The Obama Administration has responded critically to the decision from an Israeli court to give an Israeli border police officer just community service for his entirely unjustified attack on an American teenager. Tariq Khdeir, 15, a Palestinian-American, was beaten by the officer, whose name has been withheld by the courts to avoid any further repercussions for him or his family. The beating was filmed after the officer caught the teenager near a riot in East Jerusalem in July 2014. Despite this evidence (and no evidence of just cause) the Israeli court gave the officer just 45 days of community service and a suspended prison term of four months.
We have long discussed our close alliance with Saudi Arabia despite that country’s denial of the most fundamental human rights for women, non-Muslims, journalists, and political dissidents. While the State Department continues to vaguely reference “reforms” in the Kingdom, the Saudi Sharia courts and religious police continue to generate shocking medieval cases where people are flogged or executed for exercising free thought or associations. The latest outrage is the death sentence given Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s contemporary art scene. He has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam, being an atheist (which he denies) and insulting Saudi Arabia. Many view his real offense as being his embarrassment of the infamous religious police (mutaween) in Abha after he posted a video of their lashing a man in public. As is often the case in the pseudo, “courts” of Saudi Arabia, he was denied counsel and any real opportunity to present a defense.
Princeton University has agreed to explore the removal of the name and images of former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson from buildings and school programs under a deal signed with protesters who objected to Wilson’s support of segregation, which was legal at the time. This action occurs as Harvard Law students have demanded the dropping of the school seal due to a connection to a slaveholder.
Harvard Law students have started a campaign to drop the historic seal of Harvard because it is tied to an 18th-century slaveholder. The students organization, Royall Must Fall, have held campus demonstrations demanding the removal of the seal. The three sheaves of wheat on the seal come from the Royall family crest (which raises the compromise possibility of just replacing that portion of the seal attributed to the Royall family). Third-year law student Alexander Clayborne insists that the effort is part of “[o]ur larger goals include decolonization of the law school in general and decolonization of the law school curriculum.”
A student at Georgia Southern University has triggered a controversy that has led to her being fired from her job and charges that she has engaged in hate speech after criticizing protesters at the University of Missouri. Emily Faz, a senior, was critical of social media postings where Missouri protesters objected that the terrorist attacks in Paris were taken too much media attention away from their story.
We recently discussed the allegations of a conservative college newspaper at Dartmouth that “Black Lives Matter” protesters burst into the Baker-Berry Library on the university’s campus in Hanover, New Hampshire and yelled racial epithets and prevented students from studying. The incident was partially caught on videotape and showed protesters abusing students. At the time, I questioned why the university seemed so silent and reticent about allegations of racist statements and even physical threats reported by other students. According to some reports, the university has now acted . . . to apologize to the students who burst into the library, prevented other students from studying, and allegedly yelled racial epithets.
Usually moments of silence are solemn and dignified events that can help heal wounds left in the aftermath of tragedies. Two such occasions this week however show how they can leave troubled feelings in their wake. The first blown event was G-20 Moment of Silence for the victims in Paris. The problem is that it turned out to be a G-19 Moment of Silence because President Obama walked in late. While one would hope that this deeply symbolic moment would be sufficiently important to get the President there on time, problems can occur. Yet, this President has been criticized for years for being consistently late to events, which shows a lack of respect as well as organization. This is one of the worst such failures in a long line of delayed arrivals. The second incident was far more disturbing in Turkey.