Top Indian law school students join global academic boycott of Israel

Special Top Indian law school students join global academic boycott of Israel
The main gate of the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research in Hyderabad, Telengana state, southern India. (NALSAR)
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Updated 25 June 2024

Top Indian law school students join global academic boycott of Israel

Top Indian law school students join global academic boycott of Israel
  • Hyderabad-based NALSAR is widely considered one of India’s best legal universities
  • Students say the school’s Tel Aviv partners contribute to Israel’s ‘infrastructure of oppression’

NEW DELHI: Students at India’s top law school have joined the global campus movement to sever ties with Israeli academic institutions, which they accuse of being complicit in Israel’s deadly war on Gaza and atrocities committed against the Palestinian population.

The academic boycott of Israel is part of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign, which started in 2005. Targeting Israeli universities, research institutions and their activities, it has been supported by an increasing number of student communities since the beginning of the war in October.

Students of the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research, a public law school in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, officially joined the campaign on June 15, with a petition requesting that the NALSAR administration cut ties with Tel Aviv University and Radzyner Law School.

The public petition was signed by 362 people, including 275 students, 70 alumni and 12 faculty members.

“Israeli universities such as Tel Aviv University and the Radzyner Law School have both directly and indirectly either contributed to the current onslaught in Gaza or defended its legitimacy in academic literature,” Hamza Khan, who is completing his degree at NALSAR this year, told Arab News.

“They have played a crucial role in collaborating with defense-tech companies, whose products today are actively deployed by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) against Palestinians. These institutions continue to be a part of Israeli militarism and contribute to the infrastructure of oppression and open support for Israel’s crimes.”

The petition calls on NALSAR’s vice chancellor to “cut all ties pertaining to International Exchange Programmes with Israeli Institutes: Tel Aviv University and The Radzyner School of Law as a part of complete academic and economic disassociation with the Israeli State and academia that continues to remain not just a mute spectator but an active complicit in the ongoing crisis.”

Israeli forces have in the past eight months killed over 37,000 people in Gaza, wounded tens of thousands of others, destroyed the enclave’s health infrastructure, and cut it off from supplies of water, food, fuel and medical aid.

Israel has also destroyed 80 percent of Gaza’s schools which, coupled with persecution and targeted killings of Palestinian scholars, has been referred to by international rights groups and UN experts as scholasticide, leading to total annihilation of Palestine’s education.

“Remaining silent in the face of such violations would be hypocritical and signal double standards,” Khan said.

“NALSAR’s legacy extends beyond producing corporate lawyers and being a top-ranking national law university. It is about instilling in us humanity, ethics, values, and the courage to speak out against injustice.”

NALSAR is widely considered one of India’s best law schools.

Among some of its prominent alumni are Dr. Anup Surendranath, a leading Indian expert in criminal and constitutional law, Supreme Court lawyer Talha Raman, and Alok Prasanna Kumar, co-founder of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a leading Indian think tank that advises the government on law, regulation and policy.

Despite India’s historic support for Palestine, the Indian government has been mostly quiet in the wake of the deadly attacks on Gaza and, according to local media reports, has also been selling weapons to Israel.

Students do not agree with the policy and are trying to break the silence.



“We have not shied away from raising questions that matter, questions that are essential to the ideas we believe in,” said Shreyam Sharma, a final-year student and one of the conveners of the students’ action.

“Israel has flouted any convention that exists. The ICJ (International Court of Justice) has already hinted at the possibility of a violation (being) genocidal in nature. Multiple human rights experts have prepared reports based on concrete evidence that conclude that genocide is being committed.”

Akhil Surya, also a final-year student, said they were “ashamed” of their country’s inaction.

“The genocide in Palestine is the most documented and broadcasted in real time. Many of us who have been watching the visuals from Palestine for over eight months now have wondered ... ‘What can we do, being so far away?’” he said.

“Inspired by the BDS movement that sprang up in every corner of the world, we felt that as students, we can do what we can.”

Despite repeated attempts, NALSAR’s vice chancellor did not respond to requests for comment.

Dr. Srijan Mandal, who teaches constitutional history and one of the university’s faculty members supporting the petition, said the students felt they needed to “do something to acknowledge what is happening in Palestine, what Israel is doing in Palestine,” and take any action despite their weak position in the power structure.

“The least we can do is that our institution does not have formal agreement of student exchange and other possible exchanges with Israeli institutions,” he told Arab News.

“This is the least we can do.”

