Israel

by Russ Roberts on May 18, 2011

in Politics

There is one thriving constitutional democracy in the Middle East. It is Israel. Arabs can vote in Israel. There are Arab members of the Israeli parliament. Why does the President of the United States put any pressure on Israel to make concessions to the other side–the side that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, the side where people danced in the streets on 9/11, the side that mourned the death of Osama Bin Laden. This is a political mystery I do not understand.

Here is David Harsanyi’s take on the upcoming Obama speech on the Middle East.

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{ 242 comments }

raja_r May 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

Because Israel stole a lot of land from the Palestinians.

You seem to be all about property rights – I wonder why that idea disappears when you talk about Israel?

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

Who has rights to the land is a very old question. It is not easily settled. The Jews had the land a very long time ago. Since then, many nations have claimed it and held title to it. Interestingly, when Jordan held the land, there were no demands to return it to the “Palestinian people.” Jordan itself is a creation of modern politics.

Rob May 18, 2011 at 11:15 am

Russ,

Even granting that it’s an “old question” does not dismiss the there still is a question. Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes by Israeli settlers in ways not unlike US treatment of the Native Americans. Are you suggesting neither group has any reason to seek redress? How do you reconcile the fact that you, by simply being a Jew, have a “right” to move to Israel and become a citizen while people who were forcibly displaced do not? Additionally, to suggest that the constitutional deceleration of Israel as a Jewish state does not in some way create a secondary status for non-Jews is somewhat shortsighted. Of course Israel provides a better model of democracy than any other nation in the region; however, that does not make it immune from criticism.

David May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am

There were as many Jewish inhabitants as Palestinian inhabitants who were displaced.

Joshua May 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Isreal has now been joined by Egypt, Iraq, others? Tunisia?

TeeJaw May 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes by Israeli settlers…

Not true. Some Arabs [they weren’t called Palestinians then] were forcibly removed during the 1948 War [that was started by the Arab countries] for strategic military reasons. However, the greater number left voluntarily when the Arab forces told them to leave because they were going to destroy all the Jews. After all of the Jews were driven into the sea, they were told, they could come back.

But the Jews didn’t agree to march into the sea, as you know. The Arab countries lost that war, as they have lost every war they have started against Israel.

I wonder if you might extend a bit of understanding that the Jews weren’t anxious to allow the return of Arabs who left Israel voluntarily during a war to side with forces hell bent on killing every last Jew in the new State of Israel? Especially since mass Jew killing was such a recent memory at the time.

AbeBird May 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

You better check first the historical facts…
1. Jews always stayed at their land under more than 25 tribes, nations and imperials (Arabs occupied Israel land in medieval period for less than 200 years combined). The fact that Jews were minority on their soil under foreign occupiers doesn’t prevent their national rights for their land. For example, Jews were the dominant population in Jerusalem from 1840 and since.
2. Most of the now-days Arabs came as immigrants only after the Jewish return has been geared, searching for jobs and better life. Those Arabs hadn’t any former national tie to the land. They have never called themselves “Palestinians” but Arabs. There is no even “P” in Arabic. Only in the 70th the Arab organizations’ leaders accepted the notion to be called “Palestinians” within a process to unify their power in order to fight Israel.
3. Arabs had never claimed before the Jews started their mass return, called Zionism, for that land. They had the chance to claim and create such state but never were consciously declared themselves and unique and separate Arab people. On the contrary, they always claimed through the first half of the 20th century that they are Palestinians Arabs, The Europeans and the Americans saw the West Bank of Palestine as the Jewish portion to be the base of the Jewish state and the East Bank of Palestine as the land to pass to the Arabs for their wishes. Britain fulfilled their promise to the Arabs and gave the West Bank to a Saudi loyal prince in 1922. They failed to complete mission by handing the West Bank to the Jews.
4. There weren’t any Palestinian nation in any time in history but the Jews. Palestine is a Roman name given to Israel land by the Roman occupier and has nothing to do with Arabs or Muslims. The British while occupied Palestine renewed the political use of the name and called all the civilians there “Palestinians”: Jews, Arabs, Russians, British, French etc. While Israel was established the name “Palestine” stayed free to others. Even than the Arabs kept call themselves “Palestinian Arabs” as to differ themselves from other kind of “Not Arab Palestinians”. Only in 1975 and since, they sometimes and in some documents call themselves “Palestinians” without mentioning being Arabs. But even now days they keep calling themselves, from time to time, “Arab Palestinians”, as if to express their failure to adopt their new title of being called a nation.
5. Biblical Philistines are a Greek sea people that settled in Gaza-Ashkelon area (southern sea shore of the land of Israel) in the 13th century BC. They weren’t Semites at all. The fact is that through the 5th – 7th BC they were assimilated among the other local peoples: Moabites, Edomites, Assyrians, Egyptians and even few among the Jews (in times of the end of the 1st House of Israel). Now days Arabs in Palestine have not any direct connection to those Philistines, but only by name of the land in Latin (They stole the name from the Jews through the last century). Now days Arabs in Palestine, are mostly descendants of Saudis and Arabs from all over the ME that poured, invaded and conquered Palestine since the 7th century in waves. The Arabs adopted the name “Palestine” from the British occupier.
6. There is no “P” in Arabic at all! How could a “people” calling themselves a name that its main and leading letter doesn’t exist in their language at all? For many years and even now, many Arabs call the land as “Balestine”, because “B” substitutes the “P” when words are translated to Arabic. They found a softer solution for their Arabic defect, and pronounce the name as “Falestine” = “Falastin”. I would call that development as a Falsetinian trick that put the Arabs in the land of Israel at the proper gloom.
7. I’m aware of trying of the Arab Palestinians of today to link themselves directly the Greek Sea’s People (= Philistines). It shows only their frustrations in fronting reality and making efforts to build a new Falsetinan history and identity that will fit their political aims. That’s OK, but I think that no one should pay for their dreams but themselves. Sure not the Jews. Arabs have 22 states, and that’s enough if the cost is not to have even one Jewish state.
8. . Hristov;
9. “Palestine” is the geographic term of the land and has nothing to do with nationality. The British occupation of the land in 1917 brought that name back to the land, not the Arabs invented that name nor were they link into it. “Palestine” was located in both sides of the Jordan River. The eastern side was greater that the western one. When people than said “West Bank” they were referring to the whole land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean sea shore, which includes today the new small version of the “west bank” (aka, Samaria and Judea districts of Palestine) and pre-1967 Israel. These terms: WB and Israel are political terms and not geographical.
10. In 1917 political Palestine and Geographical Palestine were identical – both sides of the Jordan River. Britain planed and promised the Jews to hand them Palestine to be their base for their national entity. But as the days passed the British failed to accomplish their promise. On the contrary, they gave the eastern side of Palestine, aka “East Bank”, to a Hashemite Bedouin Saudi prince after he fought against his brother in Mecca and escaped north. They called the frame-state “Trans Jordan” of Palestine. Only in 1947 they got full independence and changed the name to “Jordan”. The British failed to accomplish mission and give the Jews the other part of Palestine, the original “West Bank” of Palestine, from the river to the sea, because of inter-junction regional interests. The fact that at this time oil has been found and produced in Iraq (before the name even had born) and later in Saudi , made the Arab interests heavy attributed and considered in the eyes of the British than the Jews ones. The British ignored their historical duty to create a new tribal structure in the ME for the sake of their temporary interests. That is the basic reason for the Jewish Palestinian and Arab Palestinian conflict.
11. Let me remind you that Yasser Arafat himself said that Jordan is Palestine and between 1968 and 1975 he tried for some times to bring down King Hussein the Hashemite, and free the Arab Palestinians majority from the Saudi Bedouin regime and create the New Palestine, before he continues to combat Israel and push her into the sea, as he said. In September 1970 the Jordanian army, mainly the Bedouin corps, fought and killed about 20,000 PLO and other Arab Palestinian movements’ men. Israel and the US were alerted to pull the invading Syrian army out of Jordan in order to protect King Hussein. Arafat and the PLO staff escaped through Syria to Lebanon. Even from Lebanon Arafat made efforts to throw down Hussein and take over Jordan. Only in 1975 Arafat changed course and adopted the “stages theory” to deal with Israel. This theory espoused the idea that the Arab Palestinian mission could only be achieved by stages, political and terror actions combined. The first stage was to arrived at the “West Bank” (the later and second meaning of the phrase) and than by advanced efforts to bring Israel to collapse, either by terror and by pushing back millions of refugees into Israel, by agreement or by infiltration. (Btw, do you know that since 1993 ‘Oslo year’, about 150,000 Palestinians moved into Israel and live there, with or without permission?).
12. There is no real reason to create a second Arab Palestinian state next to Israel. Jordan is the first state to be built in Palestine. More than 70% of the Jordanians see themselves and are Arab Palestinians. Families live in Jordan, WB and Israel; The same families. I see no reason why parents living in Jordan and kids living in Ramallah and Jaffa have the right to live in 3 different states, 2 Arabs and one Jewish. There is no reason and even no place to build a second Arab state in the West Bank. No wonder that the Arabs can’t establish their tiny Palestinian entity for years. The main effort should be Jordan and the border between Palestinian Arab Jordan and Palestinian Jewish Israel!

raja_r May 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm

If by old, you mean 60-80 years, then yes, it is an old question.

I’m pretty sure if I come and occupy your house, claiming that my great-great-great grandfather had that land stolen from him, you’d have no trouble figuring out the property rights in that case.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm

You haven’t the first clue. You simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

Dave Narby May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

He does, and you don’t.

http://btselem.org/Campaigns/2011_Jordan_Valley/English/index.html

Open your eyes.

AbeBird May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Betzelem is a fag left wing group that proves many times to spread false ‘fact’ mainly made by the Arab Palestinian’s misinformation team.

Stone Glasgow May 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Elaborate, Methinks?

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Elaborate on what, Stone?

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Russ,
Although I support Israel for precisely the reasons you mention, the fact is that they are still taking land from people. I’m talking about private property, not vague notions of which people owned it at one time.

There’s also the fact that it’s not entirely blameless in its wars against its Arabic neighbors. In the ’50s and ’60s they continually encroached on Syrian land, provoked fights, and took parts of it bit by bit. Being a democracy does not excuse warring for territory.

chico sajovic May 18, 2011 at 9:58 pm

what? many states claimed ownership of the land. but the land in question was owned by individuals, people, human beings and families. Why do you care about individuals on this blog, but when it comes to Palestinians you seem to suggest the states right are more important.

Mr. Econotarian May 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm

The historical land ownership in pre-1967 border Israel is one issue that I think is a lost cause. Wars and revolutions change things. Cuban exiles are not getting their land back in Cuba. The English who left in 1776 are not getting their land back either.

However ongoing land ownership problems in Israel is one most people ignore. As Wikipedia points out:

“The Israel Land Administration (ILA), is part of the government of Israel responsible for managing the 93% of the land in Israel which is in the public domain. These lands are either property of the state, belong to the Jewish National Fund(JNF) which controls 13% of the land, or belong to the Israel Development Authority. This land comprises 4,820,500 acres (19,508 km^2). “Ownership” of real estate in Israel usually means leasing rights from the ILA for a period of 49 or 98 years…Under Israeli law, the Israel Land Administration cannot lease land to foreign nationals, which includes Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who have identity cards but are not citizens of Israel….The JNF’s charter prohibits it from leasing land to non-Jews.”

In the West Bank, land tenure is even more uncertain. Jewish settlements control more than 42 percent of the West Bank, and at least 21 percent of the land for these settlements was expropriated from Palestinian landowners.

I’ll add that Israel has had a number of positive legal decisions in the last 10 years against continued expropriation of Arab land in the Wes t Bank and blocking of Arab purchase of land in Israel, though these decisions have not always been obeyed. Plus Israel has effectively returned all the land in Gaza (but I doubt the Hamas government is any more interested in private property rights than Israel).

I think much of the day-to-day heat of the Israel/Palestinian conflict would end if secure property rights for all were established, documented, and enforced equally, and the Israeli government should get out of the land ownership business.

But yes, in general most Arabs would be richer if they lived in democratic and more economically free Israel than in any majority Arab country !

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

The Israelis bought land and they fought for land. If that is what you call “stealing” then we’re all living on stolen land. Why single out Israel?

yreg May 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

Usually libertarians – including you -don’t applaud when some government forcefully grabs their assets, do they.

Why should there be different standards elsewhere?

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am

Well, if that’s your argument, then the Jews have rights to that land since they had it first.

They either have rights to that land as the original owners or because they bought it from Palestinians later and then fought a wary to obtain the rest. Take your pick.

Dolan May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

The idea of ethnic groups having rights to some chunk of land, but using your terminology in what sense were “the Jews” there first?

Dolan May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

Sorry – should say “The idea of ethnic groups having rights to some chunk of land makes me uncomfortable…”

Cthorm May 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm

“They either have rights to that land as the original owners”

This train of thought will get you no where. The Jews were clearly not the “original owners” of the land that is now called Israel, the Canaanites came before them, as recorded in Deuteronomy (et al). It is pointless to consider historical ownership of land without some continuity of law and the Levant has been particularly prone to invasion and upheaval.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Dolan,

I never said I was comfortable with it. I’m just pointing out that this is where yreg’s argument leads.

I will also note that Arabs are free to live in Israel and – as Russ has pointed out – have legal rights. Rights they couldn’t dream of in Arab countries. Israel didn’t summarily dispossess and kick out its Arab population. It offered Arabs living in Israel the same rights as Jewish citizens.

