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Peter last won the day on November 5

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    Peter Taylor
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  1. Peter

    Rape scene in the Gospel of Luke

    36 26 36 indicates ability to conceive. That's why those numbers look so good to men.
  2. Peter

    Aristotle's wheel paradox

    Sam two you rest inn piece. From the Readers Digest. I am hungary. Maybe you should czech the fridge. I’m russian to the kitchen. Maybe you will find some turkey. We have some but it’s covered in greece. Yuk. There is norway you are going to eat that. I think I will settle for a can of chile as well. Denmark your name on the can.
  3. Peter

    Harry Dean Stanton has died.

    From Movie Magic: Ayn Rand Casts Atlas Shrugged The Atlas Society | 11/11/02 | Erika Holzer Posted on Monday, November 11, 2002 7:00:21 PM by RJCogburn: DAGNY TAGGART: Kristen Scott Thomas Julianne Moore Sigourney Weaver. end quote Excellent choices. Clint Eastwood as Hank Rearden? Matthew Broderick as Eddie Willers? Yeah I could see that. Peter Movie Magic: Ayn Rand Casts Atlas Shrugged The Atlas Society ^ | 11/11/02 | Erika Holzer Posted on Monday, November 11, 2002 7:00:21 PM by RJCogburn They were the most heady "casting parties" I ever attended. I especially liked being the only attendee (Hank Holzer also being present but not contributing much to the fun). Those of you who've read my 2001 essay for The Atlas Society, "Why Ayn Rand Would Have Loved This Site," know that I'm a lawyer turned novelist and that, during the mid-60s, my husband and I represented Ms. Rand. Those of you who have checked out my website ( learned, from the site's dedication, that my husband and I held professional consultations with Ms. Rand - not during normal business hours, nor at our midtown Manhattan law office - but evenings at her home. You also learned that, once our legal business was concluded, we would talk into the wee hours, conversation ranging from the broadly philosophical (deficiencies in the criminal justice system) to the mundane (the virtues of stamp collecting). But one topic I returned to again and again with the dogged persistence of a Golden Retriever (excuse the pun) was movies in general* and casting Atlas Shrugged in particular. Ayn enjoyed our "game" as much as I did. In all honesty I can't recall every actor or actress we mulled over - there were too many and the process was ongoing for a long period of time. But certain names stuck in my memory - especially those movie stars who were the subject of fierce/friendly debate. We were of one mind on who should play the central character - central, that is, to Ayn: Robert Redford as John Galt. Lacking the courage to mention that, for me, the central character (or, at the very least and to this day, my favorite character) was Francisco D'Anconia, I put forth the name of John Justin for Francisco and got an immediate and enthusiastic thumbs up. John Justin, for those of you who have never had the pleasure of viewing David Lean's greatest cinematic achievement, his post-World War II "Breaking the Sound Barrier," starring Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, Nigel Patrick - and a young, stunningly handsome, and utterly flamboyant John Justin - would, I venture to say, be hard put to disagree with our assessment once you'd seen test pilot Justin's climactic scene in that movie. John Justin was Francisco D'Anconia. Candidates for Hank Rearden were more numerous. To my dismay, Ayn seemed stuck on Robert Stack. While I agreed that Stack was an ideal physical type for Rearden, his acting tended to be "wooden" - in much the same way, I pointed out, that Gary Cooper had, on the surface, been a perfect Howard Roark in The Fountainhead but had lacked Roark's power of certainty and keen intellect. (Ayn had to admit that, even after much coaching and explaining on her part, Cooper - whom she liked - was unable to bring off the movie's climactic speech, confessing to her that he didn't understand it.) Much later, Ayn and I settled quite happily on Clint Eastwood. Dagny Taggart was a hard case. Ayn regaled me with anecdotes about Barbara Stanwyck, whom she'd known and who had coveted the role of Dominique in The Fountainhead. While she respected Stanwyck as an actress, she and I agreed that, although Stanwyck would have done justice to the tough-minded aspect of Dagny's character, she (like Joan Crawford) wouldn't have been able to temper tough-mindedness with femininity. "Can you picture Barbara Stanwyck - for one minute - projecting vulnerability?" Ayn asked rhetorically. I couldn't picture