Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Democrats for More Democrats

One of my favorite social campaign slogans of all time is "Neighbors for more neighbors" -- the mantra of supporters of upzoning in Minneapolis-St. Paul. And to co-opt it, Democrats should support policies that create more Democrats.

At one level, that's obvious; at another, it's obscure. What does it mean for a policy to "create" more Democrats? It'd be nice if "good policy that makes people's lives better" had a direct connection to getting more votes, but I'm dubious. Typically, the process through which people become members of a political party is a little less straightforward -- working through cultural affinity and other group dynamics as much if not more so than policy preferences. And on the other side, we should not support a policy that's objectively unethical just because it might redound to the transient political advantage of the Democratic Party. All politics is, in a sense, a trade-off between what's right and what's expedient, but the very best political moves -- the true no-brainers -- are those which are both right and expedient. What we'd want, then, are policies that are both (a) objectively good and (b) are likely to inject more Democratic voters into the polity. 

Statehood for DC (and the other colonies) is an obvious one -- it rectifies a clear injustice of areas under permanent American jurisdiction which lack political representation, and most of the relevant places are strongly blue-leaning (at "worst", places like Puerto Rico are swingy) and so would add more Democrats into American politics.

Immigration reform is, potentially, another. Again, it is correct on the ethics, but it also is likely that many (not all) of the immigrant populations will be inclined to vote blue -- particularly if Republicans insist on declaring loudly and consistently that the immigrants aren't welcome here. Accelerating paths to citizenship -- basically, creating a fatter spigot of naturalized U.S. citizens -- will likely yield more Democratic voters.

A less obvious play is policies which enhance college accessibility ("free college" or related programs), resulting in more Americans getting college-educated. The big story in American voter behavior over the past decade is that partisanship is now sorted almost entirely along the dimension of education -- higher-education cohorts voting blue, lower-education cohorts voting red (this holds even accounting for differences in wealth -- high-ed/low-income voters are still blue, high-income/low-ed voters are still red). 

Does this mean that, if more Americans go to college, they'll come out Democrats? Not necessarily -- it could be that "people who are Democrats are more inclined to go to college" rather than "going to colege makes people more inclined to become a Democrat" -- if that's the case, then adding new college attendees won't change the underlying partisan composition of the electorate. But I'm inclined to think that the causal arrow does flow in the direction of "college attendance --> Democrat" rather than vice versa. One hint that this is right is that we're seeing a big shift in voting patterns from college-educated voters who are long-since removed from college, which seems more compatible with college attendance --> Democrat than Democrat --> college attendance.

But what makes the pattern work? It's not because lefty professors are successfully indoctrinating students (as we often remark, we can't even get them to read the syllabus!). In part, it may be that college exposes students to people from a wider range of backgrounds and experiences than might otherwise be the case; that horizon-broadening experience fits better with political progressivism. But right now, I think the larger answer is simply a form of cultural affinity (or, to be a little cruder, tribalism): college-educated persons now are far more likely to be liberals than not, and that very consensus makes it more likely that each marginal member of the college-educated cohort will also be liberal (the same is true for non-college educated voters, but in reverse). People tend to adopt the politics of their surrounding community; if their community is fellow college-educated persons, they'll trend towards the predominant views of that set.

What this means is that if Democrats make a big push to increase the number of Americans who get college degrees, it is likely that the result will be more Democratic voters. It's not going to be everyone, of course. But I suspect if one randomly assigned a sample of Americans who were not planning to attend college into two groups -- one sent to college, one not -- the former would in four years have more Democratic voters than the latter.

It's good to give representation to places under American sovereignty. It's good to welcome immigrants who want to make their home here into the fabric of America. And it's good to increase college accessibility and affordability for Americans of all backgrounds. But each of these policies, in addition to their moral goods, may have the additional happy consequence of creating more Democratic voters. Democrats for more Democrats, please.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Blogging Queen, Young and Sweet, Only Seventeen

Happy birthday to this blog, which just turned seventeen years old today!

In that time, I have ...

