A recent discussion on my Facebook wall has prompted me to share a few thoughts about libertarianism and the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Let me start with one point:  I am no expert on the history of the area.  Many, but not all, people whose knowledge of that history I trust share (I think) much, but not all, of what I’m about to say.  But we shall see.  In any case, my point is not to resolve the conflict, but to make some observations about how libertarians might approach it.  My muse here is the large (at least that’s the way it seems) number of libertarians who think Israel is the clear problem here and think that their libertarianism puts them on the side of the victimized Palestinians against the aggressive Israeli state.  I want to push back against that narrative on libertarian grounds by making a distinction between being “anti-state” and “pro-liberty.”

First, what can libertarianism say here?  One thing seems to be to be clear:  no matter one’s views on who bears what proportion of the blame, libertarianism demands that the US government keep its military and our money out of it.  Nothing I say below justifies US military or financial aid to any of the parties to this dispute.  If American citizens wish to donate their money, material, or time to any of those parties, go right ahead, or if they choose to boycott one or both sides, also go right ahead, but let’s leave tax dollars out of it as they have certainly been a contributor to the problem.

Beyond that, I’m not sure how much libertarianism, at least of a thin variety, can say.  Simple libertarian moral principles do not apply simply to this conflict.  This is not a neat story from an ethics textbook.  One of the bad habits I see among many libertarians, especially young ones, is the apparent belief that one reading of, say, The Ethics of Liberty, gives you the passe-partout with which you can solve every real world political/moral dilemma in a Facebook comment.  Just as a read of Human Action doesn’t give you the answer to every economic issue, this strategy won’t do.  The conflict in the Middle East is the residue of centuries of history, culture, language, and religion, and it is a tangled mess of claims and counter-claims of God’s will, property, and colonialism.  There is no simple assignment of blame or corrective process.  There is blame to go around for all parties.  To really understand it, we need a much thicker libertarianism that actually goes out and reads a whole lot of history and tries to carefully untangle the knot.

However, saying that all parties have moral culpability, does not mean that all parties have equal moral culpability.  Just because it’s a mess, doesn’t mean we can’t come to some tentative conclusions about who bears more or less of the blame.  And more important:  even if libertarians agree that “all states are bad,” that does not mean that all states are equally bad.  The US government is bad, and so was Stalinist Russia.  But you know what?  I’m pretty comfortable thinking that Stalinist Russia was a hell of a lot worse state than the US was then or now.  When I see libertarians throwing their total sympathy with the Palestinians because Israel is the “aggressor state,” or arguing, as one did yesterday, that Palestine is close to the anarcho-capitalist utopia because it is “fighting off the aggressor Israeli state,” I can only shake my head sadly at the refusal to engage in serious comparative institutional analysis, not mention some other forms of ignorance.

This brings me to my key point.  One problem with too many libertarians, and this is true of a variety of issues, is that they are “anti-state” before they are “pro-liberty.”  What I mean by that is that their intellectual-political reflex is to oppose vigorously anything governments do without doing the double-entry moral bookkeeping required to know whether opposing this state action will actually, over time, forward the thing we supposedly care about, which is liberty.  (I think this problem is in play in libertarian objections to government recognition of same-sex marriage, but I leave that as a problem for the reader.)  In the context of the Middle East, I think it plays out in vigorous condemnations of Israel without ever asking both the comparative questions and exploring possible unintended consequences.

Let me be blunt:  there is one and only one state in the region that rests on broadly classical liberal values and that is Israel. It has the rule of law, an independent  judiciary, a more or less market economy that protects private property, not to mention a higher degree of ethnic/religious inclusiveness in its political institutions.  It is far from perfect, but it is the most classical liberal game in town.

Libertarians who demonize it as if all the states in the area were equally bad, and who think that the solution to the conflict does not include Israel, need to be asked one simple question:  if Israel disappears, what will we be left with?  The Rothbardians and others can light fireworks and celebrate the demise of a state, but does anyone really think that what emerges from its rubble will be equally or more liberal in the classical liberal sense?  Even the most cursory glance at Israel’s neighbors should tell you the kind of repressive, authoritarian, medieval state you are likely to get, and it will be even worse for women.

Ending a state is not the same as creating the institutions of liberty. When all we do is root against states, we will sometimes end up destroying liberty in the process.

If we really care about classical liberal values and liberty, we have to recognize that only one player in this game even talks the talk of those values and of human liberty as we understand it.  Wishing for Israel’s demise is to be an enemy of liberty and liberal values.  Again, none of this is to ignore or excuse the ways in which Israel does not live up to those values.  It is, however, to recognize that just because all states are bad, it does not mean all of them are equally bad.  And I do believe there is more than a difference in degree between Israel and its neighbors along these lines.  If anyone can show me how those states take liberal values with near the seriousness that Israel does, I will gladly entertain the argument.

Is this a counsel of despair?  Is it to wave flags for Israel?  I don’t think so.  What it does suggest is that simplistic stories of Israel aggression and solutions that eliminate Israel don’t cut it.  Rather than wishing for Israel’s demise, I think there’s another tactic and it’s right out of Martin Luther King’s playbook in “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”  The reason King’s “Letter” remains a masterwork of rhetoric is because he attempted to hold white southerners accountable to their own values:  Biblical, Western, and American.  His argument was that if they really believed in those values, then they should be on the side of civil rights.

I think that is the proper strategy for dealing with Israel.  We should hold Israel to its self-proclaimed values and call the Israelis on it every time we think they violate them [to be clear:  with respect not just to their internal politics but especially their treatment of the Palestinians and others – SH].  I would add that those values are not just those of classical liberalism, but also of Jewish ethics!  I think Jewish-Americans can play an especially powerful role here in trying to hold the Israeli leadership accountable for violations of both liberalism and Jewish ethics.  In the long run, Jewish-Americans can do far more for peace by doing that than by sending money to the Israelis or completely siding with the Palestinians.  Rather than lobbying the US government for more aid to Israel or more intervention in the region, Israel’s defenders should be lobbying the Israeli government to live up to its own stated political and moral values.  And, again, boycotts and the like are all in play here if one thinks those values have been violated.

Of course what those values are and how they will apply in any specific situation will be a matter of dispute.  And that’s fine.  As I said at the start, the lines here are not clear and libertarianism doesn’t provide any easy answers.  But we do the cause of liberty no good whatsoever when all we as libertarians do is talk about the evils of the Israeli aggressor against the innocent Palestinians and conclude that the solution is one that does not include Israel.

Yes, we all dislike the state, but sometimes the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.  Ending the state is not the same as building the institutions that safeguard liberty.  A free society is more than just one without a state;  it is one with the rule of law, protection for private property and contract, and equal political rights for all.  Only Israel comes close to having that, and the alternative Israel-free Middle East would be a net loss for liberty.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=19002050 Jameson Graber

    I’m a little bit confused about the premise at work. Is opposing Israel in this conflict equal to opposing the existence of Israel as a state? Or do you talk about opposing the Israeli state simply because so many libertarians seem to do that? Personally, I never like taking sides in war. I’m just very saddened that the situation doesn’t seem to be improving via peaceful methods. Would a Palestinian state be an effective solution?

    • Sean II

      There will be no peaceful resolution here. Only rational disputes can be resolved by peaceful methods. One cannot negotiate with someone who wants nothing from you, and who has no price.

      When World War II ended, millions of Germans and Poles were displaced, often under the most brutal conditions, with mass rape, the slaughter of children, etc. They were simply told “get out now, this isn’t your house, and this isn’t your country anymore”. And yet, there is no one today willing to blow himself up for the sake of regaining East Prussia, and no one ever seems to fire unaimed rockets at the Ukrainians who now inhabit Lvov.

      Why not? It isn’t terribly complicated: faced with a choice between nurturing an eternal vendetta or moving on, the Germans and the Poles said: “We’ve seen enough of murder. Let’s find something to live for besides revenge.” That was what they decided way back in 1945. Today, the children of both countries enjoy food, shelter, basic security, and the benefits of modern, civilized life.

      in 1947, the Palestinians lost half their land to Israel. In the 65 years since, their leaders have never once given up the quest for power, vengeance, and murder – and the people themselves have never once shown the slightest inclination to rid themselves of such leaders. Today their children live in poverty and hopelessness, under the constant threat of violence from one source or another.

      People in the West see the Palestinian struggle, and think it must be a fight for land, statehood, reparations, or some other tangible thing a Westerner would value. In thinking this, they show their own cultural ignorance in the worst way, they show how little they understand of Arab history and values. You can’t buy someone who believes that his honor requires your death.

      You wanna know what a Palestinian state would mean to the leadership of Palestine? A better platform from which to launch bigger rockets, that’s what.

      Golda Meir had it right. This conflict cannot end until the Palestinians decide to love their own children more than they hate Jews.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Agree with every word but this: “in 1947, the Palistinians lost half their land to Israel.” First, the partition was in 1948, and (much more importantly) the claim that the land granted in the partition to Israel was “their [the Palistinians’] land” is wrong. Their were plenty of Jews living then (1948) in the land of Israel, and the Jewish people have a strong historical claim to that land that pre-dates the partition by about 3000 years.

        • j_m_h

          Yes and the the Arab groups, and I suspect others, have just as old a claim.

          If I’m not mistaken the original Israeli claim to this property came about from a genocidal war God told them to wage against the, at the time, current occupants.

          Not exactly what I would call a clear title.