By contrast, in the 1950′s, Arab countries dispossessed and deported their Jewish populations. In that part of the world, it’s all about ethnic and religious groups, Dolan. You and I are used to living in a very individualistic culture. But, tribalism is very strong in that part of the world – in the East in general. Who you are is (annoyingly) often more important than what you know.

A popular proverb in that part of the world: “My brother and I against my cousin. My cousin and I against the stranger.”

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm

It is pointless to consider historical ownership of land without some continuity of law and the Levant has been particularly prone to invasion and upheaval.

Personally, I don’t disagree with that at all. If we had to consider historical ownership of land, how far back do we go?

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Here is my final word on the whole subject. Both sides have some legal and moral claims, both sides have committed and suffered from acts of war.

But the Israelis are a western style democratic nation who, if they had their way, would live in peace with the Arabs.

While the Palestinians are a hate filled pack of barbaric fanatics who, if they get their way would kill every single Jew in the world, then all the Christians, Then the Shia Muslims, then each other.

So, I support Israel, totally.

Morris Motamed May 18, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Muslims and Christians fled after Deir Yassin was attacked. Muslims and Christians who fled do not have the right to return. Not many people know about this sad chapter. I hope you learn about it to see things are a bit more complicated than you first realize.

http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/news/currentarticle.cfm?id=230

Emerson White May 18, 2011 at 11:07 am

Israel has no oil.

WhiskeyJim May 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

They are discovering it now.

bob May 18, 2011 at 11:10 am

The issue is the immigration restrictions — any Jew from anywhere immediately gets citizenship, and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are physically prevented from entering the country. (Ten were shot dead by the Israeli army on Monday at the border.) Whether the land was bought or fought for doesn’t matter. The problem with Israel is the barbaric idea that the we (Israel) exists, and can collectively own land.

Elizabeth May 18, 2011 at 11:11 am

Because the palestinians don’t have basic human rights, even if they are represented in government. They also don’t have the government benefits that Jewish neighborhoods have, like sanitary water. As a libertarian, I think basic human rights and property rights are more important than democracy.

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 11:23 am

You are confusing Palestinians with Israeli Arabs. Arabs who live in Israel do have basic human rights. The Palestinians now live under Palestinian leadership in Gaza and the West Bank.

yreg May 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

Talking of confusing.
Aren’t you confusing a some extremist Palestinean people with “the other side”, i.e. all palestineans ?

Or does a religious belief blinds you in this case from non-sequiturs.

And, about mourning Osama. Quite a lot of people have expressed that he should have stood trial. Ironic that you mention “constitutional democracy” in the same post where you applaud an extra-judicial killing.
You must be confusing things, again.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Now I understand why Dung and Muirdiot’s posts have the power to make you think more deeply.

What confuses you about the distinction between Palestinians (ruled by the Palestinian Authority) and Israeli Arabs?

What about the distinction between mourning Osama bin Laden’s death and thinking he should have stood trial is confusing for you?

yreg May 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I was referring to Russ’ original post concerning “the other side”, where he generalizes actions of a few with the actions of a group.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Oh, I see. You’re just confused in general.

“The other side” is not the actions of a few. The vast majority of “the other side” will not rest until Israel is scraped off the map. It is their raison d’etre.

Dan May 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Economically speaking, Shooting Usama was the right choice. Far less costly. And it was befitting.

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

BTW, I spoke of the “other side” in the post, I did not mean the Arabs or the Palestinians. I meant the leadership of the Palestinians. I make no generalizations about the everyday people on the ground. If you read through the comments, I reference a post I did in 2004 where I speak of how hard it is to know what people really think in an environment of fear.

(This comment goes to your post below but I can’t reply to it…)

Krishnan May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I imagine Palestinians living in Israel, if polled (anonymously) would prefer to live in a country which respects their basic human rights and can live safely and more prosperously than if they were living under Hamas or the PLO …

As to property, this is not an argument anyone can win. Israelis have as much right to be there as the other claimants – Israel is not going to disappear no matter what anyone may say … A tiny country in the midst of countries ruled by tyrants and maniacs – a country that continually innovates and makes life better for all of us.

This Arab Spring demonstrates that the discontent in many countries (including Egypt) has nothing to do with the “occupation” of “palestinian land”.

Obama’s attitude towards Israel has mirrored that of the many openly anti semites in the US and it is disgraceful.

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I do not think you are correct, whenever the Palestinians have had chances to elect leaders, they ALWAYS choose the most militant extremists. I don’t think they are at all willing to just get on with their lives, or exchange peace for land or reparations, or anything like that.

Those who are interested in peace, have moved away.

Stevie the K May 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Actually such a poll was recently done (I’m sure a Web search will find it) and, as you suspected/imagined, many of the Arabs/Palestinians currently living within Israeli controlled territory would, if given the option, choose to remain in same; as I recall a plurality versus those who would move to a new Palestinian state or didn’t know.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am

re: “Why does the President of the United States put any pressure on Israel to make concessions to the other side”

We are a thriving democracy too. Why do you guys put pressure on the U.S. government to improve it’s act? After all – we’re a democracy!

Israel is a democracy and is and should be a supported ally – but of all the clear and unambiguous democracies it has perhaps the most substantial police state and is the most repressive of an internal population. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to put pressure on those tendencies, particularly for an ally we give so much money to. You don’t have to abandon or oppose Israel and you don’t have to deny its very real security concerns to keep pushing these issues.

Rob May 18, 2011 at 11:17 am

Good point Daniel. Criticism of Israel is not antisemitism!

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 11:25 am

A police state that represses its internal population? Have you been to Israel? Gaza? Gaza is a repressive police state. Israel treats its citizens, Arabs and Jews without repression. It also has the rule of law–a functioning Supreme Court that protects rights.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

If Gaza is to be thought of as an independent state then Israel is disconcerting in its aggression against non-citizens (but understandably so – as I said it does face real security threats too). If Gaza is to be thought of as occupied territory then Israel is disconcerting in its repression of non-citizen internal populations.

What you want to call it is all semantics, Russ. The point is there is reason for concern and we can express those concerns without demonizing Israel.

Cthorm May 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I have been to Israel, as well as the West Bank. I went with a very close family friend (a Palestinian-American) who grew up in Jerusalem during the 1940s. I was there in June 2001, before the second intifada started, so things have changed significantly since then. Tel Aviv was a beautiful, safe modern beach city and Jerusalem felt like some sort of holy Disneyland, with tight security and lots of tourists. I spent a lot of time in Ramallah, which at that time was safe and had small businesses being opened on the main street; I particularly remember a great ice cream shop and lots of friendly people (probably had something to do with me travelling with a Palestinian TBH). At that time my family friend would have loved to move back to his homeland, but the uncertain rule of law made it practically impossible. His family owned a nail factory just outside of Ramallah (just finished in 1946), which they never operated because both Israel and the PLA claimed tax authority over the area. The bourgeois Palestinian Christians that were the majority in the area before the war left in droves for the US, Lebanon and Jordan because of this uncertain status.

Joshua May 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Isreal has hegemony over the west bank and gaza. Israeli arabs don’t have the vote.

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 11:28 am

I forgot to comment on the word “most” in your comment. Are you crazy? Are you comparing Israel’s treatment of its citizens, Jews and Arab, with Syria’s? Egypt’s? Iran’s?

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

Those are not unambiguous democracies.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 11:48 am

You consider Syria, Egypt, or Iran to be “clear and unambiguous democracies”???

What are you talking about Russ?

I said AMONG clear and unambiguous democracies, Israel is probably the most repressive. I don’t include Egypt, Syria, or Iran in that community nor do I include China, Russia, or any number of other nominal democracies.

Israel is the genuine article when it comes to democracy. It doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons for concern.

vidyohs May 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Disingenuous Kuehn,

Just out of curiosity, can you name one clear unambiguous democracy?

Now bear in mind I am no novice to the political scene, nor am I a sheltered American who has never traveled or learned about the world as it is. So answer carefully, DK.

Give me the name of one nation that is a clear unambiguous democracy. I will even give you history to play with to find your answer.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 11:30 am

is the most repressive of an internal population

Evidence?

Not that I always agree with Israeli policy, but what other country is faced with everyone on its border trying to scrape it off the map? What other country is faced with Palestinians tunneling into houses in Israel to allow passage of arms and terrorists to kill its citizens? Of course it’s a police state.

As for repression of the internal population….I don’t think it’s substantially different from the United States where people are forced to submit to sexual molestation before they are allowed on airplanes and where the government is now tracking every move you make.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 11:50 am

Right – if you quoted more than eight words you’ll see I noted the real security threats that Israel faces.

The U.S. faces real security threats too which justify a war on terror. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stay silent when I think we’ve done something inappropriate. I can critique without disputing the entire effort against terrorism.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

I’m sorry, I didn’t realize Canadians were tunneling into Buffalo and launching missiles from Toronto.

It’s fine if your critique had any substance at all, but, like your critique of the Tea Party, it doesn’t. What are these ominous “repression of the internal population” of which you speak? Is this like the spooky “racist elements” in the Tea Party? Specifics. Because the devil is always in the details.

My bet is you don’t know any and you’re just towing your party’s line.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm

re: “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize Canadians were tunneling into Buffalo and launching missiles from Toronto. “

Once again you are livid at the prospect of you and I agreeing.

How many times do I need to repeat they have valid security concerns that they are justified in taking action against?

re: “My bet is you don’t know any and you’re just towing your party’s line.”

I have no party. You should know that by now.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Daniel,

I think someone has once again overestimated his importance in my life. Can you guess who that might be?

Have you gone stupid for a reason? I mean, I just can’t see how you can begin to equivocate the terrorist threat in the U.S. with the one faced by Israel.

Of course, you side-stepped the relevant points in favour of your little fit, but I’m used to that.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

re: ” I mean, I just can’t see how you can begin to equivocate the terrorist threat in the U.S. with the one faced by Israel”

When did I do that?!?!?!

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Play dumb on your own time, kid.

vidyohs May 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm

M’lady, embarrassing moment here.

It is “toeing” the line, not “towing” the line.

Toeing the line means to step up and place your toe on the line, t’ain’t something you grab and pull.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Thanks, Vid. I’ve produced quite a few embarrassing typos and poorly edited sentences lately. Even more than usual. Really miss the edit button.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

re: “Evidence? “

And speaking of selective quotation… if you quoted one more word it would have been obvious that I wasn’t sure and it was just an impression – I said it is “perhaps the most”. If you have evidence to the contrary I’m all ears. You mention airport proceedure in the U.S. as being “not substantially different”. I disagree. Blockades of starving territories, bulldozing residential areas, military drafts, and checkpoints on internal movements are “substantially different”. Some of this is certainly justified. Some of it is quite debatable. Much of it has been ruled illegal. But it’s certainly “substantially different” whatever it is.

I can’t think of a single other developed democracy that bulldozes residences and blockades neighboring territories that its not at war with (and I have a hard time thinking of a situation where democracies at war just bulldoze residential areas). Can you think of any other democracy that does this? We don’t. Sweden? The UK? Does Germany do this, Methinks? Does France do it? What about Canada? How about India – do they do it? Does Japan do this?

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I can’t think of a single other developed democracy that bulldozes residences and blockades neighboring territories that its not at war with?

Can you think of any Democracy that has terrorists tunneling into the houses being bulldozed from the territories in question?

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

How many times am I going to have to tell you that action against terrorist threats by Israel is justified? Really Methinks – you’re embarassing yourself here. Everyone and their mother can just scroll up and read how many times I’ve noted this. Stop pretending this is some sort of point of disagreement between us. Instead, put some effort into making the case that Israel’s actions are appropriate given the right they have to respond to the terrorist threat. Are you arguing that all the houses that have been bulldozed have terrorist tunnels in them? There are drug gang tunnels on the Mexican border. Can we just go around demolishing Hispanic neighborhoods in border towns? Stop this game of pretending I haven’t said they can respond to security threats. They obviously can. I may have missed some comments but so far I haven’t read anyone on here suggesting that they can’t. That’s not the area of disagreement.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm

So, you retract your objection to specific actions to terrorist threats? Noted. Then, we’ll need actual evidence that Israel is repressing its internal population from you, won’t we?

There are drug gang tunnels on the Mexican border.

Have you suddenly lost your ability to differentiate between tunnels that exist to allow passage of goods for voluntary purchase and those that exist for the passage of terrorists whose sole purpose in life is to blow up malls and buses?

WhiskeyJim May 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm

What do you do when a terrorist blows himself up? You cannot try him for murder; he’s dead. Further, his family receives a cash reward ($10,000 the last time I heard, but surely it is much higher by now) for such atrocity.

Israelis have debated their reaction for years. Why should a family benefit in this twisted culture of incentives? Their answer: bulldoze the family house to act as a deterrent. This is a mild punishment given Palestinian culture and schooling.

Is this the bulldozing you are talking about? Your posts regarding ‘repressive democracies’ and such are confusing me. One trip to Israel, to see how physically close their avowed enemies are, does not leave the impression of a repressive state neighbor. It leaves one marveling how they live in any security at all. Their security measures can not afford the stupidity of American policy.

Kurlos May 18, 2011 at 9:58 pm

“How many times am I going to have to tell you that action against terrorist threats by Israel is justified?”

