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Syracuse University plays lead role in undermining int’l law, with concern for Israel

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I always try to give “props” to our local (Central New York State) institutes of higher education if the opportunity presents itself.  Shmuel’s fine post, “Israel’s actual invention is new standard on asymmetrical conflict,” gives me the chance to do just that. Shmuel and Jeff Halper may be correct in crediting Israelis with originating the movement to amend international humanitarian law (IHL) for the purpose of justifying civilian causalities in “asymmetric warfare.”

However, I think it is important to point out that one American university is in the forefront of this bizarre legal movement. The Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT), Syracuse University, held a conference, “Old Battlefields, New Laws,” devoted to the subject in 2007. The institute has an ongoing project by the same name dedicated to changing IHL to reflect “the realities of asymmetric warfare.”

After the Lebanon War (2006), Mitchel B. Wallerstein, the Dean of the Maxwell School at Syracuse, opined:

During the hostilities in southern Lebanon,… the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) … [were left]…with little alternative than to attack these [Lebanese] villages, both from the air and on the ground. But these IDF tactics received serious criticism from some in the international community regarding their proportionality and whether the resulting civilian casualties and damage were justifiable. This…begs the question whether existing international law…is adequate…. [emphases mine]

In "Our Unofficial Motto," Maxwell Perspective, Spring 2007, inside cover.

INSCT has a continuing five-year collaboration with the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Herzliya, Israel, that includes a two-way student exchange program. The initial funding for the Syracuse institute came from a generous donation from the Syracuse University trustee and donor, Gerald Cramer. Cramer lives part-time in Israel, with his Israeli wife. He is also a major donor to the Interdisciplinary Center of which the ICT is part. The Old Battlefields, New Laws project is also funded by the Paul Greenberg Foundation.

INSCT (pronounced “insect” by some) is a sponsor of the annual counterterrorism conference at Herzliya in which Syracuse University professors invariably take an active role. Daphna and Gerald Cramer also are sponsors of this event. One of the conference days always falls on September 11. This, of course, is timed perfectly to make the case that Israel’s battle against terrorism became America’s battle as a result of the World Trade Center attack. And believe me when I say the Israelis continuously play that tune throughout the conference.

According to the "Old Battlefieds, New Laws page on the INSCT website:

Recent conflicts underscore the continuing shortcomings of international law and policy in responding to asymmetric warfare mounted by non-state terrorist groups in the 21st century. Neither The Hague Rules, the customary law of war, nor the post-1949 law of armed conflict and accompanying international humanitarian law, account for non-state groups waging prolonged campaigns of terrorism—and, in some cases, more conventional military attacks— that leave the defending state with little choice but to respond in ways that inflict heavy civilian casualties.

Syracuse University is currently distinguishing itself as a top 5 basketball team and a leader in academic support for the Israeli occupation and never-ending military campaigns.  They may drop out of the top five in basketball, but their high ranking in support of Israel is secure.

Ira Glunts
About Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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