          I’m not at all sure the original grant of title from the UN for an Israeli state really passes the smell test. Just another one of those knee-jerk reactions to some other terrible event. They always produce bad law.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Gosh, I am delighted that you accept the Hebrew Bible as literally true and thus providing a historically accurate account of how the Jews conquered Canaan. But since we have this infallible historical record, we should consult it a little more deeply. Like, that God created the heavens and earth, out of nothing, in six days. And how God appeared to Abraham and promised him that his descendents would occupy the promised land as an essential part of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people. And how God appeared to Joshua and commanded him (as you say) to fight this genocidal war.

            Now if you accept all this as literally true, then I think Joshua certainly did the correct thing. If God can create the world out of nothing in six days, he can destroy it far more quickly, and then none of us would be alive. I would say don’t mess with God, right?

            Actually, I said nothing based on the Torah, but cited archeological evidence that unmistakably shows that the Jewish people occupied the land of Israel some 3000 years ago, and there has been a continuous Jewish presence since. If you are aware of a currently existing, identifiable tribe or people that can say that about their roots in the land of Israel, please name them for me.

          • j_m_h

            http://www.juancole.com/2010/03/top-ten-reasons-east-jerusalem-does-not.html clearly rejects your claims that only the Jewish people have such a claim. In fact it reject the claim that there is a clear archeological record indicating the Jews existed as clear group at all at 3000 years ago.

            The only reason I mentioned the old testament story is because that’s apparently the Jewish history as documented by them. I don’t take it as truth, only documentation from those making claims.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            First, Juan Cole is hardly an objective source, but is seriously anti-Israel: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/steven-plaut/juan-cole%E2%80%99s-map-of-lies/ Second, if you read what he wrote carefully, you find that he is mincing words and trying to mislead. Yes, it is true that we do not know exactly when the First Temple was constructed, and since we are dealing with events some 3000 years ago we are talikng about evidence, not “proof.” But virtually everyone agrees that there is strong evidence a First Temple, but maybe 900 BCE, rather than 1000 BCE. See the more balanced presentation on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Temple, and this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/khirbet-qeiyafa-archaeology_n_1504722.html. In any case, quite apart from the dating of the First Temple, no serious person doubts the presence of the Jewish people in ancient Israel from no later than 800 BCE. The controversies arise around the size of the population and the nature of that society.

          • j_m_h

            Two comments only and I’ll leave off.

            1) Your first link hardly reads like an impartial source. The second sentence is clearly a lie — or a evaluation of suitability by the article’s author. The claim that “at least one” person in academia has a person disagreement and thinks it’s a total bone-head can be applied to just about any professor in any field.

            2) If you wont to refute what Cole is saying, why not do something like provide the historical and archeological evidence from Egyptian history from the Pharaoh period during which the Moses story is said to occur. Cole claims historical evidence from the pharaoh era provides no supporting evidence for the story. Moreover, the claim isn’t that the temple wasn’t built then but that it was built for another god — implying a period prior to monotheism rather than the current jewish religion and culture. In fact Cole’s claim is that the group we now recognize as jewish was just emerging as a coherent culture/group/society as one of many people living in that area.

            The base facts here are that: A) Israel was created by a statist act within an organization that had not authority (take your pick on whether this is LoN or UN — they both had no libertarian based authority) to displace a people, and B) both sides of the fighting have way too much blood on their hands to deserve being chosen as “the better side”. If we want to pick a “winner” here it has to be few that are just going about their lives, not picking up weapons and waging war.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            You are confusing two very different things. The story of Moses and the Exodus has nothing (repeat nothing) to do with the actual construction of the First Temple. There is no archeological or historical evidence of a real, actual Moses. The evidence is the Torah. But according to the Torah Moses lived in an entirely different time than Solomon (the purported builder of the First Temple), and famously was not allowed by God to enter the promised land. So the story of Moses has nothing to do with whther there is real evidence for a First Temple, which I thought was what we were discussing.

            The Torah was according to the best secular scholarship composed between about 1000 BCE and 500 BCE. An entire book of the Torah (Leviticus) is dedicated to reporting and describing the proper way to sacrifice and perform other rituals at the Temple, and there is no mention of a “second” Temple. Moreover, all the books of the Torah condemn idol-worship, i.e. demand monotheism. So, I don’t know how anyone can reasonably conclude that the Temple was buoilt by other people or for anything other than Jewish worship. This is actually pretty ridiculous.
            And, BTW, where are those “other culturde/society/peoples” Cole refers to. They do not exist anymore than do the ancient Greeks or Romans. As to the good/bad guys, see my many other comments.

  • ThaomasH

    “Let me be blunt: there is one and only one state in the region that rests on broadly classical liberal values and that is Israel.”
    This is true, but Israel has a fatal flaw; it is allowing settlements by its citizens in the territiry it has occupied since the 1968 war.

    • Steven Horwitz

      It is a flaw and a big one. Whether it is “fatal” is a matter of comparison. Whatever Israel’s anti-liberal sins, and they are multiple, it is still the only thing resembling liberalism in the game. If it goes, it is a net loss for liberty.

      • ThaomasH

        I certainly agree and I hope the flaw is not fatal.

        Thomas L Hutcheson

        • Sean II

          The settlements cannot be Israel’s fatal flaw because a) an all-out effort to destroy Israel pre-dates the settlement issue, and b) this dispute has never really been about land.

          The settlement thing just happens to be good marketing for Palestinian leaning Westerners. It’s an issue Americans and Europeans can connect with and easily understand, because it sounds a hell of a lot better than the true Palestinian war aims of honor, anti-semitism, religious fanaticism, and revenge.

          • ThaomasH

            So if it’s not the issue, Israel could remove it by stopping and reversing the settlements.  I agree that other areas of dispute would remain.

            Thomas L Hutcheson

          • Sean II

            That logic is backwards. If the Israelis know the settlements aren’t really the issue, why stop building them?

            Because some not very well informed Americans think otherwise? Why should their ignorance of Middle East politics (combined with the lying cover story of Hamas) be allowed to dictate Israel’s policies?

          • ThaomasH

            Because it’s wrong to settle on occupied land before a peace treaty ends the conflict.

            Thomas L Hutcheson

          • Sean II

            Why would anyone wait to do anything, for a peace treaty that no one has any reason to expect?

          • ThaomasH

            Pending a final settlement Israel needs to just occupy the captured territory but not allow settlers onto it.  A final settlement resulting in a two state solutions the official expectation of  Israel and Fatah and the long standing policy of the US.  Hamas does not yet accept the two state solution.

            Thomas L Hutcheson

          • Sean II

            Right…but Hamas is in charge, so why are we even talking about a two-state solution? How long should we keep it on the table while we wait for that magical unicorn known as the middle eastern “moderate” to arrive?

          • ThaomasH

            Not letting Israelis settle on land that does not belong to Israel is a policy that can be carried out indefinitely.  And of course Hamas controls only Gaza.

            Thomas L Hutcheson

        • Benjamin Ahdoot

          Avraham Burg thinks it’s fatal.

          ” We live in a thunderously failed reality. … A state lacking justice cannot survive. … Even if the Arabs lower their heads and swallow their shame and anger for ever, it won’t work. A structure built on human callousness will inevitably collapse in on itself. Note this moment well: Zionism’s superstructure is already collapsing like a cheap Jerusalem wedding hall.”
          (Avraham Burg, 15 September 2003)

          “Israel, having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centres of Israeli escapism. They consign themselves to Allah in our places of recreation, because their own lives are torture. They spill their own blood in our restaurants in order to ruin our appetites, because they have children and parents at home who are hungry and humiliated.”
          (Avraham Burg, 15 September 2003)

          “Between the Jordan and the Mediterranean there is no longer a clear Jewish majority. And so, fellow citizens, it is not possible to keep the whole thing without paying a price. We cannot keep a Palestinian majority under an Israeli boot and at the same time think ourselves the only democracy in the Middle East. There cannot be democracy without equal rights for all who live here, Arab as well as Jew. We cannot keep the territories and preserve a Jewish majority in the world’s only Jewish state”
          (Avraham Burg, 15 September 2003)

          “Do you want democracy? No problem. Either abandon the greater land of Israel, to the last settlement and outpost, or give full citizenship and voting rights to everyone, including Arabs. The result, of course, will be that those who did not want a Palestinian state alongside us will have one in our midst, via the ballot box. The prime minister should present the choices forthrightly: Jewish racism or democracy. Settlements, or hope for both peoples.”
          (Avraham Burg, 15 September 2003)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avraham_Burg

      • Guest

        Net loss for liberty.

