The First Amendment Doesn’t Allow the Harassment or Battery of Jews

While the fighting in Gaza has paused for the time being, there is no sign that anti-Israel and anti-Jewish agitation on college campuses has abated. Attempts to curb such agitation by a handful of administrators have raised objections in the name of freedom of speech and academic freedom, often coming from those who until now have not demonstrated even minimal respect for either. Yet there are some serious concerns to be addressed. Ilya Shapiro, a libertarian jurist with a long record as a champion of freedom of expression, argues that there is ample legal recourse for those who wish to crack down on anti-Israel excesses.

[T]he First Amendment does not protect the incitement of violence, which the Supreme Court has defined as speech that is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” The courts have set a high bar on meeting this standard—but it’s surely been reached in some recent cases both on and off-campus.

Take, for example, the pro-Palestine rally in Los Angeles, where, in the course of the event, a sixty-nine-year-old man holding an Israeli flag was struck and killed. Assuming eliminationist or other violent slogans were chanted there, it would be hard to imagine a more direct connection between those chants and actual violence.

Moreover, writes Shapiro, Jewish students may have legal recourse against universities that fail to curb such behavior:

[T]he legal landscape is ripe for both administrative complaints and lawsuits alleging that all these hand-wringing academic grandees have failed to address the very real threats to the physical safety of Jewish students. At Cooper Union, a staffer locked Jewish students in the library for their own protection in the face of demonstrators shouting, “Free, free Palestine.” I’m not sure offering Jews a chance to hide in the attic satisfies Title VI. . . .

We shouldn’t weaken speech protections, which have made America not only the freest country in the world, but the most tolerant. But sometimes “speech” isn’t speech. Sometimes it rises to the level of conduct that prevents others from being able to live their lives. Right now we need people to discern the difference.

Read more at Free Press

More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security