Saturday, January 6, 2018

Tribe for Me But Not for Thee

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. 


  1. Well, in some ways you are tending toward the "tribal" view with emphasis on a good culture, correct?

    Speaking of Sudeten Germans, here is a great memoir of being one. I know the author's daughter:

    Eric Morris

    1. VfPI, I am addressing the "tribe" issue in this essay in the manner the authors present it - as not consistent with libertarianism.

    2. I know, just looking for a semi on-point reason to segue into letting you know I liked your link about the exiled Germans.

    3. If the topic interests you, go to the bibliography tab - you will find several posts on the book.

      And thanks!

  2. Oh gawd!

    I see yet another unprincipled exception for Jewish people. In perceiving these facts, have I now become an antisemite?

    Lord, mine eyes hath offended the apple of thine eye! Shall I pluck out the eye that perceiveth this forbidden truth?

    You know what? No. No unprincipled exceptions, and no nonsense from Jews, who are without doubt the most ethnocentric and hypocritical ethnic group on the planet (with the usual disclaimer for those individuals that aren't like that - not many of them, though).

    1. Matt, I think let's stick with the views of the authors of the subject essay. This is a big enough bear to skin for today.

    2. Yes, sir.

      The irredentist claim by the authors is interesting. I wonder what kind of libertarian approach they are taking. Is it ancap?

      If it is ancap then we know that any land siezed by the state (in this case the Roman empire) becomes "unowned" land available to anyone that seeks to homestead that land. That would mean any subsequent settlers become the rightful owners of the land because they have homesteaded previously "unowned" land.

      I know this thanks to personal that used to comment here called ancap. I am sure he wouldn't approve of me applying that to Israel.

      Ayn Rand made the objectivist case for the Jewish seizure of Palestine. As we know Ayn Rand is rational and objective and doesn't let personal emotions of bias get in the way. Rand informs us that the the Palestinians were "savages" and "nomads" too, so they deserved their dispossession.

      Has anyone counted how many words Jacob Hornberger has written in avoiding writing an article advocating open borders for Israel? It must be at least 20 essays worth. What if Mohammed wants to see his brother Schlomo just across the border? Surely this injustice must be redressed...

  3. Really makes you think...

    I wonder why jewish libertarians don't see Israel as an opportunity to put *all* their ideas into practice. They can move there no problem. It's a very new state. A relatively small number of intellectuals could theoretically have some influence on the State provided that *hardcore libertarianism serves the ethnic interests of the jews* since that is the sine quo non of The Zionist state. Instead they prefer to live in the west and advocate for their "principles" here. Although I believe one of the authors does live in Israel he is clearly subordinating his libertarianism to his Zionism. It's almost like libertarianism *is* detrimental to the integrity of race/culture.

    I know it gets tiresome to harp on the hypocrisy of these people but its so blatant and never adequately addressed by the hypocrites. The reason these people can argue for things like open borders in the US and Europe is because (leaving aside malice or mercenay motives) they fundamentally don't care about the racial and culture conditions of our nations because they don't feel as though they are a part of us and they know that *their* people will remain in tact *percisley because they have a State.*

  4. Unless the story about the Jews being exiled to Egypt to build Pharaohs pyramids, and to a man, is true, then the 1948 seizure of Palestine provokes a terrible paradox. If one assumes the Pharaoh's slave labor tale is a myth then it follows that the Jews never actually left Palestine. Furthermore, if being a Jew is to be defined biologically, genetically - then the present day Palestinians, the direct descendants of the of the Palestinian Jews of 3000 years ago - are likely much more genetically Jewish than the faith-intermarried European and Russian Jews who seized Palestine in 1948. The terrible likely truth is that European Jews of necessarily equivocal genetically Jewish authenticity displaced the group which is likely far more genetically Jewish than itself.

    1. Victor, I agree. The narrative in the Old Testament is fraught. I would have hesitated to open discussion on this topic because so many people are invested in the narrative of the Old Testament, and even consider it a lynch pin of their religious beliefs. Fortunately you have opened the discussion for me.

      The problem from the perspective of Egyptian history is that we can be certain, 100% certain, that no mass of Jews and subsequent exodus happened in Egypt. The history of ancient Egypt is well understood, and whoever this "Pharaoh" fellow was he wasn't the King of Egypt. Certainly Moses never say a pyramid and pyramids are not mentioned concerning the "Egypt" of the Old Testament, despite the fact that they were contemporary wonders of the ancient world.

      Advanced discussion of this is out of the scope of this website, and Dr. Ashraf Ezzat does a better job of explaining it than me.

      To summarize: Solomon's temple not in Palestine, nor David's Kingdom. No exodus from Egypt (although the story probably took place on a much smaller scale involving tribal warfare in Arabia), and Jews in Judea during the Roman empire themselves the result of relatively recent Jewish migration into the

  5. YouTube visual history of the various empires that have occupied the territory comprising Israel.

  6. I was invited to listen to the recording of a debate between Rafi and another libertarian concerning the legitimacy of Israel. Since I'd been following Rafi's writings for a few years, I was intrigued to hear how he would make the libertarian case in favor of Israel. I ended up feeling uncomfortable for him because his case was earnestly off-base. His opponent effectively used the same arguments you used in this post. Even worse, Rafi believed he had done well in the debate. As far as I know, the debate was never broadcast (I think it was recorded for a Tom Woods podcast, but I can't swear to it.)

    It was once said that the British are supremely logical rational about everything...except the Irish. I could say the same thing about most Jews and Israel.

  7. "I see yet another unprincipled exception for Jewish people."

    Never underestimate the power of a good persecution myth. Victimhood confers privilege. The Jews have catapulted and cemented theirs.

    I can stand on any soapbox in any public square in Europe--London, Rome, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, you name it--and deny Christ, bear false witness against His Church, and mock Christian culture. I will be ignored at worst. More likely, I will be celebrated for my hip and sophisticated derring-do.

    But woe unto me should I dare question any of the holy precepts of the Big H. 'Twere better if I tie a millstone around my neck and hurl myself into the sea. At minimum, we're talking fines and imprisonment. For disputing a historical account! I mean, isn't that what Resurrection deniers do?

    Alas, poor Christendom. I knew her, Horatio. But only in my dreams.

  8. I think in general it can be said most people are "atomised" individuals in modern western society. However Jews just by definition are members of a tribe.