Heartbroken in Pittsburgh

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I thought that teaching the Kavanaugh hearings in a careful and respectful manner a few weeks ago would be the biggest teaching challenge of the semester. I was wrong. This weekend, as you have all no doubt heard, a gunman with a history of anti-Semitic rants and far too many legally acquired guns in his possession, entered a synagogue and killed 11 people there in the middle of Saturday morning prayers.

Tree of Life is a synagogue in the heart of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh. This is my home. I went to Hebrew School at Tree of Life, my mom was a teacher there—it is one of several synagogues in this neighborhood that we have belonged to over the years and those killed are parents, cousins, dear friends of our community—two learning-disabled men, leaders of the synagogue, the list is too painful.

As the newspapers have noted, Squirrel Hill has been a Jewish enclave in Pittsburgh for years but that also misses the point of its diversity.  Continue reading “Heartbroken in Pittsburgh”

Law Firm Ads and Other Fun

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For my ethics class, I have students works through the applicable rules by creating advertisements for their law firms.   As a little break from finals (and grading them), here are the top ones in various formats–worth watching them all!

For cutest actors and great point on collaborative divorce:

For best take off on Breaking Bad 

For best tag line about clients:  LGLcommercial – Medium

For all around best in show and a good bit of magic!

Israel Reflections 2017–Trust is Optional–Last Blog of the Trip!

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MOty Cristal stands in front of a classroom of students and lectures.Speaker Moty Cristal is always one of the student favorites and, frankly, I never know what he is going to do.  Last time, he led us in an exercise learning about coalitions.  This time, Moty focused on the lessons from his upcoming book chapter in the Negotiator’s Desk Reference regarding negotiation in low-to-no trust environments.  As usual, the students loved him!  Here is student James Wold’s assessment.

The most memorable speaker I found in Israel was one of the last ones we had during our week. Moty Cristal is one of Israel’s leading negotiation experts and I knew it would be an interesting discussion from the moment he called himself a prac-ademic (a play on practictioner and academic). He noted that he is not exactly a practitioner, nor a pure academic in the field of negotiation. What he is, however, is undeniably brilliant and fascinating. In many ways, he tied up a lot of the issues that we were dealing with on the trip, such as conflict resolution. I find myself wanting to learn so much more from and about him.

The portion of the one-hour discussion (it was anything but a lecture) that got me to stand up and take notice was his statement that trust is not a prerequisite to negotiation and that respect of the process and freedom to hate were important. While respecting the process is something I’ve heard before, the freedom to hate aspect was a sharp departure from most of what I’ve learned regarding negotiation. In most of my learnings, it emphasized gaining the trust of the other side is vital in starting a negotiation. Although it was perhaps a bit counterintuitive, the lesson I took away on freedom to hate is that neither side must be friends at the end of the day to make a deal work, especially when resolving a conflict. Moty’s entire presentation style and infectious energy kept me engaged from beginning to end. Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2017–Trust is Optional–Last Blog of the Trip!”

Israel Reflections 2017–Race and Diversity

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Close up photo of Ethiopian member of the Israel Defense Forces kissing the Western Wall in Israel.Another new meeting this year was with Oshra Friedman of Tebeka legal services, an organization that provides specialized legal services for the Ethiopian immigrants to Israel.  As we learned on our last trip, Israel has welcomed thousands of immigrants from Ethiopia of Jewish heritage and assimilation into the modern society of Israel can be very challenging.   As we also saw last time, these challenges can remind us and cause us to reflect on the challenges of race here in Milwaukee.  From Student Sheila Thobani:

Before we even discussed paper topics prior to departing for Israel, thoughts about the conflict were already flooding my mind. Not the cliché thoughts of the obvious conflict, the talked about every day in the media conflict, but one that I had a more personal association with: identity. I believe that is why Oshra Friedman’s narrative engaged my curiosity.

With the constant comments in public about my physical characteristics, one-second longer than comfortable gazes, and second-guess pseudo interrogations by people of authority—I was waiting at the edge of my chair to see how someone who looked different than every other person on the streets of Israel dealt with her diversity. An immigrant from Ethiopia, whose parents refused to assimilate, who jumped forward too far because her community was too backwards, who didn’t succumb to gender norms, who married an Ashkenazi Israeli- this was a story I was all too familiar with; a familiarity not by exposure but by experience.