There actions are not just justified Daniel. Israel’s actions are EXPLAINED entirely by their security threats. It is the constant, daily, threat of genocide that is “substantially different”, not the repressive responses. Can you name another democracy in which neighbors brag openly of their intentions to commit genocide? Brag without a single word of criticism from, say, Yglesias?

Krishnan May 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

By repressive, you are talking about the states surrounding Israel – right? Gaza is ruled by thugs – Syria is killing it’s own indiscriminately – Egypt may descend into chaos … the list goes on – as Israel continues to treat ALL of it’s peoples well – A country whose Supreme Court can and has ruled AGAINST the ruling Government … A country where the Attorney General can and does bring charges against former Presidents – power brokers – a country that understands what rule of law is …

There is something very similar about how people view the US and Israel – NOT because we support Israel – but that we believe in the rule of law and that people flourish when allowed to – ALL – NOT just a few, “chosen” few

Jeremy May 18, 2011 at 11:13 am

The other side comprises people who had already been living in Palestine during the British Mandate, who had been widely led to believe that they would be allowed to form an Arab state when the British decolonized the area, and their descendants. The first generation didn’t want to be allowed to vote in Israel; they wanted to vote in a secular, majority-Arab republic of their own, as they had been promised by the British. The state of Israel was, in effect, an alien state apparatus hoisted onto them, so they rebelled. In rebelling, battle lines were drawn, and Israel used extreme force to contain the Palestinians who didn’t consent and refused to acquiesce to the creation of the state of Israel. And those Palestinians fought back.

The next generation of Palestinians have been the target of that violence since birth, because they were born into a prison-country that was designed to contain their parents. They were collateral targets, and sometimes direct targets of individual Israelis who were acting outside the chain of command out of hatred and a desire for retribution. It’s that generation, and the next after it, that mostly comprise the leadership of Palestine. That’s the historical situation they’ve received.

And the choice that Israel puts to them is, disavow your parent’s desire for independence and join Israel (whose leadership has long referred to as a “Jewish republic” and homeland, not a homeland for Palestinian Arabs), or else continue to live under siege, in squalor.

It’s no wonder to me they reject that dilemma.

Elizabeth May 18, 2011 at 11:16 am

And it’s not like living under Israel means being treated the same as Jews. Clearly Israel has shown it can’t guarantee the same rights to all it’s people.

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 11:27 am

When war broke out in 1948, Arabs fled Israel. Some, I assume were pushed out, but many fled. Jews in Arab states (Jordan, Syria, etc) were certainly pushed out. Israel took them in. The Arab nations decided to put the Palestinian refugees in those camps of squalor. They refused to take them in. They used them as pawns to deflect criticism. They continue to do so.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

The Palestinians living in Egypt are still treated like outcasts. After the Arabs lost the war in 1948, certain Arab countries began a program of moving their undesirables to the Palestinian territories with the promise of land. As a result, the number of people claiming to BE Palestinians (and the right of return) is greatly exaggerated.

They’ve also learned how to play the media quite well – staging fake funerals, sending children to fight Israeli soldiers so that they can claim Israel is mowing down their young in cold blood and presenting corpses of people who were accidentally shot during celebrations as innocents who were killed by Israeli soldiers (it’s an old Arab redneck custom to shoot into the air in a crowd of people during weddings and other celebrations). Oh, and let’s not forget the habit of human shields. They notoriously plant missile launchers in heavily populated areas so that return fire kills as many civilians as possible.

Israel could never begin to come close to the torture Arabs inflict on one another.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

It’s a sad day when we start measuring the behavior of democracies against the yardstick of the behavior of autocracies.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Is the government in the Palestinian territories an autocracy? No. It isn’t.

It’s a sad day when you don’t know this before you mouth off.

raja_r May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm

So, the people who “pushed out” Palestinians in 1948 have no blame in this? The people who refused to take in the fleeing populace are the ones to blame for this mess?!

I’ve learnt a lot from you and Don in this website and especially from your podcasts. Unfortunately, I’m also learning that no one, however reasonable, tolerant and rational in other areas, is free from prejudice when it comes to things that are important to them.

(And fyi, I’m a Tamil from South India, so I have no hate/bias against anyone in this case – before the inevitable anti-semitism/goebbels label gets thrown at me.)

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Raja, your problem clearly isn’t anti-semitism. You just don’t know the history. Read BrianR’s post (#50). He’s done a very good job presenting a very brief history.

I don’t see any prejudice in Russ’ post and I don’t think it’s fair of you to accuse him of this just because he’s Jewish. I suggest you’re better off paying attention to what is said rather than who is saying it.

vidyohs May 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm

“(And fyi, I’m a Tamil from South India, so I have no hate/bias against anyone in this case – before the inevitable anti-semitism/goebbels label gets thrown at me.)”

Yep, absolutely no bias at all revealed in your comments.

Good job!

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm

“Unfortunately, I’m also learning that no one, however reasonable, tolerant and rational in other areas, is free from prejudice when it comes to things that are important to them.”

Of course I have biases and ideology. Maybe even prejudice. That does not mean my argument is wrong. You, too, I suspect, have trouble processing information with pure objectivity. We all do. One minimal goal, which we are not achieving on this thread, is to treat each other with respect and civility. Let us all try.

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Russ Roberts @11:27 a.m.

All true, but the actions of other Arab nations toward Palestinian refugees is not relevant to the question of whether the United States has legitimate reasons to pressure Israel regarding certain actions it (Israel) takes. Jordan’s effective imprisonment of many Palestinian refugees cannot justify Israel continuing to confiscate, without compensation, the property of other Palestinians. It would be an odd world indeed where my bad treatment of John Q. Citizen worked as a justification for your bad treatment of his cousin.

vidyohs May 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Yeah buddy, it is a kick-ass world out there and there is no denying it.

When people hate you before you even walk through the door, and they are prepared to kill you once you enter the door, then it is pretty easy to justify the actions of the Muslim nations surrounding Israel, not matter in what form that hatred is expressed or what justifications are used

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Uh, where do you get the idea that I’m justifying the actions of the states that border Israel? Do you actually think that criticism of some of Israel’s actions means approval of the actions of their enemies? That’s an incredibly shallow level of thought. All I said was that the bad actions of Arab states isn’t relevant to whether the U.S. pressures Israel for its bad actions. Just as any bad actions by Israel wouldn’t be relevant to whether the U.S. pressured the Arab states for their bad actions. If the U.S. ought to be pressuring countries (a separate question) for their bad actions, then it ought to pressure any state to end its bad actions. Perhaps especially democratic states, since they’re supposed to set the standard for authoritarian regimes to follow.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Perhaps especially democratic states, since they’re supposed to set the standard for authoritarian regimes to follow.

Oh, so moral relativism should be our goal. Interesting.

vidyohs May 19, 2011 at 10:08 am

@James Hanley,

My use of the word you was the rhetorical you; but by-the-by, regarding your tack in this debate, to me it seems that you are following the play book that was issued to Disingenuous Kuehn, and are being as disingenuous as he routinely is.

Your not accusing anyone, not taking a position, not justifying, not defending Arabs, but…………………………………….

WhiskeyJim May 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Jordan’s effective imprisonment of many Palestinian refugees cannot justify Israel continuing to confiscate, without compensation, the property of other Palestinians.

This is the first I’ve heard of Israel confiscating property. Where are they doing it?

Mr. Econotarian May 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm

“This is the first I’ve heard of Israel confiscating property. Where are they doing it?”

First, 93% of land in Israel belongs to the Israeli Land Administration, so really the Israeli government owns most of Israel in the first place.

Specifically in East Jerusalem, the Israeli government expropriated 24 km^2 of land, and depending on your definition about 10% of the West Bank has been expropriated by Israel.

Recent examples:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/west-bank-landgrab-follows-gaza-pullout/2005/08/24/1124562915254.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/06/29/us-palestinians-israel-land-sb-idUSTRE55S4KY20090629

Of course, Israel did “give back” all land expropriated in Gaza.

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Your history is a crock of crap, you have been brainwashed. The Arabs, under the influence of the main Iman in Jerusalem (a nazi and former Hitler ally) declared war on the Jews immediately. Originally Israel was just a small rump state with the rest of the land being controlled by the Arabs.

Arabs were told to leave temporarily while the Jews were all murdered. Problem is, those pesky Jews refused to be murdered.
(make no mistake about this, what was called for was genocide).

Since that time the Palestinian Arabs have been given billions of dollars from the UN, they have been offered land and reparations and have formed their own state, as was the original intent. And still all they ever want is to murder every Jew.

Elliott May 18, 2011 at 11:36 am

The fact that certain Jews occupied the land two-thousand years ago is entirely irrelevant to question of who the just title-holders are now. And it is just absurd to claim that “the Jews” as an amophorous blob owned the land. Which individuals specifically owned which pieces of land at the time of the Roman expulsion? Can we trace their exact next-of-kin down to the present day so that we can hand the old titles back over to them, or least so they can construct a property-claim suit in court? Should we bring in the descendents of the Moabites and Assyrians to see if they have any outstanding claims on the same lands?

This is obviously silly. The true claimants to the land are the ones who had settled there hundreds of years ago and currently on the other side of the hill after being forced out of the farms and towns they had owned and lived in for generation upon generation. The Jews did not peaceably by the lands of the current State of Israel, they forcefully occupied them. During British rule over Palestine, the Jewish settlers began a systematic terror campaign to force the Palestinians off of their land. The Jews then began living in the Palestinian’s homes and shops and farms. The Palestinian families who owned those properties are still around and will tell you where their properties were. There will be no justice until the Palestinians get to reclaim their properties.

That is why they do not recognize Israel’s “right to exist”. Why did they mourn the death of bin Laden? Because bin Laden attacked the Americans. Why do the Palestinians like that? Because the United States gives billions of dollars in military aid to Israel every year, which Israel then uses to keep Palestine in chains.

Of what relevance is it that Israel is a democracy? Democracys are ipso facto good and wholesome? A democracy must always be supported just because it is a democracy? Democratic governments are just as capable of being abusive, tyrannical, and evil as any other. More so even, as in a democracy the citizens are more likely to accept the abuses and tyrannies of the government because the voting ritual.

BrianR May 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Elliott: If you read more history, you would realize your numerous mistakes. Jews in pre-state Israel largely paid for land, which they also developed. Under Ottoman rule, the land was largely desolate and had few inhabitants. Israel expropriated land that was abandoned by Arabs who left Israel hoping Arab armies would push the Jews into the sea. The Arab armies lost, so the Arabs who lost their homes should blame their own leaders, not Israel. If some Palestinian Arabs mourned bin Laden and celebrated 9/11, it is because they are mentally ill, or their minds have been poisoned by a culture which promotes death and jihad.

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

It is equally irrelevant to say that the Arabs owned the land, because they didn’t. The Ottoman Empire held it for centuries, and then the British empire.

vidyohs May 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm

“The fact that certain Jews occupied the land two-thousand years ago is entirely irrelevant to question of who the just title-holders are now.”

Ahh but elliot that is not the argument that the Israelis make, it is the argument that the arabs make.

What Russ has said, and I support 100%, is the sillyness of trying to work back rightful ownership of a land that has been occupied by multiple ethnic groups since recorded history.

But, hey buddy, if we are concerned with nailing down first rights to the land, why stop with recorded history? Let’s work out through anthropology and archaeology. What say, pal?

Dan C May 18, 2011 at 11:37 am

These discussions always remind me of Bryan Caplan’s enlightened preference approach to the issue, http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/04/israel_palestin.html

BrianR May 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

>Because Israel stole a lot of land from the Palestinians.
This is simply a Big Lie. In the 1960s, the fictional Palestinian Arab nation was brought into existence as a propaganda tool. The Arabs know this, and so does anyone knowledgeable in history.

raja_r May 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm

So there were no people living in Jerusalem from the 1890s to 1948? Did the British and the UN find this unoccupied piece of land to give to the Jewish people?

Why does it matter what we choose to call them? The fact simply is that government (British and UN in this case) took land from private individuals, imposed an alien governing structure on them and kicked some people out.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm

The fact simply is that government (British and UN in this case) took land from private individuals, imposed an alien governing structure on them and kicked some people out.

Is that a fact? What is your source for this “fact”? Until you can provide some evidence for this claim, it is merely your assertion.

WhiskeyJim May 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm

This is a common misperception of the creation of Israel and the terms of its enactment.

It also ignores the thinking back then; “To the victor goes the spoils.” As supporters of Hitler in WWII, it was thought that redrawing Israel out of the losing Arab countries was an acceptable redress to the horrible genocide of the Jews. Many countries had their geographies redrawn as a result of WWII, as has happened in every war before and since. It renders the whole property rights question somewhat moot.

In fact Israel is the only country I know of that actually gave back land it won in a war. The ‘Palestinians’ are happily destroying all development Israel made in those lands including houses (no one will live in a Jew house), hydroponic farms (it is a desert), and businesses.

indianajim May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am

“Why does the President of the United States put any pressure on Israel to make concessions to the other side–the side that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, the side where people danced in the streets on 9/11, the side that mourned the death of Osama Bin Laden?”

I’ll answer you question with another:Don’t you think that culture, upbringing, one’s announced “mentors,” the influence of one’s chosen associates, and one’s choice of political appointees might be revealing?

indianajim May 19, 2011 at 9:16 am

Larry Elder reveals our POTUS’s blindness to bigotry:

http://townhall.com/columnists/larryelder/2011/05/19/the_common_defense

Floccina May 18, 2011 at 11:48 am

My question is why is Obama’s or an American president’s business at all.

