-Sound off Soapbox-Is Applying Libertarian Principles to Israel Anti-Semitic?
Or -- Challenging Libertarians to Save America from Middle East Wars
by Carol Moore
Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests. George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address
Since the United States invasion of Iraq in March, 2003 there seem to be mounting accusations of anti-Semitism by self-described libertarians, Jewish and gentile, towards libertarians throughout the movement who have criticized the state of Israel or its partisans. Included for particular criticism are those who speak up for the property and human rights of the Palestinians.
These accusations are made despite critiques made on libertarian grounds of opposition to force and fraud and support for individual life, liberty and property. They are made even if the person is an infrequent critic. And they are made with the clear intimation that repeat offenders should be shunned by the libertarian movement and all polite society. The implication is that applying libertarian principles to Israel is anti-Semitic, an implication that a small minority of vocal libertarians, and a great majority of less vocal ones, deny.
Bigotry is defined as smears and abuse against any group of people, including because of the characteristics, failings or misdeeds of a minority of them. Of course, liberal politicians and media have accused libertarians of being “government haters” because of our disdain for those who profit off state force and fraud. And perhaps some Israel supporters fear libertarians someday will focus their disdain on the state of Israel, becoming "Israel haters." However, any such fear would not justify persistent preemptive strikes that harm the whole libertarian movement.
In this article I first list relevant libertarian principles, ones which are hardly inherently bigoted or anti-Semitic. I follow with a short overview of general libertarian criticisms of Israel. I continue with a brief history of the "Israel" issue in the libertarian movement, as well as a review of how the issue has come to the fore since the March 2003 United States attack on Iraq. I then analyze the late summer 2003 Ilana Mercer attacks on libertarians in WorldNetDaily.com and follow with a brief review of such attacks on rank and file libertarians. Finally I discuss what libertarians should do about these unjust attacks – and challenge them to consider making United States military withdrawal from the Middle East a high movement priority.
This listing of relevant libertarian principles seems innocuous enough. And it should be noted they apply equally to all peoples, including Arab Palestinians and Jewish Zionists.
1) Individualism not collectivism Libertarians believe only individuals have rights. We do not recognize the right of religious, ethnic, racial or ideological groups, governments or groups of governments to use either private or state violence to enforce some collectivist vision on the life, liberty or property of others. We do not accept collectivist rationales like “God’s will”, racial, ethnic or religious superiority, collective historical rights, manifest destiny, colonial prerogative, United Nations sanction or benevolent world hegemony. And we do not defend the sinister machinations of nation states, especially when their claims of “self-defense” are plainly bogus.
2) Property rights should be inviolate As the Libertarian Party’s platform correctly states, libertarians “oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.” Property rights are created when individuals or voluntary associations either trade for land or homestead unused or voluntarily abandoned land (as opposed to land whose owners have been driven off in recent times by war, massacres or empty promises). Libertarians support everyone's right of return to unjustly confiscated land. And they have little sympathy for individuals or governments who use force and fraud to confiscate property and then claim the right to defend their stolen loot. (It should be noted this last point is also the position of the international community, as expressed in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as applied over the years to the former Yugoslav republics, Guatemala, South Africa, Kuwait and dispossessed European Jews.)
3) Might does not make right Libertarians oppose the notion that a group of people (criminal or terrorist gang, “liberation army” or government) which has the military ability to kill people and drive them off their land, has the moral right to do so. While individuals have the right to defend their justly acquired land and the nation to which it belongs, governments do not have the right to confiscate private property of others as “spoils of war” or for alleged “self-defense.”
4) Military Non-interventionism and No Entangling Alliances The United States government should pursue good relations and free trade with all nations and military alliances with none, refusing to use American lives and wealth for the benefit of foreign allies. It should not attack and occupy foreign nations on bogus evidence of imminent attack on America. It should not succumb to political or military black mail, including nuclear, or bullying from any alleged ally.
5) Political self-determination and secession Libertarians believe everyone, no matter their religion, ethnicity, ideology, etc., has the right to secede from any political union or colonial or occupied territory on their justly acquired land and to self-govern themselves on it.
6) Support for Due Process and Opposition to Collective Punishment Libertarians support the due process provisions of criminal law, as well as the consistent and impartial enforcement of laws that protect individual rights. We support restitution for the victim at the expense of the criminal or wrongdoer, even if that wrongdoer is a government. There may be some debate as to whether innocent taxpayers should be forced collectively to pay restitution for the crimes of their own governments, with many preferring to first sell off government assets. But libertarians agree that people who bear no responsibility for a crime, be it done by governments of other nations, or by members of a family without the consent of the family, should not be denied due process or collectively punished.