Whereas, over the border and across the sea, America has heard Friedman’s story of diversity for generations, Israel is still becoming familiar with this narrative. By no means do I mean to convey that because in America the story is heard that it is accepted and internalized- I only mean that it is there that there is the exposure and familiarity. As Friedman spoke about her mixed race children handling the innocence of childhood and the ignorance of adults, and agave accounts of situations they faced, I relived my own childhood memories of confusion colored by pride. Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2017–Race and Diversity”

Israel Reflections 2017–Treating Terrorists and Other Medical Challenges

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Television camras and microphones surround Dr. Ofer Merin dressed in doctor's scrubs.One other new visit this year was with Dr. Ofer Merin, a commander of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) Medical Field Unit and emergency room doctor at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.   As student Margo Clark notes, his roles often require both flexibility and understand beyond our immediate biases.

Dr. Ofer Merin is the Chief of the IDF Field Hospital, which travels to different countries to offer assistance in times of need. One example of the IDF Field Hospital’s greatest accomplishments is its ability to be the only field hospital from a foreign country to help the Japanese people after they were devastated by a tsunami. Their success comes from the amount of flexibility and understanding that Dr. Merin and his team work under. Rather than pushing their own system, Dr. Merin and his team worked under and around Japanese law. Under Japanese law, it is illegal for a foreign doctor to treat a Japanese citizen.  The team was flexible and put the Japanese people first. Their flexibility is exemplified by their assisting and enabling Japanese doctors to treat the large number of Japanese people who were in need. By foregoing their egos and putting understanding and flexibility first, Dr. Merin and his team were the only foreign field hospital team to be allowed to help the Japanese people.  Here is a MSNBC news report showing the IDF work in Haiti from 2010.

Dr. Merin’s flexibility and understanding is continually shown in his additional role as the Deputy Director of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center. This center is known for simultaneously treating terrorists and the victims of their attacks. It is excessively difficult to imagine how hard it must be to treat a terrorist. However, Dr. Merin understands the consequences of both treating and not treating terrorists and being beyond reproach as far as bias towards his patients. As a doctor, he is an example of following the Hippocratic oath and doing no harm under stressful conditions where many would be tempted to be biased and fail their duties as doctors. His example is important because if he can work without bias towards terrorists, doctors everywhere should use his example to attempt to work without any sort of bias. Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2017–Treating Terrorists and Other Medical Challenges”

Israel Reflections 2017–The Israeli Supreme Court

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Interior view of a hallway in the Isralei Supreme Court Building with natural light strwaming in from a row of windows.This year we were able to meet with two different former Israeli Supreme Court Justices–at the beginning and at the end of the trip–which provided great bookends to our week of learning.  Student Celeste Borjas reflects on the visit to the Supreme Court…

On our last day in Jerusalem we were able to tour the Israeli Supreme Court. The Israeli Supreme Court building is conveniently situated between the Israeli Parliament building (the Knesset) and the office of the Prime Minister. Our tour guide explained that this was purposeful, and was meant to symbolize the role of the judiciary as mediator of conflict. As we entered the building, I was taken aback by the amount of natural light entering through the windows. Though it was a very rainy day, there was no need for lamps or artificial lighting in the foyer. Another physical attribute of the Court foyer that caught my eye was the aesthetic created by a wall made entirely out of Jerusalem stone (a sandy-white limestone out of which most buildings in Jerusalem are constructed) standing opposite of a clean unadorned wall of white plaster. Our tour guide explained that this juxtaposition was meant to symbolize how the laws of men on Earth should complement the ultimate pursuit of eternal justice.

