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Rothard is VERY wrong when he discusses Israel

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Eugene posted on Fri, Feb 10 2012 2:12 AM

http://mises.org/journals/lar/pdfs/3_3/3_3_4.pdf

I was completely astounded by this article. It distorts the history to an almost impossible extent, its full of lies and poison. Murray Rothbard is my favorite intellectual, but this piece of crap propaganda is simply inexcusible.

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Eugene:
full of lies and poison
Eugene:
I just thought it is obvious to anyone reading this article that it is completed silent about all the Arab aggressions, including all the massacres and power grabs. The article only talks about Israeli aggressions. It is clearly one sided. The article doesn't mention the 1929 Palestinian riots, or the Hebron massacre, the Arab revolt of the thirties including its massive killings of innocents, and most imporantly the Arab war of aggression of 1948.

I understand Rothbard's anti-statism and I can understand the harsh language used against states, but that must include all states, Arab states as well.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought "lies" where the actual tellings of untruths...as in, saying something that was false.  I never knew that by not mentioning something I could be deemed a "liar" and spreader of "poison".

I guess I better get started to talking.  I wouldn't want to leave anything out.

 

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I just thought it is obvious to anyone reading this article that it is completed silent about all the Arab aggressions

Wasn't that Rothbard's point?  One party is more guilty than another party. ..

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Marko replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 12:49 AM

Wasn't that Rothbard's point?  One party is more guilty than another party...

Exactly, I was going to bring this up. He spells it out in the intro. He accepts that both parties in any state war are guilty as a given. But he takes issue with irrelevant sectarians who stop here. He goes beyond this to show that this is not the same as to say that both parties are equally guilty. His not talking about Arab states's war guilt does not at all mean he is implying they are without blemish since he already said they share in the guilt. So the acusation of 'complete onesidedness' is false.

The only reason he does not talk about "Arab aggressions" is because he did not feel he needed to prove that Arab states share in the guilt. So unless Eugene disbelieves this notion and requires proof before he will believe that Arab states too are guilty he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

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Eugene replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 2:29 AM

Let's start:

 

The Br i t t sh,   in r e t u r n  f o r  mobilizing the Ar ab people s   aga ins t  t h e i r  o p p r e s s o r s  of i m p e r i a l Turkey,  p r omi s e d  the  Ar a b s  t h e i r  independence when t h e  w a r  
was  over.  But,  a t   the   s a m e   time,  the  B r i t i s h  government, 
with  c h a r a c t e r i s t i c   double-dealing,  wa s   p r omi s i n g   Ar ab 
P a l e s t i n e   a s   a  "National  Home"  f o r   organi z ed  Zionism,  ,  -
T h e s e   p r o m i s e s   w e r e   not on  the  s a m e  m o r a l  plane: f o r  i n  
the   f o r m e r   c a s e ,   t h e  Arabs w e r e  being p r omi s e d  t h e i r  own  ~.~ 
land  f r e e d   f r o m   T u r k i s h   domination; and  i n   the   l a t t e r ,   .. 
world  Zioni sm wa s   being  p r omi s e d   a  land  mo s t  emphati- 
c a l l y  not i t s   own.  When  World War  I wa s  o v e r ,  the  B r i t i s h  
unhesitatingly  c h o s e   to  ke ep  the   wrong  p r omi s e ,   t h e   one 
t o   world Zionism. 
 
Already so much bias in the first sentence. First of all the British promised nothing to Arabs. They promised to a Saudi Sheih a control of the middle east without specifying whether Palestinian territories will be included or not. Second of all national home was promised not to "organized Zionism" but to Jews. So there was no big promise to the "Arab people" in return for their mobilization. It was a mere political promise to an Arab dictator (Sayyid Hussein bin Ali). Yet Rothbard frames it this way in order to show that the Arabs were betrayed by the British. They were not, because nothing was promised to them. Why does Rothbard all of a sudden become collectivist?
 

Since when does Rothbard think that land belong to nations? Palestine is not the land of Arabs. It was  land on which Arabs, Jews, and Zionist Jews already lived. So why would it be right to give Arabs to rule Palestine? This is a collectivist non libertarian thinking which leads nowhere.
 

Now you asked me about lies. Well here Rothbard simply lies or distorts things. He says the British kept the promise to Jews but not to Arabs. Yet they DID keep their promise to "Arabs" as 95% of the middle east did go to the control of the Saudi Sheih and his sons. In fact it was the other promise that was not kept as evident by the numerous "white books" that were published by the British.

