Resolved: “The federal government should allow the display of religious symbols in public spaces.”

No debate here.

The federal government already allows the display of religious symbols in public spaces.

See my careful research at nathanielsegal.mysite.com – The Ten Commandments – Public Policy Issues.

See especially “A Final Word from the Supreme Court of the U.S.

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President Trump intends to levy tariffs against unfair trade partners

It seems that U.S. President Trump is invoking an arcane section of a 1974 U.S. law (as amended through February 2016) allowing him to actually levy tariffs.

Ordinary Americans — such as myself — look at the U.S. Constitution and see how Congress lays “Duties, Imposts …” and “regulate[s] Commerce with foreign Nations …” (Article I, Section 8)

However, it further seems that Congress delegated power to the president for reacting quickly to unfair trade practices. (By the way, the Congressional bill, Trade Act of 1974  [Public Law 93–618, as amended] runs 273 pages.)

Congress works slowly; the president can react swiftly.

Nevertheless, the law provides for public hearings before affected parties suffer unfavorable outcomes.

Without hearings, Mr. Trump has joined the ranks of previous imperial presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

Actually moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

When the U.S. Department of State says that it is moving its Embassy to the State of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it’s unlikely to become anything more than a superficial, perfunctory presence. Most embassy services will likely remain in Tel Aviv, and most employees will also remain there. Furthermore, the U.S. State Department is unlikely to go ahead and actually build the facilities for an embassy although it may acquire land. (Land that was scouted out for an embassy campus has been ruled out because it was too small to be safe. See my post “Land once earmarked for the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.”)

While the U.S. Embassy to Israel only goes back to the founding of the state in 1948, the city of Jerusalem has had its own Consulate General that was established in 1844 as an American diplomatic presence in the Holy City. This diplomatic mission was elevated to the status of Consulate General in 1928 during the period when Britain was mandated by the League of Nations to administer the lands of Palestine. At that time, the city of Jerusalem was undivided. The State Department located the Consulate General on Agron Street, slightly more than one half mile (walking along city streets) (about 850 meters) from the walled city’s Jaffa Gate.

At the end of the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, an annex to the Consulate General was housed in as neutral an address as possible, neutral regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its location was just east of the Jordan-Israel Armistice line near the only checkpoint between Israel and the West bank, the crossing at the Mandelbaum Gate. This location of the annex to the Consulate General is a short walk to the Old City’s Damascus Gate, about one-third mile (530m).

The annex of the Consulate General moved to new, expanded facilities in 2010, a six-acre (24 dunam) campus near the Arnona neighborhood, again in as neutral a location as possible. This campus straddles the western armistice line, thereby placing the Consulate annex on what had partly been no man’s land until 1967.

“The Consulate General represents the United States in Arab Jerusalem [sic], the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip as an independent mission.” Its role has become, in the words of the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Consulate General, “… the public diplomacy arm of the U.S. Consulate, [with] primary goals … to support the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis….” (“Public Affairs Section | U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.”)

We’ve seen how the United States has maintained a Consulate General to Jerusalem for 170 years. It has answered directly to the State Department as an independent mission but not to an embassy as most consulates do. With one quick decision of President Trump’s, the annex of the Consulate General will begin to function as an embassy. Consular services to Jerusalem will resort to the cramped, outdated facility on Agron Street. About 580 staffers now work in consular services in the annex whereas about 960 staffers work in Tel Aviv (Taylor).

President Donald Trump has reversed a foreign policy in the region that dates back to 1948. What has the U.S. Department of State known about a new embassy in Jerusalem? Probably next to nothing until President Trump made his February determination known. Evidence of this lies in how the Consulate General has yet to formulate solicitations for adaptations of existing offices for new uses. (See “Request for Quotes”.)

How much did Secretary of State Rex Tillerson know about a move in upcoming May?

As recently as last December, “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemed to concede that the move [of the Embassy] won’t be easy and that the process of finding a new plot of land would begin immediately. ‘Obviously, there’s a lot of planning that goes into it,’ Tillerson [former CEO of ExxonMobil] told reporters…. ‘It’s going to take some time.’”

A rash change during the Trump administration is not unexpected, though. The Washington Post’s chief correspondent Dan Balz notes, “[President Trump] pledged not to be predictable or conventional. He demonstrated that he has no fixed ideology or conviction.”

