Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Moral equivalence in Gaza

Why is there a prevalent view that Israel and Hamas are, at best, morally equivalent – and, at worst, that Israel is morally inferior? Take John Minto and his friends, for example, who want everyone to shun Israel, but make no mention of shunning the people who take millions in international aid and turn it into networks full of tunnels, thousands of rockets, and suicide bombs and bombers.

It’s like judging a rapist and a rape victim the same, and suggesting all that’s needed is mediation. Or, worse, that all that’s needed is the rape victim to lie down.

There’s a simple way to see things.  In the context of the present conflict, it’s true to say that if Hamas were to lay down their weapons, there would be peace. But if Israel were to lay down their weapons, there’s be no Israelis.

Take another example: Israel tries to use its weapons to protect its citizens. Whereas Hamas uses its citizens to protect its weapons.

As Hamas itself says, they love death as Israelis love life.

There are no grounds for moral equivalence between live-lovers and death-worshippers.

Elan Journo argues we’re entitled to judge a country on these bases, and should:

So why are so many libertarians either morally neutral on the conflict, or if they have a view are opposed to Israel, and supporting Hamas? Strange, you’d think. Yaron Brook has a theory, based on his observation that because so many anarcho-capitalist libertarians are not so much pro-freedom, but anti-government – leaving their end-game being opposing comparatively free governments, like Israel and the U.S., and being in favour of dictatorships, like Hamas.  Brook offers the following explanation:

I think that the libertarians who tend to be anti-Israel tend to be in the [Murray Rothbard wing] of the libertarian movement. They tend to be anarchists. They tend to have a deep rooted hatred of government. And it’s interesting [because] they tend to hate free governments more than they hate totalitarian governments. They tend to focus their hatred much more on the American government [and] on the Israeli government than they do on Hamas.
   
If you’re libertarian, that is if you claim to care about individual liberty, Hamas should be one of the top most hated regimes in the world. You should be celebrating that they are being destroyed and that the Palestinian people might have a chance to be freed from such a totalitarian evil regime like Hamas is.
   
And yet, libertarians don’t seem to care about the Hamas government, or actually support it, and they focus all their ire [and] all their hatred [and] all their focus on the Israeli government, a government that is in relative terms a rights respecting government, at least as rights respecting as any Western government. Essentially there’s free speech in Israel. There’s freedom of contract. There’s private property, not as much private property as those of us who believe in liberty would like, but much much better than 90% of the countries in the world.

But as an explanation of libertarian support for Hamas, it begs the question, says Paul Mirengoff. Why would those who have a deep hatred of government be more supportive of a totalitarian regime than a semi-free one?  Walter Hudson, he says, “offers a plausible, and rather elegant, explanation”:

[I]t occurs to me that advocacy of anarchy requires one to minimize the legitimacy of foreign threats while demonizing any action which government takes to protect citizens. After all, if government can be seen acting properly in defence of liberty, that stands as evidence against anarchism. In this way, anarchists masquerading as libertarians have boxed themselves into a philosophical corner which requires them to become apologists for evil.

Same reason, you might recall, that Murray Rothbard ended up denying that the Soviet Union constituted a cold-war military threat.

21 comments:

  1. Paul Mirengoff's explanation has some merit, but in my mind the explanation is even simpler. If you're 'against government' per se, then it follows that the gov't with the most power and influence (in this context Israel) is the most evil - and anyone trying to bring it down is doing good.

    A similar mentality is at work when you have idiots like Shaun Plunket on Radio Live condemn Israel more than Hamas because the Israeli's have inflicted more casualties on the Palestinians. Again, if you're 'for peace', and can't be bothered thinking about who's to blame for the conflict, or what he would do in Israeli's position, it's easy for simpletons to blame the side inflicting the higher casualties. This leads to the moral inversion whereby if the Israeli gov't did a poorer job of protecting it's citizens and allowed more to die, they would supposedly be morally superior.

    Or another example in a completely different context is observing that Maori suffer higher rates of poverty, and if you're 'against poverty' concluding that it's the responsibility of more affluent racial groups to fix it - which leads to a racist approach and outlook.