        “There is no terrible regime – Columbia, Guatemala, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile during the time of the colonels, Burma, Taiwan, Zaire, Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone – there is not one that does not have a major military connection to Israel. Israeli arms dealers are there [acting as] mercenaries – the guy behind Noriega was Michael Harari, an Israeli, who got out of Panama. Israeli mercenaries in Sierra Leone go around the UN boycotts of what are called blood diamonds, same in Angola. Israel was very involved in South Africa, of course, during the apartheid regime.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

        “Israel has also become the main subcontractor of American arms. Just last year, Israel signed a contract to train and equip the Chinese army. It signed another multi-billion dollar contract to train and equip the Indian army. What is it equipping them with? It is equipping them with American weapons.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

        “When AIPAC sells Israel to Congress, it doesn’t go to Congressmen and ask them to support Israel because it is Judeo-Christian, or because it is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East,’ which it also does. It sells it on this basis: ‘You are a member of Congress and it is your responsibility to support Israel, because this is how many industries in your state have business links to Israel, this is how many military research people are sitting in universities in your district, this is how many jobs in your district are dependent on the military and the defence industry,’ and they translate it down to the extent to which your district is dependent on Israel. Therefore, if you are voting against Israel, you are voting against the goose that lays the golden egg. In most of the districts in the United States, members of Congress have a great dependence on the military. More than half of industrial employment in California is in one way or another connected to defence. Israel is right there, right in the middle of it all. And that is part of its strength.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

        “Israel is very important, because on the one hand it is a very sophisticated, high-tech, arms developer and dealer. But on the other hand, there are no ethical or moral constraints: there is no Congress, there are no human rights concerns, there are no laws against taking bribes – the Israeli government can do anything it wants to. So you have very sophisticated rogue state – not a Libyan rogue state, but a high tech, military-expert rogue state. Now that is tremendously useful, both for Europe and for the United States. For example, there are American Congressional constraints on selling arms to China because of China’s human rights problems. So what Israel does is it tinkers with American arms just enough that they can be considered Israeli arms, and in that way bypasses Congress.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

        “I don’t think we can dismantle the matrix of control. I think it has gone too far, and that the occupation is permanent. We are in a state of apartheid. But not everybody agrees with me – Uri Avnery doesn’t agree with me, the people who are in favour of a two-state solution still think that we can end the occupation, or that we can roll it back enough that a Palestinian state will emerge. But the danger in being for a Palestinian state is that if you don’t understand the control dimensions, then you are actually agitating for a Bantustan. I mean, Sharon also wants a Palestinian state; he wants a state that is completely controlled by Israel. So if you only look at territory and you don’t look at the issue of control, you end up advocating a Bantustan.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)
        http://icahdusa.org/about/jeff

      • Benjamin Ahdoot

        Net loss for liberty.

        “There is no terrible regime – Columbia, Guatemala, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile during the time of the colonels, Burma, Taiwan, Zaire, Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone – there is not one that does not have a major military connection to Israel. Israeli arms dealers are there [acting as] mercenaries – the guy behind Noriega was Michael Harari, an Israeli, who got out of Panama. Israeli mercenaries in Sierra Leone go around the UN boycotts of what are called blood diamonds, same in Angola. Israel was very involved in South Africa, of course, during the apartheid regime.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

        “Israel has also become the main subcontractor of American arms. Just last year, Israel signed a contract to train and equip the Chinese army. It signed another multi-billion dollar contract to train and equip the Indian army. What is it equipping them with? It is equipping them with American weapons.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

        “When AIPAC sells Israel to Congress, it doesn’t go to Congressmen and ask them to support Israel because it is Judeo-Christian, or because it is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East,’ which it also does. It sells it on this basis: ‘You are a member of Congress and it is your responsibility to support Israel, because this is how many industries in your state have business links to Israel, this is how many military research people are sitting in universities in your district, this is how many jobs in your district are dependent on the military and the defence industry,’ and they translate it down to the extent to which your district is dependent on Israel. Therefore, if you are voting against Israel, you are voting against the goose that lays the golden egg. In most of the districts in the United States, members of Congress have a great dependence on the military. More than half of industrial employment in California is in one way or another connected to defence. Israel is right there, right in the middle of it all. And that is part of its strength.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

        “Israel is very important, because on the one hand it is a very sophisticated, high-tech, arms developer and dealer. But on the other hand, there are no ethical or moral constraints: there is no Congress, there are no human rights concerns, there are no laws against taking bribes – the Israeli government can do anything it wants to. So you have very sophisticated rogue state – not a Libyan rogue state, but a high tech, military-expert rogue state. Now that is tremendously useful, both for Europe and for the United States. For example, there are American Congressional constraints on selling arms to China because of China’s human rights problems. So what Israel does is it tinkers with American arms just enough that they can be considered Israeli arms, and in that way bypasses Congress.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

        “I don’t think we can dismantle the matrix of control. I think it has gone too far, and that the occupation is permanent. We are in a state of apartheid. But not everybody agrees with me – Uri Avnery doesn’t agree with me, the people who are in favour of a two-state solution still think that we can end the occupation, or that we can roll it back enough that a Palestinian state will emerge. But the danger in being for a Palestinian state is that if you don’t understand the control dimensions, then you are actually agitating for a Bantustan. I mean, Sharon also wants a Palestinian state; he wants a state that is completely controlled by Israel. So if you only look at territory and you don’t look at the issue of control, you end up advocating a Bantustan.”
        (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)
        http://icahdusa.org/about/jeff

    • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin

      The settlements are a mixed bag. Those that are part of the state-agenda, and are state financed, are simply coercive and ought to be clearly condemned. Others are the result of private land acquisition, with private moneys and have added substantially to the Palestinian economy. The total amount of settlers is less than 300,000, widely scattered. It is not at all clear that the land abutting Jerusalem should be counted as part of the settlements. Get the state out of there and let the market decide who lives where.

      Two fundamental points:
      1. Arabs live in Israel. It seems to be assumed by some that Jews should not live in Palestine, no matter how they settled there. I am sure this is not the case for anyone on this list, but the context of the debate needs to be clarified. Ethnic cleansing does not change its character when it crosses the boarder into Palestine.

      2. Even if tomorrow all settlement activities ceased – private and public – this would do NOTHING to solve the Israel-Palestinian” problem. The problem long predates the settlements and will endure as long as the very existence of Israel itself is the issue.

      • ThaomasH

        You are right.  Israel should not let its citizens settle in the territories it is occupying pending a final negotiation of the borders of the new state.  Afterwards, its up to the Palestinians if they want the settlers.

        Thomas L Hutcheson

        • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin

          Agreed. Except I would not be so sanguine about what is up to the Palestinians in this regard. Simply as a moral, liberal, question why should one’s ethnicity matter in this regard. If they close off all immigration, that is one thing (which I would condemn anyway), but if they close it off just to Jews, that is another. Also, why should Israel not let its citizens settle there even now if they do so privately at their own expense on land privately purchased?

          • ThaomasH

            I have no doubt that a Palestinian state will be deeply illiberal and non-democratic for decades.
            Israel should not allow it’s citizens to settle in the territories it occupies becasue occupied land is not to used for such under international law and as a practical matter it makes it difficult to bargain in good faith about handing settled land over as the result of negotiations.

            Thomas L Hutcheson

          • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin

            You have a point.

    • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

      I am afraid that it is your claim that exhibits the “fatal flaw.” In 2000 under President Clinton’s mediation, there were extensive negotiations between the two sides over a comprehensive peace. Israel offered to return 97% of the occupied territories, and would make up the lost 3% through a terrotory swap. As U.S. officials have confirmed, the Palestinians turned down the deal because Israel refused to permit the return of some 5 million Palestinian refugees to their alleged former homes in what is now Israel. The settlements are not the roadblock to peace, but the Palistinians refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist in its current form.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colin-Olmstead/1018858076 Colin Olmstead

        Lie

        • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

          Wow, your powers of argumentation sure are impressive! Let me guess: you dropped out of high school cause it was just too hard, right?

      • ThaomasH

        Unfortunately, it is possible for the negotiation process to have more than one fatal flaw.

        Thomas L Hutcheson

      • BobDD

        We have your word for these facts and some unidentified Israeli and US official. Where are these facts in writing. Let me give you some well worn cliches.

        1. Talk is cheap
        2. If its not in wqriting, it doesn’t mean a thing

  • j r

    I firmly agree with the notion that coming to a well-reasoned position on any issue requires doing the very hard work of digging through multiple layers of “history, culture, language, and religion.” I also agree that too many libertarians of the doctrinaire variety are all too willing to push all of that aside and instead adopt some method of logical deduction from first principles to come to a one-size-(does-not)fit all stance on incredibly complicated matters.

    I do not, however, understand how you jump from that to:

    If we really care about classical liberal values and liberty, we have to recognize that only one player in this game even talks the talk of those values and of human liberty as we understand it. Wishing for Israel’s demise is to be an enemy of liberty and liberal values.

    Doesn’t that sentiment itself ignore the history of how the Israeli state came into being? And while Israel may be the most classically liberal democracy in the region, does that extend to the Palestinians int he occupied territory? These things may well be justified, but I’m not sure who you justify them by any reasonable libertarian criteria. In particular, I’d be interested to hear your response to the following:

    1.Can a Jewish state (or any religious or ethnic state) really be considered a liberal state? If so, what is the bar?

    2. How does the history of how Israel came to be established (by the removal of people from land that they had occupied for generations) play into your feelings about the present state of Israel? After all, the founding of Isreal essentially entailed making a collective claim of ownership (ie “this is Jewish land”) that superseded individual possession of various plots of land. How do you assert collective ownership under a libertarian framework?

    • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin
      • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin

        j.r. asks: “1.Can a Jewish state (or any religious or ethnic state) really be considered a liberal state? If so, what is the bar?

        2. How does the history of how Israel came to be established (by the removal of people from land that they had occupied for generations) play into your feelings about the present state of Israel? After all, the founding of Isreal essentially entailed making a collective claim of ownership (ie “this is Jewish land”) that superseded individual possession of various plots of land. How do you assert collective ownership under a libertarian framework?”