7) Freedom of Speech Libertarians defend the rights of individuals to unrestricted freedom of speech, freedom of the press and to dissent from government itself. This means the right to criticize any state anywhere in the world; the right to criticize any special interest or foreign interest influencing government policy - or the libertarian movement; and the right to focus on any issue of interest to the individual, be it, for example, decriminalizing paid sadomasochism, high quality heroin or weapon silencers, without automatically being accused of intending to commit crimes. Similarly libertarians defend one's right to focus on supporting the rights to property and self-determination of any of the hundreds of separatist groups on the planet, including those in the United States, without automatically being accused of supporting bigotry or terrorism.
8) The Right to Rebel Against Oppressors Libertarians abhor state or rebel violence against innocent civilians, defining that as terrorism. However, they defend the right of individuals and groups to violently rebel against the soldiers and police who enforce the laws of repressive governments, including those of occupying foreign powers. (And let me say here, as I always do, that I wish libertarians would emphasize that such violence should be a last resort, only when all other methods of nonviolent protest, civil disobedience and noncooperation had been rendered impossible, and only in self-defense.) They also support the rights of Americans to supply aid to those rebels. While libertarians may support the right of Americans to also support foreign governments, they do so only to the extent that those governments are not depriving individuals of life, liberty and property. Can anyone who morally or materially supports the oppressive efforts of a foreign government be called a libertarian?
After the September 11 attacks some pro-interventionist libertarians, including strong supporters of Israel, declared “everything has changed!” -- something they had not declared when extremists botched what they intended to be a similarly devastating terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. What had changed? It was that neoconservative imperialists now surrounded the United States president, George Bush. They were eager and able to pursue American world dominance with a ruthlessness never before seen, using the specter of “Islamofacists who want to take our freedom" as their bogey man. And far too many self-styled libertarians fell for it. But more about that later.
Libertarian Criticisms of Israel
Anyone who has bypassed official Israeli state propaganda and read a history of Israel from libertarian or Jewish critics, from neutral academic sources or even from Palestinian refugee and survivor web sites, quickly understands why just mentioning these principles and Israel in the same article can infuriate staunch Israel supporters. Libertarians who believe even half of Palestinians’ tales of victimization since 1948 through massacres, forced relocation (a.k.a. ethnic cleansing) and systematic deprivations of human rights may become highly critical of Israel and even support some forms of Palestinian resistance. While most would respect Palestinians' decision to settle for less than a truly just settlement, not all will respect libertarians who claim an unjust settlement is a just one.
Other libertarians are disturbed by Israel's history of drawing the United States into its many wars. The United States threatened use of nuclear weapons to prevent Soviet intervention in most of them. Israel has threatened to use its own nuclear weapons to secure U.S. support. And its regional nuclear bullying to help achieve its expansionist territorial aims. Many libertarians remain outraged by the ongoing cover-up of the 1967 U.S.S. Liberty incident, which killed 34 Americans and injured 172. Survivors swear attacking Israelis knew throughout the 90 minute incident that they were bombing and strafing an American ship and its lifeboats. The U.S. and Israeli governments claim it was merely a case of mistaken identity.
Obviously, libertarians oppose American taxpayers' funding of all this, to the tune of $379 billion since 1973. The total includes not just $240 billion in aid to Israel, but $117 billion to Egypt and $22 billion to Jordan in return for their signing peace treaties with Israel, according to Thomas Stauffer, a consulting economist in Washington. Christian Science Monitor reported in December 2002 that he arrived at these numbers by adjusting the official aid to 2001 dollars in purchasing power.
Stauffer also counted up a number of other related costs, including the increased price of oil due to the instability the U.S. alliance with Israel creates, and reached a total figure of Israel’s cost to Americans of about $1.6 trillion – $5,700 per American. Looking at just one year of aid, one critical economist wrote: "Take the Jewish population of Israel (5.24m) -- the primary beneficiaries of the aid, and one obtains a $540 per capita benefit just for 2001 -- four times as much as the touted Tax Cut of 2001 to Americans!" In 2003 Congress raised yearly aid to Israel from more than $3 billion to more than $4 billion, and that's what is on the books. See other statistics at WRMEA.com and US-ISRAEL.org.
Finally, libertarians familiar with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its vast network of wealthy (and often stealthy) political action committees cannot be comfortable with its ability to keep the United States firmly on Israel's side, right or wrong. AIPAC and its allies can defeat any congressional candidate, or harm any presidential candidate, who does not support its agenda. Fortune Magazine's last "Power 25" listing (2001) of the most powerful lobbies lists AIPAC as number four, after the NRA, AARP and National Federation of Independent Business. The unrelentingly pro-Israel propaganda in the media reinforces the Israel Lobby's power.
A Short History of Israel Debates in the Libertarian Movement
When libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard -- “Mr. Libertarian” -- split from Ayn Rand in the 1950s, the issue of Israel probably was not at the top of the differences between the two Jewish intellectuals, but eventually it would have been. Rand was a staunch Israel supporter, though probably not as rabid as her "Objectivist" followers today. Rothbard was an outspoken critic of Israel, authoring pieces like “War Guilt in the Middle East” (1969) where he argued that there are some wars that can be blamed more on one state than another and that the Israelis were to blame for most of the Israeli-Arab wars.