    In all three cases you have definition by non-essentials - mixed with tall poppy syndrome.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Israel is the world's biggest welfare state (over 1 trillion US$ and counting) whose claim to the land is that god promised to them. The IDF has the skills and technology to minimise civilian casualties but chooses to bomb schools and playgrounds instead. No wonder true libertarians don't support Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You posted an earlier article by Yaron Brook in which he claimed that Palestine was empty, so it was OK for those claiming to be Jews to invade, squat and annex another legitimate state's land. The ignorance and arrogance of Brook was startling, to say the least. To argue a claim based on an Englishman's [Beaufort] promise is also meaningless - it wasn't that imperial/ colonial power's place to do so. To argue a claim based on the Bible is risible - there are so many gross errors in that collection of writings; it was a long time ago; the David story of 10,000 years ago is propaganda {Jesubites were wiped out; Jerusalem taken over; many other gross mis-deads}
    If [if] Taiwan suddenly claimed NZ and millions immigrated here,[their people have a long standing right I suspect that we few in this empty country would object and might even resort to arms
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Peter: I that was claimed in an earlier article, then you'll have no problem pointing us all to it. I look forward to seeing that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Troy: So Hamas openly and brazenly fires rockets, about 11,000 of them so far, both FROM hospitals, schools and playgrounds and INTO hospitals, schools and playgrounds -- and forcibly stops civilians moving from these hospitals, schools and playgrounds when warnings are sent ... and who do you say is to blame, Troy?

    ReplyDelete
  6. PC, how many people have been killed by these 11000 Hamas rockets? Last I heard it was 2, which puts them more into the nuisance category than an act of war. A bit drastic to kill 13000+ civilians in retaliation.

    And where is the evidence there was Hamas presence at any of the recent school or hospital bombings? The UN certainly hasn't seen any.

    So who is to blame? well Israel has been illegally occupying land & brutally oppressing the Palestinians since the 1940s. I think any objective minded libertarian would say Israel needs to give back all the stolen land before they can complain about Palestinian resistance. You should really think for yourself instead of being told what to think by nutters like the ARI.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mark

    "who's to blame for the conflict"

    Governments of Israel, Great Britain and USA. Government thuggery. On the individual level it is every idiot that takes up weapons to get involved in this sordid rampage of hate, destruction and murder. It is every idiot who believes in the propaganda and fails to value human life above that of a mystical collective. It is every idiot that provides excuses, rationale and apologetics for these war crimes (Mr Brooks, stand up). It is every idiot that pretends as though states have rights and actually "defend" anything bar the interests of the governments involved.

    Something to think about. Ever since the artifice of Israel was imposed on the Arab and Persian by European racists there has been decades and decades of violence, conflict, warfare and death. It's never stopped since the creation of the state of Israel. Israel is made from violence and is about making violence. It is about exerting force. It is a nationalist socialist state (ironic indeed- people do forget their history).

    This is not going to end well. Nothing good will come out of it. In the end the USA is a collapsing empire. Eventually USA government will not be able to afford to continue to supply the welfare to Israel government at anything like the present rate. The survival of the state of Israel relies on resources far beyond what the Israeli population can afford, produce and provide. Israel remains as the continued focus of warfare (whether an actual hot war or in a permanent stare of getting militarily ready for the next installment) but this is debilitatingly costly. Meanwhile the situation politically and militarily in the Mid-East is altering. Old political arrangements are in unstable collapse. They will be replaced. New powers and forces are building. There is growing hostility and antipathy directed at what is considered the cusal alement of the chaos. What pinkie propaganda spouts is not important. It is what the denizens of the Middle East think that is important. They don't buy into the pinkie story. The great majority of them consider Israel a major irritant. This does not bode well for the government of Israel either. Being the consistent focus of violence and instability is not a sustainable status to hold. This is not going to end well.

    Amit

    ReplyDelete
  8. PeterCresswell

    Let's pretend you are telling the truth and Hamas fires these rockets (albeit, rockets which are militarily as effective as shouting insults from a rooftop) and Hamas fires these rockets from hospitals and schools and playgrounds AND Hamas forcibly prevents civilians from leaving and getting away from these same hospitals, schools and playgrounds. OK. Accept that scenario. Obviously, if you know this information, then it is reasonable that the military of the government of Israel knows this information. In fact they would know it for certain far better than you since they are right there and you are not (you are in some far off land on the far side of the planet and have never ever set foot in Gaza to start with).