 

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There is no such thing as equal guilt. Who attacked first? Who resents whom for what? Most israelis don't care about religion: they are former Soviet Union atheists. They resent getting shot at. But most Arabs do care about religion.

Eugene is correct. There have been threads in the past on this issue. Mostly, it ends up people talking past each other, because some people have naive theories of imperialism. Just like many people use same ideas to claim Soviet Union was not imperialist, but United States was.

In analyzing Arab world, Rothbard ignores fact that Religion, control of Jewish irrigated land bought for exceptionally lower prices before it was irrigated from large Arab landholders in 1890's-1930's, honor/shame dynamics of Arab military defeats, Arab view of women versus Israeli atheist view, Arab socialist movements, are the major causes of trouble. Trouble which deosn't get resolved because these issues are not understood by the 45%-ish quantity of socialist politicians in Israel and United States which constantly meddles in its affairs.

Rothbard seems to have been a very nice person and kind of naive about effects of specific customs when confronted with division of labour. 

Rothbard does make historical mistakes quite often:

saying that Daoism is more libertarian than Confucianism, whereas in fact, it is the opposite, Daoism being the patron saint of totalitarian resource-wasting Dynasties since the Han dynasty and of socialist movements up till today,

saying that Israel is also one of these cases, because israel now looks much more industrialized and militarily more competant than its neighbours,

arguing that case was doctrine of war being provoked by barriars to immigration from countries with high population density (e.g., supposedly Germany back in WWI), a point totally denied by Yves Guyot, third in line after Bastiat, and also denied by Mises. High population density does not mean lack of jobs, nor is excuse for war, even if nearby countries deny immigration (although they really shouldn't, since free travel is one big point of economics, after free trade),

and so on. His work in those areas is too naive. I'll stick to Basil Hart.

I just ignore that parts where Rothbard writes anything about international politics or ethics. Just about every scientist has papers which are not well thought out. Ignore them into oblivion and pay attention to valuable work in other areas (e.g., Rothbard on economics, Einstein or Gabor on physics, and so on, as opposed to Rothbard on history, Einstein or Gabor on economics).

 

I'll say it again: until the Arab world on average starts behaving like Japan people, every single more or less capitalist country will have trouble with it, especially if such a country is at center of arab world. Imagine Japan or South Korea being where Israel is, and Israel being far away in South America. Do you think there would be peace in the Middle East then? Nope. Violence would continue.

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Jargon replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 2:50 AM

Eugene:

 

Already so much bias in the first sentence. First of all the British promised nothing to Arabs. They promised to a Saudi Sheih a control of the middle east without specifying whether Palestinian territories will be included or not. Second of all national home was promised not to "organized Zionism" but to Jews. So there was no big promise to the "Arab people" in return for their mobilization. It was a mere political promise to an Arab dictator (Sayyid Hussein bin Ali). Yet Rothbard frames it this way in order to show that the Arabs were betrayed by the British. They were not, because nothing was promised to them. Why does Rothbard all of a sudden become collectivist?
 

Wait so the british didn't promise anything to Arabs under Ottoman control in return for fighting? (P.S. read the subsections)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sykes%E2%80%93Picot_Agreement

 

Land & Liberty

The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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Eugene replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 3:59 AM

 

You can read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Revolt

It was the Ottoman Arab dictator  Sherif Hussein bin Ali who was promised an Arab empire that would include most of the middle east. To the best of my knowledge the promise was personal, not collective. It was simply a promise to one dictator to have more power than he previously did. This promise was not an official promise from the British prime minister at some Arab congress or parliament. It was just a bribe to a very specific dictator.

In any case, this promise was mostly kept with Jordan , Iraq and Syria going to the sons of Hussein, and the Saudi Arabia to Hussein himself. It was the promise to Jews that was not kept at all. Even immigration of Jews to Israel was forbidden by the British at some stage.

Rothbard completely distorts these facts and he presents an extremely biased narrative. But what surprises me most is his collective approach to this conflict. Instead of focusing on property rights violations of specific people, he talks about land ownership, promises to nations, and other collectivistic nonsense that leads nowhere.

 
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Rothbard got Finnish Winter War wrong in his For a New Liberty. He claimed that Soviet Union wanted only Karelian Isthmus from Finland, and only because it was populated by "ethnic russians". Well, it was populated fully by Finns and Soviet Union had a deal with Germany that Soviets can take the whole Finland. I'm hoping it was a mistake, but Rothbard tried to use this as an example of how Soviet Union and Stalin just wanted peace...