        The first is answered at the link above. The second entails a false premise. A small number of Jews have lived in Israel and Sumeria continuously since before Roman times. Concerning the modern influx, there may have been some cases, on both sides, of land expropriation, especially after the declaration of independence and the war of liberation in 1948, but this was patently NOT the case for the generations leading up to that time. The efforts of revisionist Israeli historians to the contrary notwithstanding, prior to 1948 there were decades of peaceful coexistence as the early settlers came from Eastern Europe and settled land they purchased from Ottoman landowners. In some cases this created tensions because the landlords were absentee, and the peasants who worked the land were displaced.

        But the more significant truth is that, absent the efforts of the nascent Muslim Brotherhood, under the Palestinian leadership of Haj Amin al Husseini, a Nazi propagandist during WWII, the 1948 war would not have happened and we would have had a two-state solution. Everything that has followed since is the result of those fateful events, from which time the refusal to recognize the right of Israel to exist became written in stone.

        As Steve says, it makes no sense to analyze this situation from an idealist “anti-state” perspective. We are dealing with a choice among less than ideal alternatives upon which the lives and freedoms of millions depend. Considering the big picture, Israel is to the whole of Arabia as a postage stamp is to a football field. So, when I hear stories about how this is about the occupation of precious land I am very skeptical.

        In the months following the onset of war in 1948 roughly 750,000 Palestinians were displaced in one way or another. At the same time about 850,000 Jews were forcibly, often violently expelled from the Arab countries of the region – communities that had lived there for generations. How come we don’t hear anything about them? Or about the millions of other refugees displaced by the horrors WWII? The answer is revealing – the only reason we hear persistently about the Palestinian refugees is because the Arab states and the UN made a conscious decision to treat this group differently from the rest. So, Palestinians are counted as refugees indefinitely, down to the nth generation, as no other group is, and a special UN agency was established for this.

        The Arab states have cynically used the Palestinians as pawns in their political agendas – either to divert attention from their corrupt dictatorial domestic oppression, or as a motivating factor in the Islamist agenda. Had the original 750,000 refugees been settled like the rest of the millions of refugees in various countries around the region, and the world, including Israel, the current horror would not exist. Quite simply, the Palestinian situation was not of Israel’s making and is not in Israel’s power to solve. On the other hand, a real honest to goodness desire to solve it, by the Arab states, especially the Saudis, could do so, though the longer it lingers the more difficult it becomes.

        It is also relevant to note that there are “moderates” on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides who are continually attempting to foster commercial, social, artistic, and academic ties, and that whenever this seems to be gaining traction, the Palestinian authority takes steps to derail it.

        Armchair condemnations are cheap and easy, and they worth just about what they cost.

        • j r

          Armchair condemnations are cheap and easy, and they worth just about what they cost.

          What armchair condemnation are you talking about? I raised two questions.

          You answered the first, to some extent, but you’ve punted on the second. Pointing out that lots of Jews got kicked out of Arab countries is not a justification for kicking Arabs out of the land that was to become Israel. Any number of things can be justified under the label of political realism, but don’t pass the bar for how a classically liberal state ought to behave.

          Let’s put this another way. Sometimes situations arise in which people must behave unethically in order to survive. Fine. I don’t condemn, but let’s not rationalize backwards and pretend that the behavior is not unethical.

          • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin

            Sorry, I did not mean to imply yours were the armchair condemnations. Forgive the misunderstanding. You raised perfectly legitimate questions. I was addressing a general “rush-to-judgment” audience. My bad.

            As to the rest of your comment above, I think this is a very unfair characterization of my position. My first point is that we ought to get the facts right – there was no wholesale expropriation. Second, we ought to address all of the facts – an egregious selection bias exists in the blogosphere and related media by suggesting that the Palestinians are the only refugees from this period, and, moreover, that all of the Palestinians that now exist are “refugees”. Third, the responsibility for this situation is ambiguous at best. How does it make sense to look to Israel for a solution that is not of its making. The problem here, of course, it that we are dealing with collectives. To try to obtain justice by identifying individuals is ridiculous. Israel “absorbed” 850,000 destitute Jewish refugees. The Arab states could have done the same for the 750,000 displaced Arabs. I am not claiming that two wrongs make a right as you seem to suggest I am. I am looking for an imperfect but workable solution to a complex problem. “Israel” did not create the problem, Israel cannot solve the problem and certainly not until its right to exist is granted.

            Maybe we got off on the wrong foot with my final sentence, but your rather cavalier dismissal of my analysis seems to me wholly unwarranted.

          • j r

            A couple of things. I’m not dismissing your analysis. I’m just pointing out that it doesn’t answer my question. My starting point is that almost all the other countries in the region are not classically liberal democracies, but Israel is. So, pointing out that the other countries expelled Jews doesn’t factor into my thinking, because I’ve already conceded that those countries are illiberal.

            Second, this has nothing to do with workable solutions. If this is what Israel has to do to survive, then fine, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. The Palestinians should know when they’re beat and behave accordingly. The bar for this conversation, however, isn’t “are the Isrealis justified?” Rather, it is, “are the Israelis acting in accordance with classically liberal or libertarian principles?”

          • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin

            OK, on that I have not much to say. No-one is behaving according to these principles. Should Israel? Yes, but the that is so far from where we are that it seems to me almost irrelevant. Maybe you mean Israel could do something different in the current situation vis a vis Gaza. If yes, then what should Israel do? If not then we are having a different discussion.

          • j_m_h

            While it will clearly be a counter factual, what I’m missing here is why the many jews displaced by WWI had to be relocated in a new nation? Why not simply err on the side of the living jews of the time, extract funds sufficient to compensate the material claims, at a very minimum, and then let these people choose where they will live — I would include transportation costs in their compensation.

            Were the displaced jews an Arab or Middle East problem to begin with? If not then why burden that population with the solution to someone else’s problems?

        • good_in_theory

          I’m not sure why the story begins in 1948, and not in 1922, when a completely foreign imperial power took over the administration and regulation of Palestinian territory, rather than allowing for self-rule.

          • Good in theory and practice

            Why begin in 1922? Whom do you think the British took control over from? Another imperial regime going back several hundred years (and so on and so forth). There was no moment in time in which Palestinian self-rule was abrogated. 1948 (actually it was 1947)was the first moment in which the two people were given a real option for self rule (actually, even that’s not true: the 1937 Peel Partition was, but the story was the same: the Palestinians rejected it). In 1947 there were two populations on the ground. One of them begrudgingly accepted partition, the other didn’t. The just thing (and the practical thing) to have done then was to accept partition. In fact, that’s still the just thing to do. Getting the specifics of the partition right is the hard part; accepting the partition in principle shouldn’t be.

          • good_in_theory

            Yes, if you ignore the relative autonomy provided by the millet system, or the democratically elected parliament at the turn of the 20th century, then I guess military occupation and rule by the British was just more of the same.

            So great to just be designated a haven for refugees by the US and UK, and then be “gifted” the chance for self-rule on terms set by a UN commission.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            I had the same essential thought as G.I.T. & P., but would start earlier still, about 2800 years earlier or so. The archeological evidence is clear that there was a thriving Kingdom of Israel around 900 B.C.E. The people there, even then, saw that land as constituting their birthright and ancestral homeland. In discussing the present state of Israel’s right to exist, maybe we should start with this.

          • good_in_theory

            “Birthrights” to “ancestral homelands”? Funny coming out of the mouth of a Libertarian. What do birth and ancestry have to do with anything? Since when does “some silly book says my great^100 grandpa lived there” constitute title to anything?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Gee, what part of “acheological evidence” and “thriving Kingdom” didn’t you understand? That means “homesteading.” Did you really miss this? The “birthright” and “ancestral homeland” comment is intgended to show that the Jews never surrendered this claim.

          • good_in_theory

            I don’t see how anyone could interpret this sort of claim as anything other than ridiculous. How about I claim to be a descendent of the ancient Illyrians. Can I go reclaim my land in the Balkans now? A continuous religious or ethnic tradition does not transmit the property rights of ancient tribal kingdoms.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            The fact that “you don’t see how…X” is not actually an argument. You just ignore my point about homesteading. Since the U.S. Native Americans cannot establish how or when when they came to own their ancestral lands, we can justly ignore any claims for compensation they may now have, right? Same for all indigenous people around the world that have been dispossessed, right? Glad to hear it.

            Actually, Israel’s case is different and stronger. We know the ancestors of the current occupants homesteaded, and we don’t have to dispossess anyone else. The Jewish people are right where they should be–sorry if you don’t like it, but you are just going to have to get used to it.

          • good_in_theory

            Transmission of land purely through family lineage is feudal. I’m not sure what it has to do with any modern notion of property.

          • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin

            The irony aside, the story might begin earlier. Why 1922? Why not AD 70?

          • good_in_theory

            All the slippery slope fallacy reasoning re: “why 1922″ is amusing.

            One would think it would be obvious why the break from federated control in a land-based, religiously uniform, and linguistically familial empire for over 400 years to control by, you know, the British would be sort of an obvious point of inflection.

            And one might just think that the colonial administration which worked in concert with Zionists (in the technical sense), facilitating, encouraging, and empowering the colonial projects of said Zionists would be rather key for understanding the subsequent formation of an explicitly Jewish state a quarter century later, where Jews had previously been outnumbered by Arabs by a ratio of something like 9:1. It’s not like anyone was lobbying for the creation of a Jewish state in the region, or forming Jewish military regiments to aid in the British conquest of Palestine.

            Nope, everything just starts in 1948, after the whole settler colonial project was already a fait accompli.

          • j_m_h

            Ideed, why not even farther back.

            How’s that old Everlast song go, “where it is usually depends on where you start”.

