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Why I Stand by Relocation: A Rejoinder to Ben Burgis

“To kick him or them out of the country would indeed be to violate the non-aggression principle (NAP) of this strict version of libertarianism. But I do not always write from this point of view. Sometimes, often in my writings on Israel, I do so from the perspective of classical liberalism…”

Rutgers University philosophy professor Ben Burgis maintains that my analysis of the Israel–Hamas situation is not only incorrect, but, also, even worse, incompatible with my own views on political economy. The present article is devoted to defending my perspective against his unwarranted critique of it.

I have written numerous articles, and a book, defending Israel against its critics. I have had support from numerous sources. But I am rather interested in the critiques my publications have garnered. Many are from the word processors of libertarians. Sad to say, they have been very disappointing, while the disparagement from Burgis is significantly better than any other of those.

Why the long face? This is due to the fact that I am a libertarian, as are Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Thomas DiLorenzo, and Ryan McMaken (who have issued sharp critiques of my stance on the Gazan War; my rejoinders can be found here, here, and here), and the philosophy of Burgis is just about the polar opposite of that which I share with these three critics. But Burgis does me the honor of actually quoting, and responding to, what I have written, while these other commentators have resorted to creating straw man arguments, assigning them to me, and then knocking them down as if I am somehow responsible for them. I am thus very grateful to Burgis in comparison to them.

Nevertheless, he and I are on opposite poles, not only in all of political economy—he is a socialist, I reject that viewpoint—but, specifically, as regards Israel. Thus, I shall try to demonstrate his errors, and I hope and trust I can do a better job on him than Hoppe, DiLorenzo, and McMaken have done with my views.

Burgis sets the stage with this initial comment:

“It is not particularly interesting that I disagree with Block’s argument. I am a bleeding-heart left-winger who thinks every human being has a right to healthcare, housing, education, and much more…The interesting part is that [his arguments] fly in the face of the values he cares about.”

I am accused of logical inconsistency, of contradicting my own libertarian principles. How does he make this case?

He states in this regard as follows: “This is no longer true. In a recent article for Merion West, Block argues that Palestinians who live in the territories Israel has occupied since 1967 should be permanently stateless and rightless non-citizen subjects of the occupying power—or at least that is the most charitable interpretation of his point. Several of his formulations more than hint at support for outright ethnic cleansing of this population.”

Does he attempt to back up this claim of his with an actual statement of mine? To his credit, he does. But before I mention that let us consider the following statement of his:

“I am a bleeding-heart left-winger who thinks every human being has a right to healthcare, housing, education, and much more.”

But this means he supports outright theft. For if A has a positive right to these goods and services, B, and others, must pay for them. However, none of the latter have agreed to finance any such expenditures (no one now living ever signed the constitution—see Spooner, 1870 on this—or agreed in any other way to be responsible for such matters). When such people are compelled, nevertheless, to offer funds for such purposes, and we value accuracy in the English language, we have no recourse but to call it robbery. Much as it pains me to say this, I have no choice but to regard this author as aiding and abetting through his eloquent writing, stealing.

Here are Burgis’ direct quotes from me in his attempt to demonstrate my self-contradiction:

“Block’s rally cry is, in effect, ‘go back to Egypt’—a country to which far fewer Palestinians have any connection than Israeli Jews have to Poland. In fact, he ends with a bizarre hint that Israel should go to war in order to force Egypt to allow ethnically cleansed Palestinians to be relocated en masse into Egyptian territory:

‘Egypt has taken the position that not one single solitary Palestinian would be welcome anywhere in that country, let alone in the Sinai, contiguous to Gaza. Are they really willing to risk a war with Israel over this matter? Once before in 1956, the Israel Defense Forces occupied that territory. If serious altercations broke out between these two countries, there is no question as to which one would emerge victorious. Perhaps Egypt might consider its position on this matter.’

“As it happens, Block has his facts wrong. Not only does Egypt not have a blanket policy against ‘a single solitary Palestinian’ living in the country, but tens of thousands of them already live there. The hyperlink he provides to back up this assertion does not come within a thousand miles of matching Block’s summary. Instead, it quotes Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi calling the mass deportation of Palestinians to Egypt a ‘red line.’”