  • earned four degrees (B.A., J.D., M.A., Ph.D.)
  • lived in eight cities (and ten different apartment buildings, not including dorms)
  • taught at three universities (Illinois, Berkeley, and DePaul) in two different departments (law and political science)
  • held two non-academic full-time jobs and three non-academic summer jobs
  • had one girlfriend/wife (yup -- while I had some high school girlfriends, she's the only person I dated from the time this blog started to present)
And after so much flux and turmoil ... I have just officially begun as an assistant professor at Lewis & Clark Law School! So following a move to one last city, this list should stabilize significantly over (knock on wood) the next seventeen years.

Bad Clients Make Shaky Law on National Origin Discrimination

I just saw an interesting new decision out of New York, Bibliotechnical Athenaeum v. American University of Beirut, concluding that "national origin" anti-discrimination protections do not encompass discrimination against a company for its place of incorporation. The short version of the facts: BA is incorporated in Israel with it's principle place of business in New York, it sought to participate in AUB's online job fair, when it told AUB it was an Israeli company, AUB locked it out of the fair, BA sues alleging national origin discrimination.

It is well-established that a corporation can be subjected to "discrimination" under federal law (on account of race, ethnicity, national origin, or other protected characteristics). But that right is derivative of the identities of members of the corporation -- its shareholders, officers, employees, etc. -- and so merely noting that a company has incorporated in Israel does not demonstrate that any of its human beings are of Israeli national origin. For example, sometimes a company incorporates in a given state purely for tax purposes, but none of its officers or employees have any particular connection to the company. BA, for its part, did not plead any facts demonstrating a connection to Israel beyond the fact that it was incorporated there, and so the court concluded that if that was its only link to Israel, discrimination based on that fact is not actually "national origin" discrimination.

Precedents like this make me nervous. I get the example of how weird it would be for a company which incorporates in some random country for tax purposes being imputed as having the "national origin" of that country for discrimination law claims. At the same time, any time one opens a hole like this -- "national origin discrimination is forbidden, but this thing that's one step adjacent to national origin discrimination and could be used to effectively do the same thing as national origin discrimination is a-ok" -- one does serious damage to the vitality of anti-discrimination law. Exempting from "national origin discrimination" "discrimination on basis of place of incorporation or place of business" is an exception that could easily swallow the rule.

What's going on here? The name "Bibliotechnical Athenaeum" rang a bell -- I had heard of litigation they launched a few years ago against the National Lawyers Guild when the latter refused to accept an ad from them listing their (West Bank) address as in "Israel". But I didn't know anything else about who they were, so this time around I did some research.

Or tried to, anyway. It's virtually impossible to find anything about Bibliotechnical Athenaeum aside from coverage of lawsuits like this (which it appears to launch in collaboration with the Lawfare Project). Indeed, my strong suspicion is that they only exist to launch lawsuits like this: go up to a target they suspect does BDS-like activity, say "we're Israeli and we want to participate", then sue the organization when it locks them out. But aside from that, they don't do any substantive work (the above link on the NLG litigation says that "Bibliotechnical is not an operational, commercial business enterprise."). They are a vehicle for launching lawsuits, nothing more.

Judges tend not to look favorably on this sort of concocted litigation. The most noble example one could find is the "testers" sometimes employed by the Fair Housing Authority, to see if apartments are treating Black and White applicants alike. These are usually state employees, though, engaging in a specific enforcement mission. For better or for worse, more recent efforts by people to fly solo in this endeavor are less warmly received. I recall a series of cases from the Eighth Circuit in the past few years where a guy in a wheelchair would drive hours away from his house to random restaurants looking for technical violations of the ADA, take some pictures, and then sue the business. He didn't have any actual interest in dining at the establishments -- he was just looking for the settlement. The Eighth Circuit started rejecting these "drive-by" cases on standing grounds, saying the plaintiff was not actually injured.