it. We managed to come up with a number of candidates, but the only one I remember - a leading contender - was Faye Dunaway. That took care of major characters in the "good guys" corner. Even after all these years, Lillian Rearden in my book retains her title of most despicable villainess in fiction, so I take great pride in revealing that it was I who identified the perfect Lillian. Ayn, as I recall, had to be reintroduced to the actress I had in mind for the role but, that done, she wholeheartedly agreed: Claire Bloom. "The eyes are the key," I remember telling Ayn excitedly. "No actress is better at conveying evasion and a sort of lifelessness . . . a deadness of the soul that detracts from her undeniable beauty." To this day, I cannot reread any portion of Atlas where Lillian is on stage without seeing Claire Bloom. The male villains were a lot of fun. Ayn and I clashed over James Taggart, her vote going to Vincent Price, mine to Joseph Cotton; in retrospect, I think she was right (although I remained skeptical about whether Price could keep from surrendering to melodrama). I came up with the actors to play Dr. Robert Stadler, Wesley Mouch, and Cuffy Meigs. I can't recall any reaction on her part to Eddie Albert as Mouch, but she loved Hume Cronyn as the brainy, boyish, likeable - and ultimately evil - Dr. Stadler. As for Cuffy - he of the leather leggings and short attention span - who could better pull off the quintessential looter than Rod Steiger? Remembering Steiger from Stirling Silliphant's memorable "In the Heat of the Night," Ayn readily added her vote to mine. I miss those casting parties. What I wouldn't give right now to sit with Ayn on that overstuffed couch of hers at three in the morning while the two of us rose to the challenge of sifting through today's movie stars and nominating some likely candidates! A few years ago, when it looked as if Atlas Shrugged might finally make it to the Big Screen, I shared with the would-be producer, whom I'd known for many years, the Randian/Holzerian selections. But I didn't stop there - I couldn't. Indulging in a little extrapolation (forgive me, Ayn), I came up with the following casting suggestions - the ones I deemed most in keeping with those mid-60s choices she and I had made - even going so far as to note alternatives, listed according to preference. In a few instances, I've taken the liberty of updating the list. JOHN GALT: Brad Pitt Patrick Swayze Jeremy Northam FRANCISCO D'ANCONIA: Gabriel Byrne - hands down (I rest my case on his superb swashbuckling and magisterial persona in "The Man in the Iron Mask.") Pierce Brosnan (if only he could shed his tongue-in-cheek James Bond image) George Clooney (ditto re his tongue-in-check goofiness) HANK REARDEN: Russell Crowe Ed Harris Chris Cooper DAGNY TAGGART: Kristen Scott Thomas Julianne Moore Sigourney Weaver LILLIAN REARDEN: Uma Thurman Cate Blanchett Joan Allen JAMES TAGGART: Kevin Spacey Geoffrey Rush Sam Waterston DR. ROBERT STADLER: Ralph Fiennes Stephen Rea Tim Roth WESLEY MOUCH: Gene Hackman Dustin Hoffman William Hurt CUFFY MEIGS: Armand Assante Andy Garcia Mickey Rourke I vaguely remember Ayn and I debating about three other pivotal characters in the good-guys category, but since the choices we made continue to elude me, I'll list some actors I think she'd have approved: EDDIE WILLERS: John Cusack Matthew Broderick Edward Norton ELLIS WYATT: Bill Pullman Kurt Russell Brendan Fraser QUENTIN DANIELS: Gary Sinese Ethan Hawke Keanu Reeves After reviewing all of the above, I decided to take a last hard look at the entries and, taking into consideration who would play off best against whom, I would settle on one actor or actress for each role. Here they are, ready or not: Galt: Brad Pitt Francisco: Gabriel Byrne Rearden: Russell Crowe Dagny: Kristen Scott Thomas Lillian: Uma Thurman Taggart: Kevin Spacey Stadler: Ralph Fiennes Mouch: Dustin Hoffman Cuffy: Armand Assante Eddie: John Cusack Ellis: Brendan Fraser Quentin: Gary Sinese When it comes to Atlas Shrugged, people are prone to vehement disagreement about who should (or who most definitely should not) help bring this incredibly complex novel to visual life. It's contagious, playing the casting game. Irresistible. Isn't it?
  4. Peter

    APS and the Global Warming Scam

    Were the people laughing because he was spoofing the doomsdayer's or because he was not reporting real news? We are lucky space debris was mostly cleaned out of our solar system before people evolved. That recent television show about an asteroid heading to earth was interesting but I kept thinking how long can they drag this out?
  5. Peter

    Harry Dean Stanton has died.

