The Libertarian Case for Israel, by Alan Futerman, Rafi Farber, and Walter Block.
As a follow-up to my review of Alison Weir’s book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, I would like to examine this essay regarding the libertarian case for Israel.
After noting the anti-Israel sentiment in the Arab world, the authors comment:
What is much more vexing is that a similar attitude is pervasive among the libertarian community (and, even, shonda, amongst, happily, a very small percentage of Jews) where Israel is often picked out as a particularly pernicious state relative to almost all others.
I had to look it up: Shonda: shame, disgrace. It is interesting – one might consider such descriptors from a nationalist or religious viewpoint, like “what a disgrace that some Jews hold an anti-Israel position”; but why would this be true from a libertarian standpoint? Just because a libertarian happens to be Jewish, does that preclude him from looking negatively on the creation and / or existence of the state of Israel?
The authors note that, of course, libertarians are against all states – but why do some libertarians hold a special hatred of the Israeli state? It is “troubling” to the authors that this is so. They point to an essay by Rothbard as perhaps being the root of this libertarian hatred, with Rothbard pointing to the Six-Day war.
Going far beyond blaming Israel for the Six Day War though, Rothbard insists that the entire State of Israel is illegitimate… What is peculiar about Rothbard’s article is that he finds the State of Israel “uniquely pernicious” in that it was supposedly founded on massive land theft and expropriation from Arabs.
Well, it wasn’t “supposedly” founded in such a manner – it was specifically founded in such a manner. In this massive land theft there is nothing necessarily unique about Israel, the authors point out (although few examples are both as recent and as egregious and continue to drive war even to the present day); they neglect to point out the terrorism that was also present in the founding.
Our thesis…is that Rothbard did not go far back enough in time in analyzing legitimate land claims….
Yes; the Six Day War isn’t the issue. The year 1948 is the issue.
Much of the land currently under dispute was homesteaded by Jews before the territory was even called “Palestine,” when it was in fact called “Judea”.
What? The authors look back to the time of Christ (they do not refer to the time as this; they refer to it as Roman times), and offer that somewhere up to 3 million Jews populated the land today known as Israel.
These Jews were unjustly murdered or expelled from their lands and sold into slavery after rebelling against the Roman Empire. Since there can be no man-made statute of limitations in libertarianism…
This is going to be interesting…
…if modern day Jews can prove descent from the original Jewish homesteaders, which we demonstrate they can both culturally and genetically…
The authors do not demonstrate this 2000 year descent in this article, but I believe I am citing only from a summary; I cannot find another, more detailed examination by these authors online.
In any case, I will not take this point seriously. Culturally? What on earth does this mean? Westerners share certain cultural characteristics with ancient Greeks. What does this prove about land claims?
Genetically? I am quite certain that virtually everyone of Mediterranean ancestry (including the Palestinian Arabs) has traces of Jewish genes going back to the time of Christ; throw in the expanse of the Ottoman Empire in more recent years and you pretty much cover all of Southern Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Do they all have claim to this land?
This is nonsense; correction, this is nonsense on stilts. To lay claim, an individual must demonstrate prior ownership by an ancestor – a specific ancestor; ownership of property that was stolen. Can you imagine the chaos if culture or genes over thousands of years is sufficient to establish a claim?
…then all land with prodigious evidence of previous Jewish homesteading…
“Prodigious evidence” from 2000 years ago? Evidence that connects specific individuals to specific land claims?
…dated to the time of the fall of Judea, should return to the descendants of the original homesteaders.
“Original homesteaders”? Why stop at the fall of Judea? Did Joshua lead the Jews into unoccupied land? This site identifies 12 battles of Joshua, eleven of which were instigated by the Israelites. I guess we could go back even further, but you get the point; the point is that the argument presented by the authors is pointless – it is never-ending.
These are modern day Jews, who by and large have never relinquished their claims to their ancient homeland.
I have written enough about this “2000 year” baloney.
Israel never actively expelled Arabs from their homes in the aftermath of the Six Day War, and only allows building of Jewish settlements on vacant, unhomesteaded land.
I have no idea if this is true, but it is irrelevant for my purposes; I only include it here because I expect a few readers will provide a few links to the contrary. The issue isn’t the Six Day War; the issue dates to the founding of the State of Israel.
In tackling Rothbard’s claims of mass expulsion of Arabs during the 1948 War of Independence, we concede that this did indeed happen in certain isolated cases.
There were 750,000 refugees. This is “isolated”?
But the point is, did they have a right to these areas in the first place?
Arabs lived in the land continuously for thousands of years; multiple generations can be specifically traced and identified.
In fact, the population that was ethnically cleansed were the Jews of Arab countries (about 850,000), who were expelled and expropriated after the creation of the State of Israel.
As they say, payback is a bitch. Those Arab countries probably had to make room for all of the Palestinian refugees that they took on; and the Zionists of Israel no doubt cooperated fully in the Jewish expulsion from Arab lands – as they had regarding Jews throughout Europe.
Finally, regarding the legitimacy of Israel as a state, even according to Israel’s most vociferous critics of which Rothbard was one, 7% of pre-1948 Palestine was purchased legitimately by Jews.
As noted in the title, Israel is 7% legitimate.
Every single person on earth, if the ancestry is traced back far enough (and 2000 years is more than far enough – a few hundred years is probably far enough), has a history of both victim and perpetrator. What are we supposed to do with that? The authors have made a libertarian case for a war of all against all.
Let’s deal in reality: there are between 30,000 and 50,000 Palestinian refugees from 1948 still alive today who have a direct claim to property in Israel, property that was stolen from them. There are almost 5 million registered direct descendants of the 750,000 refugee property owners alive today.
If one is to speak of a legitimate claim on stolen property, one can only deal in such specific terms – specific individuals (including specific descendants) with specific claims; to do anything else invites chaos.
There is nothing “libertarian” about the case made in this essay for Israel.