            Why anyone would want to attempt to link libertarianism and liberal/libertarian social and political theory to Israel and the middle east of today is beyond me. I think there might be a Shakespeare quote that applied fairly accurately.

        • Johan Tibbelin

          “As Steve says, it makes no sense to analyze this situation from an idealist “anti-state” perspective.”

          …..and even IF we take a idealist first principle anti state stance …. it seems strange to take side for any palestinian movement ( or all of them together ). Palestinian movements have always been STATE PROJECTS …so from THAT perspective its only a conflict between an actually existing state against a POTENTIAL STATE ( and shouldnt we even say that palestinians have statelike entities already… with all kinds of institutional aggression against its citizens )

          • good_in_theory

            Zionism, of course, is not a state project in the least.

      • http://www.facebook.com/plewin48 Peter Lewin

        I forget the name of the moderate Palestinian prime minister who fostered inter-community contact and who was removed recently. Here is a link about the UN Palestinian refugee agency: http://plewin.blogspot.com/2010/12/look-not-to-israel-arab-states-or-us.html

    • TracyW

      Was how Israel came into being any worse than how the USA or Australia came into being?

      • j r

        I don’t know enough about Australia to comment, but the United States came into being as a deeply illiberal country (despite its very liberal idea of government). As time went on, the United States was able to extend the franchise to more and more of this country’s inhabitants (women, blacks, Native Americans).

        What exactly is the point of your comparison?

        • TracyW

          The USA came into being by the violent removal of people from land they had occupied for generations. As did Australia. (NZ had the Treaty of Waitangi).

          You were the one asking “How does the history of how Israel came to be established (by the removal of people from land that they had occupied for generations) play into your feelings about the present state of Israel?” As Horwitz had explicitly mentioned the USA as a liberal country (as a contrast to Stalinist Russia), and the USA came into being by violently taking land from the locals, I thought it was pretty clear that Horwitz doesn’t think that the history of how a country was established affects whether it’s more a friend of liberal values than other countries (Stalinist Russia or the other Middle Eastern states).

      • good_in_theory

        Why does that matter in the least?

        • TracyW

          Did you intend to ask this question of me or j r?

          • good_in_theory

            You. The US and Australia are certainly settler colonies, like Israel. But I don’t see why the world’s record at dealing with settler-colonialism over the past few hundred years should be any sort of guide or model to how we deal with settler colonialism now.

          • TracyW

            Well, we don’t have any other models or guides for the future than what happened in the past. It is, after all, theoretically possible that the law of gravity will stop working tomorrow, but would you therefore construct a bridge by starting by ignoring all the world’s record of bridge building, and bridge-collapsing and so forth?
            That’s why the world’s record at dealing with settler colonialism over the past few hundred years should be a guide or model to how we deal with settler colonialism now. We don’t need to mindlessly repeat the decisions of the past, but we should at least look at them and try to learn from them.
            If you now agree with me on this, then perhaps we can discuss how the world’s record at dealing with settler colonialism over the past few hundred years should apply to Israel now (I don’t have any firm ideas on this).

          • good_in_theory

            Ah, ok, so if you successfully colonize and kill someone, then everything is fine and we can just forget about. No need to worry about any sort of moral responsibility when the colonizing and killing is actually going on, because hey, not carrying about colonized populations is just past practice, and not holding colonists and imperialists to account is just what we do.

          • Joseph R. Stromberg

            Second the motion.

          • TracyW

            I don’t follow how this answer fits into my response to your earlier question as to why what happened in the past is not a guide or a model for the future. Sometimes things can be a model of what not to do as I said when I said that we don’t need to mindlessly repeat the decisions of the past, but we should at least look at them and try to learn from them.

            I am also surprised that you say that not caring about colonised populations is just past practice – surely the colonised people cared about themselves. And, often a number of the citizens of the colonising nation did too – missionary work, attempts like The Treaty of Waitangi to protect Maori interests from colonising British settlers, setting up a schooling system in India don’t fit with your assertions here. You may call these interventions ineffectual, or racist, or paternalistic, or covers for forwarding officials’ true interests, but if not caring about colonised people was just what people did, why would any of the people carrying out selfish actions even tried to make it look otherwise?

          • good_in_theory

            I guess I should have clarified – it’s not what states did. Of course *some* individuals did (many didn’t). But right now many individuals care about empowering and enabling the Israeli state, and about making sure that the US state also does this. I suppose I’m recommending that individuals don’t do this.

          • TracyW

            The British government signed the Treaty of Waitangi and set up the schooling system in India.

            As for people caring about empowering and enabling the Israeli state, consider the alternative. Israel has nukes (thanks to France, and despite US attempts to stop the Israelis obtaining them). If Israel feels its back is to the wall militarily, it’s a distinct possibility that Israel will use those nukes. To support my assertion, let’s look at the history of the settler colonies of the USA or Australia, the vast majority of people living there then and now show no sign of saying “Well, we stole these lands and political power, and that was unfair, so now we’re going to give our lands back and give the Aboriginals/Native Americans the political power.” Furthermore, the inhabitants of those countries have responded violently to attacks from the Japanese. The Americans even nuked Japan, although Japan at the time was in no fit state to attack the US homeland. That the Israelis might nuke is a real possibility.

            I also am surprised that you don’t mention what you think the people who care about empowering and enabling the Palestinians should do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Philip/591615305 Michael Philip

      The “Jewish State” should be about “A Free Nation” first, not a religious
      homeland first, regardless of its origins. The American identity was originally
      about free people, protected from authoritarian rule, not the varied ethnic and
      religious origins of its people.

  • http://twitter.com/MythDeSisyphus The Myth of Sisyphus

    Why is it that libertarians, who should know better, adopt Karl Marx’s most laughably wrong prediction — the one about the State eventually withering away — as a key article of something devoutly to be wish’d?

  • Roger

    Steve,
    A big yes to pro-liberty vs anti-state. But I don’t see where Israel is so liberal given its treatment of the Palestinians. It matters, eg, that they largely control P’ian taxes. Ttavel restrictions, population registry, import restrictions, infrastructure . . .

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Mollet/528523868 Jonathan Mollet

      The US government did many of the same things to Native Americans yet we’re still considered one of the greatest examples of classic liberalism in history.

      • j r

        Yes, but only because the U.S. eventually did the right thing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colin-Olmstead/1018858076 Colin Olmstead

        This is a very poor argument. We did bad things and we are still good? Really? Palestinians would be thrilled to have the same treatment our native Americans receive today. Autonomy, lifetime stipends, free education.

      • TracyW

        By Americans.

  • Aeon Skoble

    Excellent post Daniel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000395689145 John J. C. Anderson

    This is an interesting piece. Particularly interesting is the idea of using thick-libertarianism as a tool for moral evaluation of foreign politics. In this role, the process of evaluating the situation in the middle-east according to our classical liberal values seems to serve mainly as a form of therapy; as a useful method of working through and affirming our own internal values.

  • TracyW

    My understanding is that Israel has nuclear weapons, and US policymakers fear that if Israel has no other military choice, they’d use their nuclear weapons rather than let Israel be destroyed. How does that analysis fit in with your call for the US to disengage?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colin-Olmstead/1018858076 Colin Olmstead

      If israel uses nukes on an attacking force she will vaporize herself or subject herself to dangerous radiation best case scenario. Your understanding is ridiculous.

      • TracyW

        I presume that the thinking is that Israel would nuke the attacking country’s cities, not the troops. That, after all, is how the USA used its nukes against Japan. I am rather surprised that you have not heard of the nuclear bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I thought they were so well-known as to not need spelling out. But no matter, under the circumstances, your use of the word “ridiculous” has made me smile.

  • luisp128

    This is a great discussion on whether libertarians should support Israel or Palestine. It is true that Israel supports civil and economic liberties much better than its neighbors and the region would do better if that influence spread through the region. However, that does not mean that we should support their actions in the Gaza strip. One right does not make another wrong disappear. I am starting a discussion on this topic in order to find the main arguments in support of each side – http://www.the-counterpoint.com/discussion/1k

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colin-Olmstead/1018858076 Colin Olmstead

    This article says very little with far too many words. A chronological map of palestine says it all. Israel continues to attack palestine and steal its lands while brutalizing displacing and killing the people that live where they choose to take. What else do you need to know? Google yourself chronological map of palestine and you will be enlightened.

    • Good in theory and practice

      Colin,

      I assume you’re referring to this: http://www.leedspsc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/israel-palestine-map.jpg

      This map is completely misleading. In what sense are the green areas in the earlier maps “Palestinian land”. The criteria used here are deliberately misleading. The definition of Jewish Land seems to be: All land owned by Jews individually or by Jewish organizations, prior to 1948; all land under the jurisdiction of the state of Israel, post 1948. That’s a pretty clumsy notion, but fine.

      Palestinian land: the definition seems to be: all land that is not “Jewish land”.
      No real symmetry there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colin-Olmstead/1018858076 Colin Olmstead

        The majority of the world understands that pre 1967 borders are considered the most lawful. Any map you dredge up (no I was not referring to your cherry picked map genius) will show that palestine is shrinking. Anyone who thinks it is not is an idiot. Israel herself admits she is taking palestinian land but claims it is for defense. This thread is full of stupid opinions from people made ignorant by the American television. What a waste of time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colin-Olmstead/1018858076 Colin Olmstead

    A libertarian need not support either side. Israel has all the military might it needs. Palestine has massive international support. The US should not veto palestinian statehood. What am I doing on this thread. “Discussing” this situation in the context of the American media propaganda is laughable. Palestinians in Gaza are treated horribly illegally terribly in a way that is damaging to israel herself. Israel hurts herself with her greed. Hamas WAS created by israel and this is stupid, what am I doing here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colin-Olmstead/1018858076 Colin Olmstead

    Among people who know two things are true you donkeys 1.) Israel is taking Palestinian lands constantly. The only “debate” is whether or not israel is justified doing this as she claims for the purpose of “defense”. OK Donkeys?? Israel admits she is jacking palestinian lands 2.) The VAST majority of the world recognizes pre 67 borders as the most lawful. Current day palestine is far smaller.