In “Pat Buchanan and the Menace of Anti-Anti-Semitism” (1990) Rothbard railed against “the cruel despotism of Organized Anti-Anti-Semitism,” stating: “Wielding the fearsome brand of ‘Anti-Semite’ as a powerful weapon, the professional Anti-Anti-Semite is able, in this day and age, to wound and destroy anyone he disagrees with by implanting this label indelibly in the public mind. How can one argue against this claim, always made with hysteria and insufferable self-righteousness? To reply ‘I am not an anti-Semite’ is as feeble and unconvincing as Richard Nixon's famous declaration that ‘I am not a crook.’"
The libertarian movement today remains divided on the issue, with a small but dedicated pro-Israel, and largely objectivist camp, a larger but less vocal Israel-critical camp in the style of Rothbard, and a great middle ground skeptical of Israel but reluctant to express criticism. Part of the reason Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, Eric Garris and Justin Raimondo left Libertarian Party activism after the 1989 Libertarian Party national convention in Philadelphia was frustration with party leader and members' disinterest in actively promoting a non-interventionist foreign policy agenda. (See Lew Rockwell's "Rothbard Vindicated." Note that I myself voted against the Rothbard faction national committee chair candidate that year because of "lifestyle" issues which obscured the foreign policy ones.) Over the years the issue of support for Israel has cropped up during Israel’s various wars, or when small factions attempted to promote a pro-Israel platform change or resolution at the national level -- or when someone loudly denying the Nazi “Holocaust” against Jews declared themselves a libertarian, as David Duke, for example, did in the 1990s.
There are a few hard core anti-Semites who identify themselves as libertarian. However, their collectivist notions that all Jews are part of vast Jewish conspiracies reaching deep into every facet of society only illustrates that they are not libertarians. Whenever I run into these individuals I protest their bigotry. However, those of us who criticize the real machinations of Israel and its most dedicated supporters in influencing United States foreign policy and in stifling dissent against it should not be confused with obviously paranoid and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.
In mid-2001 the issue of Israel raised its head again when rumors circulated that Jewish Defense League (“JDL”) leader Irv Rubin was considering running as a libertarian congressional or gubernatorial candidate in California. Some libertarians raised a row for two reasons. First, while Rubin did favor ending aid to Israel, he did so because he believed the strings attached to the aid prevented Israel from driving millions more Arabs out of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and confiscating their property. Second, Antiwar.com's Eric Garris and Justin Raimondo both detailed the various acts of alleged and actual bombings and terrorism by Jewish Defense League members against Soviet government targets and Arab civilians.
Such acts include not only Boruch Goldstein’s 1994 gunning down of 29 Arab worshipers in Israel but very possibly the 1985 bombing murder of Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee Director Alex Odeh at his office in Southern California. The FBI investigated JDL members for the murder, including Rubin who had publicly claimed Odeh “got what he deserved.” (Amazingly, some Jewish Californian libertarians currently support JDL attempts to get a memorial statue of Odeh, which already has been vandalized, removed from the Santa Ana Central Library.) See details on my Jewish Defense League page, part of my online book “The Return of Street Fighting Man.”
Discussion of Irv Rubin and Middle East conflicts on a libertarian list-serve prompted me to write, and other libertarians to propose, a resolution at the August 2001 Libertarian National Committee (LNC) meeting relevant to what seemed to be the mounting threat of Middle East war. (A few weeks later the September 11th attacks proved how prescient we were!) It stated that the party should re-iterate its position against aid to all Middle East nations and for bringing home all U.S. troops from the Middle East. (This and resolutions mentioned below are available at the Libertarians for Peace web site.)
During LNC debate one dominant member, ironically named Elias Israel, argued that those who supported the resolution were "anti-Jewish." Another member, Ben Scherrey, said he disagreed with the party's non-interventionist platform and that the U.S. had a responsibility to support Israel which he claimed would be "destroyed in three weeks" without the aid. This blatant intimidation helped kill the resolution and angered many libertarians who later heard about it.
Additionally, those who questioned the wisdom of an Irv Rubin candidacy and supported the resolution were denounced by some as anti-Semites for several months – at least until soon after the September 11th attacks, when Rubin and a friend were arrested on charges of terrorism. They were indicted for planning to bomb two Southern California targets: a mosque and Arab-American Congressman Darrell Issa’s office. Few libertarians came to Rubin’s defense and he committed suicide 10 months later in prison, just before the prosecutors were about to reveal in court their audio tape and witness evidence. His alleged co-conspirator pled guilty soon after.
Some pro-Israel libertarians still maintain Irv Rubin was framed and murdered and consider him to be a libertarian hero. A few months after his death one of them started the JewishLibertarians yahoo group which prominently displays Rubin’s photo on its home page. One of its members, Bruce Cohen, is running in 2004 for congress as a libertarian in California, making a top priority a "strong military." His campaign web page's main menu has a link to his "Support Israel" page which states: "it's in America's best interest to support the country of Israel," and "America should privatize foreign aid," but "we should start with countries that deserve it least." (Note that Cohen did say he was going to update the page and clarify points after relevant criticisms.)