Marcus May 18, 2011 at 11:50 am

That is my question as well.

Elliott May 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

@BryanR: What does it matter whether or not the Palestinian Arabs self-identified as a nation? For question of determining property rights, all that matters is that there were people living in Palestine (who, of course, would be called Palestinians) who were driven out of their land and buildings.

BrianR May 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

At the time of Israeli independence (1948), a small fraction of Arabs were driven out of their villages. For those that were, it was an injustice. Had they stayed in Israel (as did many other Arabs who remained and accepted Israeli citizenship), they could have used the Israeli courts to sue for damages or return of properties. If they left for neighboring countries along with other Arabs who had abandoned their properties, hoping that Arab armies would snuff out nascent Israel, then they basically forfeited their property rights in Israel.

raja_r May 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm

“If they left for neighboring countries along with other Arabs who had abandoned their properties,…, then they basically forfeited their property rights in Israel.”

Why?

“hoping that Arab armies would snuff out nascent Israel”

Did *all* of the people who left think that? So, if some Canadians force people out of NY, the correct response is to wait for the Canadians to form a government and a court system in NY and then sue them in their courts for damages?

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Do you understand the difference between abandonment of property and being forced out at gunpoint?

Abandonment of property happens all the time during wars and if your side doesn’t win, you lose rights to your former property. This is the standard to which all other countries are held. Why are you holding Israel held to a different standard?

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

“Abandonment of property happens all the time during wars and if your side doesn’t win, you lose rights to your former property.”

So if I flee with my family to avoid any of us getting killed in the fighting, I’ve lost all claim to my property? Really?

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm

If your side loses, then really.

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Why don’t you try explaining that with logic instead of simply making assertions? And why do you assume the refugee has to have a side? Just because someone was an Arab Muslim didn’t mean they actually took sides–some people just want peace, some people just want to avoid getting killed. Why should such a person lose their property because someone decided they were on the other side?

BrianR May 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

>James Hanley: So if I flee with my family to avoid any of us getting killed in the fighting, I’ve lost all claim to my property? Really?

The US government didn’t offer to compensate or resettle United Empire Loyalists or their descendants. Should they do so now?

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Hanley, do you know any of the history? What happened during the wars? What happened since? What is “Palestine” and who are the “Palestinians”? If you did, you wouldn’t ask such inane questions. I usually like talking about history, but I’m not in the mood and I have a meeting in a few minutes. Go look it up.

Why should such a person lose their property because someone decided they were on the other side?

I don’t know. I do know that the American Indians have the same claim to the property you now “own” that these “Palestinians” have to the property they claim ownership of.
Do you suppose Europe’s borders have always been at their current locations? Perhaps we should return Australia to the indigenous population? I mean, do you know how war works?

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Methinks,

Yes, I’m rather familiar with the history, thanks for asking.

No living American Indian ever had title to the property I now have. If someone steals my property from me I don’t expect that my great-great-great grandchildren should be able to demand it back. (The issues of who owns Nazi-looted art that is now in museums is an interesting test case on these issues.)

But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a living person or their first-generation descendant who had property to which they had legal title taken from them. I have a former student whose family’s farm was taken by Israel’s government just a few years back, without compensation, when the security wall was built across it. That’s not some long-dead-and-gone person in the past we’re talking about, but people who are living right now.

Now I think Israel has the right to build a security wall,* (as much as we can say a state has rights) but what right does it have to take their property without compensation? Your whole long-dead-people like Native Americans argument is a strawman.

_____________________
*Where the wall is built and whether it’s good policy are separate issues, and while interesting to discuss, are not relevant to the point.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Hanley,

I have to go in three minutes, so I’ll read your reply later if you choose to reply.

I certainly don’t agree with everything Israel does and I also don’t think every policy it has undertaken has been wise. But, I don’t know the specifics of your friend’s case and I don’t necessarily accept as fact anything that either Palestinians or Israelis claim in their stories. There’s a lot of…um…embellishment in that part of the world. So, it’s possible that your friend was wronged and If he was, then I certainly don’t side with Israel.

However, we were talking about property that was taken during wars. You see the difference, yes?

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Methinks,

No, you want to limit the argument to land that was taken during the wars. The discussion as begun by Russ Roberts was the U.S. putting pressure on Israel to make concessions to the other side–those concessions are not just about land taken during the wars. However convenient it is for you to try to limit the argument to that, the argument is in fact broader than that.

In the case of my student, I can of course give you no evidence of my word. But I have every reason to believe it’s true. I talked with her many times during the period it was happening. The loss of the family homestead was deeply painful for her. The U.S. would, at least nominally, like Israel to stop extending their security fence to enclose new settlements, because doing so requires fencing in, and sometimes taking, the property of Palestinians. If that’s not a concession we’re asking them to make, I’d like to know why.

Again, I’m sympathetic to the reasons their building the wall (although I doubt it will really work), but they could at least compensate people.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Hanley,

Are you drunk? Your comment was in response to property lost in wars, not Russ’ post, per se. Now, you pout that your comment wasn’t about wars. I’ve already responded to the portion of your comment to do with your friend’s story. Did you want me to do a little dance for you too?

If Israel wronged your student, then Israel is to blame for that. If people who lost their homes by abandoning them during the war, then they’re gone. I can’t be much clearer.

You know what else is painful? Losing your family to a Palestinian suicide bomber or a missile launched from Gaza into your kids’ school. I can understand your sympathy for your student. But, why no weeping for Israelis who have been murdered by Palestinians on your part? Why no demand from the Palestinians to make concessions? Why relentlessly hound a country that protects instead of endangers its citizens and has rule of law while staying mum about the group of people who have declared it their sole mission in life to murder all Israelis? Hmm?

Mao_Dung May 18, 2011 at 11:59 am

The only logical solution is for non-Jewish Arabs in Israel and the territories is to convert to Judaism. The other choice is to emigrate. That’s what the Jews did for thousands of years. Those who chose to do neither were mostly wiped out in the holocaust. I don’t think that a “Jewish state” has to put up with people that want to destroy their little haven country. The Jews, an educated, prosperous community were expelled from Spain in 1492. Who is suggesting that Jews be given back property and livelihoods, etc. stolen from them by the Spanish? Who is suggesting that the shtetls, and other Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis in WWII be resurrected. If you don’t like Israel, tough. Suck it up.

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I am glad to see that you support Israel, but once again you are simply wrong. Arabs who live in Israel do not have to convert to Judaism. They, in fact have many more rights and freedoms than Arabs living in any other nation, except maybe Iraq. The other Palestinian Arabs now live in their own country.

That country continues to commit acts of terror against Israel, and that is why they are still occupied.

Joshua May 19, 2011 at 12:06 am

They don’t have the vote.

Al Barton May 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm

The answer to your question is that the President doesn’t feel any empathy (remember the “you don’t feel it in your kishkas” remark made to Mr, Obama?) toward Israel but he does toward the Palestinians. Of course, US politics being what they are, his feelings are obscured by obfuscating speeches (e.g.,”Israel’s security will always be uppermost in our approach in this region”). You will hear one at the upcoming AIPAC convention where the President is speaking on Sunday.

Blaise May 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Professor Roberts,

Before the creation of Israel many Jews and Arabs were both living in the land that today is Palestine and Israel. now surely in that time there was at least one Jew and one Arab that got along and cared for each other like family. to make generalizations and false arguments is meaningless and a waste of time.

The reason why you don’t understand the “political Mystery” is because you frame it in a generalization like: “Why does the President of the United States put any pressure on Israel to make concessions to the OTHER SIDE–the side that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, the side where people danced in the streets on 9/11, the side that mourned the death of Osama Bin Laden.” what “other side”? the side where a Palestinian child is born there through no choice of his own? and is automatically considered as “the other side”?

Another example; In Israel there is a site that is called (forgive me if i get the name wrong) The Garden of the Righteous among the Nations, in it they have plaques honoring people of different nationalities that helped save Jews from extermination from the Nazis. Now clearly if theres a German represented there it does not mean ALL germans helped save Jews. the same applies if theres an American, an italian or…. you get the idea. Here’s a peculiar fact; in all these plaques representing dozens of nations there is NOT A SINGLE Arab name represented there. I find it hard to believe that there was not even one Arab that helped Jews during the holocaust so i believe this is an error of omission done on purpose.

You will never get anywhere using terms like “the other side”. For a libertarian (boy do they love arguing over the smallest details and semantics) it blows my mind to hear these arguments from you

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I do not find it hard to believe at all. Arab culture is xenophobic, and Islamic religion is triumphalist. And Anti-semitism is a long held value of both.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

OMG, kyle! Just ‘coz they’re taught from infancy that Jews are pigs and dogs and deserve to die for peace to reign on earth and only my husband’s immediate family knows that I’m half Jewish for my own safety does NOT mean there’s any rampant anti-semitism! Gawd!

dsylexic May 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm

the place called israel was created by the brits because they found oil in the middle east.the colonial powers were not sympathetic to zionism etc.infact they even contemplated created the promised land to the chosen ones in uganda of all places.the current location is a geopolitical result of colonial policies.so the suckit up or emigrate thing can come back to bite anyone who says that those cant take it,should leave

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm

A couple of general remarks.

There is nothing wrong with criticizing Israel. Israel deserves criticism. So do its neighbors. I would suggest that they deserve more.

My post was about the President of the United States. Should he be pressuring Israel to make concessions or pressuring the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist. And then doing something that suggests that they mean it. That’s what this is about. It reminds me a little bit about government spending. Is it too big or too little? Surely the current level should inform your answer to that question.

As to generalizing about groups, I did not mean to generalize about the Palestinians and 9/11 or the Palestinians attitudes generally. I should have stressed that public attitudes come from leadership and incentives. See this earlier piece:

http://cafehayek.com/2004/10/rational_irrati.html

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm

There is nothing wrong with criticizing Israel.

My problem isn’t with the criticism of Israel but with holding Israel to a standard no other country is held to. I also have a problem with holding Israel responsible for crimes committed by the Palestinian Authority.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Well your problem is clearly with some criticisms of Israel, because there were several people above who held Israel to the same standard that they held everyone else to, and you had a problem with their criticism of Israel. Just say that. You have problems with certain criticisms of Israel. Don’t try to deflect by pretending that people are holding Israel to a different standard. Russ has cited Israel’s democratic credentials. The complaint has been “we should hold states to the same standard and Israel’s laudable democratic credentials don’t make them any less liable to criticism on other counts than anyone else”.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Unless you’re claiming that American Indians have a right of return or any other population has the right to the property that was historically lost to war, you’re holding Israel to a different standard.

You made totally inane claims that Israel represses it’s own people. Yeah…I sort of disagree with that. I don’t disagree that Sharon well deserves the title “Butcher of Beirut” and Israel should have punished him. There’s plenty to criticize about Israel, but you don’t know any of those reasons, so you concoct some ominous “repression” of its population.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I haven’t been making right of return arguments from the distant past, Methinks. I’ve referenced recent events. I do not hold Israel to a different standard.

RE: “There’s plenty to criticize about Israel, but you don’t know any of those reasons”

I mentioned several cases and you’re right to add Sabra and Shatila to the list.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I haven’t been making right of return arguments from the distant past

Well, you can assume I wasn’t talking about you then, can’t you?

I’ve referenced recent events.

No you didn’t. You heard something non-specific third hand and just made a general complaint here. “Israel has bulldozed houses” is not a specific event. If you have a specific house you wish to take issue with, please! By all means, let’s hear it.

I’m tickled pink that you agree with me on Sabra and Shatila. But, please, don’t bullshit me with Sabra and Shatila. That’s one of the clearest and most indefensible stains on Israel’s history and you didn’t choose to mention it. You clearly googled it after I brought it up in my comment. Which means that you don’t know anything about Israel and it’s unlikely that you care much. And there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it does mean that you’re just desperate to defend anything the Obamessiah does and says regardless of whether he’s right or wrong. As always.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm

re: “No you didn’t. You heard something non-specific third hand and just made a general complaint here. “Israel has bulldozed houses” is not a specific event. If you have a specific house you wish to take issue with, please! By all means, let’s hear it.”

Forgive me for not furnishing a street address.

Daniel Kuehn May 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm

re: “You clearly googled it after I brought it up in my comment.”

HA!

You really, genuinely think you’re on a plane above everyone else, don’t you?

No – I was well aware of the massacres before you ever mentioned them. I did google it to confirm I was spelling Shatila right – I have no shame in admitting to that. Grow up methinks. You have way too low a view of people that don’t agree with you.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm

You’re right, Daniel, this all about what plane I’m on.

I don’t generally have a low view of you, but you’re certainly doing a good job convincing me I’ve been thinking too highly of you.

Do you really think losing yor marbles on this thread will pass for a convincing argument?

Kurlos May 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm

What’s the standard for daily, explicit threats of genocide, Daniel? What country can we compare Israel to, to see if Israel is meeting the “Daily, Explicit Threat of Genocide” criteria?

Debashish Ghosh May 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm

The perception amongst a significant section of the global community seems to be that, at least to some extent, Palestinians’ animosity towards Israel is understandable. Some Palestinians were displaced from lands that they had been occupying for the creation of the state of Israel – in such a scenario it is expected that the displaced population will harbor resentment towards Israel and perhaps even not accept its “right to exist”. It may also be necessary, in such a scenario, to improve the chances of peace prevailing, that Israel make some “concessions” to the displaced population – which is what the President of the United States is apparently pressuring them to do.