There is a lot wrong here. First of all, I claim that “Egypt has taken the position that not one single solitary Palestinian would be welcome anywhere in that country.” Burgis’ “refutation” of this assertion of mine is that “tens of thousands of them [Palestinians] already live [in Egypt].” Perhaps Burgis is not a native speaker of English, but in this language the two statements, although they superficially sound similar, are very different. For Burgis’ edification: yes, indeed, there are “tens of thousands” of Palestinians already located in Egypt, but this does not at all refute the claim that not a single additional one of them would be welcome there.

Second, if quoting the Egyptian leader as drawing a “red line” against the further incursion of Palestinians into his country “does not come within a thousand miles of” establishing that no more such immigrants would be welcome there, one wonders what would serve as evidence for this claim of mine. Again, I query Burgis’ facility with the English language. What more does Burgis want from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi? A green line? A blue line? A pink one? No, the Egyptian president’s command of the English language is superior to that of my debating partner. A red line suffices to establish complete and total unwillingness.

Third, banishment. Is there never a case for expulsion of an entire people? Can this hurdle never be met no matter what horrors this group has perpetrated upon their victims, the citizens of the country? Yes, I provide one here. But from a purely anarcho-capitalist point of view, this would be unacceptable, since there is bound to be at least one person, if not a few, who are entirely innocent of any rights violations. To kick him or them out of the country would indeed be to violate the non-aggression principle (NAP) of this strict version of libertarianism. But I do not always write from this point of view. Sometimes, often in my writings on Israel, I do so from the perspective of classical liberalism, not from my own viewpoint, which is Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism (an-cap).

Why do I do this? I do so in order to be responsive to my friend and mentor, Mr. Libertarian, Murray Rothbard (1967). In this brilliant article, he warns against libertarians who are “sectarian”: they condemn all governments, since all of them are criminal organizations from the an-cap perspective. Thus, such commentators are unable to distinguish between degrees of rights violation. This can only be done from a point of view that does not reject all governments per se.

This accounts for Burgis’ puzzlement with my supposed lack of logical consistency: “Block is, as I understand him, such an extreme libertarian he does not think there should be such a thing as public sidewalks (indeed I make this point here). It goes without saying that Block’s conclusions about the Palestinians are odious if one starts from the values I care about. The interesting part is that they fly in the face of the values he cares about.”

Yes, yes, from the outlook that I truly care about, anarcho-capitalism, the Israeli political leaders are all gangsters, and this applies, as well, to those who head up Hamas. How does this help us distinguish between them? It does not do so at all. If we want to do so, we are required to step down from our high horse of an-cap, and delve into the depths of philosophies that do not condemn all states per se. We are now talking about the views of such people as Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick, Henry Hazlitt, Rand Paul, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, etc. Here, governments are not necessarily illicit, and may act to protect their citizenries.

Let us return to banishment from this lower-level libertarian perspective, classical liberalism. If ever there were a group of people, who, through their actions over many years, deserve to be forcibly removed from territory from which they have launched their unjustified attacks on innocents, it would be the Palestinians. The monstrosity of October 7, 2023, is only the tip of the iceberg. These people have been murdering Jews in the Middle East long before the creation of the state of Israel. They have initiated pogroms every few years, and their raining down of rockets upon Israel from Gaza has been continuous for decades. Not only have they made themselves impossible to consider as neighbors to the Hebrews, but they have also made themselves unwelcome to fellow Arabs as well. For example, the Jordanians were nice enough to allow thousands of Palestinians to live in their country. They repaid this kindness by fomenting a revolution against the Hashemite kingdom. During Black September, thousands of these ingrate guests were slaughtered by their intended victim, King Hussain, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was driven out of that country.

Burgis takes issue with my suggestion that there be any number of Palestinian states, “just not west of the Jordan River nor anywhere else very close to Israel.” He goes on to “gently suggest” that my knowledge of geography is roughly akin to his of ordinary language, since the countries I mention in this regard, are all located very near Israel: Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan.

