Backtalk, June 25, 2007

Goodbye and Good Luck

Mr. Reese states: “Since we stupidly decided to have an all-volunteer Army, we can’t afford too much cannon fodder.”

Is it Mr. Reese’s position that the United States should have a drafted army, rather than an all-volunteer military?

I would like to think that, as a man of uncompromising principle on the issues of liberty and private property rights, Mr. Reese would not be advocating slavery (because that is exactly what a draft is).

The ownership of oneself is the ultimate private property right. If a man is not supposed to own his own life and body, then certainly the issue of private property rights and liberty is dead.

I frequently read Mr. Reese’s articles, and am in agreement with much – not all – of his writings. I may have misunderstood Mr. Reese’s thoughts, or he may have stated them poorly. …

~ Madison

The Trap of Recognizing Israel

Jonathan Cook’s view that a Jewish democracy cannot be a true democracy relies on a very narrow vision of how democracy should work.

If a democracy builds a fence around its border, it is still a democracy. If a democracy chooses to implement policies that will reduce the influx of people that have voted for a racist and terroristic group, which wants to destroy their state, to wipe it off the map, then it is still a democracy. If a democracy performs military strikes against terrorist targets which attack it, and occupies the zones controlled by those terrorists in a militarily strategic way, it is still a democracy.

People like Cook dream about grouping Israel with South Africa simply because it would replace rational thinking about Israel with an emotional opposition to it based on a label.

Why is Israel a democracy? Because people vote and elect a diverse (both ethnically and politically) array of representatives. In addition, minorities in the Israeli democracy have a higher quality of life than minorities in any of the surrounding Arab dictatorships.

Criticism of Israel is generally beneficial to the Middle East conflicts, because it increases dialogue and strengthens the case for a less interventionist United States in the region. However, the scapegoating practiced by some anti-Zionists goes way overboard, as can be seen by Cook’s ridiculous article.

~ Ben Greenberg

Jonathan Cook replies:

It is interesting that even most Israeli political scientists do not believe Israel is a democracy in the normal sense of the word. The main debate among academics here is whether the country is an ethnic democracy (a very unusual and hybrid form of democracy that, in their view, just slips in under the net) or an ethnocracy, a non-democratic state.

Ben, like most apologists for Israel, keeps moving the goalposts. His “fence” and his suicide bombers come from a group of Palestinians living under an illegal occupation in the West Bank and Gaza who are entitled under international law to wage a resistance struggle to end that occupation. In discussing Israel’s democratic pretensions, we are speaking only of Israel’s treatment of its 1.2 million Palestinian citizens. They have been quiescent for six decades and live inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel. So why are they excluded by the state’s definition of itself as a Jewish state?

Let me restate: there is no Israeli nationality recognized in Israel. That is because Israel is officially the state of the Jews, not Israelis. Imagine living in a United States that called itself the state of the Christians and allowed citizens not to identify themselves as Americans, but only as a Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Would we want to call such a state democratic? Well, that is the situation in Israel, and from that simple fact alone flows much of the discrimination exercised in Israeli law that makes the Jewish state very similar to the apartheid state of South Africa.

Ben makes much of the fact that everyone votes in Israel. True, but that’s a very easy generosity on Israel’s part when its non-Jewish citizens – that is, its Palestinian citizens – comprise only a fifth of the population. South Africa would doubtless have been able to give the vote to blacks if they were only that proportion of South Africa’s electorate. More important in Israel’s case is the decision taken by every coalition government in Israel’s history, including national unity governments, to exclude Palestinian parties. In the latest development, Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, have admitted that they are using covert means to prevent Palestinian parties from seeking Israel’s reform into a liberal democracy. That view has the sanction of the attorney general. In other words, it is actually considered subversion in Israel to want democracy.

Sam Karpov’s Backtalk

Who is this Sam Karpov guy who posts letters in favor of Israel’s involvement in the USS Liberty attack? Why aren’t you commenting on the letters, either?

I have read what the survivors of the attack stated and think Karpov is full of crap. He appears to be using the technique of constant repetition of a lie to get it accepted as truth.

~ Corkey

Sam Koritz replies:

It’s primarily up to the writers to comment on letters that criticize them. As letters editor, though, I can speak to the appropriateness of posting Sam Karpov’s two recent letters. They contain specific criticism, regarding matters of fact, description, and interpretation: just the sort of thing that a letters section called “Backtalk” should include. And they do not express opinions “in favor of Israel’s involvement in the USS Liberty attack.” Karpov describes the attack as a case of mistaken identity, and a mistake is by definition something that should not have happened.

The Martyr of Mosul

I sympathize absolutely – it is a tragedy, at least it is reasonably well publicized, presumably because of the loss of Catholic churches.

The medieval Serbian Orthodox Christian heritage in Kosovo, most of which is supposed to be protected by UNESCO, is being systematically destroyed under the noses of KFOR troops by Albanian terrorists, yet there is little if any public outcry (presumably because Albanian terrorists are “our” terrorists)!

This is happening in the heart of Europe right now, not in some desolate war zone.

I enjoy Mr. Buchanan’s articles very much, and it gives me some hope knowing that not everyone on the other side of the pond is mad!

~ Nick Brajkovich, Cheshire, UK

Rise and Fall of the Bizarro Empire

[T]he estimated cost, now considered conservative, of the Iraq invasion is $2,000,000,000,000, which equals $80,000 for each of Iraq’s 25,000,000 citizens. With estimated petroleum reserves of 115,000,000,000 barrels, this is a $17-per-barrel American taxpayer subsidy to the oil companies for oil still in the ground. Permanent occupation, which is the plan, will only increase this American taxpayer subsidy to the oil companies, who are recording record profits, with the U.S. military providing them permanent protection at taxpayer expense. How sweet is that? Democrats and Republicans alike don’t seem to oppose these plans or explain them to the American taxpaying public, WHO THEY HAVE DEEMED TO NOT HAVE A NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS DONE WITH THEIR TAX MONEY.

This is the Bizarro Empire.

~ Ken Lusk

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