Of course, we can study and analyze history, property rights, argue that Israel is the sole thriving democracy in the middle east, and so on, and try to decide on that basis what the “right” decisions would be (for various players, including the POTUS).. as a practical matter that may not necessarily be the best course towards achieving greater peace in the region. That is probably what is partly driving the POTUS – not to deny other factors which may be political..

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Except the fly in your ointment is that Israel has repeatedly made concessions, and yet it has never bought any peace.

Debashish Ghosh May 18, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Kyle – Of course, it’s possible that the Palestinians are not reasonable in the extent of concessions that they expect from Israel. I myself am not familiar enough with the details to have a meaningful opinion on that.. again though, it does seem that a significant section of the global community does not think the concessions made so far have been enough – and when I say global community, I mean that of Western and other constitutional functioning democracies and not dictatorial/autocratic regimes.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Debashish,

Do you know how much anti-semitism there is in those functioning democracies of Western Europe? Anti-semitism in Europe will make your hair stand on end (actually, racism in general). That they demand concessions is not surprising in the least. If every Jew were hanging from a noose, they’d be demanding concessions of them.

brotio May 18, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Anyone who has heard the way Slavs talk about other Slavic tribes (not to mention non-Slavs) knows full well that tribalism and prejudice is alive and well in all parts of the globe.

Jews are ususally at the top of the list when Europeans need scapegoats. If that’s not sufficient for the demagoguery to have the desired effect, then they start looking for other ethnicities.

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 8:56 pm

My post was about the President of the United States. Should he be pressuring Israel to make concessions or pressuring the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Assuming it’s a proper role for the president to be pressuring other states and nations, then he should be doing both. I don’t understand phrasing it as an either/or question–that’s a false dichotomy. To argue that putting pressure on Israel is appropriate does not preclude arguing that he ought to be putting pressure on the Palestinians (and Syria, and Lebanon).

Joshua May 19, 2011 at 12:09 am

The US should stop paying for Isreali tanks and helicopters. And Nukes. If Isreal wants to talk so tough and make unilateral decisions, it should fight it’s own fights. We cant afford this. “We’re broke.”

bob May 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Prof. Roberts,

I’m surprised you keep referring to “Israel’s right to exist.” Since when do states have rights?

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Sorry. It’s shorthand. It means the right of people living there to be left alone without having to worry about their kids being blown up. Why would any nation make concessions to people who do not respect their right to live peaceably? Yet that is what Israel is asked to do, constantly. Is there another nation that is expected to behave that way?

If Mexicans began killing American school children in the name of Mexico not just reclaiming say, El Paso, but all of the United States, who would demand that the US make concessions to Mexico? But Israel is expected to make concessions to its neighbors even though those neighbors consider themselves at war with Israel simply for existing.

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm

If Mexico began killing American schoolchildren in the name of recapturing all of the United States, would that justify the U.S. taking actions that took the property of Mexicans without compensation and that killed innocent Mexican civilians? I assume you’re not implying a collective guilt concept whereby all Mexicans would be at fault and subject to legitimate retaliation.

But when you say “those neighbors consider themselves at war with Israel” it does sound like you’re assuming collective guilt, implying that every single Palestinian feels that way. I know some Palestinians, and–while they may be outliers–they don’t feel that way. They feel themselves at war with Israel because it keeps taking more and more of their property. The Palestinians I know have no beef with Israel’s existence, just how its actions have negatively affected them.

Again, they may be outliers, but I think a core of libertarianism is that it doesn’t apply group characteristics to individuals.

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Well, the short hand is yes, in a horrible war of that type they may well be justified in doing all sorts of horrible things in order to protect themselves. You see, war sucks, and sometimes you have to throw high minded ideas out of the freaking window when people are killing your children.

ohioralph May 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Bob, I like your statement, “Since when do states have rights.” My suggestion is to erase the borders and establish a voluntary society.
Outsource all government functions, homestead the land and try voluntary exchange among all the residents regardless their ethnic or religious history. Those in power would lose their elite status so they could emigrate or adapt. Government whether called Palestine or Israel operate by force and theft. Without these two conditions, an amazing transformation could occur in this region.

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Yeah that would work out real well in the mid-east. I can see the roving bands of palestinian and Israeli militias frighting it out in my mind right now.

I am not saying that your idea could never work, nor am I saying the leaders in this area of the world are any good.

What I am saying is that there are immense hatreds throughout the middle east. If ever there were a reason to support strong government for the protection of the average person, it would be there.

TeeJaw May 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Why does the President of the United States put any pressure on Israel to make concessions to the other side–the side that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, the side where people danced in the streets on 9/11, the side that mourned the death of Osama Bin Laden. This is a political mystery I do not understand.

I submit that if you substitute “Barack Obama” for “the President of the United States” in the question, it answers itself.

Hari MIchaelson May 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

This is whole discussion is ridiculous for a “libertarian” website. The entire article is filled with statist nonsense.

First, what does a “thriving, constitutional democracy” have to do with anything? Mr Roberts, please tell me the difference:

1. Israelis getting to choose which evil murderer is going to blow up and starve innocent women and children in Pakistan.

Or

2. The people of Pakistan not getting to choose which evil murderers are going to blow up innocent people in Israel.

Using “thriving, constitutional democracy” is simply sophist rhetoric to put Israel in a better light. How does thriving describe a government that depends on wealth stolen from Americans to exist in its current form. Furthermore, your condemnation of “the other side” doesn’t seem to be condemning much of anything. Dancing in the streets at 9/11 and mourning Osama bin Laden don’t seem to be any different than celebrating dropping of the atomic bombs (an event that led to more loss of liberty and murder that Osama ever dreamed of) or the death of FDR. (a man whose final murder count makes Osama seem like a midget in the history of evil men.) This is simply free speech. You use this rhetoric to lump these same people in with the 9/11 perpetrators and bin Laden, but there is a huge difference between free speech and murder.

How in the world do you think Israel has a “right” to exist? Israel is a government that rules over a certain geographical area. The government was put in place by evil murderous British politicians then maintained and supported by murderous American politicians. Apparently you believe the right of individuals to exist can somehow lead to the right of certain Israelis telling the rest of Israelis what to do. There is no inherent “right” for any government to exist. So why do you even use that in your statement?

Finally, the reason the President is condemning Israel right now is simple, and one you really should know. Its because it helps him. Barack has already triangulated the Republicans on foreign policy by killing Osama and bombing Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya. Now he can appear to be reasonable and peaceful by calling on Israel to lessen some of their more aggressive practices. This will satisfy his sheeple following of progressives who purport to believe in love not war while their guy is blowing little girls up all over the world. And since we all know that Barack will not actually do anything that changes the current situation, he’s not really upsetting the Israeli elite that could hurt him in the election.

Ultimately, though, you miss the whole point. Why is the US president pressuring any foreign nation period? Of course the answer to that question is the same answer to why Israel exists in the first place. The Anglo-American civilization has a long and bloody history of telling other individuals what to do and when to do it.

Stephen May 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Very well put Hari. I agree with you 100%

Sandre May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Very well stated. Agree mostly.

robert_o May 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Where’s the comment rating system? This post deserves at least 10 likes.

Hari Michaelson May 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Thank you.

Justin P May 19, 2011 at 11:39 am

I agree with you on a lot of the points you made. Great post!

Mao_Dung May 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Sounds like you would like to see the Jews lose their homeland to the Arabs. Is that what you are saying? The Jews would all be killed. Your thinking stinks, and is evil and murderous. Your understanding of politics and history is no better. I would say worse, but I won’t get into the gutter with the disgusting, ignorant likes of you. People that agree with you have no brains.

Downsize DC May 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm

The biggest mystery is why the U.S. gives “aid” to either side.

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

That I agree with, Although I support Israel, they need to protect themselves, by themselves, and if they cannot do that, then they need to leave the area. I would gladly take millions of intelligent, hard working, and tough Israelis into the United States.

SweetLiberty May 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

At heart, this is a religious war – not one truly of borders. No concession of land will ever be enough. Even if all Israelites moved to Antarctica, terrorist actions would continue on one neighbor or another for slights real or imagined. (You draw picture of Muhammad? I keel you!)

Imagine how much greater a contribution the Palestinians would have to society if they worked on building up their own culture and economy instead of more bombs. A single-minded focus on recapturing land their grandparents once owned wastes time, resources, and labor that could be applied to improving their own lot and that of their society. History is rife with conquest and disputed borders, but at some point you’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got. With more focus on production rather than destruction, the Palestinians could buy real estate rather than decimate it. This is a feud that has lasted centuries – at what point will the people finally say enough’s enough?

Hari MIchaelson May 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

This is complete nonsense. The conflict in the Middle East is not a religious war. The past 100 years have seen the Middle East fight virtually every western colonial nation France, Great Britain, Russia, United States, Italy, the list goes on. The countries were created out of thin air at the whim of some British official not out of tribal or cultural considerations. Yes, religion is used as motive for certain individual participating in the conflict. But it is not a religious war. It is a war created by Western colonial powers that have been attacking the Middle East for a century or more. Japan doesn’t seem to have an Arabian Islamic terrorist problem, ditto for China, Hong Kong, Singapore, all of South America. It seems that this “religious” war is very selective in its enemies. They seem to target the countries that have been invading, enslaving, stealing, and propping up mass murdering regimes in the region.

Hari MIchaelson May 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

The war will end when the West goes broke…at most two decades from now.

SweetLiberty May 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I’ll take that bet!

Hari Michaelson May 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm

About the war ending or the West going broke?

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I agree with some of all of that, but by leaving Religion out of it you beclown yourself. Religion is a big, perhaps the biggest factor.

Hari Michaelson May 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Religion is a factor. But it’s not The factor. Desparate young Arab men (who grew up watching family members being slaughtered by the West) with no hope of a good job or wife will turn to something that gives them fulfillment. In some cases that can be radical Islam. That doesn’t mean that it is the religion that is the underlying problem. Without Western powers destroying Arabians for 50 years, radical religious nutjobs would not be the problem.

In fact, if anything it’s the west that uses religion as a weapon. It I much harder for Obama to convince Americans to go blow up some white, Anglo Christians, so politicians will naturally go after ethnicites and religions that are less accepted and loved. I.e. Arabian islam

Hari Michaelson May 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Sorry for typos. I’m on my iPhone.

Marcus May 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm

And yet, in Bosnia we bombed Christians in defense of Muslims.

Your argument doesn’t work. You’re rationalizing their behavior.

Hari Michaelson May 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I’m not rationalizing anything. I’ve been saying that I don’t think religion plays a pivotal role. But if you don’t think that the fact that the Arabians are Islamic and brown doesn’t make it more palatable for the American people you just need to go read the comments on some right wing blog.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Tribalism plays a pivotal role, Hari. The tribes are just divided by religion.

It I much harder for Obama to convince Americans to go blow up some white, Anglo Christians,

Nonsense. Clinton had no problem convincing America to blow up white Christians in favour of Muslims in the Kosovo conflict.

Without Western powers destroying Arabians for 50 years, radical religious nutjobs would not be the problem

Utter nonsense. Read the Koran and read up on Arabian history. What you say is so completely untrue, I hardly know where to start. Arabs raided and killed each other for sport. Tribe against tribe, bro. That had nothing at all to do with the colonial powers.

Hari Michaelson May 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm

@Methinks1776

At no point, did I say American presidents only bombed people of different color and religion. I was simply saying that it made it easier. I don’t even think this is debatable.

Also I didn’t say that there would be no wars, nor did I say Islamic tribes were peaceful. I was talking about this particular conflict.

Reading the Koran and studying Islamic history has nothing to do with this. Also, an unbiased comparison of Islamic history versus Christian history ( the religion of the West) would reveal that Islam isn’t even in the same league as Christianity when it comes to evil travesties.

I keep saying; this ISN’T a religious conflict. The religious rhetoric is propaganda to keep people from focusing on the true situation. Names that the Anglo-American Empire is using both the Arab and Jewish People to further its own ends more specifically the maintenance of the petro-dollar monopoly and expansion of its power and control.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm

I don’t even think this is debatable.

Oh, it clearly is. You may be correct (although, I personally doubt it), but it’s clearly debatable.

Also, an unbiased comparison of Islamic history versus Christian history ( the religion of the West) would reveal that Islam isn’t even in the same league as Christianity when it comes to evil travesties.

I can absolutely agree that Christians have been as brutal as Muslims historically, but there is no way that Muslims are not in the same league. I can dredge up atrocities from the 150 year Muslim rule in Russia (as just one example) that would turn your stomach.

And, I’m sorry, believe what you want, but I don’t buy your conspiracy theory. I can’t believe you buy in to something so ridiculously far-fetched.

Dan May 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Hari is racist

Dan May 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Never heard about any objections to bombing Berlin.

Dan May 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Leftist whole lives are wrought with belief in conspiracies an nonsense.

EM May 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Wow, your stupid lament just made the idea of free markets a whole lot less attractive to me.

Russ Roberts May 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Very rational. Thanks for stopping by.

BrianR May 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm

>James Hanley: So if I flee with my family to avoid any of us getting killed in the fighting, I’ve lost all claim to my property? Really?

The US government didn’t offer to compensate or resettle United Empire Loyalists or their descendants. Should they do so now?