I suspect that the judge in this case perceived this litigation as of a similar sort -- an ideological "drive-by" from an entity that did not actually have any real interest in working with AUB or hiring at its job fair. The fact that BA couldn't plead a tangible connection to Israel other than incorporating there (and, one surmises, it incorporated there solely so it could claim to be "Israeli" when launching litigation like this) further underscored the sense that it was engaging in abusive gamesmanship. And so the court took the path of least resistance in getting rid of the claim, which was to leverage the relatively meager connections between BA and Israel (at least as the case was pled) in order to say that it does not qualify as national origin discrimination under the statute.

However -- cases launched by bad clients still establish governing law. When Bibliotechnical (and Lawfare) launch a case like this and lose, they establish precedents that make life harder for entities with actual, non-concocted legal claims. One can easily imagine an actual company that does actual business and is actually harmed by being excluded from a job fair or whatnot suing for national origin discrimination, and the defense pointing to this case and saying "no no -- we're not excluding you because of national origin, we're excluding you because of the nation you're incorporated in, and that's totally fine!"

Ideally, the cases could be distinguished -- there is language in this opinion which suggests things would be different if BA plead connections to Israel that went beyond place-of-incorporation. But there's also language that is more sweeping in suggesting that, so long as the discriminator is targeting the company for its place of incorporation, no national origin discrimination can be found, period. The former, I think, is the better read; but the latter is absolutely available. And so a bad client makes, at best, very shaky law. Way to ruin it, guys.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Condemning Antisemitism Alone

The Senate just passed S. Res. 252, "A resolution unequivocally condemning the recent rise in antisemitic violence and harassment targeting Jewish Americans, and standing in solidarity with those affected by antisemitism." The resolution, spearheaded by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), was broadly bipartisan and passed by voice vote.

I've heard very little about this resolution -- in particular, I've heard much less than I've heard complaints over the last few years that politicians don't condemn antisemitism or don't condemn antisemitism "alone" because they link it to condemnations of Islamophobia, racism, or other forms of oppression. I don't find the latter move as offensive as some do, but in any case this resolution is exclusively about antisemitism -- no "and all forms of racism" language here. I hope that the quietude around the resolution is not because certain persons prefer complaining about Jews allegedly being left to fend for ourselves around antisemitism than they do acknowledging when America's political institutions do, in fact, come to support us in the face of antisemitism.

In terms of specifics, the resolution expressly ties the recent surge in antisemitism to the surge in hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. It also notes a Department of Homeland Security report that concludes that White Supremacist terrorists "will remain the most persistent and lethal threat" to domestic security. It cites instances of antisemitism by prominent politicians in Turkey and Pakistan relating to Israel, as well as the spread of COVID-19 related conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and distortion, and hate crime spikes. There could be more. There always could be more. But objectively speaking, this is a comprehensive condemnation of antisemitism as it manifests across the political and ideological spectrum.

I thank Senator Rosen for her leadership on this issue, and be grateful that it passed the Senate with seemingly little consternation or conflict. And hopefully, the next time we are tempted by the thought that America turns a blind eye to antisemitism or refuses to condemn it or refuses to condemn it "alone", we remember this resolution.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Between "One-Sided" and "Equating", and Other Curmudgeonly Thoughts

So there's another Ilhan Omar thing in the news. I'm in Portland, and having a very nice trip thank you very much, and most certainly do not have time to give this any real attention even though it is pushing all my curmudgeonly buttons.

The short version: Referring to a discussion she had with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken regarding ICC investigations in war crimes which included inquiries into cases involving the U.S., Israel, Hamas, Afghanistan, and the Taliban, Omar tweeted that:

We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. … We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

This generated a public response from 12 Jewish Democrats who asked Omar to "clarify" her remarks:

Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided. Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice.

The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups. We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.

And in turn, Rep. Omar provided said clarification:

On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ongoing International Criminal Court investigations. To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel. I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial system.

Framed that way, I might have ventured that this was a success story. Rep. Omar issued a perhaps awkwardly worded tweet; she was asked to "clarify" her views; she did so. Huzzah!

But of course, life is never so simple, and so in the midst of this we had people making claims of antisemitism and Islamophobia and silencing and double-standards. This Is The Bad Place.