    I haven't seen it in a while but I remember he and another worker were negotiating for more pay in a realistic manner.
  6. Peter

    APS and the Global Warming Scam

    The end is near crowd have always been nuts. I like the editorial cartoon where a guy in a long white robe and with long hair and sandals is holding up a sign that prophesizes doom. The fake climatologists deserve ridicule, like the "seerist" Jean Dixon who told us what terrible things were going to happen in the coming year. Her predictions were garbage. To avoid the never ending funeral I was watching Varney on Fox Business and he had three "experts" saying what will happen in the stock market in the coming year. They disagreed. The nerdy lady was a bit of a scoffer when she said there is always a downturn once a year and a few days.
  7. Peter

    Aristotle's wheel paradox

    I typed in Xeno and got Xenophanes. And Zeno and got: Scientology, Seizures, and Science by Edward Hudgins. January 13, 2009 -- Jett Travolta, the sixteen-year-old son of actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston, died recently of what the autopsy found to be a seizure. The boy had a history of seizures and unconfirmed reports suggest that his parents acted responsibly to ensure he was on medication to mitigate his condition . . . . end quote Excellent letter. You should look it up. Peter And this. The Problem of Induction (1953, 1974) by Carl Popper. For a brief formulation of the problem of induction we can turn to Born, who writes: '. . . no observation or experiment, however extended, can give more than a finite number of repetitions'; therefore, 'the statement of a law - B depends on A - always transcends experience. Yet this kind of statement is made everywhere and all the time, and sometimes from scanty material. ' 1 . . . . The question of the sources of our knowledge, like so many authoritarian questions, is a genetic one. It asks for the origin of our knowledge, in the belief that knowledge may legitimize itself by its pedigree. The nobility of the racially pure knowledge, the untainted knowledge, the knowledge which derives from the highest authority, if possible from God: these are the (often unconscious) metaphysical ideas behind the question. My modified question, 'How can we hope to detect error?' may be said to derive from the view that such pure, untainted and certain sources do not exist, and that questions of origin or of purity should not be confounded with questions of validity, or of truth. This view may be said to be as old as Xenophanes. Xenophanes knew that our knowledge is guesswork, opinion - doxa rather than episteme - as shown by his verses [quoted on p. 31 above]. Yet the traditional question of the authoritative sources of knowledge is repeated even today - and very often by positivists and by other philosophers who believe themselves to be in revolt against authority. The proper answer to my question 'How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?' is, I believe, 'By criticizing the theories or guesses of others and - if we can train ourselves to do so - by criticizing our own theories or guesses.' (The latter point is highly desirable, but not indispensable; for if we fail to criticize our own theories, there may be others to do it for us.) This answer sums up a position which I propose to call 'critical rationalism'. It is a view, an attitude, and a tradition, which we owe to the Greeks. It is very different from the 'rationalism' or 'intellectualism' of Descartes and his school, and very different even from the epistemology of Kant. Yet in the field of ethics, of moral knowledge, it was approached by Kant with his principle of autonomy- This principle expresses his realization that we must not accept the command of an authority, however exalted, as the basis of ethics. For whenever we are faced with a command by an authority, it is for us to judge, critically, whether it is moral or immoral to obey. The authority may have power to enforce its commands, and we may be powerless to resist. But if we have the physical power of choice, then the ultimate responsibility remains with us. It is our own critical decision whether to obey a command; whether to submit to an authority . . . . end quote
  8. Peter

    My first gripe with ayn rand

    I was just quoting old letters and may not agree with particular points. However, I will defend Israel, the last and farthest outpost of America. Who shares our objective, Western values? Israel. What would John Galt do? What would Ayn Rand do? Would she stand next to Francisco and John Galt on the borders of Israel with a gun in each hand, shooting the terrorists? Yes she would. The quote at the end reminds me of "Give me liberty, or give me death." Peter Some quotes from the speeches of Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel is the last and farthest outpost of America . . . . You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire . . . . . And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past . . . . We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. end quote And I am edited this to add, watch the movie, "Laurence of Arabia' for an interesting historical presentation of Arabia.
  9. Peter

    Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

    So it's not like paying with Mexican pesos? I know fiscally conservative people have always been suspicious about our dollar, backed ONLY by the United States, but bitcoin is very iffy in my book. I saved silver coins and bought Univasario's? from a libertarian site in the 70's and sold them a few years ago for a hefty Ferengi profit.
  10. Peter