-- --- English I not so well sorry I will. I'm not native speaker.
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Marko replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 5:45 AM

Already so much bias in the first sentence. First of all the British promised nothing to Arabs. They promised to a Saudi Sheih a control of the middle east without specifying whether Palestinian territories will be included or not. Second of all national home was promised not to "organized Zionism" but to Jews. So there was no big promise to the "Arab people" in return for their mobilization. It was a mere political promise to an Arab dictator (Sayyid Hussein bin Ali). Yet Rothbard frames it this way in order to show that the Arabs were betrayed by the British. They were not, because nothing was promised to them. Why does Rothbard all of a sudden become collectivist?

It is only reasonable to accept some level of generalisation if we want to get anywhere. Fact is the British promised Arabs independent statehood on their ancestral land. If you are going to dispute this because the deal was with this or that Arab political leader they cultivated ties with, then you may as well object when it is said that Americans are occupying Afghanistan, because actually it is the Armed Forces of the United States of America doing it, or that Dmitry Medvedev is the president of Russia, when actually he is the president of the Russian Federation. If you have a better argument why the need to go after technicalities?

It is obviously irrelevant in the moral sense which promises the British kept or not. It was not their land to give away so the British promising it to someone does not make them any more entitled to it than they were before. But Rothbard never says this anyway so keep your cool and stop slandering him as a collectivist. He is obviously interested in the British role only for its practical consequences not as some moral sanction.

Rothbard brings up the British in order to show the cause of Zionism benefited from British colonial presence, which was anyway favorably disposed to it, and that the founding of the State of Israel might never had been possible had the Arabs not been under a double yoke of British colonialism and the vestiges of Ottoman semi-feudal land relations and therefore relatively better able to thwart Zionist colonisation. This shows that Zionism did not win its earliest victories on its own strength, but piggybacked on the strength of the British and that from the Arabs' perspective there is a continuity of European colonialism in Palestine.

Anyway here is the essay in HTML that copy&pastes for quoting purposes better than the .pdf you use: http://original.antiwar.com/rothbard/2010/03/02/war-guilt-in-the-middle-east/

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Marko replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 6:12 AM

Even immigration of Jews to Israel was forbidden by the British at some stage.

I'm sure Rothbard was aware of this. Obviously the British did not identify with the Zionists cause themselves so the Zionists never had their full cooperation. But that Great Britain to some extent balanced between the Arabs and the Jews, is not to say it was balanced as such. On balance its policies favored the Jews more than the Arabs, at times more so, at other times less so. (In the later years at least some of the occupying soldiers came to detest militant Jews and sympathized with the Arabs, but that was a private stance, and of little consequence.) Throwing a tid-bit of information out there doesn't work to change a characterization of the British policies built on examining them as a whole, not as a collection of a few random decrees (that may or may not have been made in good faith and with the intention of being enforced in full).

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Marko replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 6:42 AM

But what surprises me most is his collective approach to this conflict. Instead of focusing on property rights violations of specific people, he talks about land ownership, promises to nations, and other collectivistic nonsense that leads nowhere.

Maybe you need to freshen up on your libertarian theory. Land ownership is extremely pertinent to libertarians and always a key concern for us. The right to self-determination is a property right stemming from ownership over oneself and ones' land, its denial represents a property right violation against hundreds of thousands of very specific people. The 'promise' thing I've dealt with.

Since when does Rothbard think that land belong to nations? Palestine is not the land of Arabs. It was land on which Arabs, Jews, and Zionist Jews already lived. So why would it be right to give Arabs to rule Palestine? This is a collectivist non libertarian thinking which leads nowhere.

More specificially Palestine was land which Arabs, Jews and Zionist Jews not just "lived on", but owned (the parts that had any economic value). And as Rothbard points out Arabs owned far more land than Jews. So is your argument really again a technicality? What else can you object to?

Are you going to say Rothbard should have writen of Palestine not as of 'Arab land', but as of "land 92% of which was Arab", or "land 92% of which owned by individuals who identified as Arab"? As said, some generalisations are necessary for the ease of expression, though technically incorrect at face value anyone who is sincere and knows even a tiny bit about Rothbard's other views will know what he meant and where he is coming from.

Now you are free to dispute Rothbard's facts showing that if he had been aware of the real facts he would have to reach a different set of conclusions, but strawmaning conclusions he draws from the facts he has as unlibertarian, that's a little much. Can you argue his conclusions, or can you only besmirch them as collectivist?