  • ben45

    It seems that most people here are trying to make sense out of nonsense. The warring parties believe there is something special about the “holy land” that makes it worth fighting for.. I am willing to help every peaceful person, leave the region. Those who want to stay for mytistical reasons should be left to their own devices, and live in a perpetual state of war until one side triumphs.

  • Joseph R. Stromberg

    The crux of the argument seems to be a free-pass for passably (or barely) ‘classical liberal’ states, whatever they do. The whole thing is redolent of the fashionable Dim Peace model in which democracies never attack other democracies. We are supposed to award heaping moral points for this, and ignore the fact that in recent decades ‘democracies’ (mostly the US and NATO) have attacked the Hell out of a lot of other peoples and states. No doubt ours, NATO’s, and Israel’s domestic arrangements will guarantee the justice of these attacks.

    If some of the views voiced in this thread amount to ‘thick libertarianism’ applied to foreign affairs, it obviously isn’t working out. If we want thickness, better to try Just War Theory — the Vatican’s version, not George Weigel’s. (And even hard-core JWT is too lenient on the war party.)

    Israel is said to have “the rule of law, an independent judiciary…” We have those too, for all the good they are doing us. Broadly speaking, South Africa had those same appliances between 1948 and the early 1990s, and got around them through creative legislative tinkering and a repressive judicial mentality — so effectively, that Mrs. Thatcher tried to copy some of their innovations. Later, John Yoo and other expounders of the South Korean constitution used cases from Northern Ireland, Israel, and one or two tame Arab satrapies (plus a few involving the modernist-barbarian American prison system) to round out the Torture Memo of August 2002. What goes around, goes around some more, in these marginally ‘classical liberal’ regimes. They borrow ‘securitarian’ ideas from each other, yet magically, we remain ‘free.’ Officially.

    Here we come very close to the Hobbesian core of liberalism, with its prerogative ‘emergency’ powers (doubly endorsed by John Locke), its forcibly imposed ‘markets’ (see Karl Polanyi),and the lot. In any case, we need not award points to liberal imperialist regimes just because they can claim to be ‘liberal’ in some fairly meaningless sense, especially when the liberal tradition is not looking all that wonderful.

    • Sean II

      You’ve missed something. In this game, we HAVE TO award points to one side or another. There is no “pass” option.

      So, are you comfortable awarding your points to Hamas?

      • Joseph R. Stromberg

        “There is no ‘pass’ option.”

        Why not? American leaders took on the task of lecturing, bombing, and managing the world long ago. I’m not sure who asked them to do that, but I’m pretty sure much of the world is sick of it, and in time a good many Americans will be sick of it, too. At some point we might be allowed to debate the fact and the wisdom of having an American empire.

        So ‘passing’ on the next overseas conflagration, however tempting it might be to wade into it, seems like a real option to some of us. Some might even say the dreaded word, ‘non-intervention.’

        “So, are you comfortable awarding your points to Hamas?”

        I don’t recall awarding points to any side in some current battle. I merely noted that the trappings of liberal democracy are not dispositive in such matters. Michael Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy (2005), argues that democratic settler colonies are often very good at ethnic cleansing and such, precisely because that is what the voters want. And even if that is not somehow to the point, I think we have to reserve the right to criticize even states which hold elections (and all that), when they use wildly disproportionate firepower, commit war crimes, engage in ‘total war,’ and
        otherwise behave badly. Since democracies have been known to do such things, their democratic ‘essence’ cannot constitute an ironclad defense; neither can their having (if they do) the proverbial ‘good business climate.’

        A critical perspective on the actual behavior of democratic states bypasses in my view any discussion of the ultimate value of states (‘Anti-State’) and their internal degree of liberty (‘Pro-Liberty’). Such a debate is no concern of mine.

        • Sean II

          The reason why there is no “pass” option has nothing to do with America foreign policy. Even if we stay out of the matter from now on, someone’s going to rule the land of Palestine/Israel, and at present the only contenders are a) Israelis and b) Palestinians.

          It’s not like the whole thing goes away, once we wash our hands of it.

          • Joseph R. Stromberg

            True perhaps. In what way does this put any obligation on Americans?

          • Sean II

            Well, we do have an obligation to come to grips with reality, in this case by recognizing what the options are. That’s true even if we have no need or right to play favorites with our foreign policy.

          • Joseph R. Stromberg

            Some of us think that not having a damned American empire might be an option.

          • Sean II

            You’re not listening, guy. Of course America can stay out of it. I said that before. In fact I’m in favor of it. But I – and you – must recognize that if we do stay out of it, we leave the status quo in place. That’s how this geopolitical game works.

            Israel no longer needs our help to dominate the region, so a vote to do nothing is a vote to leave things precisely as they are.

            I said that much two comments ago.

          • Joseph R. Stromberg

            No. I’m not agreeing. And I’m done.

          • Sean II

            I hold out some hope you might one day reconsider, given time to reflect on what was said here. This debate – and I mean to include all parties in both threads – has been about as lopsided as the balance of military power between Israel and Hamas.

            Basically everyone on your side wound up having to pretend history began in 1947, and they also found themselves in the very strange position of giving Palestinians the full benefit of homesteading property rights theory WITHOUT holding them to account for any other liberal value whatsoever. Meanwhile, they judged Israel according to an exacting standard of libertarian principle that NO actually existing state has ever met. So they end up standing here, defiantly insisting that the PERFECT and the OBVIOUSLY BAD are both superior to the GOOD. Madness.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Steve:

    The distinction you draw between anti-state and pro-liberty is correct and important. I suspect that the fuzzy thinking you have seen on your FB wall is at least in part the unfortunate legacy of Murray Rothbard, exemplified in his 1967 article “War Guilt in the Middle East: http://www.mises.org/journals/lar/pdfs/3_3/3_3_4.pdf. He makes a number of astonishing and erroneous claims there that relate to the issue at hand.

    He observes that while all states are evil, “the trouble is that the libertarian tends to stop there, and evading the responsibility of knowing what is going on in any specific war or international conflict, he tends to leap unjustifiably to the conclusion that, in any war, all states are equally guilty, and then to go about his business without giving the matter a second thought.”

    He goes on: “No: Libertarians must come to realize that parroting ultimate principles is not enough for coping with the real world. Just because all sides share in the ultimate state-guilt does not mean that all sides are equally guilty. On the contrary, in virtually every war, one side is far more guilty than the other, and on one side must be pinned the basic responsibility for aggression, for a drive for conquest, etc. But in order to find out which side to any war is the more guilty, we have to inform ourselves in depth about the history of that conflict, and that takes time and thought – and it also takes the ultimate willingness to become relevant by taking sides through pinning a greater degree of guilt on one side or the other.”

    He then places the entire blame for the 1948 and 1967 wars on Israel. He also makes this remarkable claim:

    Given the conditions of European Jewry in the late 19th and turn of the 20th centuries, all of these movements had a rational groundwork. The one Jewish movement that made no sense was Zionism, a movement which began blended with Jewish Territorialism. But while the Territorialists simply wanted to preserve Jewish-Yiddish identity in a newly developed land of their own, Zionism began to insist on a Jewish land in Palestine alone. The fact that Palestine was not a virgin land, but already occupied by an Arab peasantry, meant nothing to the ideologues of Zionism. Furthermore, the Zionists, far from hoping to preserve ghetto Yiddish culture, wished to bury it and to substitute a new culture and a new language based on an artificial secular expansion of ancient religious Hebrew.

    He says that the Jews should have accpeted the 1903 British offer of territory in Uganda. Right: the land of Israel made no sense at all except for the continuous Jewish presence in Israel for 3000 years, and the fact that an unshakable commitment to that land is a central tenet of Judaism!

    But Rothbard’s view here that Israel and Israel alone had responsibility for the 1948 and 1967 wars could not be allowed to stand in the way of his argument in For A New Liberty [1978] [p. 363] against any moral basis for the state, even for purposes of providing military defense. Those living in liberal democracies should not support their state even in supplying defense against even more horrible types of states, because:

    The theoretical reason why focusing on democracy or dictatorship misses the point is that States—all States—rule their population and decide whether or not to make war. And all States, whether formally a democracy or dictatorship or some other brand of
    rule, are run by a ruling elite. Whether or nor these elites, in any particular
    case, will make war upon another State is a function of a complex interweaving
    web of causes, including temperament of the rulers, the strength of their
    enemies, the inducements for war, public opinion.

    So, back we go to the position he earlier forcefully rejected. All states are equally bad, unless its Israel, because its much worse.

    • Prawn

      Yet Rothbard destroys Horwitz’s primary claim that Rothbardians do not think about the complexiy of empirical issues and merely trod out principle blindedly. Whether Rothbard’s analysis is correct is a separate point.

  • Eran

    Let’s consider those historic facts that are accepted by both sides.

