THE REAL REASON TO OPPOSE AID TO ISRAEL
by I. Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
[As submitted to Liberty, printed in a revised form as “The Dark Side of Israel” in v. 15 #4 (April 2001), p.39.]
Over a year ago Gideon Levy wrote in a major Israeli newspaper (Levy, G. Ha`aretz 4 April 1999), "The Kosovo tragedy has already taken place [in Palestine] and it could happen again here."Although the murder of eighty unarmed civilians this October have shown Levy's words to be prophetic, you will find no such comments in the mainstream American newspapers. Instead, the victims are blamed.The degree of unconditional pro-Israeli bias in America sometimes surprises even Israel’s most knowledgeable critics.In describing the moves to suppress his book criticizing the excesses of Israeli secret police, Victor Ostrovsky recounts the chilling words of Yosef Lapid, the former head of Israeli television. On a Canadian television program, Lapid announced that, “since Israel's Mossad could not kill me [Ostrovsky] in Canada without causing a diplomaticincident,” Lapid hoped that “there would be a decent Jew in Canada who would do the job for us” (Ostrovsky, V. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Oct.-Nov 1997 p. 37).To Ostrovsky’s astonishment, the media which could not get enough of denouncing Khomeini’s fatwa threatening capital punishment to Salman Rushdie for exercising his right to publish hate literature exhibited indifference to Lapid’s call for the murder of Ostrovsky for writing an exposé of Israel’s secret police.
Some libertarians contribute to this conspiracy of silence in their own way when they apologetically mumble that it is only a commitment to an abstract general principle that forces us to oppose foreign aid, even to Israel.This meek defense gives listeners the impression that abandoning government funding of noble and worthy causes is the price that one must pay to adopt libertarian principles. Such a fallacious impression deprives the public of an opportunity to see that government funding of causes is the most surefire way of guaranteeing that unworthy causes will be funded.Israel is Exhibit A of this unavoidable fact.
The libertarian position is characterized, above all, by its commitment to non-aggression, to the universality of individual rights, and to the importance of the right of private property.Israel is an uncompromisingly militarist, racist, and collectivist entity in its conception and its fifty-one year history.Israel’s militarism has been defended by the claim that it is a tiny Jewish nation in a sea of hostile Arabs.However, this hostility is not due, as is maliciously suggested, to religious disagreements, but rather to the nation-state status of Israel itself.History attests to the coexistence of Jews and Arabs under Muslim rule. The Romans expelled the Jews from Jerusalem.When the Muslims captured Jerusalem in the 7th century, Umar, the second Caliph, allowed the Christian inhabitants to stay, to keep their land, property and churches, and to practice their religion freely.He did not fulfill only one request that the Christians made: he allowed the Jews to return.Centuries later, the Crusaders banned the Jews once again after massacring Jewish, Muslim, and even some Arab Christian occupants of the city. When Saladin recaptured the city, he again let the Jews back in.Only the Hashemite kings Abdullah (who ruled Jerusalem from 1948-52) and Hussein (who ruled Jerusalem from 1952-67) departed from this tradition.They excluded the Jews from Jerusalem not for religious reasons, but in retaliation for the Zionist expulsion of the Palestinians from their homes and lands.
The racism of Israel is transparent in the policy of “the Law of Return.”Any Jew may become a full citizen of Israel, but the non-Jewish Palestinians who were born there and fled or were expelled may not return.Thus, Samuel Sheinbein can escape trial in the United States, where the brutal murder and mutilation of a fellow student of which he is accused was committed, but my mother, born and raised in Jerusalem, couldn't return to escape a parking ticket.
Even those who remained in their homeland are granted only a second-class citizenship, barred from receiving many of the subsidies of the heavily socialized state, but not exempt from the oppressive tax rates.In fact there are Palestinians in Israel who are treated as "present absentees" and denied a return to their villages.Israeli authorities systematically use the usual government regulatory devices, which are anathema to libertarians, against the Palestinians to prevent them from building or expanding their houses because authorities deny them the building permits routinely granted to Jewish citizens. For the residents of Jerusalem, things are worst of all.They are illegally occupied in the land of their birth and yet Israel treats them as visitors.They are considered “permanent residents” whose residency permits can be taken away if they go abroad, for example, to study.Jews may have dual citizenship (and many do) but a non-Jewish Jerusalemite will lose his residency if he acquires American citizenship. Arab Jerusalemites who marry persons from outside the city must choose between giving up their residency or leaving town because non-Jews are not allowed to obtain residency.