So -- a few thoughts:

Thought #1: A common refrain I've heard many times from pro-Israel sorts is that they're fine with criticizing Israel, of course they're fine with criticizing Israel, it's slanderous to say they're not fine with criticizing Israel; but the criticism can't be one-sided criticism, it needs to be clear that Hamas commits wrongs worth criticizing too. Which, sure, that makes sense. Except that it often seems that if one does criticize both sides, then the fact of criticizing both sides will itself be indicted -- this time for "equating" the two (this is the mirror image of those who assert that any mention of Hamas misdeeds represents an illegitimate blurring of the "power dynamics" between Israel and Palestine, acting as if there are "two sides" to the conflict).  Such persons don't really object to "one-sidedness" -- they love one-sidedness, they just want the one-side to be the other side.

Indeed, the cynic might wonder whether the only time criticism of Israel is legitimate is when it's one-sided, because only then do we get the litany of affirmations agreeing that "criticism" is legitimate so long as it's not "one-sided". If one comes out of the gate with the "two-sided" criticism, those invocations go mysteriously mute in favor of complaints about "equation". That inconsistency is a problem.

Thought #2: A lot of people have been sharing a Mehdi Hasan tweet where he compares what Omar said to Trump's infamous "You think our country's so innocent?" retort to condemnations of Russian human rights atrocities. As far as Republicans go, that's a fine hypocrisy argument; but as with all hypocrisy arguments it cuts both ways -- the standard Democratic view of Trump's statement was not to say "hey, when he's right he's right" but rather to condemn an alarming failure of perspective. And to Hasan's credit, he cops to this and says forthrightly that "once you take out all the nakedly partisan pointscoring and thinskinned patriotic chestbeating, Trump's point is right." But folks who aren't willing to go down that road should think more carefully about their arguments.

Thought #3: Someone suggested on Twitter that Omar, insofar as she calls out human rights violations from sources that would normally be taboo in American politics (such as, say, American violations), stands out for being consistent in a way other politicians aren't. But I'm not sure that's quite right. It's true that Omar calls out violations in places many other politicians don't, but its also true that Omar can be weirdly reticent to call out human rights violations in places many other politicians wouldn't hesitate (see: her "present" vote on the Armenian genocide resolution). So perhaps it's fairer to say she's inconsistent in an atypical way -- albeit an atypicality that is very much aligned with a particular style of leftist politics associated with her base.

Thought #4: We saw a lot of claims from Omar's defenders that the criticism of her on this issue was itself a case of racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, or these all in combination -- a double-standard where women who look like her and have her background are jumped on by mobs baying for blood whilst other politicians of different identities are given infinite benefit of the doubt. I have more sympathy for this argument than one might expect. But, having read the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism I now know that both claimed double-standards and seemingly excessive vitriol and attention devoted to members of or entities associated with marginalized groups are not valid signifiers of bigotry, even if one disagrees with them on the merits, and that asserting otherwise is itself an attempt to silence free speech. It's nice to have that cleared up.

Thought #5: I said I'm a curmudgeon above, but I'm a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, and what that means in practice is that what I'm most curmudgeonly about is what I see as unnecessary fighting. So my main takeaway is this: Omar's original point was not unreasonable. The Jewish Democrats letter asking for clarification was also not unreasonable. And Omar's response to that letter was also, also not unreasonable. Neither "side" did anything that was worth me spending a millisecond thinking about any of this during my first "trip" in a year and a half.

So, to everyone else, I'll quote a sadly disgraced former jurist who nonetheless was good with the bon mot: "The parties are advised to chill." And let me enjoy my Portland trip in peace, dammit!

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

We're Going To Die in Portland!

Tomorrow, Jill and I are headed off to Portland. This time it's just an onboarding/apartment hunting trip -- we're returning to Chicago on Sunday, and not actually moving until August. But by the end of this trip, I'll be officially started as an assistant professor at Lewis & Clark!

