Rand Paul’s Stance on Israel a Lesson for
the Liberty Movement to Follow:
A(nother) Libertarian Defense of Israel
by Aaron Biterman
A recent article in The American Spectator by Philip Klein highlights Dr. Rand Paul’s view of Israel. In short, Rand Paul supports free trade with Israel, call for divestment from Iran, and “strongly objects to the arrogant approach of (the) Obama administration” toward the peace process, according to documents Klein obtained from the Paul campaign. Continues the Kentucky doctor, “Only Israel can decide what is in her security interest, not America and certainly not the United Nations.” The younger Paul says, “As a United States Senator, I would never vote to condemn Israel for defending herself. Whether it is fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon, combating Hamas-linked terrorists in Gaza or dealing with potential nuclear threats in the Persian Gulf, Israeli military actions are completely up to the leaders and military of Israel, and Israel alone.”
The truth is that most Kentucky voters agree with the above-stated positions. Most Americans — especially those right of center — also agree with these positions. From a libertarian perspective, there is simply nothing objectionable about the above position statement. If you’re a minarchist and support the ability of the U.S. military to defend our borders against attacks, then it stands to reason that other countries should also be able to protect their borders.
But there is a vocal and growing fringe element within the libertarian/Constitutionalist movement (see DailyPaul.com to hear their rants and raves, or pick up a copy of the filthy American Free Press newspaper) who agree with left-wing radical Helen Thomas, who recently opined that all Israeli Jews should leave Israel and go back to Europe. (View her disgusting comments here.)
This article has been written to refute their bogus claims and defend a pro-Israel position from a libertarian perspective. (Other pro-Israel arguments have been made by libertarians, such as this excellent defense of Israel from Ilana Mercer.)
To Whom Does the Land Belong?
The prime argument driving the anti-Israel fervor is the claim that Jews belong somewhere other than Israel — that they have no legitimate claim to the land of Israel. Those individuals making this claim believe that the millions of Arabs from the 1948 exodus should be returned to their original homes in pre-1967 Israel based upon the libertarian conception of private property rights. This would clearly result in an Arab majority Israel.
I don’t agree with his argument for several reasons. In late 1947, the United Nations voted in favor of the partition of Palestine, proposing the creation of a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a UN-administered Jerusalem. Partition was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by Arab leaders, leading to civil war. One party was willing to compromise and the other was not — a familiar trend in the seemingly never-ending feud.
When Israel was declared a state in 1948, most of the Arabs living within the boundaries were encouraged to leave by the invading Arab armies to facilitate the slaughter of the Jews. These Arabs were promised Jewish property after victorious Arab armies won the war. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Think 1939 to 1945 in Europe.
Of course, the day after Israel was declared a state (in 1948) it was attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen. And it’s been on the defense ever since. It is hard to believe that any libertarian — a person who purports to believe in the right of self-defense, even for a nation — would deny that a nation like Israel should be permitted to defend itself against terrorists seeking to exterminate Jews in the Middle East and replace Israel with a Taliban-style Islamic theocracy.
According to Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute and his co-author Peter Schwartz, “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.” The Palestinians elected a Hamas majority to the Palestinian Legislative Assembly and now Hamas controls Gaza. Hamas is a radical Islamist terrorist organization that seeks to wipe Israel (and all Jews) off the face of the earth and replace it with an Islamic Palestine.
Concludes Brook and Schwartz, “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.”
Double Standards and the Need to Single Out Israel
The individuals leading the vocal anti-Israel movement within the broader coalition of pro-liberty activists claim they are interested in the quality of the lives led by the non-Jews living in the region who are being persecuted by the evil tyrant nation of Israel. But it’s rare to hear these same vocal anti-Israel critics talking about the fact that Jews cannot enter Mecca or Medina, that Jews cannot purchase or sell land in Jordan (nor can they become citizens), or that Jews and Israelis are banned from entering Saudi Arabia.
Not only do Arabs have representation in the Jewish Knesset (legislative branch of government), but Israel also offers one of the few safe havens for women and homosexuals who fear persecution (and humiliation and/or death) in many other parts of the Middle East.