I thank him for his concern about my eyesight, but I am fully aware of the map of the Middle East. I note that Israel is a teeny, tiny sliver of the entire area, and that the Muslims, in the main, are loath to concede even that small territory to the Jews. Also, several of the countries I mention are indeed located quite a distance away from the Jewish state. Even with regard to those that are contiguous, if the Palestinian states therein were located at their outer edges, they would still be further distant than Gaza, Samaria, or Judea. Most important, if they were a state within a state, then the host country would likely rein in the Palestinian entity; It would not allow their usual wont of launching rockets at Israel. For they would be responsible, as the hosts, for such incursions, and would rightfully fear Israeli wrath in response.

Then, too, there is Burgis’ pattern of focusing on unimportant points, his lack of any sense of humor whatsoever, and his total lack of appreciation for any poetic license. Does he really have to point out to me that Jordan and Lebanon are contiguous to Israel?

Here are far more serious criticisms, ones that deserve a considered answer, and I thank Burgis for raising them: “(a) what would happen to the territories where Palestinians currently live if the Walter Block Plan were implemented, (b) what would happen to anyone who lived there who refused to leave, and (c) what would happen to the current inhabitants of the territories in these neighboring countries that Block wants to allocate to create ‘Palestinians states’? He never quite answers any of the questions, but it is difficult to imagine any answer to any of them that would not be remembered for centuries alongside the crimes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Slobodan Milošević.”

I think we can respond without resorting to the tactics of the three gentlemen he mentions. At the outset, let me make one thing clear: I do not maintain that the Palestinians deserve a state. I very clearly state, in the material on this matter that Burgis quotes from me: “If the Palestinians deserve a state.” My remarks, then, and now, are merely hypothetical. If and only if the Palestinians deserve a state, here is what would follow… is my view. Do they deserve a state? No, of course not. Hamas, their rulers, are terrorists, murderers, rapists; What they did on October 7, 2023, is way beyond forgivable. The only thing that Hamas members deserve is punishment for their evil deeds, certainly not that they should be given a state.

Notice, by the way, how every reference to 10/7 in Burgis’ article talks about how badly Israel has acted in response. There is never a mention about how we would not be in this war if Hamas did not attack in the first place.

In any case, let us consider the hypothetical situation in which they do deserve a state. What follows, then, is arguendo. Since Burgis raises these points, I feel obligated to respond to them.

First of all, (a) what would happen to Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem? Answer, the Arabs would be banished from those areas.

Second, (b) Suppose that the Palestinians declined to be removed? They would be compelled to do so by the threat of physical violence. Is this Nazi-istic as Burgis would undoubtedly respond? Well, no. Hitler did not eject the Jews in the late 1930s and early 1940s. They would have been deliriously happy to have been treated in any such manner. They were, in the vernacular, “dying” to get out of there and would have been, if anything, grateful to him for such treatment.

Further, Israel did precisely that to its own people in 2005. It forcibly evicted them from Gaza, against their will. Why, pray tell, did no one call them “Nazis” for so doing? This is because of the rampant double standard to which Burgis subscribes: anything in aid of Palestinians, rendering Gaza Judenrein is all to the good; ditto for whatever harms Jews, such as being expelled from their homes in Gaza.

Third, what about the Golan Heights? Israel won this territory in yet another defensive war that was forced upon them, and not all of the Arabs who lived there beforehand will be able to remain. Why no cry of Nazi-ism then?

Then there is the fact that after 1947-1948 slightly fewer than one million Jews were forced to vacate their homes in some half dozen Arab countries in the Middle East. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of people being expelled from countries they had long inhabited. What is so special, so unique, about this possible banishment that Burgis would wield the “big guns” in demagoguery such as “Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Slobodan Milošević”?

Now consider (c). Given that expulsion is well-deserved for this group of mass murdering terrorists, one possibility is to resort to voluntary financial arrangements. While the official party line of the Egyptian government for Palestinian immigration is that “none is too many,” the unofficial black market price for an immigrant is a mere $5,000. With two million Palestinians in Gaza, and another three million in Judea and Samaria, at that price the total would be $25 billion, a not insignificant sum, but in terms of solving the problems of one of the more serious powder kegs of the entire world, a mere drop in a very large bucket. Asks Burgis: “What would happen to the current inhabitants of the territories in these neighboring countries?” Answer, they would have money stuffed down their throats to induce them to accept these Palestinian immigrants.