"We're Going To Die in Portland" refers to something Jill said shortly after I accepted the job at Lewis & Clark. We've been extremely mobile in our relationship, including one period where we lived in five cities in five years. That's because every single job I've had since graduating Carleton has been temporary -- either explicitly (as in a fixed term clerkship), or implicitly (as in my stint at Covington when I knew I would leave when an academic opportunity has emerged). This job, by contrast, is of indefinite duration -- there is a very real chance we'll be spending the rest of our lives in Portland. And Jill expressed that realization by saying, in a voice of pure wonderment tinged even with a little excitement: "I'm going to die in Portland!"

Monday, June 07, 2021

The Trump Post-Election Play Comes to Israel

While by all appearances Bibi has lost control of the Prime Minister's post, it ain't over until someone else's butt is physically in the chair. And until that moment happens, Netanyahu is taking a page from Trump's book on how to lose an election: raging incitement, spurious claims of fraud, and ramping up violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned violent rhetoric on “every side” of the political spectrum Sunday but also claimed that Israel’s incoming government, which will replace him, is the result of “the greatest electoral fraud in the history of the country.”

Netanyahu’s speech came as the head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service warned of a rise in rhetoric that encourages violence. A pro-Netanyahu lawmaker compared two of his rivals to “terrorists” facing a “death sentence,” and members of the incoming coalition have received death threats in recent days.

At least one American Middle East analyst compared Netanyahu’s words to former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric ahead of Jan. 6. 

One of Netanyahu's allies, Itamar Ben-Gvir (you may remember him for having a portrait of the terrorist Baruch Goldstein hanging in his house) is promising to lead a march of right-wing extremists through Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem in the obvious hopes of provoking another spate of inter-ethnic violence that might derail the new government. The march has already been deemed illegal, but Ben-Gvir says he's going to exploit his parliamentary immunity (thanks, Bibi, for shepherding him into the Knesset) to lead it anyway.

Why is Bibi doing this? Well, obviously, he's desperate to hang on to power by any means necessary -- that's been clear for awhile. But the reason he's adopting these tactics is because Trump demonstrated that they could work. They didn't, in Trump's case, and they probably won't in Bibi's either. But they came far closer to working than anyone should be comfortable with -- close enough so that Bibi's willing to give them a shot, consequences be damned.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Bye Bye Bibi

Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, has officially announced he has successfully formed a governing coalition that will send long-reigning Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to the back benches. The coalition is an eclectic mix of left, center, and right-wing parties, with Lapid and Naftali Bennett rotating as PM (Bennett will go first). I have plenty of thoughts on the new government, but I've been resisting writing on it until it actually happened. Part of me still doesn't want to jinx it until a new butt is physically sitting in the Prime Minister's chair. But at this point, I think it's safe to say it's happening.