Hopefully these libertarians do not join the JDL's 2002 call for the defeat of Representative Ron Paul and others because he voted "no" against the 2002 "support for Israel" resolution. If the JDL had read Paul's November 2002 "Unintended Consequences" article criticizing Israel on Antiwar.com -- plus other of his articles archived at that page -- they really would have singled him out.
In the fall of 2001 LNC member Elias Israel announced his candidacy for Chair. Labeling himself a "hawk," Israel pushed through a controversial October 2001 LNC resolution effectively supporting U.S. troops rooting out and destroying terrorists in other nations, something that goes against the platform's strong preference for first pursuing diplomatic options. Concerned libertarians responded by starting the Libertarians for Peace group. Just one of its objectives was opposition to Elias Israel’s candidacy, as well as those of three other LNC candidates overly supportive of the state of Israel. We circulated questionable pro-intervention quotes from them, and all were defeated or ended their candidacies.
Libertarians Vigorously Opposed the Iraq War
During 2002 and 2003 libertarians lead attacks on the neoconservative agenda of making the United States a dominant and aggressive world power, starting with a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, obviously to be followed by attacks on other Middle East nations. The three most frequently visited libertarian online sites, Antiwar.com, LewRockwell.com and FFF.Org (Future of Freedom Foundation), which collectively receive hundreds of thousands of hits a week, pummeled the neoconservatives and the Bush administration. They linked to articles and editorials accusing them of everything from stupidity to treason. They published leading libertarians like twice Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Harry Browne, Representative Ron Paul, Justin Raimondo, Sheldon Richman, Jacob Hornberger, Alan Bock, Steve Chapman, Ted Galen Carpenter, Richard Ebeling, Walter Block and Jon Basil Utley, as well as conservatives who might not get their opposition pieces published in conservative publications. I do not even try to repeat here all their many arguments against neoconservative neo-imperialism and the invasion of Iraq.
Antiwar.com and LewRockwell.com also repeatedly published libertarian and conservative accusations that neoconservatives tied to Israel’s extremist Likud Party were promoting a war whose major goal was to make the Middle East safe for Israel’s expansionist territorial polices. This would be the fulfillment of neoconservatives’ 1996 report written for then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu titled “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” Published by Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies (Israeleconomy.org) and signed on to by now influential Bush administration officials Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser, the report boldly stated: "Our claim to the land -- to which we have clung for 2,000 years -- is legitimate and noble." It recommended using Cold War-like propaganda to lure Americans into supporting Israeli ambitions. Israeli Prime Minister Sharon adopted the “Clean Break” vision. So did 30 million "Christian Zionists" who support the expansion of Israel for their own religious purposes. (See numerous articles about the Armageddon Lobby.)
Once neoconservatives took power in the White House, Pentagon and State Department under President George Bush, Sharon made sure that President Bush "got with the program." He visited “born again” Christian President George Bush seven times in two years, becoming the most frequently visiting foreign leader.
Even usually conservative libertarians like the Cato Institute's Ed Crane and William Niskanen went after neoconservatives. They wrote in a July, 2003 article titled Upholding Liberty in America: "Some in the neoconservative movement have openly called for an American empire around the globe. Max Boot, the writer, recently praised what he termed America's 'imperialism' and said it should impose its views 'at gunpoint'. James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has called for a decades-long campaign to re-order the entire Middle East along neoconservative lines. Such thinking is profoundly un-American."
Paul Craig Roberts forecasted on the December 31, 2002 “predictions” page of LewRockwell.com: “In 2003 the story will be confirmed that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a secret Israeli plan designed to involve the U.S. long-term in the Arab-Israeli conflict, cynically sold to the Bush White House by neoconservatives as a reelection strategy.” At this point it is being confirmed only on the pages of libertarian, conservative and left-wing and pro-Palestinian web sites.
The most vehement and unceasing libertarian critic of Israel, of course, is Antiwar.com’s editorial director and columnist Justin Raimondo, a long-time Murray Rothbard ally and author of his biography An Enemy of the State. Raimondo's newest book The Terror Enigma: Israel and the 911 Connection
Typical columns during the run up to the U.S. attack on Iraq included: “This War is Treason” that claims neoconservatives waged it for Israel; “What’s it all about, Ari?” that claims Ariel Sharon’s Mossad intelligence agency forged the Niger yellow cake documents; “Whose Road Map” that paints George Bush as a puppet of right wing Likud Party operatives; and countless columns that expose dozens of neoconservative bigwigs by name and labels them dupes of the Israeli government, or worse. As a historian of the right, Raimondo knows just who is in bed with whom.
