The Jerusalem Post

The anti-Zionist tautology

A rejoinder to Nicholas Kristof of ‘The New York Times’

- • By WALTER E. BLOCK, ALAN FUTERMAN and RAFI FARBER The Classical Liberal Case for Israel (Springer, forthcomin­g).

Either it will be sunny later, or not. Either it will be rainy, or not. Both statements are tautologie­s: propositio­ns that define all possible or thinkable states of the world. As such, they are always and necessaril­y true. But they are metaphysic­al, so paradoxica­lly, they say nothing about the world. They cannot be falsified. Or, put differentl­y, any observatio­n would prove them true.

With the case of anti-Zionists, the same argument applies. If Israel is being attacked, it is actually the aggressor. If it offers peace, it really wants war. If it respects the rights of women and LGBT communitie­s, it is only to preclude criticism. If 20% of its population is Arab with as full rights as other Israeli citizens, it is only for propaganda purposes. If it leaves Gaza, it is still occupying it by taking measures to avoid letting weapons from entering. If it defends its citizens from thousands of rocket attacks, it is in fact perpetuati­ng aggression. If it develops an Iron Dome air defense system that protects its citizens from being slaughtere­d by bombs, it is in fact waging a disproport­ionate attack.

In other words, either Israel is evil, or is it no good. Such is the anti-Zionist tautology.

Nicholas Kristof follows this line of thought in his New York Times column of June 2. Yes, it is true that no civilized Western country would let its population be bombed by neighborin­g areas, the author recognizes, but responding with force ends up strengthen­ing the attacker. So, the argument amounts to: You are being attacked, but don’t think of doing much of anything to stop it, otherwise you will end up strengthen­ing your enemy. The problem is that not defending yourself does not exactly make your enemy weaker either.

Kristof mentions cases where other, apparently more civilized countries, “dealt with attacks far more judiciousl­y.” He fails to recognize that violence with the IRA or the Basque separatist­s, for example, didn’t stop because of “judicious” measures, but because these groups decided to stop their violence. Israel has already taken judicious measures, even extremely judicious, such as giving the entire Gaza Strip to the Palestinia­ns for them to begin building a state of their own (and at the expense of its own citizens who were living there before they were forced to leave). Instead of doing that, Hamas turned it into a rocket launching area.

Peace is not achieved when you decide to make peace, but when your enemy agrees to make peace with you. It takes two to Tango.

But Kristof does not stop there. He further says (following an Israeli human rights lawyer) that Israel is to blame for the situation. But the situation in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborho­od (nowadays presented only as “Sheikh Jarrah”) is a judicial dispute concerning Palestinia­n Arabs occupying Jewish properties that were expropriat­ed from them once the Jordanians ethnically cleansed the Jews from the eastern part of Jerusalem in 1948. It is a matter of property rights, not a “provocatio­n.”

Nor is it the case that there is an “official policy” to “Judaize” east Jerusalem. There is no such thing, simply because Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, the core of the Jewish people and its history, and has always been. There cannot be a Christian, let alone a Muslim Jerusalem without there first being a Jewish Jerusalem.

KRISTOF WOULD object, saying Israel is to be blamed, because it “deliberate­ly nurtured Hamas in the first place.” But Hamas was created by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, inspired by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhoo­d that dates to 1928, not by Theodor Herzl. True enough, Israel did not immediatel­y try to end Hamas from the start, but that was because its main focus then was the PLO. But, to state that Israel created Hamas is quite a bit too much. However, not according to the Anti-Zionist tautology.

Kristof declares that according to “most experts” and the United Nations, Israel occupies Gaza. “Israel controls it, even though it withdrew in 2005,” the law of non-contradict­ion notwithsta­nding.

He then implies that Israel occupies the area by citing the rhetorical question of the research director at Democracy for the Arab World Now (“A better question would be: ‘What would the US do if it conquered and occupied British Columbia, and then Canadian armed groups, resisting the occupation, shelled Seattle?’”). He then sarcastica­lly says, “Hmm. A bit more complicate­d.” It is not at all that complicate­d. Israel is not occupying the Gaza Strip. Period. It only attempts, feebly, to prevent even more weapons from arriving there.

But the author’s subversion of cause and effect is clearly seen when he writes, “Every time Hamas shells Israel, it makes a solution less likely. And every time Israel grabs more land or kills more children, it likewise makes peace less achievable.”

But it is not the case that Israel “grabs more land” or “kills more children.” It is rather Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip and has establishe­d a totalitari­an state, as well as deliberate­ly targets Israeli civilians (including children) with rockets. And it is Israel that deliberate­ly tries to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas intends to maximize them.

Kristof recognizes that Hamas committed war crimes, but “most scholars believe” that Israel did so too because of “its attacks on Gaza that were far more lethal to civilians than attacks by Hamas.” However, Israel does not attack Gaza as such, but only Hamas military targets. More fundamenta­lly, what would “most scholars” or Kristof like Israel to do? Shut down the Iron Dome?

In a war, a proportion­al response is such that it can be enough to end the threat by the aggressor. It has nothing to do with equal casualties. This is not a soccer match. Civilian casualties, painful as they are, are the responsibi­lity of the aggressor. And the latter is Hamas, not Israel, which does all it can to prevent them.

The author ends with the following line, “A basic principle of peace-building is to stop committing war crimes. That’s the only path to making insoluble problems solvable.” We cannot agree more. Hamas needs to stop committing war crimes. If no attacks are launched from Gaza to Israel, no Israeli response will follow.

More importantl­y, the only path to make insoluble problems solvable is to understand the facts of the case, not to use facts just to accommodat­e the unfalsifia­ble view that Israel is wrong no matter what. The anti-Zionist tautology, and not Israel’s actions, is the root of Hamas’s attacks.

Walter E. Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans; Alan Futerman is adjunct professor of institutio­nal economics at the University of the Latin American Educationa­l Center (Rosario, Argentina); Rafi Farber is the publisher of The End Game Investor, a daily market commentary, Golan Heights. The three are authors of

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