Jewish Law Students Association Update Ariel Brio, '12L
This past semester, the Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA) at W&L Law had the good fortune to welcome two nationally recognized speakers. Both speakers helped students understand the legal and strategic issues in Israel and the Middle East. Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of Law at Northwestern University, spoke about the legal authorities governing the borders of Israel. His analysis, rooted purely in the law and not on policy, focused on the text of the authorities and their interpretation based on precedent. Professor Kontorovich's conclusions were that while legally a Palestinian state is not a question, the border issue is a different story. Professor Kontorovich argues that the territories governed by the Palestinian Authority are not within agreed upon borders but rather that Israel has as strong, if not stronger, of a legal case of ownership. This comes from law established by the League of Nations as inherited by the United Nations as well as customary international law. The talk was co-sponsored by the International Law Society and by the Federalist Society Chapter of Washington and Lee.
Douglas J. Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the administration of George W. Bush, held a dialogue with law and undergraduate students on the legal and strategic issues of the War on Terror post-9/11. Undersecretary Feith's talk emanated from his book, War & Decision, in which he describes the decision-making processes involved in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan during his time as Policy Chief at the Pentagon. Mr. Feith discussed how non-state actors challenge international law, as it was developed to deal with formal state-on-state warfare. He described how the Bush Administration saw pre-emptive warfare as balanced with several domestic and international forces in order to prevent the President from declaring frivolous anticipatory strikes. Finally, he discussed the Obama Administration's policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian issue. He fears that the current Administration is not taking seriously the fact that without American involvement, the region could be a hot-zone in the short-term. After his
talk at the law school, Mr. Feith joined undergraduates for a more personal discussion of foreign policy at the Hillel House. This talk was co-sponsored with the Transnational Law Institute, Contact Committee, Politics Department, Hillel House, and the Federalist Society Chapter of Washington and Lee.
Both of these high-level speakers increased the discourse of the Middle East and Israel at the law school while increasing JLSA's profile. JLSA looks forward to continuing its role at the intersection of cultural, religious, and social Judaism while bringing thought-provoking events relevant to Jewish and Israeli issues to the law school.