurrecting the glory days of Islam.
It exerts a strong pull on the Palestinian public, which is traditionally attracted to any force declaring a pretense to liberate Palestine.
In the new Middle East, increasingly Islamic in character, the winds of jihad are sweeping the masses.
This message would appear to be the main driving force behind the recent wave of Palestinian violence, not born of political or economic despair, but rather hopeful of cracking Israeli confidence and realizing the dream of the liberation of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River with Jerusalem as the capital of the caliphate.
These are also the principles expressed by leaders of the Islamic movement within the State of Israel, who identify with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The more the Islamic caliphate continues to strengthen, the greater the chances are of the collapse of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the expansion of Palestinian violence towards Israel. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also Welcome to the Global Intifada - Ben-Dror Yemini
In the past few months there have been, every month, between 10,000 to 15,000 jihad victims, and the absolute majority of them are Muslims. There are neighborhoods in European cities which are dominated by jihad supporters. They are threatening Ottawa, New York, London and Paris. Those inflaming the situation are not looking for equality, liberation, democracy or freedom. They want darkness and oppression. They want an Islamic caliphate. (Ynet News)
- Recognizing Israel's Security Needs in Jerusalem - Zalman Shoval
Every time Israel announces a construction plan in one of Jerusalem's neighborhoods beyond the Green Line, we are inundated with anguished cries from American and European representatives.
They do not bother to explain why building apartments or adding rooms to existing homes in Jewish neighborhoods, which in any possible future diplomatic agreement will be part of Israel anyway, conflicts with the "two-state" solution. These condemnations encourage the Palestinians to maintain their obstinate position regarding any possible future deal.
In 1967 Israel made a strategic decision to never go back to a situation whereby an enemy can lay siege to Jerusalem from all sides or even sever it from the rest of the country, as almost happened during the War of Independence. Its various governments made the decision to envelop Jerusalem with Jewish neighborhoods and communities in order to break the Palestinian continuity surrounding it.
It is strange and upsetting that the Americans, of all people, have taken a position that runs counter to declarations issued by the current president and his predecessors, that they recognize Israel's security needs. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
- The Palestinians' "Car Intifada" and the Peace Process - Khaled Abu Toameh
The Palestinian "car intifada," which has claimed the lives of four Israelis, including a three-month-old infant, is being hailed by many Palestinians as a "natural response to Israeli crimes."
The "crimes" they are referring to are visits by Jewish groups and individuals to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The recent terror attacks in Jerusalem are the direct result of a campaign of incitement by
the Palestinian Authority [PA], Hamas and Islamic Jihad against Israel.
Widespread support among Palestinians for the recent terror attacks in Jerusalem is being expressed in social media, where Palestinian activists are encouraging more attacks on Israelis.
It is a waste of time to talk about any peace process when Palestinian leaders and activists are openly glorifying those who use their vehicles to kill Israelis. As long as the incitement continues, there is zero chance for the success of any peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
- How the Gazan Resistance Manufactures Rockets with Help from Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah - Qassem Qassem, Youssef Fares, and Abdel Rahman Nassar
Gazan resistance fighters traveled to Tehran to attend intensive training sessions. Over many months they gained invaluable skills, starting with on-hands application of theories, to testing weapons and tactics in environments simulating the geography in Gaza. The resistance fighters transferred their experience to Gaza, where they helped manufacture and develop rockets, and provided training on how to emplace and camouflage them. The training did not come only from Iran, as fighters also underwent the same kind of training in Syria.
Since 2005, following the withdrawal of the Israeli enemy from the Philadelphia Corridor, the southern border with Egypt was now open to the resistance fighters, creating better conditions for smuggling in weapons and raw materials through tunnels to manufacture rockets. A new stage began in which fighters from Gaza flocked to Lebanon, and collaborated with the resistance there to bring in more weapons and military equipment.