    So what happens? Knowing that the civilians can't move the military thugs massacre them anyway. Just like shooting fish in a barrel, the fire away point blank. Who is to blame for this? Well, thinking like a collectivist you are going to argue by insistence and say HAMAS! After all, that is what your leader says as well. Odd, really truely odd how self-proclaimed "Objectivists" (passionate supporters of liberty and individualism- not) end up proclaiming their support of mass killings and the idea of collective guilt (even the guilty babies must be incinerated!). Were you to have thought this through from the individualist perspective (as you ought to have), you'd have concluded that each member of the military that is involved in these massacres is personally to blame. You'd have concluded that the members of each of the governments involved is to blame- personally.

    This situation is an abandonment of morality, as is your disappointing article. I had believed you were a moral individualist who loved freedom. So stop! Cease your descent into the abyss of attempted justification of collectivist crime doings.

    Amit

    ReplyDelete
  9. > PC, how many people have been killed by these 11000 Hamas rockets? Last I heard it was 2, which puts them more into the nuisance category than an act of war. A bit drastic to kill 13000+ civilians in retaliation.

    where do you get the idea that 13000+ civilians have been killed? maybe you meant to type 1300+. But how do you know how many have been killed? news media organisations have published Gazan Health Ministry stats without questions yet bloggers who have looked at the list have identified many double-ups and other evidence of miscounting.

    you do realize this war is small biscuits compared to what has been going on in Iraq and Syria this past week. But people like u are actually OK with the likes of ISIS. they don't bother you so much cause they're not Jewish and not living in a western-style democracy.

    > And where is the evidence there was Hamas presence at any of the recent school or hospital bombings? The UN certainly hasn't seen any.

    there was mortar fire coming from the vicinity of the school and the IDF firing back. hamas makes it a practice to store weapons at schools. the UNRWA has also discovered weapons at its facilities.

    > So who is to blame? well Israel has been illegally occupying land & brutally oppressing the Palestinians since the 1940s.

    Oh bullshit. the problem is with the nihilistic leadership of the Palestinians. they want to establish an Islamic State encompassing the lands of Israel and Gaza. do you really think such a state is going to be multi-cultural and accommodating of Jews?

    It's anti-semitism pure and simple. palestinians have had plenty of chance to make things right with Israel but they keep choosing the path of death. if they put down their weapons and constructively engaged with Israel, there would be peace.

    > I think any objective minded libertarian would say Israel needs to give back all the stolen land before they can complain about Palestinian resistance. You should really think for yourself instead of being told what to think by nutters like the ARI.

    you side with terrorists like Hamas? God help you if they ever turn up on your doorstep. stop being such a moron and learn who the good guys are.

    - monas yuan

    ReplyDelete
  10. regarding the topic of the post, I know a number of ancap people who are pro-Israel. i am one such.

    we are not anti-government. we appreciate institutions such as the American government (though we are rather less fond of the Obama administration) and know that at present there are some things only government can do. we also agree that Rothbard is bad.

    ancap is not possible at present because we do not yet have enough knowledge how to implement it. an ancap society is only as good as its people and its traditions. in that respect, it's not dissimilar to any society today. but an ancap society requires more knowledge than is currently present in our traditions.

    we will acquire that knowledge however. and we will have to. the reason is that future technology will require that we do. we are short-lived beings who don't remember most of what happened to us and that exist in one copy in one location. that will change in future.

    and our traditions of government will have to change towards accommodating ever more freedom until the transition to ancap will hardly be noticed.

    - monas yuan

    ReplyDelete
  11. Amit,

    what is your opinion of Hamas?
    do you support their aim to "kill and capture from sea to sea" (meaning to kill jews, capture israel, and create an islamic State)?
    what do you think such a state would be like?
    do you disagree that it would be rather like the so-called caliphate ISIS is trying to create?
    do you think it is good that Hamas has spent millions and millions over the years futilely acquiring weapons and digging tunnels rather than putting that money to far better use?
    do you realize that Hamas know that useful idiots in the west like yourself can be counted on to raise a stink and that is one reason they try to get Israel to attack schools etc?

    - monas yuan

    ReplyDelete
  12. Monas

    In regards to the list of murdered civilians you write, "bloggers who have looked at the list have identified many double-ups and other evidence of miscounting." As if not getting the exact quantity into print is somehow a justification for murdering civilians in the first place.