The Jewish Defense League started “Raimondo Watch” to respond to all his articles criticizing Israel, but gave up after half a dozen. However, Antiwar.com's Managing Editor, Eric Garris, reminds those who lambast the site for Justin's "anti-Semitism" that he himself is Jewish. In fact, every day Antiwar.com posts four to seven articles critical of Israel, many of them from Israeli and other Jewish publications.
Despite Raimondo’s alleged anti-Semitism, USA Today printed a March 2003 Raimondo column "War is Not in U.S. Interest" which, Raimondo later wrote, “pointed out that the war is not in America's national interest – and that Israel is the one and only beneficiary of this war.” This prompted a protest letter to the USA Today editor from Anti-Defamation League chair Abe Foxman. Nevertheless, Raimondo continues his onslaught against “dual loyalists,” “Israel firsters” and neoconservative "traitors” to this day.
Twice independent presidential candidate, conservative Pat Buchanan – known for his frequent joking about “Israel’s Amen Chorus” -- has managed to survive charges of anti-Semitism and remain a successful columnist, publisher and television news personality. At the height of the March 2003 bombing of Iraq, Buchanan wrote a widely quoted article in “The American Conservative.” “Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our neoconservative friends are doing what comes naturally,” i.e., yelling “anti-Semitism." He continues: "For this venerable slander is designed to nullify public discourse by smearing and intimidating foes and censoring and blacklisting them and any who would publish them. Neocons say we attack them because they are Jewish. We do not. We attack them because their warmongering threatens our country...”
The Ilana Mercer Attacks
In August of 2003 WorldNetDaily.Com published a column by self-described libertarian and "ex-Israeli" Ilana Mercer who currently is living in the United States. Titled "Libertarians who loathe Israel" the article rails against “libertarians who religiously and robotically depict Israel as the devil incarnate.” The problem, of course, is that Justin Raimondo is one of the few libertarians who do anything like that – and she describes him as “the gifted libertarian writer” and only chides him for some of his least rancorous statements. Nevertheless, Raimondo hit right back in his column, writing: “It isn't Israel we loathe, it's Israel's American amen corner, typified by La Mercer.”
Mercer saves her real ire for two libertarians whose academic articles in libertarian publications undermine Israel’s claim to most of its land, the inevitable outcome of applying libertarian principles to Israel. She criticizes Stephen P. Halbrook whose “libertarian prescription” is to turn “Israel into a multicultural potage with a Right of Return for any self-styled, United Nations Relief and Works Agency-sponsored ‘Palestinian’ agitator.” Of course, what she ridicules is Halbrook’s 1981 legal article in The Journal of Libertarian Studies, “The Alienation of a Homeland: How Palestine Became Israel.” It investigates “who justly owns the land of Israel or Palestine” and provides land ownership details that verify Palestinian claims that Israel holds just claim to only a small percentage of even Israel proper.
Halbrook writes in his conclusion: "Palestinian Arabs have the rights to return to their homes and estates taken over by Israelis, to receive just compensation for loss of life and property, and to exercise national self-determination. Palestinians may have moral claims not only against Zionists who took their lands by force but also against members of the Arab elite who made huge profits in land sales to Zionists by evicting tenants who had cultivated the land since time immemorial." He also supports similar rights of Jews driven from Arab lands in retaliation for Israel driving out Arabs in 1948.
Ms. Mercer neither knows nor cares that in the years since Halbrook has gone on to become one of America's top Second Amendment attorneys, having won two Second Amendment Supreme Court cases. One decision, in 2000, lifted the 25 year sentences for gun charges from five Branch Davidian survivors. (Halbrook either did not see or did not bother to respond to her article.)
Mercer then attacks libertarian scholar Sheldon Richman in an even more underhanded manner. “I understand that libertarians like Sheldon Richman (and the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review) believe, mistakenly, that all ‘the land’ belongs to the Arabs.” WorldNetDaily.com necessarily posted two Richman replies to her smear, a column titled "Disregard for the Truth" and a later letter to the editor. He informed readers that the Institute for Historical review is not libertarian. (It is a notorious group which had ridiculed German atrocities, including by offering a $50,000 reward to anyone who could prove the Germans used gas chambers to kill Jews.) And he pointed out that Mercer was referring to a 1991 Cato Policy Analysis "'Ancient History’: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War Il and the Folly Of Intervention” which The Institute of Historical evidently had reprinted without permission.
Richman also reminded Mercer that he himself is Jewish and chided her inability to find and correctly name the relevant paper or quote the relevant sentence for which she originally assails. That sentence, “Jewish land purchases accounted for only 10 percent of the proposed Jewish state,” is contained in Richman’s critique of how the United Nations unfairly carved Israel out of Palestine.