Trump has shown repeatedly he is prepared to ignore orthodoxy and question policies that other administrations have accepted as constants. (Balz. “Trump promised …”)

I believe that the May date will be marked by ceremony. Political implications will arrive and, subsequently, not go away. Moving the embassy establishes another “fact on the ground” which will frustrate Palestinian desires to include eastern Jerusalem in a Palestinian state.

Postscript:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was just relieved of his post as I was writing this essay. He is beginning to tie up loose ends and will leave the State Department on March 31, 2018. He reportedly alienated State Department colleagues during his tenure as being a poor advocate for the State Department. His replacement, Mike Pompeo (if confirmed), is expected to repair damage. Nonetheless, career diplomats may be reluctant to accept Pompeo’s thought process, a process “very similar” to President Trump’s – a disdain for diplomacy (DeYoung. “Pompeo will face …”).
I’ve seen no evidence that moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is diplomatic – certainly not toward Palestinians and other Arabs.

Sources and References

Associated Press. “Guatemala’s Israel embassy to move to Jerusalem in mid-May.” The Washington Post, The Americas, March 5, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.

Balz, Dan. “Trump promised this kind of presidency — unpredictable, ad hoc and impulsive.” The Washington Post, Politics • Perspective, March 10, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.

DeYoung, Karen and John Hudson. “Pompeo will face a host of foreign policy challenges if confirmed as secretary of state.” The Washington Post, National Security, March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018, 8:30 PM CDT.

Ignatius, David. “Tillerson’s departure removes another check on an impulsive Trump.” The Washington Post, Post Partisan • Opinion, March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018, 6:14 PM CDT.

Kontorovich, Eugene. “What Trump not signing a Jerusalem embassy waiver would really mean.” The Washington Post, The Volokh Conspiracy  • Opinion, May 30, 2017.

Mann, Amir and Ami Shinar, architects & planners. “U.S. Consulate General Annex, Jerusalem.” Web page, retrieved March 13, 2018.

Nauert, Heather, U.S. State Department Spokesperson. “Opening of U.S. Embassy Jerusalem.” Press Statement. Washington, D.C., February 23, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018.

Rubin, Jennifer. “Tillerson is put out of his misery.” The Washington Post, Right Turn • Opinion, March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018, 5:55 PM CDT.

Taylor, Adam. “Where would a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem actually go?” The Washington Post, WorldViews • Analysis, December 7, 2017. Retrieved March 2018.

Tillerson, Rex W., U.S. Secretary of State. “Remarks in Press Briefing Room.” Remarks. Washington, D.C., March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.

U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem.” Web Page, retrieved March 13, 2018.

Daylight Savings Time and the Oil Embargo of 1974

In about 1974, the U.S. Congress mandated that the entire country remain on a daylight savings clock all year long. The oil producing countries (OPEC) were holding back petroleum exports to the U.S. By retaining daylight savings time in the winter, our basic work and school days occurred during daylight hours. Offices didn’t need to turn on lights during the last hour or so of the 9-5 workday. Presumably, using less electricity during daylight savings time would reduce usage of petroleum.

K-12 schools were in session during daylight hours. However, people discovered that children were heading off to school while it was still dark. Young people who had after-school activities were also coming home in the dark. As a safety matter, parents didn’t like the idea that their children were between home and school in the dark. Parents who would not let their children ride bicycles at night found that they were in a position to decide whether the youngsters would take bicycles to and from school.

After one winter, Congress resumed the previous winter clock of standard time. Youngsters, for the most part, were again outside during daylight hours.

To cite examples for the northern tier of states, the sun rises in December, January, and February at about 7 – 7:15 AM. In terms of daylight savings time, the sun rises between 8 and 8:15 AM.

At the same time, in most of the southernmost states, the sun rises in December, January, and February at about 7 AM. In terms of daylight savings time, the sun rises a little before 8 AM except in January when the average is about 8:15 AM.

However, on Florida’s panhandle (in the eastern time zone) the winter sunrise is around 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM daylight time. A legislative discussion in Florida has been to enact daylight savings time all year long. As such, youngsters in Tallahassee, the state capital, would be heading to school in the dark during the winter.

It seems that legislators in Florida do not have the experience of winter 1974 at their fingertips. Some hadn’t yet been born; others wouldn’t remember, of course.

Only Southern California seems to have an advantage over most other populous regions of the country by about fifteen minutes, though.

Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

The United States May Really Move Its Embassy to Jerusalem

A U.S. Department of State spokesperson announced on February 23rd, according to The Washington Post, that the United States will move its embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018.

You can view this article in The Washington Post, “National Security,” February 23rd, 2018.

Also, see the actual press statement from the U.S. State Department.

My earlier post expressed skepticism about a move of the embassy to Israel’s capital city.

Waiting to see …

Islamophia

Radio talk host Alex Jones is confused about what a burqa is and what a hijab is.

If there is a Muslim woman in North America or in Europe who has her face covered by a burqa – a full covering except for her eyes – she is unique. Essentially, a burqa covering is so extreme that it is not even worn in Saudi Arabia or in Iran.

If a Christian nun is still wearing a habit, she is probably covering her neck and ears in addition to her hair just like many Muslim women. This is called a hijab in Arabic.

A somewhat more conservative head covering than a hijab is a niqab. A woman wraps longer fabric over her mouth and nostrils (sometimes a little higher on the nose).

I almost dressed like that today when I went outside. Here in Kansas City, the midday temperature (as I write this) is 18° (Fahrenheit). Besides a ski cap over my ears, I would have covered even my my mouth. But, for this former Chicagoan, 18° and no wind is fine.

The temperature now in Chicago, though, is 12°. If I were standing on an El platform waiting for a train, it’s not unlikely for me to pull up my scarf over my mouth. Some platforms – especially where I used to commute from – are entirely exposed to bitterly cold wind. So at times I protect my face with a ‘niqab’.

How do I know what I’m talking about? I would often sit in a study area at the University of Missouri – Kansas City that was popular with Muslim young people. So, I checked that what the young women were wearing were hijabs.

One time I was sitting across from a young lady who was wearing a hijab, and I asked her what a niqab was. She lifted a longer end of her hijab over her mouth thereby showing me a niqab. So I speak with authority.

Interestingly enough, it came up in conversation that she was from Saudi Arabia. In my nosy way, I told her that I was surprised to see that she was alone. In truth, she told me that she had come with a brother, but he had already finished his studies and had returned to Saudi Arabia. “My parents trust me,” she said. “It would be sad if they didn’t.”

I believe that G-d trusts us. It would be sad if he didn’t.

_________________

* I sometimes listen to Alex Jones (carried on radio here) so that you don’t have to. It’s possible that he will be my bête noire for March.

* a study area that was popular with young Muslims. The women wearing hijabs is one give-away. The other clue was that several were speaking Arabic. I don’t speak Arabic, but I recognize it. I can be an amateur linguist since I’ve heard plenty of Arabic in Israel.

The ‘Two State Solution’ Died in 1949

The idea of an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River died when the Arab Legion invaded the West Bank in 1948. The land westward from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean was supposed to be divided into two states. One would be a Jewish state and the other would be an Arab state for those who were living there.

War was out of the question. The United Nations’ plan included the directive that both states would engage in economic cooperation – actually an Economic Union.

This plan was the United Nations Partition Plan for when Britain left the region. The plan arguably had the status of international law. The Security Council’s resolution concerned Britain. It set forth how the region that was mandated to the British to administer would look like when the British left. Britain tried (arguably) to set up the partition and to establish the outcome.

However, the Arab Legion violated this international law when it attacked Israel. Then, the Kingdom of Jordan annexed the West Bank – a new violation of international law.

The international community had helped Israel and Jordan negotiate an armistice in 1949. Since both sides agreed, the cease fire had the force of international law also.

The next time that the parties reached an agreement – negotiated by outsiders – was in 1993 through 1995. This was the Oslo Accords. These accords, which were signed by representatives of the Palestinians and of Israel, is the last word of international law.

UN resolutions passed by its Security Council arguably do not have the force of law. The United Nations is fulfilling its obligation to promote peace and security. It’s not unusual for effective parties to disdain peace and security.

Another event bears discussing. The International Court of Justice – commonly referred to as the World Court – is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. However, it tries to resolve disputes wherein both parties agree to appear. It is out of the question for the Court to rule unilaterally.

To repeat. The Oslo Accords are the only agreement, the only law between Palestinians and Israel.

Palestinians cannot justifiably complain that they are living in cantons. Their representative signed off on this.

They have a right and obligation to regulate life in what are called Areas A and B. Only Israel has the right to regulate life and to develop new housing, industry, and parks in Area C.

If Palestinians wished to pick up where things stood in the middle 2000s everything could go back onto the negotiating table.

However, this is so unlikely that I can relax, heat up some water, and relax drinking hot tea with sugar. The ‘Two State Solution’ is dead.