The vocal anti-Israel voices within the broader liberty movement always single Israel out whenever they have an opportunity. They ignore the fact that Egypt, Jordan, and the Sudan are each on the top ten list of recipients of U.S. foreign aid, with Egypt receiving nearly $2 billion annually.
They don’t talk about anti-Semitism at all. Perhaps they believe it doesn’t exist. The truth is that worldwide, scores of anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) outbursts are recorded each month by monitoring groups, ranging from armed and other attacks on individuals and property to the desecration of cemeteries and Holocaust memorials and the daubing of anti-Semitic slogans on buildings, often those housing Jewish communal offices and synagogues.
In the U.S., for example, the number of anti-Semitic crimes went up from 969 in 2007 to 1,013 in 2008. Such episodes represent 66 percent of all religiously motivated crimes and 12 percent of all recorded hate crimes. These are unsettling numbers when we consider that Jews constitute approximately 2 percent of the general population. Anti-Semitism is widespread throughout the Arab and Muslim world, manifested in every segment of society. Here (.pdf) are some examples from the Arab media alone.
As Ilana Mercer mentions in her defense of Israel, any libertarian who defends Israel recognizes its many imperfections. It is a quasi-socialist country which has violated human rights in the past via demolition of houses and closure of the Palestinian territories. We don’t excuse this behavior and criticize the Israeli government when it oversteps the rule of law.
But Israel’s current air and naval blockade on Gaza — which is controlled by Hamas — is justified defense of Israel. Clearly Hamas intends to acquire lethal weaponry to wipe Israel and its citizens off the map. As is pointed out in The Washington Post, an organizer of the ‘humanitarian’ boat that was stopped by Israel last week admitted that the boat was meant to break Israel’s blockade, effectively ending their inspection process. If successful, weapons — no doubt meant to exterminate all Jews in Israel — could be obtained by the radical government in charge of Gaza.
Regardless, libertarians in the U.S. who support Israel do not support U.S. foreign aid for Israel (although many believe that the U.S. should help Israel with arms technology development), believing instead that private aid would be more than enough to defend Israel against its enemies. Of course, they believe that foreign aid should also be cut off to all other countries as well.
Just as libertarians in the U.S. support a strong national defense of our own country, pro-Israel libertarians also support Israel’s right to defend herself against attack. The same libertarians defending Israel’s right to self-defense can simultaneously defend a non-interventionist foreign policy. There is no contradiction, except by those who would have Israel wiped off the face of the earth due to an erroneous claim to ‘property rights’.
Libertarians Should Support a Two-State Solution
A two-state solution is the sensible answer to the problem in the Middle East.
A two-state solution would create two separate states in the Western portion of the historic region of Palestine. Israel would remain a Jewish state and Arabs would be given citizenship by a new Palestinian state. The new Palestinian state would also offer refugees citizenship, while Arab citizens of present-day Israel would be offered a choice of citizenship among the two states.
A one-state Palestine will, as Ilana Mercer put it, have “no economy, no free speech and press, no independent courts, no sound contract laws, and no individual or property rights.” Even worse, there is a huge threat that such a government will be run by radical dictators with an agenda that has little to do with protecting the rights of their citizens. Such an endeavor would not only threaten the Middle East, but the world as well.
Why so many so-called freedom fighters continue to advocate this ‘solution’ — a one-party dictatorship state — is beyond me, but in the interim Israel will continue to defend itself — as any libertarian should expect it to.
When analyzing the situation in the Middle East, it’s important to look at the big picture. Over a period of many years, Israel has worked to reach an agreement — a compromise — but the other side has not.
That’s why Rand Paul stands by Israel and why you should, too.
Aaron Biterman is Vice Chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus. As it is stated below this post, this article is just one opinion. We realize some RLC members will disagree with this opinion. If you would like to write a counter piece to be published in this blog, contact the Republican Liberty Caucus. Only articles from dues-paying members of the RLC will be considered.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.