In it Richman writes: “The Arabs would get 43 percent of the land, the Jews 57 percent. The proposed apportionment should be assessed in light of the following facts: The Jewish portion was better land; by the end of 1947 the percentage of Palestine purchased by Jews was less than 7 percent; Jewish land purchases accounted for only 10 percent of the proposed Jewish state; and Jews made up less than one-third of the population of Palestine. Moreover, the Jewish state was to include 497,000 Arabs, who would constitute just under 50 percent of the new state's population.” (Note that this was the original plan, before Israel grabbed another big chunk of land in 1948 and expelled 700,000 Arabs. See maps and tables in the Halbrook article.) Richman's paper also opines that the United States “advocated a solution in Palestine which went contrary to self-determination as far as the majority population of the country was concerned.”
If Ms. Mercer had done her homework she would have found other objects of attack on this issue. Just a few months earlier, in May of 2003, Richard Ebeling published an article “Property Rights and the ‘Right of Return’" which fully supports the rights of Palestinians, including the original owners and their several million descendants, to return to their land and property inside Israel. Ebeling is the Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics at Hillsdale College in Michigan and vice president of academic affairs at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Ms. Mercer also could have found a real Palestinian-American libertarian to pick on, long time Libertarian Party activists I. Dean Ahmad, Ph.D. of the Minaret of Freedom Institute. His article "The Real Reason to Oppose Aid to Israel" states: "...at the time of Israel’s founding, Jews, Zionist and non-Zionist alike, owned less than 7% of the land. This included land recently acquired from absentee landlords. Thus, the Jewish National Fund demanded of the new government that it use its power of eminent domain to seize the land so that it could 'acquire this year … as much land as it acquired in 47 years of unremitting effort.' (Jewish National Fund, Jewish Villages in Israel. Jerusalem: Keren Kayemeth Leisrael 1949.) This land was not to be turned over to private Jewish ownership. It was to be turned over to collective ownership of the Jewish people."
Mercer ended her column by insulting all Americans, asking, “But let me ask my fellow libertarians this: When last did an American man fight honorably for his land, his home, his women, and his children? The men of the South circa 1861? I thought so. As much as libertarians hate them, Israelis, at least, defend what they perceive to be their land, their homes and their freedoms.”
But Ms. Mercer was not finished. She replied to Raimondo and Richman with an even more vituperous WorldNetDaily.com screed "Foaming at the mouth over Israel." Her bottom line analysis follows a twisted theme promoted by neoconservatives: “Libertarian animus against neoconservatives has translated into revulsion for Israel because so many prominent neoconservatives are pro-Israel Jews.”
This time Mercer squarely takes on Raimondo saying: “the emphasis by these libertarians on myth-history and conspiracy to describe all matters Israel (sic) suggests an irrational belief system where ‘the Zionists’ are seen as the root of all evil.” And she finds another article by Richman, “Cant and the Middle East”, to misrepresent and assail, snidely commenting that “being Jewish doesn't inoculate one against” being anti-Semitic. After this Jacob Hornberger and Wendy McElroy wrote pieces defending Sheldon Richman and neoconservatives Tom Ambrose and Robert Bidinotto did so defending Mercer.
Mercer is correct in her second article when she points out that neither Raimondo or Richman in their replies present a systematic theory of libertarian land rights to counter her. While they may have been too disgusted with her to bother, their refusal still allows Mercer to claim: “If anything, Raimondo and Richman are being evasive in their refusal to explain the rationale behind their one-sided and singularly pro-Palestinian perspective.”
To add insult to injury, Mercer plays the role of good libertarian by stating: “To the extent that property has unjustly been incorporated en route, this must be remedied. If the Israelis don't fix the property injustices Raimondo alleges, then I share his outrage. So long as property is not appropriated without consent and just compensation, there is nothing immoral about a well-enforced border, both during peacetime and in war.” Of course, Mercer does not recommend that Israel withdraw to the 10 percent or so of Israel proper that Halbrook and Richman's original articles indicated had been justly acquired in 1948, plus whatever small percentage has been justly acquired since then.
What Mercer does here, of course, is to place her targets in a classic double bind. If you try to detail how Israelis unjustly confiscated land from 1948 on, as had Halbrook and Richman, you are an Israel-loathing anti-Semite. But if you do not detail how Israel unjustly confiscate land so that those injustices can be corrected by Israel, you are a flaky and irrational and obviously an anti-Semite!
Mercer and similar “libertarian” Israel supporters evidently believe individualism, property rights, non-initiation of force, self-determination, due process, freedom of speech, revolution against oppressive states and military non-interventionism are all fine libertarian ideas – just as long as you do not dare apply them to the state of Israel, or to its lobbying groups. Similarly, critiquing the neoconservatives and their increasingly fascist American police state is anti-Semitic too!
As I have heard innumerable times, the only time any criticism of Israel is allowed is if all nations are critiqued equally -- in other words you have to list the faults of all 180 odd of them (or at least all the Arab and Muslim states) in order to criticize Israel. That's one way to suppress criticism!
(Obviously libertarians also oppose financial and military and support for nations like Egypt and Lebanon [which receive it to prevent them from attacking Israel] and to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other nations that oppress their people. But none of them are territorially aggressive nuclear nations receiving a massive amount of U.S. aid; and none of them have one of the most powerful U.S. lobbies which demands constant increases in that aid. That is what makes Israel more deserving of criticism.)