But suppose they tightened up. Suppose Egypt, for example, clamped down and succeeded in preventing a single Palestinian from entering its domain. One response to this hypothetical would be that there are very poor countries in Africa and Asia that might welcome funds of this sort. Another is that at the end of the 1956 war against Israel started by Egypt, the former occupied the entire Sinai Peninsula. Former United States President Dwight Eisenhower forced that country to relinquish this territory. Would not Egypt fear an Israeli re-imposition in this regard? That might well convince them to change their tune. From their point of view, better a Sinai under Egyptian sovereignty with a few million Palestinians occupying it, than the same situation with this territory under Israeli control.

My next bone of contention with this author concerns this statement of his: “Surely, any right an Israeli Jew should have, a Palestinian Christian or Muslim should also have.”

Let me follow the “logic” of this assertion but change the particulars. Then, this arises:

“Surely, any right an innocent person should have, a rapist and murderer should also have.”

Obviously, this second statement is false, and I cannot imagine that even professor Burgis would disagree. I think the correct way to analyze this matter is that all innocent people have the same rights, equal rights, negative rights, but rights can be lost if the person engages in criminal behavior. Then, the question becomes, have the Palestinians engaged in any crimes, particularly en masse? The answer emanating from my quarter is that yes, certainly they have. Therefore, it does not at all follow, logically, that they should still have the same rights as anyone else.

This point is a bit off the beaten track of Israel versus Hamas, but since Burgis raises it, we might as well respond. He states: “I think that, as well as the sort of ‘negative rights’ historically defended by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, everyone has ‘positive rights’ such as the right to healthcare, and that it is a serious moral blight on our country that there are cases of cash-strapped diabetics who have died because they were trying to ration out their insulin.”

My reaction: there is no such thing as “positive rights.” These are merely the demands for the wealth of other people. If I have a positive right to health care, you, and others, have an obligation to provide that service for me. But from whence springs this supposed obligation of yours? You had not contractually obligated yourself to provide that benefit for me, as in the case where you are a doctor and I paid you an annual fee to do so. It cannot be doubted that when poor diabetics who cannot afford insulin die for this lack, it is a tragedy. But under which system, socialism or capitalism, is this more likely to occur? Certainly, the former, at least this is true according to that aphorism, “wealthier is healthier.” The more prosperous an economy is, the less likely it is for such tragedies to take place. Capitalism, not socialism, brings about wealth.

Now consider the specific case of this drug. In 1923, the Eli Lilly company, a profit-maximizing firm, was the first to commercialize this drug, and thus enable its widespread use. If not for this capitalist venture, the lives of diabetics would have continued to be very short. Compared to an idealized perfect system that Burgis seems to have in mind, free enterprise falls short; Some few people still perish due to this disease and lack of funds. But did insulin arise under the socialist system favored by this author? It did not.

My learned friend then quotes me, back on topic:

“[Palestinians] have long ago worn out any welcome they might ever have had in Israel. And this is not at all due to the fact that they are not Jewish. The Druze, the Christians, and numerous Arab denominations are all quite welcome in the only true democracy in the Middle East. Together these non-Jews comprise over 20% of the entire population of that country.”

He then maintains:

“Block’s understanding of the demographics of this population—sometimes called ‘Israeli Arabs’—is about as good as his understanding of Middle Eastern geography. He heavily implies here that West Bank and Gaza Palestinians are not ‘welcome’ because they are Muslims, and all Muslims are dangerous unlike ‘the Druze,’ ‘the Christians,’ and whatever unnamed ‘numerous Arab denominations’ he takes himself to be talking about, all of whom are ‘welcome in’ Israel.