    And you write, "you do realize this war is small biscuits compared to what has been going on in Iraq and Syria". As if violence and murdering in one place justifies it in another. You argue with the immaturity of a juvenile. "Oh Mummy, that other boy does worse than I do. Heee's more naughty than I are".

    To this, "So who is to blame? well Israel has been illegally occupying land & brutally oppressing the Palestinians since the 1940s." you answer this, "Oh bullshit. the problem is with the nihilistic leadership of the Palestinians." The trouble for you is that your correspondent is correct. You can't evade fact with deflection. As poor as the Hamas leadership may be, the fact remains that your correspondent was correct with his facts. You fail to acknowledge this or even attempt to address it.

    This next was outrageously humorous, although you probably didn't realise. "It's anti-semitism pure and simple." Arabs are semites. How can semites be anti-semitic?

    "palestinians have had plenty of chance to make things right with Israel but they keep choosing the path of death. if they put down their weapons and constructively engaged with Israel, there would be peace."

    Sure their government are on the wrong track. Trouble is what you call "making things right with Israel" means continuing to be evicted off their land, evicted out of their homes, forced into penury and subsistence.

    "you side with terrorists like Hamas? God help you if they ever turn up on your doorstep. stop being such a moron and learn who the good guys are."

    And you evaded his facts again. What an intellectual coward you are. The state of Israel, the government of Israel must give back the stolen property to the people that property was stolen from.

    If a gang came to your house, chased you out, killed members of your family and never let you come back to your home, I'd suspect you wouldn't call them good guys. That may well be due to the fact that such criminals are not good guys. Good guys are not the ones who come around and steal and kill. Perhaps you never noticed.

    Amit


    ReplyDelete
  13. Monas

    This, "I know a number of ancap people who are pro-Israel. i am one such.

    we are not anti-government. we appreciate institutions such as the American government."

    is inconsistent.

    You can't be an an-cap if you are not anti-govenrment.

    Amit

    ReplyDelete
  14. Monas

    "what is your opinion of Hamas?"

    I do not support them.

    "do you support their aim to "kill and capture from sea to sea" (meaning to kill jews, capture israel, and create an islamic State)?"

    I do not support such idiocy. I do not support violence, murder, theft, collectivism, any of it.

    "what do you think such a state would be like?'

    Pretty much the same as all such outfits end up being. Backward. Corrupt. Poor. Full of crime. Depraved. Violent. Immoral. Full of suffering. Full of fear. Full of cruelty. Un-good.

    Of course, that is exactly what they have suffered at the hands of the government of Israel.

    "do you disagree that it would be rather like the so-called caliphate ISIS is trying to create?"

    Perhaps. Perhaps not.

    "do you think it is good that Hamas has spent millions and millions over the years futilely acquiring weapons and digging tunnels rather than putting that money to far better use?"

    Un-good.

    Let's ask the same of Israel. And of the USA. Why don't you consider the billions that both governments have consumed at the altar of militarism and violence and war and crime?

    "do you realize that Hamas know that useful idiots in the west like yourself can be counted on to raise a stink and that is one reason they try to get Israel to attack schools etc?"

    I had no Idea that Hamas had such control over the decent, moral, civilised and wholesome people running the government of Israel that they could actually make them attack schools, hospitals, playgrounds and so forth. I thought the decent moral, civilised, and wholeome people running the government of Israel made their own decisions for themselves.

    Amit

    ReplyDelete
  15. amit
    where do u get your idea that Israel "stole" Palestinian land or is repressing Palestinians.
    these are false ideas spread by anti-semites to try and discredit Israel.

    have u checked your sources? it's a minefield. take this:

    http://www.adl.org/israel-international/anti-israel-activity/profile-jewish-voice-for.html

    Jewish Voice for Peace is an anti-Semitic organization trying to "convince the American public that opposition to the Jewish state is not anti-Semitic."

    regarding "stolen land", read these:

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths3/MFmandate.html

    http://www.wall-of-truth.org/myths/

    stop being a spreader of lies and an apologist for evil.