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

BrianR,

Whether they should have done so then is not the same question as whether they should do so to their 6th generation descendants.

My stance is that expropriation by force and without compensation is not justified. I don’t think what the U.S. did was right. Sometimes too much time passes to be able to realistically try to set things right, but that doesn’t retroactively justify the wrong that was committed.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Hanley,

All war sucks. Keep in mind that when European Jews settled in what is today Israel, they did not rob anyone of anything. They bought land from willing sellers or settled on unclaimed land. You have to remember that the Arabs in the vast majority of the almost completely unpopulated area that we refer to as Palestine were nomads who laid claim to no particular plot of land. Where they did, the land was never wrested from them.

When the Arab states (and indeed, the Arabs in what today is Israel) went to war against Israel, they meant to kill them and rob them of the land Jews bought from Arabs.

So, I ask you: Why are you in a tizzy over Israel not allowing rights of return to a population that went to war against the Jews in order to murder them and rob them of legally acquired property and you are absolutely unconcerned by the fact that the Palestinians are openly declaring their mission as “driving Israel into the sea”. Their aim is to murder all of the Jews and steal all of their property. Israel has no such plans for its neighbours, but it is Israel that bothers you.

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Methinks, you are piling strawman upon strawman. I am not talking about property acquired legally, and I don’t think anyone else here is, either. So why don’t you quit emphasizing something that is not in dispute and start focusing on what is in dispute? Not all of the property currently held by Israel or Israeli individuals was legally acquired either before or after the 1948 war. Most, yes. Not all.

As to rights of return, where have I mentioned that? I haven’t, and so you are again applying a strawman. Instead I have consistently emphasized confiscating property without compensation. Nothing at all there about rights of return. In my ideal libertarian world, anyone has a right to settle anywhere, but as a practical matter I see no way at all in which Israel could afford to allow rights of return, so I’m not arguing for that. But Israel has taken property without compensation, not just in Palestine but in Syria, as I noted previously (I don’t mean the Golan Heights, which I can accept as spoils of war–I mean prior to that when Israel kept purposely encroaching on Syria and staking claim to Syrian territory to expand its own borders).

I stand by Israel as a country that has the right to exist and that should be kept as a U.S. ally. That doesn’t mean it has done no wrong.

Oh, and quit conflating all Palestinians as having the same destroy Israel ideology. It’s not true, and for a guy who keeps claiming to know the facts better than anyone else, it’s pretty revealing about how biased your sources of information must be.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Uh, Hanley,

The conversation you inserted yourself into was about land lost to war, so that implies right of return and compensation issues. Maybe you just need to pay closer attention instead of changing the topic, unbeknownst to anyone, so you can cry “strawman”.

But, don’t worry. By your logic, all we have to do is wait the appropriate number of generations for the Arabs to lose their claim on property. What is the correct number of generations?

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Uh, no, the conversation was about whether U.S. pressure on Israel is justified. Maybe you need to pay closer attention instead of pretending you get to determine the parameters of a debate that began with a much broader basis than you want to allow.

By your logic, all we have to do is wait the appropriate number of generations for the Arabs to lose their claim on property.

Badly phrased, and demonstrating once again that you’re thinking about groups instead of individuals. The “Arabs” don’t have a claim–individuals do. That doesn’t seem like a difficult distinction to me. If the Canadians invade SE Michigan and take my land, it’s not “Americans” who have lost their property, it’s me who’s lost my property.

What is the correct number of generations?

I won’t pretend to know for sure. My kids are alive and in my will, so I think they would have a decent claim. There are no grandkids yet–if some came along in the near future, would they have a claim? I don’t know, but it’s certainly more dubious than my kids’ claim. And I doubt there’s reason to take my great-grandkids’ claim seriously, and I would openly scoff at my great-great grandkids’ claim. But again, we’re talking about the claims of individuals, not “groups,” so it’s not “how many generations of Arabs” that’s the relevant question, but “how many generations of descendants of that individual who lost his land” that is the relevant question.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Hanley,

When you reply to a specific comment you are understood to be replying to that comment, not the original post. If you wanted to reply to original poat, then you should have done so.

So, excuse me…INDIVIDUALS. I think you know what I meant. But, you know, individuals are always seen in context of groups during war, so it’s a pretty useless distinction for our purposes. Some Arabs did stay in Israel and didn’t lose claim to their property, you know. The individuals who did belonged to the group that left.

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 9:06 pm

When you reply to a specific comment you are understood to be replying to that comment, not the original post.

That’s a pretty pathetic excuse. You’ve effectively admitted agreement with my general argument, and now you appear to just be doing your best to dodge blame for your original disagreement with it by saying it’s all my fault you didn’t understand.

But that’s ok–seeing how you argue with others on this thread, I certainly didn’t anticipate anything better from you, so I can’t say my expectations were disappointed.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Hanley,

You are all over the place. This mean old bitch can’t understand what your original argument is. First it’s about property lost in war, then it’s something else. I don’t think you know what you think either. I’m getting the feeling you just want to moan about Israel in general.

James Hanley May 18, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I’m getting the feeling you just want to moan about Israel in general.

That’s pretty funny, given that I’ve repeatedly stated that I’m a supporter of Israel. But this is the nature of political debate isn’t it? It’s mentally easier to just classify your opponent into a convenient category than to deal seriously with an argument that challenges your position. Cognitive shortcuts and all that. Doesn’t make the classification remotely true, but it’s a distressingly common tactic.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm

No. Honestly, Hanley, I just have no idea what you’re trying to say.

Just FYI – my husband is a Muslim from a country that was at war with Israel and my father is Jewish. My father has never been in favour of Israel and many of the Jews in my family question Israel’s right to exist. My husband, on the other hand, is totally pro-Israel. He thinks it’s a shining light in the sea of nonsense in the Middle East and Arabs will be far better off trading with Israel than fighting with it. Wanna sit at my dinner table? I’m with my husband.

I’d rather the Palestinians quit electing militant leaders who run on a platform of wiping Israel off the map and concentrate on trade rather than bombing. It’s the Palestinians who are perpetuating war by sending in suicide bombers and launching missiles at Israel. I’m not saying that because I’m biased toward Israel, it’s just true. And those who engage in these acts hurt their own population more than they hurt Israel.

BrianR May 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Why is it that those who complain about Arab refugees from 1948 never mention the Jewish refugees from Arab states who were plundered and expelled from their homes? That is, those lucky enough to survive.

BrianR May 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm

BTW, I believe that the number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands was roughly numerically equivalent to Arab refugees from Israel. Except in the former case it was generally involuntary, while in the latter, generally voluntary.

brotio May 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm

BrianR,

Are you the same BrianR that used to blog at Townhall?

BrianR May 18, 2011 at 10:59 pm

No.

Avigdor Loeb May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Russ, I think you’re very brave (or is that foolish?) to bring up this issue here, so far removed from the blog’s usual concerns. You’ve influenced my thinking with your wonderful podcasts and the insights you and Don offer, as well as links to your colleagues sites.

What makes the subject of Jews and Israel so interesting is how it doesn’t fit completely with libertarian themes. I’m an orthodox Jew myself, and I realize there are limits to how compatible libertarianism is with traditional views. The idea of Jewish transgenerational peoplehood, transcending the individuals who comprise it at any one time is just the beginning of such a discussion. I’d love if you’d make a podcast (whom would you interview?) about this general theme.

Libertarians often seem to view states, at best, as a resident might view his apartment: a convenience but not something to which a rational person overly attaches himself, even if you decorate it nicely. A nation is a collection of individuals as the building is little more than the collection of apartments. I don’t think that’s our view of government, in general, and particularly with Israel. So that the Jewish claim to the land of Israel, at bottom a religious claim, is more than a good libertarian might be able to bear. How do you wrestle with these tensions?

kyle8 May 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I cannot answer for Russ, but I tend to think those Libertarians who disdain the idea of a “nation” to be a bit foolish. Of course, I am not a pure libertarian, but mostly so.

However, I also understand that human rights, although pre-existant, cannot survive without the protection of the Nation-State. There is no multinational institution which will or can do so.

Furthermore, while some libertarian Ideas are indeed universal, there is a lot of variance as to culture and history. Some nations will tolerate, even ask for a much higher level of government than others. That is their right.

nailheadtom May 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm

” Some nations will tolerate, even ask for a much higher level of government than others. That is their right.”
——————————
A “nation” is an abstraction, a construct. It can’t tolerate or ask for anything.

dsylexic May 19, 2011 at 2:41 am

” I also understand that human rights, although pre-existant, cannot survive without the protection of the Nation-State. ”
totally disagree. the nation state is a modern invention not older than the last 400 years.monarchs have protected human rights for many thousand years before that. india was always a nation culturally.it was dragged into being a nation state only after the brits left.
how libertarians can hold any brief for the nation state is beyond me

Amir Weitmann May 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Russ,

I think that Avigdor Loeb has a fair point. There is a tension between libertarianism and people hood. It’s not so easy to reconcile that tension.

Sam Grove May 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Oh, what a mess is made when a political state is made.

10 Samuel spoke to the people who asked him for a king. He told them what the *Lord had said. v11 Samuel said, ‘The king will rule over you. And this is what he will do. He will take your sons and make them into his soldiers. They will serve with his horses and *chariots. They will run in front of his *chariots. v12 The king will make some of your sons lead thousands of soldiers. Other sons will lead groups of 50 soldiers. The king will make some of your sons plough his ground. Then they will have to harvest his crops. Other sons will have to make *weapons for war and equipment for the *chariots. v13 The king will take your daughters. They will make perfume. They will also cook and bake for him. v14 The king will take your best fields. He will take the best land where you grow grapes and olives. He will give all these to his officers. v15 Then he will take a tenth part of all your grain and grapes. He will give this to his officers and servants. v16 He will take your male and female servants. He will take your best cows and *donkeys. He will use them for his own work. v17 He will take a tenth part of the total number of your sheep. And he will make you into his slaves too. v18 When all this happens you will cry out to the *Lord. But the *Lord will not answer you then’.

v19 But the people would not listen to Samuel. They said, ‘No. We want a king to rule us. v20 We want to be like all the other nations with a king to rule us. He will lead us when we go to war. He will fight our battles’.

v21 Samuel listened to all that the people said. Then he went and told the *Lord. v22 The *Lord said, ‘You must listen to them. You must give them a king’.

Then Samuel told the people of *Israel, ‘Go back to your own towns’.

Joshua May 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Religion is as much the culprit as the state.

Adam May 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I think the authors of this blog should stick to economics. I don’t think they have anything particularly insightful to say about Middle East politics.

Ryan Vann May 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Agreed, one can only speculate as to why Russ felt compelled to post this.

Simon May 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm

It’s interesting to see that the vast majority of the uprisings and protests by Palestinians haven’t been by the Palestinians living within Israel, but rather by the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

chico sajovic May 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Israel is a fraud! Their country is based on ethnic identity. please don’t try and pass them off as a constitutional democracy. Their land is stolen from the plunder of war, they disallow some of their rightful citizens the right to live in their country based on ethnicity. its a shame that you include them as a role model for the region. free markets depend on the destruction of racism and nationalism, Israel, as written in their constitution is an exclusionary racist state. The nicest thing I can say about israel is that they suck less then the Palestinians.

Dan May 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Is there a nation today not secured through the plunder of war? As the most recent one of consequence comes to mind, you would neglect the rest as history. There are people in Tucson, today, who make claims that the Southwest belongs to people of Hispanic heritage and that it should be returned. They teach in public schools. Bombs or other weapons are not used. But, vitriolic speech is used.

Jamie_NYC May 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Thank you Professor Roberts for this very educational post. This is a sobering reminder of how even the most educated, open-minded and freedom-loving individual can descend to the netherworld of blind bigotry. Just to make my personal background clear: I’m of south Slavic extraction, never had close friends who were Arabs, and did have and still have Jewish friends.

The world is a darker place than I, in my optimism, imagined. Thanks anyway.

Hari Michaelson May 18, 2011 at 10:37 pm

This entire comment thread speaks towards the danger of collective thinking. The words Jew and Muslim cannot begin to describe the actions and intentions of 1 billion people. It is something that we all do. I’m as guilty as any. It is good to remember that the majority of people in the Middle East will never murder an innocent person nor steal from another person. Most of these individuals will wake up every morning wanting and doing nothing more than helping their family and friends. We should all be hesitant to group these individuals under grossly inadequate labels.

Methinks1776 May 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I may be just old and tired (and a bitch), but I don’t see how you reconcile this post with what you previously wrote:

Anglo-American Empire is using both the Arab and Jewish People to further its own ends more specifically the maintenance of the petro-dollar monopoly and expansion of its power and control.

So, are you retracting this statement based on the inadequacy of labels?

Hari MIchaelson May 19, 2011 at 12:03 am

I’m not reconciling them. Though I don’t think that statement would be my first to retract. I do think that the Oligarchs that run the Anglo- American Empire are using and exploiting pretty much anyone in the Middle East. But I will admit that dividing individuals into Arab or Jew is really me just slipping into the kind of collectivist thinking that created the situation in the first place. Anglo-American Empire is really a poor choice of words by me. I should have said the Rulers of the Anglo-American Empire (which is pretty specific and not really collective).

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 12:53 am

Oh, I have no doubt our rulers are willing to exploit anything and everything. But, I don’t think you’re correct about the “exploitation” of the ME.