So -- what do you need to know about the new team running the show in Israel?
  • Everyone and their grandma has said "don't be too quick to celebrate Bennett as PM -- he's even more right-wing than Bibi!" And at one level, they're right: anyone on the left is solely celebrating Bibi being out, not Bennett being in. That being said -- it's a big deal that Bibi is out, and that's very much worth celebrating.
  • In 2021, is Bennett more right-wing than Bibi? I'm actually not sure. This was absolutely a true statement five years ago, but much of it was based off the fact that Bennett was expressly opposed to a Palestinian state while Bibi was occasionally only implicitly opposed to it. That seems like a relatively thin reed to me. And meanwhile, Bibi has surged further and further into the recesses of right-wing authoritarianism, which is part of why Bennett broke with him. Someone made the analogy that Bibi is like Trump and Bennett is like Pence -- who is more conservative of the two? Depends on how you measure it. Bennett's probably more of a true-believer, while Bibi is more of an opportunist -- but in his capacity as an opportunist Bibi broke through more taboos and barriers than many thought possible. I don't think it's clear-cut anymore.
  • It's also possible -- not guaranteed, or even likely, but possible -- that Bennett will moderate now that he's in charge. As Ariel Sharon reportedly put it: "things look different from over here." The trajectory of right-wing leaders tacking to the center once they see things from the top is not uncommon in recent Israeli history -- see Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and Tzipi Livni -- and perhaps Bennett will follow, if only by a few steps. I'm dubious, but it's not out of the question.
  • Irrespective of Bennett's own politics, the bigger constraint on him is that his faction is certainly the most conservative member of the new governing coalition. There's a big difference between someone like Bennett being smack in the middle of the ideological pack (as he'd have been in a Bibi government) versus someone like Bennett being at the right-most edge of his cohort (as he is in this government).
  • Speaking of, let's talk about the rest of the coalition. The biggest news: an Arab party will supporting the government from the inside, in what I believe is a first in Israeli history. Irony bit number one: it's the most conservative of the Arab parties -- the Islamist United Arab List, headed by Mansour Abbas. Irony bit number two: Bibi probably paved the way for this, as in his desperate search for 61 votes he courted the UAL, thus legitimizing such courtship for other parties as well.
  • It is a big, big deal that an Arab party will be part of the government. In recent years, the Arab public in Israel has started flexing its muscle in unprecedented ways -- starting, ironically, with Bibi trying to lock them out of politics altogether by raising the electoral threshold. That prompted the diverse Arab blocs to unify into the Joint List, which catapulted them overnight into one of the largest factions in the entire Knesset. Kicking and screaming though they may have been, the Israeli center and left finally seems to have internalized that there's no path to power for them without some support from the Arab parties. And even though the UAL broke from the Joint List this past cycle, it managed to squeak back into the Knesset and now has a place in government. Priorities include increasing funding for Arab towns, recognizing Bedouin villages in the Negev, and ending underpolicing (yes, underpolicing) of Arab communities. For what it's worth, Bennett has always taken the view that Palestinian equality can be bought off with economic development. Morally repulsive, yes, but it means he likely will be perfectly receptive to these demands.
  • Another significant accomplishment for Israel's Arab community -- Meretz's Issawi Frej looks set to become Minister of Regional Cooperation. This would, I believe, mark just the second time an Arab MK has had a ministry with portfolio in Israel's history. Likewise, Pnina Tamano-Shata, a member of the Ethiopian Beta Israel community, looks to be on tap to be Minister of Immigrant Absorption -- and position that is important both substantively and symbolically for her community.
  • Two other minister positions worth noting. Labor leader Merav Michaeli -- perhaps her party's last, best hope at staying relevant -- will be Transportation Minister. That may not seem like a big deal, but settler leaders are in a panic that Michaeli won't approve various new highways slashing through the West Bank to connect far-flung settlements with Israel proper. Good -- let them stew. In less happy, though inevitable, news, Bennett's number two, Ayelet "Eau d'Fascism" Shaked will be heading the Interior Ministry.
  • So much has happened in Israel that we've all almost forgotten why Bibi was fighting like a rabid weasel to stay in charge. It's not (just) because he's power-hungry -- it's that he's under indictment, and was desperate to have an immunity law passed that could save him and his wife from prison. That's not happening now. Shed a tear if you can.
  • Aside from Bibi, who else is on the outside looking in? Most importantly, the fascists from Otzma Yehudit and National Union that Bibi recruited to try and shore up his right-flank -- thank goodness. But also the Haredi parties, Shas and UTJ. These two parties had historically been ideologically "flexible" and so typically found themselves in most government coalitions -- give them the rabbinate, army exemptions, and subsidies, and they were perfectly happy to go along with whoever was in charge. But in the past few years they have more overtly aligned themselves with the political right, and the result is that now they're on the outs facing a government coalition that may be the most inclined towards supporting religious pluralism Israel has ever seen. The prospect of substantive reforms along this axis is genuinely exciting. And it's also possible that some time in the wilderness will inspire the Shas and UTJ chieftains to rethink whether going all-in with Israel's right-wing is to their benefit.
Ultimately, I have two main takeaways. One is to keep expectations in check. This is not a "left-wing" government, it's not going to revolutionize Israel, and it's unlikely to make significant headway in bringing peace and justice for Palestinians. But the second is that this is a real and material step forward along many dimensions, and can be legitimately celebrated. There's a branch of the commentariat eeyoring about this development mostly because they are ideologically committed to the notion that nothing that happens in Israel can be good news. They are wrong -- this is good news. It's not spectacular, it's not paradise, but it's good news, and can be celebrated as good news.