“As it happens, the ‘Israeli Arabs’ are just Palestinians who ended up on the Israeli side of the ‘green line’ after the war in 1948, and like Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the vast majority of them are Muslims. There are also Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Gaza, and, indeed, their churches have not been spared in Israel’s indiscriminate carpet-bombing of Gaza. Several relatives of former United States Congressman Justin Amash were killed when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bombed a Greek Orthodox Church where they were sheltering in Gaza, for example. I do not entirely blame Block for not seeming to be aware of these ugly facts. If several Christian family members of an American Congressman were murdered by Hamas at a church in Israel, I imagine that it would have blanketed American news coverage for weeks.”

Why would the IDF bomb churches? Could it be, could it possibly be, because Hamas places rocket launchers, military stores, etc., in houses of worship? Burgis does not say. That is a lacuna on his part. The fact of the matter is that this terrorist organization embeds itself in the civilian population, and uses these people it is presumably protecting, as shields. Not only do they utilize mosques and churches in this uncivilized manner, but they do also so for hospitals, schools, and residential areas. Then when Israel attacks these gun emplacements, after giving due warning with leaflets, etc., Hamas bitterly complains of war crimes, and Burgis is taken in by this tactic of theirs.

Yes, there are Palestinians, and then there are Palestinians. My debating partner is quite right to mention their similarities. But there are also differences. When the war in 1948 began, some of them departed out of fear of hostilities. Others, for all we know, also innocently, decided to go on vacations. However, there was a third group that did so in an effort to aid and abet the five invading Arab armies. The latter had asked them, even demanded of them, to do so in order to better enable their armies to kill the Jews. The gist of the message was to the effect that with them remaining, it would be more difficult to murder the Jewish population; They would just get in the way. They were ordered, asked, cajoled into leaving for a few weeks, and could then return when the newly born country was annihilated. These people were not compelled to leave by the Israelis. Rather, they were asked by them to stay. Matters turned out somewhat differently, and these people have been demanding their “right of return” ever since. But they were hardly innocent. If anything, they were traitors to the new country.

At about the same historical epoch, a similar number of Jews, somewhat less than one million, were compelled to abandon their homes in the five countries which had launched their attack on Israel. They were not a fifth column. They dared not ask for any “right to return,” for if it were granted, they would have been murdered. Burgis neglects to mention the plight of these entirely innocent folk. Had some rough type of justice been employed after this war, the Palestinians who abandoned Israel in her hour of need might have taken over the properties of the Jews who had been forced to depart the Arab countries, and they received roughly equivalent property in Israel. ‘Twas not to be. Israel integrated these incoming Jewish refugees, while the Arab nations set up “refugee camps” to demonstrate the heartlessness of the Israelis. And Burgis seems to have been taken in by this façade as well.

This academician, then, again, attacks Israel for not being a “true democracy.” He iterates, in fine detail, the several ways in which Arab citizens are treated more poorly than their Jewish counterparts. True enough. But he fails to appreciate the fact that there is a lot of hatred emanating from the former to the latter; that there were vicious pogroms in that neck of the woods, well, desert, long before the advent of any claims of land theft in 1948; He fails to realize that Israel is continually under attack; He neglects to take cognizance of the fact that other countries, when they felt beleaguered, took way more extreme measures, and still remained a “democracy.” For example, there is the treatment of their Japanese citizens by the United States government at the outset of World War II. How does Burgis think Israeli actions stack up against that record? He vouchsafes us no answer. Yes, yes, Israel is imperfect. It is comprised of error-ridden human beings. But when compared to other countries, its deviations from perfection fade into relative insignificance. Burgis compares Israel to perfection and finds it wanting. Well and good. It is imperfect. He declines to compare it with other nations. One can only wonder why.

Speaking of hatred, here is a quote from Golda Meir that is very pertinent:

“When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

My critic is particularly exercised by the fact that “The political participation of Palestinian citizens is also limited by Basic Law: The Knesset. Section 7a, legislated in 2002, stipulates that a candidate or a list of candidates can be barred from running for Knesset if their actions or goals explicitly or implicitly include ‘negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.’ The Central Elections Committee—a body comprised of representatives of various political parties—has repeatedly relied on this clause to disqualify Palestinian candidates and lists, arguing that their civil struggle for full equality violates the clause as it denies Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”

There probably is not a nation on the entire planet that would not prohibit “the political participation of” a party which aimed at the very destruction of the government. Again, there is no appreciation of the fact that in rating Israel, one cannot reasonably compare this country to perfection; other nations should be, instead, the sounding board. He also neglects the fact that the Knesset has banned the Kach Party of Rabbi Meir Kahane for being too extremist in opposition to Palestinians. Does this act too, that Burgis I suspect would support, render them less democratic?