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It was the Ottoman Arab dictator  Sherif Hussein bin Ali who was promised an Arab empire that would include most of the middle east. To the best of my knowledge the promise was personal, not collective. It was simply a promise to one dictator to have more power than he previously did. This promise was not an official promise from the British prime minister at some Arab congress or parliament. It was just a bribe to a very specific dictator.

Is that a joke?  Obviously you haven't read the letters because they were official correspondance....

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hussmac1.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMahon%E2%80%93Hussein_Correspondence

I have realised, however, from your last letter that you regard this question as one of vital and urgent importance. I have, therefore, lost no time in informing the Government of Great Britain of the contents of your letter, and it is with great pleasure that I communicate to you on their behalf the following statement, which I am confident you will receive with satisfaction:-

The two districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo cannot be said to be purely Arab, and should be excluded from the limits demanded.

With the above modification, and without prejudice of our existing treaties with Arab chiefs, we accept those limits.

As for those regions lying within those frontiers wherein Great Britain is free to act without detriment to the interest of her ally, France, I am empowered in the name of the Government of Great Britain to give the following assurances and make the following reply to your letter:-

1. Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs in all the regions within the limits demanded by the Sherif of Mecca.

In stating that the Arabs are ready to recognise and respect all our treaties with Arab chiefs, it is, of course, understood that this will apply to all territories included in the Arab Kingdom, as the Government of Great Britain cannot repudiate engagements which already exist.

The Government of Great Britain, as I have already informed you, are ready to give all guarantees of assistance and support within their power to the Arab Kingdom

Hell the wiki entry doesn't even come close to characterizing things the way you do.  At least the wiki acknowledges Arabs got boned on semantics...

In subsequent decades the British government maintained that the Balfour Declaration was not inconsistent with the McMahon pledges. This position was based an examination of the correspondence made in 1920 by Major Hubert Young. He noted that in the original Arabic text (the correspondence was conducted in Arabic on both sides), the word translated as "districts" in English was "vilayets", a vilayet being the largest class of administrative district into which the Ottoman Empire was divided. He concluded that "district of Damascus", i.e., "vilayet of Damascus", must have referred to the vilayet of which Damascus was the capital, the Vilayet of Syria. This vilayet extended southward to the Gulf of Aqaba, but excluded most of Palestine. The weak points of the government's interpretation were nevertheless acknowledged in a memorandum by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Halifax, in 1939[5]:

  • (i) the fact that the word "district" is applied not only to Damascus, &c., where the reading of vilayet is at least arguable, but also immediately previously to Mersina and Alexandretta. No vilayets of these names exist...and it would be difficult to argue that the word "districts" can have two completely different meanings in the space of a few lines.
  • (ii) the fact that Horns and Hama were not the capitals of vilayets, but were both within the Vilayet of Syria.
  • (iii) the fact that the real title of the "Vilayet of Damascus" was "Vilayet of Syria."
  • (iv) the fact that there is no land lying west of the Vilayet of Aleppo.

 

 

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Marko:
In another thread, I pointed out how Rothbard got Dir Yassin all wrong, with Arab writers admitting in Arab newspapers that it was a hoax.

Do you maybe have a link to the thread?

http://mises.org/Community/forums/p/15079/314451.aspx

I was curious too. To me it seems Dave's posts there were uncharactaristically emotional (as opposed to the usual pithy and rational), deriding Rothbard with terms like:

"raving like a madman, or a paid propagandist"
"totally from fantasy world"
"he is lying"
"He lies about the numbers"
"Rothbard also gleefully accepts fairy tales"
"Rothbard doesn't bother"
"people are very interested in lying, and Rothbard is very interested in publishing their version"
All basically for not reading the Wikipedia article (for an essay he wrote in 1987) so he would know the politically-accepted number of deaths.
An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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Eugene replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 3:11 PM

Let's continue:

 

Furthermore, the Zionists, far from hoping to preserve ghetto Yiddish culture, wished to bury it and to substitute a new culture and a new language based on an artificial secular expansion of ancient religious Hebrew.

 

Why was it important for Rothbard to mention this? What does it have to do with anything? It seems like Rothbard has a problem with modern and independent Jews rather than with Zionism and Zionists. Perhaps that's the line that explains his bias best of all.

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Eugene replied on Sat, Feb 11 2012 3:15 PM

And again, look at the language:

 

Pressured from opposite sides by Zionists anxious for a Jewish state and by Arabs seeking an independent Palestine

The bad words: "anxious" and "Jewish state" (as if Arabs would have expelled from there) are used to describe Zionists, yet the good words "independent" and "Palestine" (as if all people would be welcomed there) are used to describe the Arabs. 

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