    A population of Palestinian Arabs lived in areas now part of Israel in 1948. The vast majority of them have been peaceful farmers. By libertarian principles, most justly owned the land they and their ancestors have been cultivating for generations through homesteading.

    During the 1948 war, the have left their homes. The exact cause is disputed, but also immaterial.

    After the war has ended, they were prohibited by the State of Israel from regaining access to their land.

    With that, Israel has dispossessed them of their just property. Libertarian justice dictates that their land (or acceptable compensation) must be awarded to them.

    This situation is not comparable to that of dispossessed Native Americans or Australians because the identity of the dispossessed refugees is known, and their title to specific plots of land can be documented.

    It is comparable to population transfers following WW II, the partition of India and perhaps also that of Jews forced to leave Arab lands following the 1948 war.

    However, two wrongs don’t make a right, and blame and justice must be ascertained at the individual, rather than the group level. Thus the dispossession of Moroccan Jews cannot “offset” that of Palestinian Arabs.

    It is Israel’s duty to restore the lands to the refugees to which they belonged, or offer an acceptable compensation. Further, the Palestinians have a right to use proportionate force to restore their property, though obviously not against innocents.

    This analysis, based, as I said, on undisputed facts, casts a clear blame on the State of Israel vis-a-vi its treatment of the refugee problem.

    The solution, fortunately, need not involve replacing Israel with an Arab state. Past negotiations have demonstrated that a peaceful solution can be found that would allow Israel, with its many achievements, both moral and material, to continue to exist. Presenting opposition to Israel’s policies as being akin to calling for its destruction is wrong.

    • Sean II

      That was sober, logical, tidy, and completely detached from reality. Critics of libertarianism often mock it as a deductive parlor game which sucks the life out of real life. A friend of mine is fond of saying that we are smart people made stupid by our love of cute little syllogisms.

      I’m sorry to say this, and I intend no personal offense by it, but if someone presented your comment as evidence of that view, I would be forced to make an awkward tactical concession.

      The part where you pull the “hankie switch” (as con artists call it), and swap out the currency of fact with a bullshit wad of paper is when you say “past negotiations have demonstrated that a peaceful solution can be found”. Oh, have they indeed? When? How? Which negotiations? And to whose satisfaction, other than yours, has such a thing been demonstrated? Certainly not to the parties who would actually have to meet in those negotiations!

      But that’s not your biggest mistake. As I said elsewhere and will not say again at length here, your comment is premised on the false assumption that Hamas, the PLO, the PFLP, and Islamic Jihad are engaged in a suit to recover stolen land. At this point in history, we have no reason to believe that is true. We have every reason to reject the claim that a desire for land and statehood makes up the substance of this dispute. (See my other comments in this thread, to understand why I say this.)

      As a final point, I’m curious: what part of Rothbardian homesteading theory allows me to randomly kill little kids born 60 years after the taking of my property?

      • http://www.facebook.com/les.nearhood Les Kyle Nearhood

        Bravo, well said.

      • j_m_h

        You seem to ignore the basic point. There is a clear record of legitimate ownership. Why are you not advocating the return of the property to the rightful owner?

        I would think whatever follows after that is not your concern unless you have to move of at least make the payment for fair compensation.

        • Sean II

          Do you have any idea how many people have been deprived of legitimate ownership just since 1914? If we made even a modest effort to treat them consistently and make them whole, we’d turn the entire world upside down. (By the way, most of those people never resorted to violence, and of those who did, almost none still do.)

          The burden is on you and Glaser and Richman et. al., to show why we should treat Palestiniain revanchism as a special case, when we basically told every other group on earth to get over it and move on.

          • j_m_h

            Seems to me that there is a zero cost to saying or recognizing the legitimate claims. Enforcing the transfer would be costly. You appear to be saying that the general principles of ownership are only worth promoting when it is a convenient alternative.

            I don’t see where this “Palestiniain revanchism” [sic.] is a special case. If the stated claim of traceable title is true (you didn’t seem to dispute that) and the legitimate owners were forcibly displaced then I don’t see how the libertarian position can be anything other than to recognize the Palestinian as the property owner.

            Reassigning the title should be low cost as the assumption is that one already exists that can be presented. If Israel is to be held up as some libertarian example for the ME then that is what it should be doing. Apparently that’s not the case so Steve’s efforts to paint Israel in a more positive light seems pointless.

      • Eran

        I was thinking about the Taba negotiations in the last days of the Barak government. Reports suggest that the sides were close to an agreement, specifically, on the question of refugees. Obviously no agreement has actually been achieved, and one would expect such negotiations to be protracted. Still, the quality of the negotiations (together with the previous ones in Camp David) lend support to my assessment.

        My comment, is not premised on any assumption regarding Hamas, Fatah or the PLO. I have very low opinion on all of those organisations, even lower than the opinion I have on the Government of Israel.

        Rather, I am trying to ascertain the fundamental libertarian perspective on the underlying claims.

        In my opinion, Israel can and should adopt the following position:

        “In principle, Palestinians should be allowed to return to their lands. However, the demographic implications of a mass return would be unacceptable. Consequently, we would like to work with Palestinian representatives on a compromise solution that would allow some refugees to return to their homes and other to resettle in new or existing communities in Israel. The majority of refugees wouldn’t be able to return to Israel, but could settle within the area of the Palestinian state and/or accept monetary compensation for their loss”.

        • Sean II

          You will understand, I hope, why some people might look at the history of Palestinian – Israeli negotiations and conclude they are anything but promising.

          The pattern of repeated failure strongly suggests bad faith in one or both parties. The parsimonious explanation would seem to be that one of both sides is thinking “we have to negotiate because world opinion and our allies demand it, but we must not reach a settlement until or unless we get X (some condition known to be intolerable to the other side).”

      • Alien Cyborg Fetus

        Sorry Im sure youve probably all moved on from this thread but it’s my first time here.

        @SeanII:disqus “”past negotiations have demonstrated that a peaceful solution can be found”. Oh, have they indeed? When? How? Which negotiations? And to whose satisfaction, other than yours, has such a thing been demonstrated? Certainly not to the parties who would actually have to meet in those negotiations!”

        Actually I think you are under a false assumption, but not really through any fault of your own. Many of these comments seem to be under the belief that Arabs and Jews cannot and have not ever coexisted before. The second largest (and oldest) Jewish community has been and still is in Tehran, Jews and Arabs didn’t have a problem before the founding of Zionism in 1890.

        Iranian Jews have equal rights and are protected under the Iranian constitution. Yes Zionism has caused them problems due to the fact Israel lobbies to bomb them daily and assassinates scientists in Iran, but for the most part they live peacefully and have representation in Iranian parliament.

        http://youtu.be/ufLAitMq3zI perhaps this will help with some context for some of you. This documentary was made by a Jewish man who opposes the Zionist highjacking of his heritage.

    • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

      I can’t believe that I have the opportunity here to actually be more diplomatic than Sean II, but he is basically right. You proceed in you analysis without any reference to the actual historical record, especially when you say “Past negotiations have demonstrated that a peaceful solution can be found that would allow Israel, with its many achievements, both moral and material, to continue to exist. Presenting opposition to Israel’s policies as being akin to calling for its destruction is wrong.”

      This statement evidences absolutely no awareness of the record of past (failed) negotiations between the two sides, the most recent example of which was the Camp David Summit of 2000, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_Camp_David_Summit, which occurred when Arafat still lived. These negotiations, held under the auspices of President Clinton, and actually conducted by Ambassador Dennis Ross, broke down over the right of return, because Israel and the U.S. were willing to pay substantial compensation to the Palestinians for their property losses. But allowing 5 million Palistinians to actually live and vote in Israel would mean the end of that state as a Jewish refuge, and as a liberal democracy with some regard for the rule of law. The public statements of Clinton and Ross make it absolutely clear that this is exactly what happened.

    • Kevin

      (1) How much of the land was owned by palestinians vs. leased from foreign land owners or the British Mandate?

      (2) Why is the exact cause of leaving their homes immaterial? Abandoned property is different from stolen property, and like it or not, sometimes land needs to be defended against foreign invaders (in this case Arab states). What is the libertarian perspective on being unwilling to defend your country but wanting the land back that others defended?

      (3) “acceptable compensation” would be perfect if the palestinians would accept it. They refuse. That is the crux of the problem. In fact, I suspect that the subsidies palestinians have received have already recompensed them beyond the value of their land.

      (4) You say that “blame and justice must be ascertained at the individual, rather than the group level”, but how many of the wronged individuals are still alive? In other wars, refugees die out, but with palestinians, all their descendants are considered refugees by UNRWA.

  • Sean II

    Here’s a quick quiz for anyone still playing: “Please rank the causes of Palestinian misery in the year 2012, from the most harmful to the least.” Here’s my list:

    1) Anti-humanism (i.e., taking religion seriously)
    2) Economic ignorance (same as many other places)
    3) Misogyny (they’re not even trying to get better)
    4) Obsession with honor/revenge (killed more people than bacteria in history)
    5) Shortage of real estate

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  • Sergio Méndez

    “But we do the cause of liberty no good whatsoever when all we as libertarians do is talk about the evils of the Israeli aggressor against the innocent Palestinians and conclude that the solution is one that does not include Israel.”