Malaysia’s 99-year-old ex-PM Mahathir in hospital: aide

Malaysia’s 99-year-old ex-PM Mahathir in hospital: aide
Updated 8 sec ago

Malaysia’s 99-year-old ex-PM Mahathir in hospital: aide

Malaysia’s 99-year-old ex-PM Mahathir in hospital: aide
  • A two-time former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad turned 99 last week
  • He has suffered several heart problems in recent years and underwent bypass surgeries
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s nearly 100-year-old former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has been hospitalized for “continuous coughing,” his aide said Thursday.
“Mahathir is expected to be treated for the next few days,” Sufi Yusoff said, adding he had been admitted on Monday.
A two-time former prime minister, Mahathir turned 99 last week.
He has suffered several heart problems in recent years and underwent bypass surgeries.
He spent nearly three months in hospital earlier this year.
Born on July 10, 1925, Mahathir served as prime minister twice, first taking office as the country’s fourth national leader from 1981 until 2003.
He then served as prime minister for a second time at the age of 92 from 2018 to 2020.

Trump gunman Thomas Crooks leaves behind pile of mysteries

Trump gunman Thomas Crooks leaves behind pile of mysteries
Updated 31 min 52 sec ago

Trump gunman Thomas Crooks leaves behind pile of mysteries

Trump gunman Thomas Crooks leaves behind pile of mysteries
  • An FBI review of Crooks’ phone found he had searched for images of both President Joe Biden and Trump, and other famous figures in the days before the shooting, New York Times reports

BUTLER, Pennsylvania: Thomas Crooks was pacing next to a warehouse building outside the Butler Farm Show grounds as a crowd gathered for one of former President Donald Trump’s signature outdoor rallies.
Crooks had already been flagged as suspicious by law enforcement. By the time two police officers walked over to check him out, he was on the roof, belly crawling.
“He’s got a gun,” a bystander yelled.
One officer hoisted the other to the lip of the roof. As the officer pulled his head over the edge, a long-haired young man wearing glasses turned toward him, wielding an AR-15 -style rifle. The officer dropped back to the ground, the Butler County sheriff told Reuters.
Crooks, an introverted 20-year-old computer whiz who had just earned a spot at a college engineering program, turned back to his target about 400 feet away. He squeezed off several shots at Trump, clipping the former president’s ear, killing an audience member and wounding two others before Secret Service snipers on a nearby building killed him with counterfire.
This account of the first assassination attempt to injure a US president since 1981 is based on interviews with more than two dozen people, including law enforcement officials, Crooks’ school associates and witnesses who attended the rally, along with public records and news accounts.
Crooks fired his rifle at approximately 6:10 pm, according to a Reuters photographer at the rally. Trump winced and grabbed his right ear. Secret Service agents tackled the former president and some supporters dived for cover. A bullet hit what appeared to be the hydraulic line of a forklift that held a bank of speakers to the right side of the stage. Fluid spewed across the crowd and the lift’s arm collapsed. To the left, screams erupted where a spectator had been fatally shot.

As Secret Service agents tackled the former president, some supporters scrambled for safety. Others grabbed children and hustled toward the gates.
“The audience wasn’t like what you’d expect out of a crowd that just experienced something like this,” said Saurabh Sharma, a Trump supporter sitting near the front. “Everyone was really quiet. There were a few women crying. They were, you know, saying, ‘I can’t believe they tried to kill him’.”
Four days after the assassination attempt, a coherent picture of the moments before the shooting was emerging. But Crooks’ ideology and reasons for pulling the trigger remained a mystery.
A review of Crooks’ phone by the Federal Bureau of Investigation found he had searched for images of both President Joe Biden and Trump, as well as other famous figures, in the days before the shooting, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing US lawmakers briefed on the law enforcement investigation.
Crooks had been searching for the dates of Trump’s public appearances and of the Democratic National Convention, the report said. He had also looked up “major depressive disorder” on his phone, the Times said. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the report.
The shooting comes amid a years-long rise of political violence and threats in the US When that violence turns deadly, it has been more likely to be perpetrated by people on the American right, according to a Reuters analysis published last year. But the ideological motivation behind Saturday’s attack remains unclear.