    - monas yuan

    ReplyDelete
  16. amit - you say one must be anti-gov to be ancap.

    look at it like this:

    governments have played an important role in making modern western style democracies the best societies in history. we cannot just take away government and not create serious problems. that would be bad revolutionary change.

    governments are a solution to a problem but they in turn create their own problems. a major problem is the use of force in ways that ain't purely defensive (like forced taxation). these problems created by government can be solved. we already know some of the solutions. but these changes have to happen incrementally. the reason is that mistakes are common and we have to be able to roll back mistakes.

    getting from present government to the better system of ancap would involve a lot of changes and the knowledge required by these changes must be built up in our traditions. ancap - like any western style democracy - requires ppl of good moral character and it requires that that moral knowledge be passed on to future generations.

    ancap societies will in general be more moral than present societies and have better moral knowledge. but it all takes time to build up.

    so i am pro-government in the sense that i think it would be silly to just drop government and in the sense that i think government has done good things. but I also think that better solutions to the problems that government tries to solve are possible.

    it is also imperative that we be thinking about these things now - and seriously.

    - monas yuan

    ReplyDelete

  17. Israelis have a right to the land
    Only Israel has a moral right to establish a government in that area — on the grounds, not of some ethnic or religious heritage, but of a secular, rational principle. Only a state based on political and economic freedom has moral legitimacy. Contrary to what the Palestinians are seeking, there can be no “right” to establish a dictatorship.

    As to the rightful owners of particular pieces of property, Israel’s founders — like the homesteaders in the American West — earned ownership to the land by developing it. They arrived in a desolate, sparsely populated region and drained the swamps, irrigated the desert, grew crops and built cities. They worked unclaimed land or purchased it from the owners. They introduced industry, libraries, hospitals, art galleries, universities-and the concept of individual rights. Those Arabs who abandoned their land in order to join the military crusade against Israel forfeited all right to their property. And if there are any peaceful Arabs who were forcibly evicted from their property, they should be entitled to press their claims in the courts of Israel, which, unlike the Arab autocracies, has an independent, objective judiciary — a judiciary that recognizes the principle of property rights.
    http://ari.aynrand.org/issues/foreign-policy/middle-east/Israel-Has-a-Moral-Right-to-Its-Life
    This is very similar or the same article you printed earlier this year. It still ignores proper property rights; is sparse on the idea of Rule of Law. The Zionist enterprise was amoral. You and Brook are obfuscating the point; basically Amit above is correct
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  18. peter - falsehoods about Israel are pervasive and spread deliberately. anti-Semitism is widespread and common. you yourself are anti-Semitic. no doubt you will deny it. but ppl who say things like "The Zionist enterprise was amoral" invariably are. you are ignorant abt the history of Israel and also abt why Israel is important.

    - monas yuan

    ReplyDelete
  19. monas sadly you have been brainwashed. Those links you put up are a joke. One of them claims the IDF kills 10 militants per civilian casualty! you have to be a moron to believe that.

    And there is no mention of all the land stolen since the original founding of Israel. Israel has never defined its borders because Israelis believe god promised them all the land they have been stealing plus more. Just this morning the UN has criticised Israel for shelling a 3rd school. Anyone who claims Israel is 'moral' needs a lobotomy.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Monas - to call me anti-semitic (and claim I'd deny it), is the same as Maori who howl the claim of racism whenever they are confronted with facts counter to their myths.
    I am a secular New Zealander; reader of a libertarian blog - I have absolutely no reason to be anti semitic.
    I also contend that it is irrelevant that the United Nations gave land away to the terrorists calling for a return of ancient homelands.
    For Israelis to claim the moral high ground and insist that squatters should be able to defend themselves is bizarre.
    Yaron Brook might believe that Israeli courts would uphold property rights and duly recompense Palestinians, but that seems a farcical claim. Re-read what Troy above has written.
    As an aside, is it true that Hebrew was a dead language like Latin, i.e. no longer spoken, but only in written form?
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  21. confronted with what facts? troy has provided no sources for his assertions.

    evidently, you would rather that the hundreds-of-thousands of Jewish refugees displaced in the aftermath of WW2 who faced anti-Semitic persecution just sucked it up and died. and, like troy, you think jewish soucres are not credible while providing no criticism of substance. so, yeah, you're anti-Semitic.

    - monas yuan

    ReplyDelete

1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.