One of the first things to surprise me was that the Israeli Supreme Court actually operates similarly to the United States Court of Appeals. I had originally expected the highest court in Israel to resemble the Supreme Court of the United States. Not so. Like the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Israeli Justices (13 total) typically preside over cases in panels of three. Additionally, parties to a suit are entitled to an appeal at the Israeli Supreme Court as a matter of right. Moreover, any person may directly petition the Israeli Supreme Court (and bypass the district courts) if an action by an Israeli governmental entity contradicts/contravenes the basic laws of the Knesset. This last point reminded me of the power of the D.C. Circuit to hear cases involving federal agency action. Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2017–The Israeli Supreme Court”

Israel Reflections 2017-The Case Of The Curious Citizenship (East Jerusalem)

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Our visit with Riman Barakat, a former Marquette Fulbright scholar who has worked in many different Palestinian-Israeli peacebuilding NGO’s is always a highlight of the trip.  Student Adrianna Hromadka reflects on the questions and answers of her talk.

East Jerusalem offers a unique type of citizenship. After 1948, East Jerusalem was not included in the Israeli held territory. However, following the Group of Marquette Law students and others on Israel tripSix-day War, Israel extended permanent Israeli residency to Arabs that were then living in Jerusalem. Others not then residing in Jerusalem were not extended the same right of residency. Today, East Jerusalem serves as the capital of the Palestinian territory. While all of the territory’s citizens have Israeli residency, only a small percentage of East Jerusalemites have Israeli citizenship. Without Israeli citizenship, residents can only vote in municipal elections. Additionally, East Jerusalemites can lose their right of residency if they live abroad for more than seven years.

On our fourth day of the trip we got to dive deeper into the complexity of East Jerusalem. We had the opportunity to have a discussion with Riman Barakat, the CEO of Experience Palestine and a social activist. Barakat is an East Jerusalem citizen that has played a significant role in the peace movement in the East Jerusalem community. Barakat spoke about the importance of building bridges between the different communities for the betterment of Jerusalem as a whole. Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2017-The Case Of The Curious Citizenship (East Jerusalem)”

Israel Reflections 2017–Old Gesher (the Crossing into Jordan)

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View of stone bridge at Israeli settlement "Old Gesher," located on the Jordan River.This trip we added a few new places and this was one of them.  As student Jessica Lothman reflects in this post, this particular bridge was filled with history, symbolism, and hope.

 

Bridging Time and Space: The Gravity of Old Gesher

Einstein put forth his theory of relativity in 1915 having determined that massive objects cause a distortion in space and time—this force is felt as gravity. Traveling through two-thousand years of history in eight days exerted its own gravitational force, with each speaker and landmark along our route from Jerusalem to the ancient Jaffa port in Tel Aviv pulling and pushing my perspective on conflict resolution in the context of Israel. Reflecting on our visit to Old Gesher—a place ripe with symbolism and metaphor—provides a snapshot of how the themes of relativity and gravity wove throughout our journey, and the course of human events in Israel and the Middle East.

We stopped at Old Gesher as twilight fell over the valley of the Jordan River on our way to Tiberius. Standing on the grounds, we could see the fence demarcating the border between Jordan and Israel near the confluence of the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers, as well as the standing remains of three historic bridges (gesher is Hebrew for “bridge,” an obvious metaphor for conflict resolution). These bridges span not only vital terrain connecting the port city of Haifa to Jordan and Syria, but also epochs of strife-torn history from the Roman era to the Turkish era, and finally the British and modern eras.

It also is the site of a pre-Israeli state hydro-electric power station envisioned and orchestrated by “the old man from Naharayim,” Pinchas Ruttenberg in the late 1920’s This engineering feat operated for a short time providing electrical power throughout the region and serving as a symbol of cooperation between the early Zionists and the kingdom of Jordan. Jews manning the station built the only Kibbutz east of the Jordan. Prior to the Arab Legion attack on the compound during the 1948 War of Independence, Jordan took the unlikely step of alerting the people in the Kibbutz that danger was imminent, allowing all but the vital personnel to evacuate. 30 brave souls remained to protect the Kibbutz and power station, which was later destroyed during the war and was never to operate again—emblematic of the toll taken by armed conflict. Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2017–Old Gesher (the Crossing into Jordan)”

Israel Reflections 2017–The Truth(?) of Masada

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MULS group photo at the Masada in IsraelFrom student J.J. Moore, here is a reflection on how the story that is told depends on the storyteller.