Politically divided town

Crooks seemed to have a bright future, said two people who knew him at the Community College of Allegheny County, where he graduated in May with a two-year associate’s degree in engineering.
One college instructor told Reuters that she had gone back through his assignments this week, bewildered that the conscientious student who distinguished himself by going “above and beyond” could have turned murderous.
The instructor, who declined to be identified, said his homework responses were thoughtful and his emails polite. He excelled at an assignment to redesign a toy for people with disabilities. “He did a chess set for the blind. He 3D-printed it. He put the Braille on it. He talked to experts in the field,” she recalled. “He really took a lot of care.”
Crooks made less of an impression on classmates. Samuel Strotman, also enrolled in CCAC’s engineering program, took two online classes with Crooks. Strotman said Crooks never spoke in the lectures and had his camera turned off.
A college employee who knew Crooks said he was quiet but pleasant. “It’s just very, very, very unexpected,” the employee said. Crooks had seemed interested in pursuing a career in mechanical engineering, the employee said.
The college closed its engineering program on June 30. Crooks was planning to continue his engineering education at nearby Robert Morris University, that school confirmed.
Most recently, he worked as a dietary aide at a nursing home, where he “performed his job without concern,” the center said. The job was down the street from his home in Bethel Park, a middle-class suburb of Pittsburgh, where he had lived in a modest brick home with his parents and older sister.
At Bethel Park High School, where he graduated in 2022, he kept a low profile, according to classmates. One former classmate told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Crooks expressed conservative views in a history class where other students leaned liberal. Others said his views were never apparent. His photo was missing in his senior yearbook, with his name listed under “not pictured.” He enjoyed gaming and building computers, a classmate told Reuters.
Crooks’ town, Bethel Park, is divided almost down America’s political middle. In the 2020 election, Trump eked out a 65-vote margin in the borough of about 33,000 people, results show.
The political split showed up in the Crooks household. Thomas was a registered Republican. His father is a Libertarian and his mother is a Democrat, voter registration records show. Both are social workers. When Crooks was 17, he made a $15 donation to a political action committee earmarked for a Democratic turnout group, according to federal election data.
His school counselor Jim Knapp, who retired in 2022, said Crooks rarely came across his radar because he wasn’t a “needy type kid.” Knapp occasionally checked on him at lunch because he was sitting alone. “I’d say, ‘Do you want to sit with somebody?’ And he’d say, ‘No, I’m okay by myself,’” Knapp recalled.
Former high-school classmate Max Rich said Crooks was shy and “never seemed like the type” to commit such violence. He left virtually no digital footprint. He spent time on Discord, a gaming platform, but the company said it found “no evidence that it was used to plan this incident, promote violence, or discuss his political views.”
Crooks was a member of the local Clairton Sportsmen’s Club, a gun club. He was wearing a shirt advertising “Demolition Ranch,” a YouTube channel for firearms enthusiasts, when he was killed. After the shooting, Matt Carriker, a Texas veterinarian who runs the Demolition Ranch channel, posted a video on X saying he was “shocked and confused” to learn that Crooks was wearing his channel’s merchandise. “We keep politics out of it,” he said, adding that he did not know and had never met or communicated with Crooks.

Homemade bombs & ammunition

Crooks appeared to spend at least some time preparing for the Trump event. He bought ammunition on the day of the rally, stopping at a gun store in his hometown of Bethel Park to pick up 50 rounds, according to a joint bulletin issued this week by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the investigation.
He built three homemade bombs – two found in his car and another in his home, according to the bulletin, which was reviewed by Reuters. In the preceding months, the bulletin noted, Crooks had received “multiple packages, including some marked as possibly containing hazardous material.”

An Allegheny County Police Department Bomb Squad vehicle makes its way to the home of assassination suspect Thomas Matthew Crooks on July 14, 2024. Police said three homemade bombs were found – two in his car and another in his home. (Reuters)

At the rally, Crooks caught the attention of local law enforcement while pacing around the grounds before Trump took the stage. One officer called in a report of a suspicious person and snapped a photo that was distributed electronically to other officers at the scene, according to Butler County Sheriff Michael Slupe, a Trump backer who was seated near the front of the rally as a special guest.
As two Butler Township Police officers responded to the call, people in the crowd already had noticed a man on the roof. Some yelled that he had a gun, according to crowd-shot video reviewed by Reuters. Slupe told Reuters the officer who initially pulled himself onto the roof had no time to unholster his gun when Crooks turned on him, leaving him no option but to drop back to the ground.
Secret Service officials have said their agency is responsible for securing the area within the event’s security perimeter; the building used by Crooks was just outside it. But some former agency officials and other security experts have disputed that contention, arguing that buildings with a direct sight line and within firing range of the former president should have been swept and under constant surveillance by the service’s sniper teams.
Local officials have bristled at any suggestions that town or county law enforcement was responsible for securing the building.
“The Butler Township Police Department had no security detail for this event,” Butler Township commissioner Edward Natali wrote in a Tuesday post on Facebook, noting that the township had seven officers on site solely for traffic duty. Even though the officer who confronted Crooks on the roof had to fall back, he added, the encounter “most likely forced the shooter to hurry his shots.”

