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.