The Palestinian situation has been both created and exploited by the rulers of the Arab countries in the ME. That unrest benefits them the most as they all impose repressive regimes and they all need a scapegoat. The Palestinian situation is perfect for that. They’ll do virtually anything to impede peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis (we’re talking rulers here – the animosity between individual Arabs and Jews is surprisingly low). If the Arabs and Jews started just trading with each other instead of warring with each other, the anger would turn toward these Arab regimes at home (you probably noticed the scapegoat thing has lost its effectiveness recently). Oh, those dictators don’t want that.

The surrounding Arab regimes hold much more sway in that part of the world than the rulers of the Anglo-American Empire.

Dan May 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Racist!!!!

Peter May 19, 2011 at 10:05 am

Last part of the last paragraph of the link says it all:
Well, when the Arab world and the Palestinians undergo a genuine transformation toward liberalism and an acceptance of history, there might be lasting peace. Until then, we’re wasting our time

End all foreign aid to both Israel and the concoction of Islamostatists hating Israel. Trade freely with both. See how long Hamas and others will continue to exist.

As soon as Israel quits asking U.S. permission to use the restroom, those terrorist states are in a lot of trouble.

Jett Rucker May 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

Views of the kind expressed in this post are defended by people who do not hesitate (metaphorically) to slip a dagger between your ribs (and those of your relatives). So I comment under a “safe” name.

Israel is the nuclear-armed chief threat to peace in the region, that exploits the bottomless and non-voluntary support of US taxpayers and the US war machine to expand and expropriate the property, land, livelihoods, even nationhood of the unfortunate peoples among whom it has inserted itself, quite uninvited.

Could our poster confine himself more to this site’s customary brief? I wouldn’t visit for this, except to oppose it.

Ryan Vann May 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

As happy, just, and constitutionally democratic a place as Israel is purported to be (by apologists), it is one of the last places on Earth I’d choose to live in.

Mao_Dung May 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I suspect an anti-semitic undercurrent to your comments. 6,000,000 murdered have lost their voice so they can no longer influence the course of events except by those still alive to do so. Israel is the proper outcome of heinous events of human history. If you don’t like it, you can lump it.

Don Kenner May 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Thank you, Russ Roberts, for saying what needed to be said. No amount of facts will dissuade the Israel-haters. They will continue to believe that a people who did not exist lost land when Jordan invaded Israel, and that the land-stealing Jews are to blame.

Even though Israel acquired the land in defending itself from invasion, and even though Israel has given back 93% of the land they’ve taken in defensive wars (which makes them #1 among nations who go to war), nothing will convince the anti-Israel zealots, who understand the Middle East the way that William Jennings Bryan understood Darwin.

The amount of ignorance (and even antisemitism) from many libertarians on this issue is shocking and appalling. They toss away their ability to reason and join the worst anti-capitalists of the left in spewing fake history and Pali propaganda; arguments that are no better than the socialist arguments for collective ownership of property.

Two and half billion in aid to Egypt? Yawn. Three billion in aid to Pakistan? Yeah, we should probably cut out that foreign aid…snooze. But mention any aid to Israel and they wet their pants like Pat Buchanan on Passover.

Disgusting. But more and more free-market individualists need to put their foot down and say “enough with the bull@#$%! Get your facts in order or piss off.” Hopefully Russ Roberts has started a trend.

rational skeptic May 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

While I mostly agree that many have gone a little overboard on this site I don’t think it’s fair to call all military interventionist skeptics “disgusting.” Since when is it libertarian to support foreign aid? When is government to government aid good for liberty? I think you put up a straw man when you mentioned all the other countries we give aid. I don’t support it and I don’t think I am more skeptical of aid to Israel. There is a dynamic equilibrium (the balance of power in the region) that we are disrupting with our largess- we can rationalize why we would want to do that, but picking winners and losers doesn’t strike me as Hayekian.

Ryan Vann May 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm

As far as I can tell, the US sends Israel more money per capita than any other nation state. That includes the nation building experiments in Iraq and Afghanistan. And for what; so they can blow up aid flotillas and expand settlements? This isn’t even a matter of Hayekian dynamics, but just plain cost benefit analysis.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Ryan,

If you oppose foreign aid in general, then I’m with you. But, I think you should reconsider your position on Israel’s efforts to defend itself from the aggressive impulses of its genocidal neighbours. Your current logic would lead us to conclude that it’s wrong for a woman to fight off a rapist.

Ryan Vann May 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I think you should reconsider your support of a provacateur state, with false narratives about existential threats. Your current logic would lead us to conlude rape is ok if done in self defense. If Israel wants to defend itself, by all means it can do it without being ostensibly a protectorate of the US (one that doesn’t even pay a tribute) lord knows we’ve given the place a large enough military.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm

In what way is Israel a provacateur state? The very existence of Jews provokes the genocidal Arabs. Perhaps if we just scrape them off the map, the Arabs can move down the list to the next group of people who provoke them?

Shall I provide you with a few examples of Israel’s existential threat, or do you prefer to marinate in your soup of anti-Semitic ignorance?

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Yep.

Israel has fought for its existence in the same way that all countries fought for their current borders. There’s nothing unique about Israel in that respect.

The Arabs do not want to accept the reality that they’ve never been able to win a war against Israel and they never will. So, they have declared perpetual war against Israel. They loudly and proudly state their genocidal goals and perpetually engage in acts of war against Israel.

Fine. But if Arabs are going to war against Israel, that means Arabs will die in that war. Why should we be particularly sympathetic to genocidal maniacs who happen do die in their effort to commit genocide?

That any U.S. president takes the side of these modern-day Nazis and demands that Israel makes concessions to the very people whose stated goal is genocide is nauseating.

And for those who moan about the will of individual Palestinian, point taken. Not every single Arab is genocidal. But, that doesn’t change the reality that the Palestinians overwhelmingly vote for militant terrorist groups as their leaders and that Israelis are left to deal with the result in the best way it can. If all of these individuals are so tired of war, maybe it’s time to stop voting for terrorists whose stated goal is genocide. Perhaps that’s what Obama should tell them. He won’t, of course.

MWG May 19, 2011 at 4:39 pm

So any skepticism of Israeli policy (or of the US policy towards Israel for that matter) makes one an “Israel-hater” or “Anti-Israel zealot”.

I’d be curious to know if you could name one thing that Israeli has done that you find disagreeable. I’ll be honest, I don’t know that much about the history, but I’d be absolutely shocked to find out that Israel has always acted perfectly and in 100% good faith in dealing with the Palestinians. No country is above criticism. Hell, not even the US, and we’re ‘exceptional’.

“Two and half billion in aid to Egypt? Yawn. Three billion in aid to Pakistan? Yeah, we should probably cut out that foreign aid…snooze. But mention any aid to Israel and they wet their pants like Pat Buchanan on Passover.”

This might be the dumbest part of your whole tirade. If you think libertarians are lack luster in their opposition to foreign aid to countries like Egypt and Pakistan (or any country for that matter), you simply don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm

MWG,

For me, Sabra and Shatila has always been one of the most heinous and inexcusable episodes in Israeli history. As far as I can tell, there is no possible way to view actions as anything but evil. I’m sure you can google to get details on the whole sordid mess. What was Israel’s response to the actions of the IDF under the command of Ariel Sharon? Under pressure from the Israeli citizens, the government set up the Kahan Commission, which found the IDF indirectly responsible and Ariel Sharon directly responsible (I think – working from memory). Sharon was forced to resign, but maintain his cabinet post and eventually became PM (which the Kahan Commission forbade). I’m sure that we can find many stories of IDF soldiers misbehaving.

Here’s the thing, though. Israel punishes those IDF soldiers. The state or members of the state commit acts that are questionable even in the generous interpretation. But, Israel punishes those wrong doers. That NEVER happens in Arab countries. What does the Palestinian leadership do? It declares as its mission the total eradication of the Israeli state. It rewards families of suicide bombers with giant bonuses and lifetime financial support (undoubtedly from foreign aid as there is no economy to speak of in the territories – yet, nobody seems to question this foreign aid) . What do the Palestinians do? The overwhelming majority vote for the leaders from the terrorist group Hamas.

Ultimately, should we turn a blind eye to any wrongs Israel commits is not the question. Certainly the answer to that can’t be “yes”.

You have two sides. One side oppresses its own people and elects leaders who run on a platform of scraping the other side off the map and routinely kills this other side’s civilians. The other side does not have such aspirations and does not launch offensive attacks (defensive, it does).

If you are the president of the United States and you’ve decided this is your business to stick your nose into, which side should you demand concessions of? This, I take as Russ’ point.

MWG May 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Thanks for the response Methinks. Having studied with and become good friends with both a Palestinian and Israeli (Who are also friends BTW) I try to remain neutral.

That said, I take issue with the idea that (as Don Kenner seems to have suggested) anyone who criticizes Israel is an “Israel-hater” or “Anti-Israel zealot”.

As a libertarian, I am absolutely opposed to every cent the Israeli government has managed to steal from American taxpayers. If they want the ‘right to exist’ they should have to bear the cost themselves (of course they should have the right to seek financial support from willing individuals) and in a way the protects the legitimate rights of individuals.

Before anyone accuses me of having any type of ‘anti-Israeli’ feelings based on the above, let me just say that I hold the Palestinians to the same exact standard.

“If you are the president of the United States and you’ve decided this is your business to stick your nose into, which side should you demand concessions of? This, I take as Russ’ point.”

That may very well be his point, but there was just something about it that seemed out of place for Russ’s normal ‘libertarian’ take on things. I think it would have been better for Russ to make the point that it’s really none of the US government’s business and leave it at that.

Ultimately, I find nothing really disagreeable about your response. I will, however, be googling ‘Sabra and Shatila’.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm

I’m not at all surprised an Israeli and a Palestinian are friends. It’s one thing to babble about all this from a million miles away and another thing entirely when you live shoulder to shoulder.

As a libertarian, I’m sure you understand that it’s not Israel or the Palestinians stealing from U.S. taxpayers but our own “public servants”.

I’m not “neutral”. I think it would be to everyone’s benefit to drop the goal of scraping Israel off the map – chiefly, the Palestinians. The ones who have not managed to escape that hellish place really are suffering, as I’m sure you already know.

rational skeptic May 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I have great respect for your work (I have listened to every econtalk podcast- sometimes multiple times) and the principles that you espouse. I would also like to say that if there is one place where I think that a thought provoking yet respectful conversation could take place I know it is here. I would say that I have more questions then positive comments to make since I know a decent amount about the subject but am far from a specialist.
1) If the U.S. gives money to Israel does it have a right to influence Israel’s decisions (at the very least Israel’s leaders will take this cash flow into consideration when making decisions)? In international relations I thought that foreign aid was chiefly about buying leverage over which to influence another nation. No one forces Israel to take the aid (which is in the ballpark of $2-3 billion a year).
2) Are we (U.S. taxpayers) morally responsible for what Israel does with our aid money? If we give them billions and they spend some of this on settlements then are we indirectly building settlements (I’m not sure about this but this is how the arabs see it).
3) Is Israel too big to fail? I absolutely believe in Israel’s right to exist and like you I am generally in its cheering section. But from a U.S. strategic perspective is it in our interest to overwhelmingly support one member of a region that is at odds with the rest of the region? If Israel was ever in serious danger (and I don’t see this in the foreseeable future) would/should the U.S. intervene to prevent catastrophe?
4) Bryan Caplan calls conscription slavery, do you agree? Does Israel’s military structure in any way influence your opinion about it?
5) I try to see international relations in Hayekian terms. If the U.S. subsidizes Israel are we not propping up an arrangement that without our intervention there would be considerable incentive to resolve the problem? Isn’t there a public choice problem where Israel knows that it will get U.S. support if it is threatened so it pursues more aggressive policies (as a rational response)?
6) What is the appropriate standard to hold Israel to? Should it be higher than its neighbors because it is a modern advanced democracy? Should it get more leeway because of its pressing security concerns? Should we somehow attempt to be neutral, which is mostly impossible.
7) I don’t see any solution. Both sides treat each other as the enemy (and make zero-sum calculations accordingly). Do you see a way out?

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm

The United States also provides aid to the Palestinians, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. Why should the United States only take issue with Israel’s policies?

Your “both sides see each other as enemies” argument is ridiculous. Israel has no aspirations to expand its borders and has expressed no desire to commit genocide. The stated goal of the elected leadership of the Palestinians, Hezbollah, and, indeed, almost all Arabs is the genocide of Jews. Can you blame the Jews for viewing Arabs as enemies? OTOH, what reason do Arabs have for viewing Israel as its enemy? Israelis do not pursue Arabs to fight. Arabs pursue Israelis.

What is the appropriate standard to hold Israel to? Should it be higher than its neighbors because it is a modern advanced democracy?