Russia set to resume trial of US reporter Evan Gershkovich

Russia set to resume trial of US reporter Evan Gershkovich
Updated 18 July 2024

Russia set to resume trial of US reporter Evan Gershkovich

Russia set to resume trial of US reporter Evan Gershkovich

YEKATERINBURG, Russia: US reporter Evan Gershkovich is set to appear in a Russian court on Thursday for the second hearing of his trial for espionage, a charge that his employer and the White House have labelled a sham.

The 32-year-old became the first Western journalist in Russia to be charged with spying since the Soviet era when he was detained in March 2023 on a reporting trip to the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

He has spent almost 16 months in Russian detention and faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years if found guilty.

The trial is scheduled to resume behind closed doors in Yekaterinburg’s Sverdlovsk Regional Court at 11:00 am (0600 GMT), almost a month earlier than expected at the request of his defense team.

Moscow and Washington have both said they are open to exchanging the Wall Street Journal reporter in a deal, but neither side has given clues as to when this might be.

The Kremlin has provided no public evidence for the spying allegations against Gershkovich, saying only that he was caught “red-handed” and was working for the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Prosecutors accuse him of spying on Russian tank maker Uralvagonzavod.

Washington has said the claims are fabricated, and a United Nations expert panel declared in July that he was being held arbitrarily.

His last public appearance in court was on June 26, when he spoke only briefly to greet journalists and his head was fully shaven.

The Russian penitentiary service refused to disclose to AFP where he would be held after the proceedings or why his hair had been cut.

Raised in New Jersey and a fluent Russian speaker, Gershkovich had reported from Russia for six years.

He carried on visiting the country on journalistic trips even after dozens of other Western reporters left in the wake of Russia’s Ukraine offensive and the introduction of strict military censorship laws.

In 2017, he moved to the Russian capital to work for an English-language newspaper, The Moscow Times, where he produced some of the outlet’s biggest stories on a shoestring budget.

He then worked for AFP before becoming a Moscow correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, weeks before the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine.

In the role, he covered how the conflict affected ordinary Russians, including by speaking to the families of dead soldiers.

There has been a major campaign to release Gershkovich, who spent almost 15 months in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison following his arrest.

“He is managing the best way he can,” his mother, Ella Milman, told The Wall Street Journal in March.

Russia holds other American citizens in its jails, including marine Paul Whelan, in prison for more than five years on spying charges, and US-Russian journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who was detained last year while visiting family.

The White House has warned US citizens still in the country to “depart immediately” due to the risk of wrongful arrest.

Kenya police patrol Haiti capital after more forces arrive

Kenya police patrol Haiti capital after more forces arrive
Updated 18 July 2024

Kenya police patrol Haiti capital after more forces arrive

Kenya police patrol Haiti capital after more forces arrive

PORT-AU-PRINCE: Kenyan police patrolled Haiti’s capital in armored vehicles Wednesday, a day after the arrival of 200 additional personnel from the African country as part of a multinational security mission, local officials said.

The vehicles patrolled the area around the National Palace and other parts of Port-au-Prince with Kenyan forces and Haitian police on board, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and did not provide details about the objectives of the operation.

Several bangs were heard as the vehicles passed by, according to an AFP journalist, although it was unclear if they were shots fired by police or the armed gangs who control some 80 percent of the capital.

Kenya stepped up last year to lead the long-sought international force to help Haiti tackle its soaring insecurity.

The UN-approved mission, with an initial duration of one year, will total 2,500 personnel from countries also including Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, the Bahamas and Barbados.

Kenya has now sent around 400 personnel to Haiti — 200 on June 25 and 200 on Tuesday — with promises of another 600 in the coming weeks.

The United States has ruled out sending forces, but is contributing funding and logistical support to the mission.

Haiti has long been rocked by gang violence, but conditions sharply worsened at the end of February when armed groups launched coordinated attacks in Port-au-Prince, saying they wanted to overthrow then-prime minister Ariel Henry.

The violence in Port-au-Prince has affected food security and humanitarian aid access, with much of the city in the hands of gangs accused of abuses including murder, rape, looting and kidnappings.

