The Supreme Court’s Jewish Gentile

Feb. 16 2016

“‘When there was no Jewish justice on the Supreme Court,’ Antonin Scalia told me, ‘I considered myself the Jewish justice.’” Thus opens Nathan Lewin’s remembrance of his lifelong friend and sometime legal sparring partner, who died this past Saturday. Not the least striking quality of the great Catholic jurist, Lewin remarks, was his “admiration for Jews and Jewish learning”—a fact that “explains the frequent references in his opinions to the Talmud and other Jewish sources, and the significant number of Orthodox Jewish law clerks he hired.” Lewin concludes:

There is universal agreement that Nino Scalia was brilliant, amazingly articulate, and a real mensch. There is strong disagreement, however, over the side he chose in ideological battles. Scalia is, of course, an Italian name. If one writes it with Hebrew letters, there are two possible—albeit squarely contradictory—ways of writing Scalia. One is to use the letters sin, kaf, lamed, which are also the root of sekhel: Hebrew for “wisdom.” The other is to use the Hebrew letters samekh, kuf, lamed, which are the root sakol, meaning “to stone.”

Some praised Nino’s wisdom; others were ready to stone him. But all must concur that he was a great man, that the United States he loved is greatly diminished by his loss, and that he greatly revered Jews and Jewish tradition.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American law, History & Ideas, Jewish-Catholic relations, Judaism, Law, Supreme Court

The Danger of Hollow Fixes to the Iran Deal

March 20 2018

In January, the Trump administration announced a 120-day deadline for the so-called “E3”—Britain, France, and Germany—to agree to solutions for certain specific flaws in the 2015 agreement to limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Omri Ceren explains why it’s necessary to get these fixes right:

[Already in October], the administration made clear that it considered the deal fatally flawed for at least three reasons: a weak inspections regime in which the UN’s nuclear watchdog can’t access Iranian military facilities, an unacceptable arrangement whereby the U.S. had to give up its most powerful sanctions against ballistic missiles even as Iran was allowed to develop ballistic missiles, and the fact that the deal’s eventual expiration dates mean Iran will legally be allowed to get within a hair’s breadth of a nuclear weapon. . . .

A team of American negotiators has been working on getting the E3 to agree to a range of fixes, and is testing whether there is overlap between the maximum that the Europeans can give and the minimum that President Trump will accept. The Europeans in turn are testing the Iranians to gauge their reactions and will likely not accept any fixes that would cause Iran to bolt.

The negotiations are problematic. The New York Times reported that, as far as the Europeans are concerned, the exercise requires convincing Trump they’ve “changed the deal without actually changing it.” Public reports about the inspection fix suggest that the Europeans are loath to go beyond urging the International Atomic Energy Commission to request inspections, which the agency may be too intimidated to do. The ballistic-missile fix is shaping up to be a political disaster, with the Europeans refusing to incorporate anything but long-range missiles in the deal. That would leave us with inadequate tools to counter Iran’s development of ballistic missiles that could be used to wipe Israel, the Saudis, and U.S. regional bases off the map. . . .

There is a [significant] risk the Trump administration may be pushed to accept the hollow fixes acceptable to the Europeans. Fixing the deal in this way would be the worst of all worlds. It would functionally enshrine the deal under a Republican administration. Iran would be open for business, and this time there would be certainty that a future president will not act to reverse the inevitable gold rush. Just as no deal would have been better than a bad deal, so no fix would be better than a bad fix.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Donald Trump, Europe, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy