If you have to say or do something controversial, aim so that people will hate that they love it and not love that they hate it.
- Criss Jami

posted: Aug. 17, 2019, 11:37 a.m.

Israel's banning two U.S. lawmakers into Israel on an official visit is an attack on two vital institutions. The first is that of allowing U.S. representatives to travel freely, which is one most entrenched global institutions for preserving America's continued role as a global watchdog. Indeed, no less than Israel's ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, recognized this principle just last month.

Supporters of the ban focus on Representatives Omar and Tlaib's political ideologies and blithely levy personal attacks against them. In doing so, they only reinforce why institutions are necessary: institutions create rules that view all actors blindly. When we allow exceptions, the institution is compromised. Seriously consider this question posted by the WaPo editorial board: "How many dictators are rejoicing today that a U.S. president has given them full permission to bar members of Congress who in the future might want to visit their countries to monitor elections or speak up for human rights?"

The second institution attacked by the ban is that of democracies. What does it say that the only democracy in the Middle East bans its ideological opponents? 

Institutions, despite their powerful foundations, are incredibly fragile. While they take generations to build, they can be destroyed overnight.

posted: Aug. 20, 2019, 3:49 p.m.

This is another fracas over nothing. Israel's ban of two supporters of the BDS movement is not just mandated by Israeli law, it also complies with international norms.

Here, there is no question that, under Israeli law, Representatives Omar and Tlaib are not to be allowed entry visas based on their support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. And this makes sense. Why would a country willingly encourage its open enemies to come and advocate against it? Representatives Omar and Tlaib's intentions were clear: they forewent a bipartisan delegation trip in favor of one sponsored by anti-Semites. Representative Tlaib went so far as to lie and request entry for humanitarian reasons to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in exchange for setting aside her advocacy efforts, but when Israel agreed, she balked. This is not the behavior of good-faithed actors.

Other countries regularly do the same thing. In 2012, President Obama denied a U.S. entry visa to a right-wing member of the Israeli Knesset. For ten years beginning in 2005, the U.S. blocked entry to the future Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. The United Kingdom has banned a host of U.S. citizens, including Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, Martha Stewart, Mike Tyson, Dog the Bounty Hunter, and Snoop Dogg.

Nations have various reasons for banning bad actors. Exceptions should not be made just because the bad actor has been successful in gaining power.

posted: June 29, 2019, 8:32 p.m.

The most salient fact from this most recent foreign policy catastrophe: as the United States was initiating military action against an excitable and capricious adversary, the Commander in Chief was unaware of the likely casualty rate, and upon discovering that 150 Iranians could die, he realized that the strike was completely unfounded. There is no excuse for such a reckless disregard of the thin line that separates countries from full-blown war or America's historical role as the world's moral compass. Make no mistake, President Trump was initiating military action against one of the most volatile nations without first educating himself on the most conspicuous risk factor of likely casualties.