Prominent Democrat Schiff calls for Biden to withdraw, but party aims to nominate before convention

Prominent Democrat Schiff calls for Biden to withdraw, but party aims to nominate before convention
Updated 18 July 2024

Prominent Democrat Schiff calls for Biden to withdraw, but party aims to nominate before convention

Prominent Democrat Schiff calls for Biden to withdraw, but party aims to nominate before convention
  • The Democratic convention runs in person from Aug. 19-22, but the party announced in May that it would hold an early roll call to ensure Biden would qualify for the ballot in Ohio

WASHINGTON: California Rep. Adam Schiff on Wednesday became the highest-profile Democrat to call for President Joe Biden to drop his reelection bid, even as the party pushed ahead with plans for a virtual vote to formally make Biden its nominee in the first week of August.
The move to schedule the roll call, which would come weeks before the Democratic National Convention opens in Chicago on Aug. 19, follows nearly 20 Democratic members of Congress calling on Biden to withdraw from the presidential race in the wake of his dismal debate performance against Republican former President Donald Trump last month.
Late in the evening, ABC News reported new details about Biden’s private meeting over the weekend with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at his beach home in Delaware. It said Schumer told the president it would be “better for the Democratic party, and better for the country if he were to bow out.”
A Schumer spokesperson called the report “idle speculation. Leader Schumer conveyed the views of his caucus directly to President Biden on Saturday.”
Among Democrats nationwide, nearly two-thirds say Biden should step aside and let his party nominate a different candidate, according to a new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll — sharply undercutting Biden’s post-debate claim that “average Democrats” are still with him even if some “big names” are turning on him.
Biden tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling Wednesday in Las Vegas and is experiencing “mild symptoms” including “general malaise” from the infection, the White House said.
“While the choice to withdraw from the campaign is President Biden’s alone, I believe it is time for him to pass the torch,” Schiff said in a statement. “And in doing so, secure his legacy of leadership by allowing us to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming election.”
Schiff is a prominent Democrat on his own, and his statement will also be watched because of his proximity to Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.
It was Pelosi who revived questions about Biden post-debate, when she said recently that “it’s up to the president” to decide what to do — even though Biden had fully stated he had no intention of stepping aside. The former House speaker publicly supports the president, but has fielded calls from Democrats since debate night questioning what’s next.
In response to Schiff’s comments, the Biden campaign pointed to what it called “extensive support” for him and his reelection bid from members of Congress in key swing states, as well as from the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses. Biden is traveling in Nevada this week, and the campaign noted that he’s been joined on the trip by “nearly a dozen” Congressional Black Caucus members.
Still, Schiff’s announcement came after Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries encouraged the party to delay for a week plans to hold the virtual vote to renominate Biden, which could have taken place as soon as Sunday, according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
The Democratic National Committee’ s rulemaking arm is set to meet on Friday to discuss how the virtual vote plans will work and to finalize them next week.
“We will not be implementing a rushed virtual voting process, though we will begin our important consideration of how a virtual voting process would work,” Bishop Leah D. Daughtry and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, co-chairs of the rules committee for the Democratic National Convention wrote in a letter Wednesday.
The letter also said that the virtual roll call vote won’t take place before Aug. 1, but that the party is still committed to holding a vote before Aug. 7, which had been the filing deadline to get on Ohio’s presidential ballot.
The Democratic convention runs in person from Aug. 19-22, but the party announced in May that it would hold an early roll call to ensure Biden would qualify for the ballot in Ohio. That state originally had an Aug. 7 deadline but has since changed its rules.
The Biden campaign insists that the party must operate under Ohio’s initial rules to ensure Republican lawmakers can’t mount legal challenges to keep the president off the ballot.
Sen. Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat who wrote last week that Biden should leave the race “for the good of the country,” applauded the decision to move back setting a date.
“No shortcuts, no end around,” he said. “This process shouldn’t be rushed.”
Even if Democrats conduct a virtual roll call vote ahead of their convention, meanwhile, it wouldn’t necessarily lock Biden into the nomination. The DNC rulemaking arm could vote to hold an in-person roll call in Chicago, said Elaine Kamarck, a longtime member of the party’s rules committee and expert on the party’s nominating process. But since the Ohio law doesn’t go into effect until Sept. 1, Biden appearing on the state’s ballot remains a real concern, Kamarck said.
“This is a failsafe for the Democrats,” Kamarck said, adding that “the convention is the highest authority” in the nominating process.
The AP-NORC poll, conducted as Biden works to salvage his candidacy two weeks after his debate flop, also found that only about 3 in 10 Democrats are extremely or very confident that he has the mental capability to serve effectively as president, down slightly from 40 percent in an AP-NORC poll in February.
The letter from Daughtry and Walz follows a contingent of House Democrats wary of swiftly nominating Biden as the party’s pick for reelection circulated another letter raising “serious concerns” about plans for a virtual roll call. Their letter to theDNC, which has not been sent, says it would be a “terrible idea” to stifle debate about the party’s nominee with the early roll call vote.
“It could deeply undermine the morale and unity of Democrats,” said the letter obtained by the AP.
A spokesperson said that Huffman was pleased with the decision to delay and would hold off sending the letter from House Democrats as they continue monitoring the situation.