And make no mistake: the definition of a Jew here is racial and not religious.Under Israeli law your Jewish mother is what makes you a Jew.An Israeli need not follow the Mosaic law (nor even believe in God) to qualify as a Jew as long as his mother meets the ethnic requirements.(Interestingly, however, the Israeli High Court has ruled that Messianic Jews, meaning Jews who accept Jesus as the Messiah, lose their status as Jews.) While Jewish teachings themselves do not promote discrimination against non-Jews, the so-called Jewish state of Israel binds itself less to actual religion than to ethnicity. Israel grants full citizenship including property rights, subsidies, and individual rights to anyone of any nationality who is of Jewish ethnicity regardless of that person’s religious beliefs.Ben Gurion University political geographer Oren Yiftachel has rightly noted that such a form of government is an "ethnocracy" rather than a democracy.
The most interesting issue to libertarians is the issue of private property rights.Even the most pro-Zionist libertarian will fault Israel for its staunch socialism.The collectivism of Israel, however, is not just a flaw in Zionism, it is the core of the ideology.To appreciate this one should note that at the time of Israel’s founding, Jews, Zionist and non-Zionist alike, owned less than 7% of the land.This included land recently acquired from absentee landlords.Thus, the Jewish National Fund demanded of the new government that it use its power of eminent domain to seize the land so that it could “acquire this year … as much land as it acquired in 47 years of unremitting effort.” (Jewish National Fund, Jewish Villages in Israel. Jerusalem: Keren Kayemeth Leisrael 1949.)This land was not to be turned over to private Jewish ownership.It was to be turned over to collective ownership of the Jewish people. This meant two things: (1) that it would never again be put into private hands; and (2) that it would never again be used (rented, leased) by non-Jews.Under current Israeli law the same restrictions apply to state-owned land.
A recent example of the Israeli disregard for private property was the takeover of land near the village of Dir Kadis.A press release issued by the Israeli Peace Bloc (Gush Shalom) noted that verbal protests by the Palestinian titleholders to the land were ignored.On May 23rd 1999, when the villagers tried to stop the bulldozers from leveling their property, Israeli soldiers shot tear gas canisters into their houses, causing one miscarriage and wounding several (including children).
The techniques for justifying land seizure are many and varied: from the ever-popular seizures by the military for “security needs” to the claiming of land “abandoned” by refugees.In the occupied territories, Israelis employ a series of strategies to keep pressure on the indigenous people to leave.The curfews that have kept people indoors for 22 hours a day, the closures that prevent them from going to work, and the road system that cuts farms in half exemplify the difficult conditions Palestinians must experience.Although illegal under international law, outright deportations constitute yet another weapon to which Israelis freely resort to seize Palestinian land.
Land is not the only target of looting. Israel does not have enough water to support the enormous numbers of immigrants it needs to keep outpacing the fecund Arab population. To maintain the stream of immigrants, the Zionist lobby induced the U.S. Congress’s endorsement of stricter immigration laws to make entering the United States harder for Jews from the former Soviet block.Unable to come to their first-choice destination, most end up in Israel where the water supply falls short of supporting the artificially increased population.As a result, the Israelis raid the aquifer in the occupied territories to meet their needs (Swain, A. Arab Studies Quarterly v. 20 #1 Winter 1998, p. 1). When the Palestinians wells go dry, a predictable negative or silent response meets their request for permits to dig deeper wells.Meanwhile the illegal settlers get all the water they want from the dropping aquifer in addition to all the land they seized from the Palestinians.
And so it goes.Looting the Palestinians (of their land and water) and looting the American taxpayers (of their money).And there is no end in sight.Rather than cut aid to Israel, the American government has supplemented it with aid to Egypt (about $1 billion per year) and now to the Palestinian Authority (less than $100 million).I need not emphasize that neither of them are libertarian paradises, either.The authoritarian style with which Yasser Arafat conducted his military operations is ill-suited to the would-be democracy to which civilian Palestinian leaders like those elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council aspire.In essence, American taxpayers continue to contribute (however tiny the amount may be) to the suppression of a potential democracy.There are libertarians among the Palestinians, but they have no more chance to prevail in the presence of American aid to the PNA than libertarians in Israel have prevailed.
Morality cannot be divided from the practical consequences of action.The coerced nature of foreign aid lends itself to the promotion of evil purposes.(Even if coerced subsidies are allocated to an initially laudatory purpose, the certainty of its continued receipt regardless of conduct will eventually corrupt the receiving party.) Overlooking the racist, militarist and collectivist purposes to which aid to Israel is put undermines rather than enhances the libertarian position.