I am following up on my post, Israel: 7 Percent Legitimate, analyzing the arguments made by Alan Futerman, Rafi Farber, and Walter Block in their paper, The Libertarian Case for Israel. I felt at the time I was writing that I was seeing only a summary of a much more detailed examination but I was unable to find anything more online. I wasn’t too worried about this – given how error-laden the summary is when viewed through a libertarian (or even just plain logical) lens; I didn’t believe it would get any better in the details.
There was one point that I thought would be worth further investigation, when the authors wrote:
…if modern day Jews can prove descent from the original Jewish homesteaders, which we demonstrate they can both culturally and genetically…
This cultural and genetic connection, the authors claim, can be made from Roman times – 2,000 years ago! If the authors demonstrate this is the formal paper, I want to see it.
Well, I didn’t even have to ask, and yet I received – a link provided in the comments section: The Legal Status of The States of Israel: a Libertarian Approach (PDF).
It is 119 pages – and there is no chance I am going to dissect 119 pages. I do want to focus on the one specific topic – the cited sentence above. The authors begin this cultural and genetic analysis on page 521 of the journal (page 87 of the PDF).
It is now time to make our case that the Jewish purchase of land, the ownership of which is under dispute, was unnecessary. Why? Because the Jews were and are now the rightful owners of it. It was stolen from them some 2000 years ago, and the Hebrews are merely repossessing what would have come down to them in ordinary inheritance practices, from parents to children.
An overview of some of the ground covered by the authors: They acknowledge the controversy about the genetic connection between Jews of 2,000 years ago and Jews in Israel today; they also address the idea of a statute of limitations; they claim that the Palestinians in 1947 were not forced out; they paint a tribal roadmap, beginning 3,300 years ago; the tribes that occupied the land prior to 2,000 years ago don’t count (unless it was the Jews); the tribes who occupied the land after 2,000 years ago don’t count (unless it was the Jews); Palestinians of 1947 didn’t really have good title; the tribes in North America before the white man came really don’t count, so don’t try this same stunt in that case.
Yes, I am embellishing some of these a little, but not out of whole cloth. Go ahead and read it for yourselves if you don’t believe me – the entire section on the tribal connection is ten pages.
In each of these above-mentioned topics, the authors fall on the side of the land rightfully belonging to the Jews; in each case there are equally valid (or more valid) arguments to the contrary – both libertarian arguments and just plain-old logical arguments. In any case, all of this effort is a waste on the authors’ part from a libertarian standpoint, as they readily point out:
We readily admit that there is no single Jew who can trace his ownership rights over any specific piece of land from 2000 years ago. And this, indeed, would be the criterion for transfer of land titles if we were discussing individual rights. But we are not now doing so.
Please let that paragraph sink in a moment, before we move on. Read it as if you are a libertarian.
No…let it sink in some more; I don’t think you really got it yet.
Instead, we are discussing tribes, not individuals.
Please let that sentence sink in a moment, before we move on. Read it as if you are a libertarian.
No…let it sink in some more….wait…wait…wait…OK, let’s move on.
Why are we departing from strict libertarian principles at this point?
At least they admit they are departing…but they aren’t departing from “strict” libertarian principles – they are departing from the entire basis for the non-aggression principle. And why are they doing this?
We do so in order to insert ourselves into the “mainstream” discussion that takes place in the United Nations, in negotiations between various countries, etc.
I am speechless.
So, let’s be clear: the entirety of this 119 page essay is a smokescreen, as the entire libertarian argument boils down to a tribal argument. And the authors’ admit that a tribal argument is not a libertarian argument.
So much for their “libertarian approach.”
Some Closing Thoughts
Random, each distinct from the other…
I will not repeat any of my criticisms from my first post on this essay; they all survive and are even strengthened by what I have read here. To be clear, I am analyzing the paper on the authors’ own terms – through a libertarian lens; there might be other arguments that better defend the Israeli position, but I am playing by the rules that the authors selected.
The authors make a 2,000 year old tribal claim, on what they say are libertarian grounds but end up admitting that the claim is not on libertarian grounds.
I can think of several far more recent tribal claims that these authors could take on. I will suggest only one; how about taking on this one?
So far I have no takers to my “libertarian open borders for Israel” contest; instead, I find a “libertarian case for tribe – but only for Israel” essay.
What a mess.