Can you think of any valid reason for moral relativism?

rational skeptic May 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Several things. First I don’t think America only criticizes Israel (nor do I think it should). I was merely trying to make the point that in a fluid military situation (suicide bomb followed by counter-strikes followed by suicide bomb) it is not always possible to be completely innocent. Israeli’s kill innocent civilians- fact. But that shouldn’t be the beginning or end of any conversation. Was Israel acting legitimately in its self-defense? Were those civilians being used as human shields? I don’t think there is always one way to see the violence that is happening.
On to the second point about genocide. I view any Arab who talks about genocide as either delusional, crazy or a politician. But did you really say, “what reason do Arabs have for viewing Israel as its enemy? Israelis do not pursue Arabs to fight. Arabs pursue Israelis.” Really. Really. Have you not heard what some more right wing members of Likud have said the last 30 years? There are many in Israel who would love to see a “Greater Israel.”
I am curious what you make of the settlements? First, do you view them as legal? Second, if they can’t even be frozen what are the chances that they will ever be taken apart as part of a piece deal? Lastly, I AM NOT TRYING TO SINGLE OUT ISRAEL, but should we subsidize settlement building (and I know we don’t write a check marked “settlement funds” but as anyone who reads this site knows money is fungible)?
I would also appreciate it if you would give me your take on my other points- from an economics/international relations perspective are we distorting the structure of defense production.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Again, your bias shines through. Now, look, I don’t think you mean to be biased, but you are.

In wondering about the killing of innocents, you only perseverate over anyone killed by Israel, not one mention of the missiles launched into Israel or the suicide bombers attacking malls. Perhaps there might be some legitimate reasons those strapped and strapping young men needed to protect themselves from rabid shoppers? Why is your concern so one-sided?

I view any Arab who talks about genocide as either delusional, crazy or a politician.

And why would you view them as anything else? I mean it’s not like any of these parlor revolutionaries have ever strapped themselves with explosives and murdered innocent civilians in cold blood or anything. Come on! You can’t be serious.

Have you not heard what some more right wing members of Likud have said the last 30 years? There are many in Israel who would love to see a “Greater Israel.”

Sure. When a handful of fringe politicians talk (but the action is never pursued and is as likely to be pursued as the United States is likely to become a Christian Theocracy), then Arabs are completely justified in claiming that Israel is attacking them. Those dumb Jews have absolutely no reason to fear whacky Arabs who more than occasionally actually do make good on their effort to “drive Israel into the sea” by blowing up buses, nightclubs, malls, etc. I can totally see why you think those two things are equally threatening/non-threatening. Again…come on.

Here’s what I think of the settlements: nothing. The settlements are a distraction. And, yes, I do think that if Israel struck a peace deal with the Palestinians, it would remove its settlements if that was part of the deal. So far, Israel has not provided any evidence that it won’t make good on its deals. Why should I think otherwise?

But, here again, you’re focusing on Israeli settlements with no mention of Palestinians (except to dismiss their terrorism with the wave of a hand). I realize money is fungible, but why are you not concerned about all the money we give to the Palestinian “refugees”? Why no concern that they’re using that money to arm themselves to “drive Israel into the sea”?

On thing you should remember is that right of return is an emotional tool used by other Arab countries to do one thing: delay a deal indefinitely (this benefits the surrounding Arab dictatorships tremendously). The idea behind right of return is to overwhelm the Israeli state with Arabs who will then use its institutions against it in order to….you guessed it…drive the Jews into the sea. Israel’s on to that, so it’ll never happen.

As for your final question: I have no clue if we’re distorting the structure of defense production. None at all. Never even thought about that question.

As a matter of principle, I’m not a fan of government foreign aid of any kind. I make no exception for anyone – including Israel. My opinion is that the U.S. government has no business funding any of this with money stolen from its citizens and the president of the United States has no business demanding anything of any other country or people. It’s entirely inappropriate.

rational skeptic May 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Why do I feel like someone from the austrian school and chicago school fighting over government programs. They both agree they should be cut (or eliminated), but disagree about why (Vienna & Chicago by Mark Skousen does a good side by side). I didn’t mean to sound biased, I view murdering innocent civilians as evil regardless who does it. I agree that we shouldn’t be funding the Palestinians either but from what I understand we give them far less (about a tenth what we give to the Israeli’s) and we pull it when they elect leaders we disagree with (I guess I’m happy that we pull it, but the perception that we are meddling in the internal affairs of some of the weakest people on the planet looks bad).
It is my understanding (from someone who is Jewish and talks regularly to people about Israel) that quite a few people on the Israeli right speak of the Palestinians as mere obstacles. You are absolutely right when you said that the other Muslim countries in the region use the Palestinians as pawns- the Israeli’s don’t as well?
Maybe I don’t know enough about the settlements but what I do know is that they are deemed illegal by the Europeans (not exactly neutral in this matter but who is) and they are growing fast. Can you think of any special interest group in America with as much relative pull that could be easily dislodged. I can’t possibly conceive of these things being rolled up.
Do you consider the West Bank and Gaza to be occupations?
I do apologize for being “biased.” The main reason is that in America I find that being even slightly critical of Israel is almost a national sin. I wasn’t trying to whitewash the Palestinians (or anyone in that region for that matter), but I think that Americans don’t get both sides to the story.
Happily, as classical liberals I think we can all agree that, “As a matter of principle, I’m not a fan of government foreign aid of any kind. I make no exception for anyone – including Israel. My opinion is that the U.S. government has no business funding any of this with money stolen from its citizens and the president of the United States has no business demanding anything of any other country or people. It’s entirely inappropriate.”
What I love about this site is that I can find common cause with strangers based on first principles.

Dan May 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I too, take issue with highlighting Israeli actions that result in a life loss of a child. The failure to mention the actions by the militants in the region known as Palestine, gives me an impression of bias from Skeptic.
Palestinian terrorists target civilians and innocent Israelis who have never even touched a weapon.
To top it off, the Israeli army is clearly marked with fatigues. Palestinian militants hide in civilian clothing and launch attacks from civilian structures…… Or suicide bomb in civilian clothing.

rational skeptic May 19, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I never, ever said or thought that targeting civilians is ok. EVER. The reason I highlighted Israeli abuses is because in this forum you don’t have the space or time to write a book worth of your opinions. In America Palestinians are constantly referred to as terrorists. That is usually appropriate. But when Israeli’s do things that are wrong it gets whitewashed. I did not mean to suggest that evil actions are ok if they were perpetrated by your actor of choice. I accept your criticism though I hope you recognize the limitations of the medium.

Dan May 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Questions one and two

Insert Palestinians for Israel

Are we responsible for murdering Israelis since it likely that Palestinian aid goes to the attacks on Israel?

By the way…… We are most likely the reason for Israel to not end the madness today and wipe the region clean of aggressive terrorist individuals who threaten Israel.

rational skeptic May 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

How easy is it to identify terrorists? Should we only kill those who have done something or those that are planning on doing something? Should we demolish the communities that knowingly support these people? How about the communities that unknowingly support them? What if, perhaps, this policy of trying to wipe out terrorists creates more terrorists (a la Lebanon circa 1982)?

Brianna May 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm

800,000 Israelis were displaced from various Middle Eastern muslim countries after the 1948 war, and their property confiscated by those governments. Yet nobody ever whines about the Jews’ “right of return” to those countries. Anyone who supports the Palestinian right of return without also arguing for a return of those Jews evicted with no cause from the various countries of the middle east, or at least compensation for their property, is a serious hypocrite.

Adam May 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Lots of people here seem quite comfortable in their beliefs that Arabs are sub-human, including one of our esteemed bloggers.

Very sad.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Please point out the comments that claim that Arabs are sub-human. I missed those posts – particularly the one you attribute to the host.

Perhaps you’re just a fool?

PrometheeFeu May 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm

As democratic as Israel is, it does practice expropriation quite liberally. The security fence they are building in some cases intersects through private land depriving the owners of property rights. During the creation of Israel, a war broke out which caused many people to flee. The state of Israel claims that those who fled have no right to the property they left behind when attempting to escape violence. Israel often destroys the houses of people whose only crime is to have family members mad enough to be suicide bombers. Determining the relative guilt of the multiple parties here is a futile exercise. But one thing is sure: both some Palestinian organizations and the State of Israel have committed many crimes against innocent people and continue to do so.

Ultimately, the property right issues have become very complicated. If you steal something from me, the resolution is clear: you must give it back. But what if you stole something from me, used your politically powerful friends to send me into exile in which I died while in the meantime, you sold my property to someone else, who sold it to someone else, and you died leaving behind no heirs. What are my heirs entitled to? Wouldn’t it be quite unacceptable to simply expropriate the latest purchaser of what is now rightfully my children’s property? But wouldn’t it be equally unacceptable to simply deny my children what is rightfully theirs? This is what it has come down to. Some Israeli have been populating land that is theirs only because their government stole it from someone else. Resolving that situation is very complicated and simply telling the victims of expropriation to shove it because they may have expressed emotions you find wrong is just unacceptable Russ.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Some Israeli have been populating land that is theirs only because their government stole it from someone else.

Why are only Israelis “guilty” of populating land won in war? I can’t think of anyone alive today who doesn’t own property that was at one time or another in history acquired as a result of war.

How far back in history shall we go back to return what you think is your property to its “rightful” owners?

The state of Israel claims that those who fled have no right to the property they left behind when attempting to escape violence.

That’s not what happened, but never mind. You know, the Arab states, threatened, tortured, then dispossessed and expelled their Jewish (not Israeli, mind, JEWISH) populations after the 1948 war and never allowed therm to return and never so much as considered compensating these now homeless people for robbing them of all they had. This happened to an estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 people. Yet, not a peep from you about these refugees. Why? Why are only the Arabs who voluntarily fled the area that is now Israel deserving of compensation and a right of return?

Resolving that situation is very complicated and simply telling the victims of expropriation to shove it because they may have expressed emotions you find wrong is just unacceptable Russ.

But only if the victims are non-Jews. The Jewish victims of expropriation don’t count. Or at least not worthy of mention by you in your super even-handed comment.

Oddly, Russ never tells anybody to shove anything. So, I believe you’re fining your strawman to be unacceptable – which, being a straw man, it would be.

Israel often destroys the houses of people whose only crime is to have family members mad enough to be suicide bombers.

Not true. They’re also guilty of accepting compensation from Hamas for giving up their family members to the cause and most of them openly declare themselves at war with Israel. It’s almost always a family effort. Israel also destroys terrorist safe houses.

rational skeptic May 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I agree that compensation should go both ways. At the end of the day I see this as the Israeli’s saying that they will buy the goodwill of their neighbors. The Arabs don’t care about the “goodwill” of Jews. Of course there is a double standard there…

Dan May 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

And how are the friends and families of murdered Israelis to get the lives back what was taken from them? Lives of loved ones. Maybe, add up all civilian casualties and when one side is more than the other…… Take loves to equal up….. Obama is for equality….. That should wipe out Palestine.

Dan May 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm

By your assertion, all white people should return to various parts of northwestern Europe.
All Asians should return…… Blacks to Africa…. And so on…..

Arabs and Muslims need to leave parts of Africa……etc.,…..

Joshua May 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Isreal is, and most likely will continue to this day to be an expansionist land grabbing regional power with no intention of ever making concessions for real peace. They are just fine with quasi peace based on military superiority.

rational skeptic May 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

And what is the alternative. I truly see myself as a moderate on this issue. If you don’t give up the land or any other concessions they you become “fortress Israel” and ultimately you’re forced to rely on the United States for diplomatic cover. If you give almost everything that the Arabs want (without the right to return because that is unrealistic at this point) then what is to stop the Arabs from pressing for more? Have you seen what they teach children in Gaza and the West Bank? Anti-semitism is an understatement. So now that you have a treaty, a peace of paper, what next? Who enforces it? Who regulates the radicals on both sides? You can say many things about Israel but from an international relations standpoint they are not irrational.

Amir May 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I liked “acceptance of history” the most. Don’t you believe that the debate belongs to present not past?, I wonder how is it that David Harsanyi calls it “history”?!
I think it is nothing but just a dream to talk about human beings being civilized, yet.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I think by “history” Harsanyi means that the Arabs lost the wars to Israel. Instead of moving on, they keep fighting.

Methinks1776 May 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Some Israeli have been populating land that is theirs only because their government stole it from someone else.

Why are only Israelis “guilty” of populating land won in war? I can’t think of anyone alive today who doesn’t own property that was at one time or another in history acquired as a result of war.

How far back in history shall we go back to return what you think is your property to its “rightful” owners?

The state of Israel claims that those who fled have no right to the property they left behind when attempting to escape violence.

That’s not what happened, but never mind. You know, the Arab states, threatened, tortured, then dispossessed and expelled their Jewish (not Israeli, mind, JEWISH) populations after the 1948 war and never allowed therm to return and never so much as compensated these now homeless people for taking their property. This happened to an estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 people. Yet, not a peep from you about these refugees. Why? Why are only the Arabs who voluntarily fled the area that is now Israel deserving of compensation and a right of return?

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/935409/posts

http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_independence_refugees_jews_why.php

Resolving that situation is very complicated and simply telling the victims of expropriation to shove it because they may have expressed emotions you find wrong is just unacceptable Russ.

But only if the victims are non-Jews. The Jewish victims of expropriation don’t count. Or at least not worthy of mention by you in your super even-handed comment.

Oddly, Russ never tells anybody to shove anything. So, I believe you’re fining your strawman to be unacceptable – which, being a straw man and all, he would be.

Israel often destroys the houses of people whose only crime is to have family members mad enough to be suicide bombers.

Not true. They’re also guilty of accepting compensation from Hamas for giving up their family members to the cause and most of them openly declare themselves at war with Israel. It’s almost always a family effort.

Slappy McFee May 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm

215 comments and counting — nothing brings out the best of the internets better than an Israel thread

MWG May 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm

So true.

Joshua May 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I think Barak Obama said it best today when he said that Israel needs to “accept that it can never have a truly peacful nation based on permanent occupation”

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