The first Fajr-5 rockets arrived in Gaza in 2011, and were used for the first time in 2012. At the time, Israel accused the IRGC of supplying rockets to the resistance. The commander of the IRGC, Mohammad Ali Jafari, responded by confirming the transfer of Fajr rockets, and added that he would be seeking to supply other rocket systems.
Leading sources in Islamic Jihad said that the majority of weapons that arrived in Gaza and used in the battles of 2012 and 2014 had come through during Hosni Mubarak's term. In those years, the authorities in Egypt turned a blind eye to smuggling in Sinai. Then under President Mohammed Morsi, the resistance stockpiled a fair amount of rockets and hardware. However, smuggling weapons under Morsi was more difficult than under Mubarak, though it was easier under him to move fighters out of Gaza for training.
In late 2012, the Israeli air force bombed a weapons convoy in Sudan, said to be on its way to Gaza. At that point, the Iranians realized that the best option to supply rockets to the Palestinian resistance was to help manufacture them locally.
Accordingly, Tehran worked with Hizbullah to train Gazans on setting up plants to manufacture rockets. The Gaza war in 2014 demonstrated the worth of months of training in Iran. Assistant Foreign Minister of Iran Hossein Amir Abdul-Lahian said the IRGC had transferred rocket-making technology to the Palestinians. (Al-Akhbar-Lebanon)
- Expulsions in Israel's War of Independence Were Acts of Self-Defense - Benny Morris
In the circumstances of 1948, when the Palestinian Arabs and then the surrounding Arab states assaulted the Jewish community in Palestine-Israel, and threatened it with annihilation (that's how the Jews at the time, three years after the Holocaust, saw it, and the Arabs reinforced this view when, in the course of that war they expelled the Jews from, and razed to the ground, every site they conquered), the Jewish defense forces had every right to expel Palestinians from the villages which served as their military bases (much as the kibbutzim served as the Jews' military bases).
The expulsions, where they occurred - and most of the 700,000 Arabs who were uprooted in that war were not expelled, but simply fled in face of the flail of war - were acts of self-defense. When facing the choice between expelling your attacker or being slaughtered - my preference remains expelling the other. The writer is a professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Why Gaza Is Not Remotely Occupied - Eugene Kontorovich (Washington Post)
- The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court last week found no jurisdiction over Israel's naval interdiction of vessels seeking to break the Gaza blockade. But she did issue a long, non-binding pronouncement that it would be "reasonable" to conclude Israel occupies Gaza.
- But even with all the qualifications, the prosecutor's argument is not reasonable. It is absurd and unprecedented. It embodies principles that have never and can never be applied to other situations.
- There has never been a finding of such a "remote" occupation, lasting nine years after the end of physical occupation and in the presence of a distinct and hostile local government.
- The basic condition of occupation is the substitution of the authority of the occupying power for that of the local authority. But there is no suggestion that Gazan authorities have been "substituted." They maintain daily authority on the ground.
- The International Court of Justice in 2005 considered the extent of Uganda's occupation of the Congo. The Court concluded that in a certain province, without the soldiers actually there, it did not amount to an occupation.
See also By the ICC Prosecutor's Logic, Gaza Occupies Israel - Eugene Kontorovich
By the ICC Prosecutor's logic, Gaza occupies Israel. First, it reserves the right to enter Israel when militarily necessary, and exercises this right. Indeed, it digs tunnels directly into Israel: a direct physical occupation of territory.
Moreover, it controls parts of life in Israel. It decides, for example, when schools will be open in the south, and when they will be closed due to rocket fire. Indeed, Gazan authorities boast that they can shut down Israel's airport whenever they want. (Washington Post)
See also The ICC Prosecutor Did Not Decide Gaza Is Occupied - Eugene Kontorovich
It seems odd that the Prosecutor spent 40 pages of a 60-page report on
a long and detailed discussion of whether Gaza is occupied.
The entire issue was determined before any factual investigation or the participation of Israel. The frolic seems, at best, like a rhetorical sop to those who would otherwise be angered by the ultimate result. (Washington Post)
The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, and an expert on constitutional and international law.
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