Mercer (like neoconservatives in their “Clean Break” report) does allow libertarians to call for ending U.S. foreign aid to Israel on grounds that it would force Israel to free up its markets and strengthen its economic and military capabilities. Remember that Irv Rubin supported ending U.S. foreign aid because the U.S. discouraged Israel from ethnically cleansing millions of Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza. Of course, many pro-Israel libertarians believe that U.S. government foreign aid to Israel is the last program that ever should be cut.
If Ms. Mercer is looking for more high profile libertarians to attack as "Israel haters" for applying libertarian principles, she might look at Cato Institute Senior Fellow Doug Bandow's December 2003 Japan Times column "Ethnic cleansing on the Jordan River," or his critical December 2003 article in Pat Buchanan's American Conservative magazine on "Israel's Democracy Dilemma." Or she can go after noted libertarian author James Bovard for his September 2003 article "Should the U.S. Military in Iraq Adopt Israeli Methods?" Or she can assail Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty, whose thorough 1998 Cato Foreign Policy Briefing Does U.S. Interventionism Overseas Breed Terrorism? The Historical Record is interwoven with criticisms of Israel, not to mention his December 2003 critique of U.S. forces in Iraq titled "Winning over Arabs Using Israeli Tactics." And then there are the many lesser known lights who have criticized Israel over the years on the pages of Antiwar.Com and LewRockwell.com. When she finishes with them, she can move on to libertarian activist web pages, blogs and e-mails.
Unrelenting Charges of Anti-Semitism Effectively Crush Libertarian Dissent
Raimondo and Buchanan through shear moxie have pursued successful careers without toning down their criticism of Israel and its lobbies, including on libertarian grounds. However, only a few independent libertarians are willing to take the heat that Rothbard's self-described "Anti-Anti-Semites" apply to libertarians who publicly apply libertarian principles to Israel. Per the opening quotation, I am sure that George Washington would not be pleased!
Since September 11, 2001 libertarians forwarding even mainstream and libertarian articles criticizing Israel or neoconservatives to libertarian list-serves and yahoo groups have found escalating charges of anti-Semitism. Ornery libertarians who defend their comments, counter pro-state of Israel propaganda, or post even more such articles and commentary just to prove they will not be silenced, are accused of being "obsessed" and therefore obviously anti-Semitic. After all, who but an anti-Semite keeps posting such things once they are told to stop doing so? What dark, evil motives must they have? Or, as two fellows put it on different venues in the same week in early 2004, repeatedly posting these articles MIGHT mean someone THINKS anti-Semitic thoughts and therefore he or she must be treated as if he or she IS a rabid and public anti-Semite! Thought crimes 101??
As a member of 75 odd libertarian list-serves and yahoo groups who posts frequently to several, and checks out most of their archives at least once a month, I have noticed that at least a third contain one or more members who decry any criticism of Israel. On only a few lists and groups are issues like Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon encouraging the U.S. attack on Iraq, Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, its threats to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, the power of the Israel Lobby, etc. debated freely.
At least two Libertarian Party members have boasted about joining list-serves and yahoo groups where allegedly “anti-Semitic” criticism of Israel appear in order to fight it; their tools tend to be insinuations, accusations, smears and insults. One Libertarian Party state committee member joined at least three yahoo groups where this outspoken critic of Israel and its U.S. lobbies posted, just to harass me. By the time he was finished, four fed up group owners moderated his posts to end the unceasing, vicious and even scatological attacks -- as well as demands that I and my ilk commit suicide! (See a small sample of such email postings.)
Most people do not want to deal with such attacks. As one state chair told me, despite his personal disgust with Israel, “I just don’t want to get involved in that argument.” And, as I can say from experience, even those of us with thick skins can be enraged and demoralized by such continuous attacks. (See my reply to Neal Boortz' posting my most Raimondo-like missive on his web site.)
Of course, libertarians do rebel against the oppressive tactics, if not always in the most appropriate fashion. In early 2004 an Israel supporter on a libertarian state party yahoo group attacked as a “Holocaust denier” an individual who had admitted to being a “Holocaust skeptic.” Almost immediately half a dozen state party members, and even one Libertarian National Committee member, jumped into the fray admitting that they had various doubts regarding the numbers of Jews the Nazis had killed and methods used to kill them. Most of them, and even some who support current Holocaust claims, denounced the way Nazi atrocities against Jews are used to apologize for Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. The original accuser fled the discussion, doubtless in shock, just before the thread evaporated and the group returned to its usual lack of concern for Middle East issues.
Empathy? Yes. Resistance? Definitely!
I think libertarians must, and largely do, empathize with the paranoia of Jews who cling to their history of more than 2000 years of persecution, including the Nazi ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide which decimated European Jewry. I have not found a single libertarian who justifies Palestinian murder of or suicide bombings against innocent civilians in Israel. The fact that there are so many libertarians with at least some Jewish heritage, or who are married to or close friends with Jews, certainly ads to the empathy quotient. And who can forget that two of our icons, Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard, were Jewish?