Professor Burgis raises the “downstream” issue: who “started up” with whom. Yes, Arabs have killed Jews and Jews have killed Arabs, but which side initiated the aggression? That is the one at fault. He upbraids me for thinking that it all started with Hamas. He maintains it started far earlier, and that thus the Jews started it and were then guilty of the initiation of violence. One response is that this is purely a historical matter of fact, and Burgis is wrong. The Jews were put upon in the Middle East, ever since Roman times, and not the other way around, at least vis-a-vis the Arabs, afterward.

Perhaps we can add to the actual history with a few considerations. The Jews have a record of being welcomed into a country, engaging in no physical violence against their hosts whatsoever, being legally relegated to only a few occupations (usually in finance; The Jews typically took up occupations in jewelry, since they expected to be removed in the not-too-distant future, and this form of wealth was the most portable), and then sometime later being expelled. The Arabs have no such record. That alone should cast a bit of doubt on Burgis’ timetable order. Another consideration is that the Palestinians do indeed have a record of fomenting violence against their hosts; King Hussain and Black September are obvious examples. A third bit of evidence is the Covenant of Islam. It reads in part as follows:

Hamas declares in its original charter (1988) by quoting Islamic sources:

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him…”

The Qur’an is clear: “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.” (8:39). This amounts to an open-ended declaration of war against those whose religion is not “for Allah.” A careful reading of the Torah will not reveal any such hatred against anyone. Yes, this amounts to a priori history on my part, but upon occasion as in the present instance it can be very revealing.

At this point Burgis throws that old chestnut onto the fire: apartheid. This charge has so often been made, and refuted, that we need not spend too much time on it. The former South Africa is the be-all and end-all of this political arrangement. A moment’s glance at the gigantic differences between the two regimes ought to put paid to this claim, but of course it has not, at least not for this author. Did South Africa have black politicians in its government? It did not. Did it feature high ranking black police and army officers? No. How about not only university students but black professors as well in its leading universities? Again, we must answer in the negative. Asked of Israel, the answers turn around 180 degrees.

Next in the lineup is this sally: “There are two solutions that someone who believed in a package of individual rights that included self-government could support—turning Israel into an actual ‘true democracy’ by granting citizenship to everyone in the existing state, or a two-state partition of the existing state so the millions of currently rightless Palestinian non-citizen subjects of Israel would become citizens of something. Block rejects both…”

Not so fast. For all intents and purposes, there was indeed a two-state solution, at least from 2005 to 2023. It was called Gaza. This land was in total control of Arabs from the earlier period and onward, and in the hands of Hamas since 2007. Vast amounts of money, concrete, steel, and other supplies were given to this “country.” What did they do with all this largesse? Did they build hotels for tourists (they have a relatively long shore on the Mediterranean)? They did not. Perhaps desalinization plants (they need drinking water and are located in arid desert conditions)? Again, no. Maybe they spent their hard begged funds on manufacturing and tried to become the Hong Kong of the Middle East (which Israel would have supported with alacrity). We must again answer in the negative. Might it be transportation corridors for civilians? You will never guess the correct response to this one. They constructed transportation corridors alright, but, instead, they were built for the purpose of launching murderous rampages at the Israelis. They built rocket launching pads and located them in mosques, hospitals, schools, playgrounds, and residential areas. They did indeed have their own Palestinian State, and Burgis is shocked, shocked to the bottom of his boots, that the Israelis, along with libertarians who seek justice such as I, would not be too keen on more of the same. It is surly of us, I admit, but, there you have it.