    APS and the Global Warming Scam

    Yeah. That's the guy with a nice voice, though Carl Sagan's was better and so was the Kraft Cheese announcer's. I wonder if this will kill his broadcast time? I hope not. I could actually understand a nerdy guy doing that and not meaning any harm. If I see something odd or interesting about a person I have a hard time NOT looking. But if someone is doing that to me I might say, "What? Is something wrong?"
  11. Peter

    My first gripe with ayn rand

    Ah it’s a slow Sunday so I shall digress and repeat myself like a parrot. See wrote: I am aware that most people used capital I when referring to themselves, but why? No one I ask knows, they just say that's the way it’s done. end quote I misspelled your initials, capitalized some N’s and I’s, closed up the word themselves (from them selves) and added a little squiggly line to it’s (from its). ah. thats butter. Capitalization – income divided by rate equals value. I guess that means a capitalized “I” has more rate of return than a lower income “i”. If you capitalize correctly then Forrest Gump might say, ‘Yur smart,” instead of “You’re dumb.” To reiterate or is it retaliate, I agree with Michael, that good spelling makes you better understood and “not lacking.” You should get Microsoft word which self corrects or tells “you you maybe wrong” by underlining or highlighting words so you will see you should have written “you may be wrong.” You provide guys like me with ammo for fun but who wants to be a dumbass? There is no profit in that. I too frequently put in too many commas and use there for their, and I was an English major. And an Army Spec 4. Peter
  12. Peter

    APS and the Global Warming Scam

    Space. The Final Frontier. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was accused of sexual misconduct and here is part of his response on Dec. 1st which almost sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch. So, what is creepy and what is “socially scientific curiosity, Rover?” Peter Neil wrote, “A colleague at a well attended, after-conference, social gathering came up to me to ask for a photograph. She was wearing a sleeveless dress with a tattooed solar system extending up her arm. And while I don’t explicitly remember searching for Pluto at the top of her shoulder, it is surely something I would have done in that situation. As we all know, I have professional history with the demotion of Pluto, which had occurred officially just three years earlier. So whether people include it or not in their tattoos is of great interest to me. I was reported to have “groped” her by searching “up her dress”, when this was simply a search under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress. I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy. That was never my intent and I’m deeply sorry to have made her feel that way. Had I been told of her discomfort in the moment, I would have offered this same apology eagerly, and on the spot. In my mind’s eye, I’m a friendly and accessible guy, but going forward, I can surely be more sensitive to people’s personal space, even in the midst of my planetary enthusiasm.” end quote
  13. Peter