On the other hand paranoia and outrage about past injustices by a small minority do not justify the ruthless suppression of discussion and dissent now practiced by a few dozen libertarians, Jewish and gentile, in the libertarian movement. Jewish Defense League type accusations and harassment are notall Jews.
I only wish that non-interventionist libertarian Jews and gentiles could standup together and openly resist these scurrilous tactics. Maybe it is time to circulate a letter for signing or even put up a Petitiononline -- something to make it clear that this concerted bullying and intimidation are not acceptable in the libertarian movement.
Why Libertarians Should Make Ending Occupation of, Aid to and Alliance with Middle East Nations A Top Issue
There are some very good reasons that a few intrepid libertarians keep up criticism of Israel and its lobbies in America. And they are the same reasons libertarians should consider making getting the United States out of the Middle East our highest priority. (And by this I include the whole area surrounding Russia's southern flank, another possible flash point for future wars!)
1. To Maintain the Integrity of the Libertarian Movement
To quote libertarian truisms, "eternal vigilance is the price of freedom" and “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." The libertarian movement cannot allow itself to be intimidated by any special interest, domestic or foreign, to the point that it silences itself, changes its positions, or strangles an important strategy. Such intimidation on the Israel issue only can lead to internal discord and demoralization and, as mentioned above, an increase in dislike not just for the culpable intimidators but for Jews in general, i.e., anti-Semitism.
Israel supporters have to face choices. Do they owe a greater allegiance to the state of Israel or to the concept of liberty? To Israel or America? To free speech or to silencing critics of Israel?
Libertarians not preoccupied with the welfare of the state of Israel also face choices. Can they continue to call themselves libertarians if they do not support an assertive non-interventionist stance? Can they call themselves Patriots if they are not willing to look at all the threats to America, including those from the state of Israel? And can they call themselves individuals of principle and courage if they are afraid to criticize Israel or even consider making getting the United States out of the Middle East a high priority?
2. To Convince the Growing Libertarian Minority in America We Are Serious About Liberty
Other than promoting the right of individual and community secession, I believe no other issue would convince Americans that we are serious about liberty. (See my article published previously in LiberyforAll.Net “Why Libertarians Should Emphasize Secession and Community Autonomy”)
Let’s face it, 30 years of promoting legalized drugs, income tax abolition and general deregulation, with a little foreign non-interventionism thrown in for flavoring, have led to the big ho hum. Any one who noticed we have taken on special interests knows we have made little real progress. Look at the massive budget deficits and imperialist warmongering under a "conservative" president and congress.
If the libertarian movement made critiques of U.S. and Israeli imperialism in the Middle East a major focus as well, it would impress and energize millions of cynical independents and non-voters fed up with AIPAC-intimidated politicians who refuse to address the issue. (We could promise big energy tax breaks from the military budget savings to assuage those who fear loss of Middle East oil.) And publicity would be guaranteed because the Israel Lobby and its many friends in media would go ballistic.
Of course, if libertarians do not want to take on the issue, they can join me in building the libertarian secession movement, starting with promoting an educational “right to secede” amendment to the U.S. constitution. That is one way to promote positive alternatives to our failed constitutional system.
3. World Nuclear War is Inevitable if We Do Not Get Out Now – i.e., Save America
I have just completed a web page article entitled Is World Nuclear War Inevitable? It includes six scenarios by which malfunction, terrorism, or preemption by small nuclear states and/or the United States or Russia could spiral out of control into a devastating world nuclear war. Four of the six scenarios center around the Middle East and Eurasia.
Such a war would kill probably ninety percent of Americans, and eighty percent of the world’s population. It would mean misery, illness and early death for the survivors – the end of the American Dream.
My site includes a separate page on “Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail” which illustrates how Israeli nuclear bullying is targeted not just at Arabs and Muslims but at Europeans, Russians and inevitably Americans. One possible trigger of a world nuclear would be an Israel devastated by nuclear or other terrorism lashing out in the “Samson Option” – nuclear revenge not just against Arab capitals but all those “anti-Semites” in Europe, including in Moscow. And when Israel nukes Moscow, Moscow nukes its closest ally - the United States.
The solution is clearly pointed out in the current Libertarian Party platform and in various libertarian prescriptions across the Internet: Get Out of the Middle East Now! Get out of the rest of the world soon after. Begin unilateral steps to nuclear and conventional disarmament. Empower and encourage the people of the world to disarm their own authoritarian governments. Make the libertarian movement a true peoples’ liberation movement, not one more movement – and party – manipulated by special interests wanting to protect their government privileges or repeal only the laws that hurt them.
I think it is time libertarians prove to themselves, each other and all America they care more about saving America and its liberty than protecting their own reputations from outrageous and specious charges, whatever they may be.