Burgis is by no means finished in his diatribe against me in particular and the Israelis in general. He starts off his next critique with a quote from yours truly:

“He [Block] also mentions the Palestinian Authority (PA) paying a stipend to the families of ‘martyrs’ of the struggle with Israel, though here Block is simply losing the thread, talking about the policies of the PA rather than staying focused on his thesis of the collective guilt of the entire Palestinian population. If Palestinians have lost the package of rights against interference in their persons and property Block believes all other human beings have because Hamas won a single election 18 years ago (i.e., before the majority of Palestinians alive today were old enough to vote, and before nearly half of them were even born) and because ‘many of them’ celebrated the actions of Hamas, the painfully obvious response is that Israelis must have lost the same rights many times over, since both considerations would apply much more strongly to the Israeli population.”

I noted above that this scholar, unlike several other critics, has been careful to directly quote me, and criticize what I have actually said, or wrote, and not attribute to me straw man statements. But here in this one case, his usual careful scholarship has failed him. He assigns to me the “thesis of the collective guilt of the entire Palestinian population.” But where oh where did I use those actual words? Nowhere, that is where. I do not support the concept of collective guilt.

How could I possibly believe in collective guilt, and still maintain that some Gazans were murderers and rapists, while others were used as shields? Shields are necessarily innocent! Least of all would I blame people for casting a ballot before they were old enough to vote, or, as he correctly points out, “even born.” There is plenty of blame to hand out without going full monte on straw men arguments. Is not what happened on October 7, 2023, plus the statements quoted above from the Hamas covenant, plus the long history of pogroms against the Jews in this area, plus Hamas’ use of their women and children as shields, sufficient to justify strong defensive action on the part of the IDF? One of the mottos of the Israelis is “Never Again.” Is that really too much to ask, Burgis to the contrary notwithstanding? As for massive expulsion, banishment, let me remind this author that the entire exercise was arguendo.

This researcher continues his analysis:

“… as the IDF has displaced millions of Gazans from their homes at gunpoint and killed far more Gazan civilians than the total civilian death toll—in absolute terms—in conflicts such as the Russia/Ukraine war involving vastly larger populations, it is sadly undeniable that a great many Israelis have cheered.”

First of all, the number 40,000 Gazan deaths that has been bruited about as of the date of this writing emanates from Hamas and must be taken with not a grain of salt, but a bucketful.

Second, whose fault is the Gazan fatalities, whatever is their number? These tragedies lie entirely within the responsibility of Hamas, not Israel. If the former had surrendered on October 8, 2023, and released all of its hostages on that day after its atrocities, not a single solitary Gazan would have perished, at least not at Israeli hands. Although many murderers of the day before surely deserved execution, and Israel does indeed have the death penalty on its books, so far at least they have only executed one man, Adolf Eichmann. My prediction, which I make under correction, is that Israel would have jailed, not killed, the surrendering Hamas murderers.

Third, let us discuss this cheering business. I join my colleague Burgis in condemning the enjoyment, the laughing, at anyone’s death, even Hitler’s or Stalin’s. Every human life is precious. There is some good in everyone, even the worst of us, such as these two. Death is an awful business. But whose cheering is more justified? Those who celebrate the events of October 7, when the targets were civilians, women, and children, or those who do so for the retaliation, the defense against, these vicious depraved perpetrators, who then hid behind innocent shields and thus were solely responsible for their demise? Once again Burgis evaluates the Israelis against a criterion of perfection, and finds them, not too surprisingly, wanting. He gives not a fig for the fact that the Gazans cheering was thus worse. This entire concept of comparing the two, one against the other, seems particularly alien to him.

I strongly support comparisons. Burgis’ attack on my position, and that perforce of Israel, is so far at least, the best of this genre. I congratulate him on that accomplishment. I am dismayed that his critique, a left-socialist, progressive, liberal one, was superior to that of three staunch and sophisticated libertarians, Hoppe, DiLorenzo, and McMaken. Burgis was scrupulous in directly quoting me, and with but one oversight, not putting false words into my mouth. The same cannot be said for the other three.

Walter Block, an Austrian school economist and anarcho-libertarian philosopher, is Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Chair in Economics and Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans.

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