I have always loved ruins. Ruins tell a story and bring an appreciation of the past. However, a forgotten aspect of ruins is the stories that surround them. The combination of beauty and history converge at the ruins of Masada. The utter beauty of the sight, whether it was the preserved ruins or the breathtaking views atop the rock cliff, brought me to a place of deep peace.

Let me provide a brief (Roman) summary of the siege of Masada. Following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, roughly in 70 BCE, a small band of Jewish zealots maintained a stronghold atop the rock cliffs. The Romans surrounded Masada setting up camps, which are still preserved today, and built a siege ramp to break into the fortress. When the Jewish rebels realized that they would not be able to hold off any longer, they killed their families, and since Judaism prohibits suicide, drew lots to determine the final man to commit suicide. Additionally, the men destroyed everything except the food supplies to show the Romans that they could have withheld, but decided to choose death over slavery.

History is written by the victors, and Flavius Josephus was the only historian to detail the account of the siege of Masada. As with any story, there might be exaggerations or altering of the details. But, over time, more questions have been raised about this version.  Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2017–The Truth(?) of Masada”

Israel Reflections 2017–Day One–or, Should a Bartender Be the Next Mediator for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

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Group photo of Marquette Law students that traveled to IsraelI am going to start posting the student reflections from the trip on a regular basis for the next couple weeks–hope you enjoy!

For the start of our Israel trip this year, we first stopped for an overlook of Jerusalem. Here our tour guide, Asaf, gave us a very brief history of Israel—6,000 years in 6 minutes…well maybe it took 10 minutes.  Following a fabulous dinner at Focaccia-Bar (I highly recommend), several students explored night life in Jerusalem during Shabbat. Stephen Bollom shared his experience with identities changed to protect the innocent (sort of).

Should a Bartender Be the Next Mediator for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Six hours after landing in Israel, I found myself amid an impromptu conflict resolution at Dublin Bar in Jerusalem. How could this be happening? I was only kidding when I told my friend we couldn’t leave Israel until we came to a two-state solution! Yet, there I sat, with my Jack and Diet half-full in front of me, as I pretended to not hear the commotion going on between him and two attractive Israeli women sitting next to him at the bar. How was he to know the ins-and-out of appropriate decorum considering the jet lag hadn’t even begun to wear off? How could it be our fault as Americans that the social constructs with which we are familiar would be considered offensive and insulting in Israel? Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2017–Day One–or, Should a Bartender Be the Next Mediator for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?”

Marquette Teams Excel in Negotiation Competition

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Fordham National Basketball Negotiation Competition TeamI am delighted to report that two teams represented Marquette University Law School at the Fordham National Basketball Negotiation Competition in New York City this past weekend. Out of the 36 teams participating, the team of Vanessa Richmond and Gabriella Saenz advanced to the Quarterfinals. The team of Sean McCarthy and Brycen Breazeale advanced to the Finals, where the Team was awarded Second Place in a very close decision.  Congratulations to all!

Baseball Diplomacy

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It has been great fun to watch President Obama in Cuba (and to get to say things like–hey, I was there!) over the last two days.  The one thing we did not get to do on our trip was attend a baseball game since we were rained out twice.  Sigh.  But we did talk about the potential impact of baseball exchanges on the economy and there is no question that both Cuban baseball and obama-cuba-baseball-300x229Major League Baseball will have much to discuss as the thaw continues.  Funnily, I was interviewed on Monday by a Swiss journalist–newspaper article here–about the impact of baseball based on my 2001 article called Baseball Diplomacy examining the controversy back then over the Baltimore Orioles playing a game in Cuba in 1999.  In what now seems like ancient history, I wrote about the Elian Gonzales affair, the Helms-Burton act, and, more pertinently to baseball, the economics of playing baseball in Cuba.  I also discussed how Cuban players are treated when they arrive in the U.S. depending on whether they come directly or via a third country.  I imagine that all of these rules will be updated and changing in the next few years.  And it will be fascinating to watch.  Here’s looking forward to more baseball in both directions!