    Depends WHICH palestinians. The clowns in goverment, Hamas? Sure. But then, the rulling party, the OLP, recognized Israel right to exist and the 2 solution state since 1987, if my memory does not fail me. On the other side, one thing is rthe rethoric and the other the actions. Israel has pretended to recgnize the possibility of a palestinian state, but at the same time has increased all anti libertarian controls over its population (walls, checkpoints, economic estagnation, destruction of palestinian houses with bulldozers etc…), and increased the presence of its settlers inside palestinian territory. So how is that you condem palstinian goverment for not wanting to recognize israel but you fail to do the same when israel goverment, in practize, does exactly the same with palestinians?

  • Jose Benegas

    Sovereignty is not property. As I do not believe in the state, I do not believe sovereignty. No individual right is violated when sovereignty is violated, only the alleged rights of the state, in which I do not believe. Therefore, the only thing that interests me is who launches missiles against civilians and who are forced to answer. Nobody has to sacrifice his life for that of another, so if my attacker uses human shields, with all precautions and make every effort, when I have no alternative I can shoot.

    • Yossi

      You can always shoot, but if you hit a by-stander their right for compensation is not at all diminished due to your situation. That is, if they were not actively abating the aggressors. In AnCap terms, if they had a “protection agency insurance policy” it will probably be valid and they will pursue it.

      So you can shoot, but it will have consequences, consequences which you cannot decry as immoral. In Israel’s case, this means that the steady-state which your advocated policy will bring about will be perpetual war, up to the annihilation of one of the sides. Since the Arabs are not going anywhere, guess what it means for Israel…

  • http://www.facebook.com/astrekal Alex Strekal

    More bleeding heart fascism

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  • good_in_theory

    What an actually (left) libertarian stance on political Zionism might look like:

    “Even before the establishment of the Bund, a Yiddish article printed in Russia in 1887 wrote that those who think that “once the Jews have their own country they will be able freely to develop social ideas and cooperate with other peoples” forget that “the origin of nations is betrayal, robbery and murder”. ”

    http://972mag.com/remember-the-jewish-labor-bund/60337/

  • Yossi

    Asa former Israeli (former exactly because I didn’t want to live and raise a family in the ethically muddled landscape that the Zionist enterprise and Muslim collectivist rule both entail) I’ll note the agility with which pro-Israel commentators here rush to abandon libertarian reasoning and instead start talking in collectivists terms. This is truly sickening.

    There are no “Israelis” nor “Palestinians”, these are all individual identity erasing labels that are forced on people living in the statist world of today. Those who are advocating the dichotomy of choice between an “Israeli” state and a “Palestinian” state fail to recognize the option where all the inhabitants of that geography could be called either “Israelis” or “Palestinians” or “Cnaanites” or whatever. What label is forced on people is not at all the question. The question is whether one group systematically will disenfranchise other groups. We already see that there is a core of hard-line Zionists in Israel who are actively pursuing this goal (while the majority of the Jews just want to live their lives peacefully). There are good reasons to believe some Arabs, had they been in power, wouldn’t be much better, or will be worse towards other groups (e.g., women).

    That is all plausible, but as libertarians, we should not succumb to the temptation to generalize and predict the future behavior of groups as I just did. I think a libertarian in Israel+Palestine has exactly three options:

    1. Abandon the libertarian creed
    2. Leave, get yourself out of the muddle
    3. Stop aggression against members of a collective and instead let peaceful members recover and enforce their property rights and their right to life, liberty and the pursue of happiness. Force should only be using against specific aggressors. This criterion should be applied in a “blind” manner and if that is not deemed practical then one of the first two options should be employed. Indeed, this is a trying test case for libertarians.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.duarte.b Daniel Duarte

    Just a relevant quote I found, in hope that the critique of current oversimplification isn’t to be mistaken as something Rothbard endorsed:

    “No: Libertarians must come to realize that parroting ultimate principles is
    not enough for coping with the real world. Just because all sides share in
    the ultimate state-guilt does not mean that all sides are equally guilty. On
    the contrary, in virtually every war, one side is far more guilty than the
    other, and on one side must be pinned the basic responsibility for aggression,
    for a drive for conquest, etc. But in order to find out which side to any war
    is the more guilty, we have to inform ourselves in depth about the history
    of that conflict, and that takes time and thought – and it also takes
    the ultimate willingness to become relevant by taking sides through pinning
    a greater degree of guilt on one side or the other.” –Murray Rothbard, http://original.antiwar.com/rothbard/2010/03/02/war-guilt-in-the-middle-east/

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  • Oliver Wendel Douglas

    Question-at what point in history did it happen that when one country/side/party wins a war, it assumes some obligation to return that which it won or conquered? You know, the “spoils of war”. One side won, they keep what they won. And if we want to acknowledge that the rules have changed and land gets returned to the loser, can we start talking about Northern Cyprus? As for the “refugee problem” it is a very handy tool for the Arab countries to use in their anti-Israel efforts. Finally, there is a state to which the Palestinians have a right. It is called Jordan. The so-called Hashemite “Royal” family is the group ousted from Saudi Arabia by the Saudi “royal” family early last century.

    • good_in_theory

      Probably at the the time in history when wars of conquest came to be regarded as illegitimate and indefensible on any grounds, consequent of a general belief in the principle of popular self-determination.

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  • Benjamin Ahdoot

    “Let me be blunt: there is one and only one state in the region that rests on broadly classical liberal values and that is Israel.”…..lol
    “There is no terrible regime – Columbia, Guatemala, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile during the time of the colonels, Burma, Taiwan, Zaire, Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone – there is not one that does not have a major military connection to Israel. Israeli arms dealers are there [acting as] mercenaries – the guy behind Noriega was Michael Harari, an Israeli, who got out of Panama. Israeli mercenaries in Sierra Leone go around the UN boycotts of what are called blood diamonds, same in Angola. Israel was very involved in South Africa, of course, during the apartheid regime.”
    (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

    “Israel has also become the main subcontractor of American arms. Just last year, Israel signed a contract to train and equip the Chinese army. It signed another multi-billion dollar contract to train and equip the Indian army. What is it equipping them with? It is equipping them with American weapons.”
    (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

    “When AIPAC sells Israel to Congress, it doesn’t go to Congressmen and ask them to support Israel because it is Judeo-Christian, or because it is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East,’ which it also does. It sells it on this basis: ‘You are a member of Congress and it is your responsibility to support Israel, because this is how many industries in your state have business links to Israel, this is how many military research people are sitting in universities in your district, this is how many jobs in your district are dependent on the military and the defence industry,’ and they translate it down to the extent to which your district is dependent on Israel. Therefore, if you are voting against Israel, you are voting against the goose that lays the golden egg. In most of the districts in the United States, members of Congress have a great dependence on the military. More than half of industrial employment in California is in one way or another connected to defence. Israel is right there, right in the middle of it all. And that is part of its strength.”
    (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

    “Israel is very important, because on the one hand it is a very sophisticated, high-tech, arms developer and dealer. But on the other hand, there are no ethical or moral constraints: there is no Congress, there are no human rights concerns, there are no laws against taking bribes – the Israeli government can do anything it wants to. So you have very sophisticated rogue state – not a Libyan rogue state, but a high tech, military-expert rogue state. Now that is tremendously useful, both for Europe and for the United States. For example, there are American Congressional constraints on selling arms to China because of China’s human rights problems. So what Israel does is it tinkers with American arms just enough that they can be considered Israeli arms, and in that way bypasses Congress.”
    (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)

    “I don’t think we can dismantle the matrix of control. I think it has gone too far, and that the occupation is permanent. We are in a state of apartheid. But not everybody agrees with me – Uri Avnery doesn’t agree with me, the people who are in favour of a two-state solution still think that we can end the occupation, or that we can roll it back enough that a Palestinian state will emerge. But the danger in being for a Palestinian state is that if you don’t understand the control dimensions, then you are actually agitating for a Bantustan. I mean, Sharon also wants a Palestinian state; he wants a state that is completely controlled by Israel. So if you only look at territory and you don’t look at the issue of control, you end up advocating a Bantustan.”
    (Jeff Halper, 20 September 2003)
    http://icahdusa.org/about/jeff-halper/

    • Benjamin Ahdoot

      “[T]here is no single fixed method for murder and not even for genocide. The author Y. L. Peretz wrote about “the righteous cat” who does not spill blood, but only suffocates. The government of Israel, using the military and its instruments of destruction, is not only spilling blood, but it is also suffocating. … Of course with our self-righteousness, with our self-adoration in our “Jewish ethics” we make sure to advertise how beautifully the doctors take care of Palestinian victims in the hospitals. We do not advertise how many of those are executed in cold blood in their own homes. So it’s not yet genocide of the terrible and unique style of which we were past victims. And as one of the smart Generals told me, we do not have crematoria and gas chambers. Is anything less than that consistent with Jewish ethics? Did he ever hear how an entire people said that it did not know what was done in its name?”
      (Shulamit Aloni, March 2003)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shulamit_Aloni

  • Mark Rothschild

    Does Thomas Friedman ghostwrite for Steve Horwitz? The
    similarity of moral equivocation is breathtaking.

    The problem with this essay is that it has buried important
    issues of non-intervention in an avalanche of irrelevant moralizing. The ethical
    issue for Americans is not which side we think is less “bad” or more
    Western/liberal or whatever.

    The US government has no right to pick winners and losers –
    anywhere.

    This is a consistent libertarian position.

    As a declining power the US now seeks to create chaos where it cannot control events. Syria and Ukraine are illustrative of this repulsive aspect of US foreign policy.

    US intervention in the Israel Palestinian struggle is in conflict with libertarian principles and abets what has become a criminal enterprise, the chaos making machine called US foreign policy.

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