Picking on Israel

After this spittle-flecked screed (and it keeps going) from a commenter at Liberty & Power, resident AWC-basher Steven Horwitz adds the following Deep Thought:

    As someone who thinks ALL foreign aid should disappear, including, of course, aid to Israel, I still believe there are criticisms of Israel that cross the line into anti-Semitism. Dershowitz’s definition of anti-Semitism with respect to Israel works for me: being opposed, even strongly opposed, to Israeli policy is not anti-Semitism. Holding Israel to standards that no other country is held to, or continually singling out Israel for problems [th]at are as bad or worse elsewhere, is.

First off, Dershowitz? Sure you want his representation, professor?

Anyway, who’s picking on Israel? I have never heard a single American of any stature – not even the shrillest critic of Zionism – ever suggest that the U.S. should aggress in any way against Israel. All my life (and especially the last four years), I have heard “respectable” folks call for the U.S. to bomb and/or invade practically every country on the planet – certainly every Arab country – yet I have never come across even a joking suggestion that Israel should be targeted. I’m sure Professor Horwitz can pull such a suggestion from his grievance clip file, but it certainly won’t bear the mark of Antiwar.com or the other libertarian organizations he and his pal smear as anti-Semitic.

So he can stop his whining about “singling out Israel” – if Israel’s singled out for anything, it’s American goodwill.

What libertarian critics of Israel have called for at most is an end to the subsidies, and there’s no crypto-Nazi logic behind such demands. If Israel comes up more often than other countries in critiques of foreign aid, it’s first and foremost because Israel gets more foreign aid than anybody else (see Figures 3 & 4). (Excluding the recent spike in “aid” to Iraq, which only cost the Iraqis tens of thousands of dead. As for longtime #2 recipient Egypt, you can go ahead and count them at least partly as an extension of the Israel budget. As the ultra-anti-Semitic Cato Institute put it in a 1986 report: “As part of the Camp David peace accords of 1978, the United States promised to give Egypt and Israel billions of dollars of aid to compensate them for forgoing the privilege of fighting each other.”)

Yes, I’m for abolishing foreign aid, period, as are all of the libertarians Horwitz hates. As I advised the Bush administration almost a year ago,

    Kick Israel off of the dole.

    There’s no reason to be nasty about it. You don’t have to single out Israel, nor should you. Simply announce an end to all foreign aid (as I recall, that used to be a major goal for conservatives). See ya, Egypt. So long, Uzbekistan. Later, Haiti. The handouts benefit neither them nor us.

And yes, I would applaud any reduction in foreign aid, including whatever pittance we give to Moldova or Fiji. But I’m not going to pretend that all foreign aid packages are equally inimical to my interests as an American citizen and taxpayer. For a domestic policy parallel, defunding the National Endowment for the Arts would be a step in the right direction, but defunding the Drug Enforcement Agency would be a giant leap. Obviously, the NEA bleeds taxpayers far less than the DEA. But much more important than immediate costs is blowback. The NEA litters the country with a few lousy sculptures, some boring shock photography, and a bunch of performance artists bathing in Hershey’s syrup. The DEA fuels drug-related violence, incarcerates thousands for victimless crimes, erodes the privacy of all, destroys the lives and livelihoods of people guilty only of being born in the wrong place, etc. If Congress abolishes the NEA, I’ll clap. If it abolishes the DEA, I’ll rejoice. Both are wasteful, stupid government programs, but they are not equivalent.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever claimed to attack the U.S. because of its support for Moldova or Fiji. President Bush has not assured the world that he will back a Moldovan preemptive strike against Russia, thereby putting U.S. foreign policy in foreign hands, as he has done with Israel. And while I’m sure there’s some pro-Fiji Laurent Murawiec out there agitating for the U.S. to annihilate Fiji’s enemies, he’s had no success thus far.

As for “holding Israel to standards that no other country is held to,” I haven’t even touched on Israel’s internal affairs – though I don’t dig how any self-professed libertarian can champion a hypersocialist theocracy – because it’s not necessary. Even if Ariel Sharon and all the settlers waiting to Yitzhak Rabin him have gilded wings and halos, and the Palestinians really are just a bunch of horned devils who arose ex nihilo in 1948, it’s not my country. Neither is France, despite my surname. I am under no moral obligation to subsidize (or suffer the consequences of subsidizing) either. Anyone who wants to contribute to the Israeli military is free to do so – hell, it’s tax-deductible! Just don’t force me to, don’t tell me it’s the same as subsidizing Fiji, and don’t call me an anti-Semite for noticing the difference.

And if Professor Horwitz truly thinks “ALL foreign aid should disappear, including, of course, aid to Israel,” I’d be pleased to update this post with any links in which he has advocated any such thing. My preliminary Google search turned up nothing. Surely that’s not just a stock caveat he tosses off before libeling others, is it?