    My first gripe with ayn rand

    Here is an old letter of mine to OL. Go Israel! Peter What would Ayn Rand’s philosophical character John Galt do? What would be rational and objective?” A postulated, fictional President Ayn Rand would require the big picture before answering. So what would she do in today’s real world? The basic humanity in “saving the Jews from genocide” is a cultural and historical necessity. I think Rand’s gut thinking would be, “Wouldn’t you have to?” She would defend Israel. The “Save the Brains imperative” (that Brant expressed in 2011) is on the level of global, human evolutionary action. Because of her insistence on eliminating any science from her *egalitarian volition* concept this might be a hard sell to Ayn. She said the facts of different groups IQ’s were somehow racist and stock yard collectivism. She despised eugenics as a phony theory. In line with the upcoming Atlas Society debate, I posit a scenario. There is a debate between Ayn Rand, and the top experts in evolutionary psychology. Wolf could moderate. Would she lose the debate? Six months or a year of rethinking might bring her to their scientific position but for different reasons. She would defend Israel (not because European Israelis have an average IQ of 117) but because of its strategic importance in the Mideast. And she would defend *family.* The Jews in Israel are genetically closer to her family. She may have “family ties” in Israel. That is harsh but it is every humans gut feeling: Save my family! To save the Jews and Arabs of Israel who create technology, is a more personal, profit motive. Would she think it rational to save physicists, creators of computer technology and medical technologists if they are on the cutting edge of human innovation? Yes, it would be in her self-interest. Is it in our strategic interest to protect the oil pipelines from the Middle East? Of course it is. At the same time our protection of Israel would provide protection for Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries. President Ayn Rand would save Israel. Is it in our self-interest to keep our mutual defense treaty with Israel? Who else do we have in that area who would risk their lives to rescue one of America’s downed airmen? We could count on the Saudis. Who would also, unhesitatingly provide us with their airspace? If a U.S. military jet crashed landed, who would cheer the survivors? Israel. Who would butcher or hold the survivors for ransom? Iran, Hamas in Israel and Lebanon. What would the average Palestinian do if the cell phones and cameras weren’t rolling? That is in doubt. Who shares our objective, Western values? Israel. Ayn Rand might reasonable carp about the level of Israel’s socialism, but she would save Israel. Rand always maintained it was “righteous” to shoot a looter, or a murderer, or to destroy a dictator. She said they were the human equivalent of *mad dogs*. The key for a country’s “righteous though extended use of self-defense,” would be: if it is not in my country’s “current” national security, what would be the cost to the United States in lives and money? Would a President Rand drone strike or incarcerate the heads of Hamas and all the Palestinian initiators of force? Probably. What do you think John Galt would do? Would Rand stand next to Francisco and John Galt on the borders of Israel with a gun in each hand, shooting the terrorists? Yes she would. Ayn Rand would defend Israel. So would I. We should improve the “iron dome” we aided Israel to construct. It doesn’t appear to be working except with large, older rockets that invade Israeli air space. Peter Taylor Some quotes from the speeches of Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel is the last and farthest outpost of America . . . You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire . . . . . And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past . . . . We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. end quote Here is the complete, really, really mean monologue by Comedian Dennis Miller on Israel: "A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still don't get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need. Don't thank me. I'm a giver. Here we go: The Palestinians want their own country. There's just one thing about that: There are no Palestinians. It's a made up word. Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years. Like "Wiccan," "Palestinian" sounds ancient but is really a modern invention. Before the Israelis won the land in war, Gaza was owned by Egypt, and there were no "Palestinians" then, and the West Bank was owned by Jordan, and there were no "Palestinians" then. As soon as the Jews took over and started growing oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know, say hello to the Palestinians," weeping for their deep bond with their lost "land" and "nation." So for the sake of honesty, let's not use the word "Palestinian" any more to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deaths until someone points out they're being taped. Instead, let's call them what they are: "Other Arabs Who Can't Accomplish Anything In Life And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death." I know that's a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN. How about this, then: Adjacent Jew-Haters." Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country. Oops, just one more thing. No, they don't. They could've had their own country any time in the last thirty years, especially two years ago at Camp David. But if you have your own country, you have to have traffic lights and garbage trucks and Chambers of Commerce, and, worse, you actually have to figure out some way to make a living. That's no fun. No, they want what all the other Jew-Haters in the region want: Israel. They also want a big pile of dead Jews, of course -- that's where the real fun is -- but mostly they want Israel. Why? For one thing, trying to destroy Israel - or "The Zionist Entity" as their textbooks call it -- for the last fifty years has allowed the rulers of Arab countries to divert the attention of their own people away from the fact that they're the blue-ribbon most illiterate, poorest, and tribally backward on God's Earth, and if you've ever been around God's Earth, you know that's really saying something. It makes me roll my eyes every time one of our pundits waxes poetic about the great history and culture of the Muslim Mideast. Unless I'm missing something, the Arabs haven't given anything to the world since Algebra, and, by the way, thanks a hell of a lot for that one. Chew this around and spit it out: Five hundred million Arabs; five million Jews. Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it. And now these same folks swear that if Israel gives them half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals. Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea? Oh, that? We were just kidding. My friend Kevin Rooney made a gorgeous point the other day: Just reverse the numbers. Imagine five hundred million Jews and five million Arabs. I was stunned at the simple brilliance of it. Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of razor blades and dynamite to themselves? Of course not. Or marshaling every fiber and force at their disposal for generations to drive a tiny Arab State into the sea? Nonsense. Or dancing for joy at the murder of innocents? Impossible. Or spreading and believing horrible lies about the Arabs baking their bread with the blood of children? Disgusting. No, as you know, left to themselves in a world of peace, the worst Jews would ever do to people is debate them to death. Mr. Bush, God bless him, is walking a tightrope. I understand that with vital operations coming up against Iraq and others, it's in our interest, as Americans, to try to stabilize our Arab allies as much as possible, and, after all, that can't be much harder than stabilizing a roomful of supermodels who've just had their drugs taken away. However, in any big-picture strategy, there's always a danger of losing moral weight. We've already lost some. After September 11 our president told us and the world he was going to root out all terrorists and the countries that supported them. Beautiful. Then the Israelis, after months and months of having the equivalent of an Oklahoma City every week (and then every day) start to do the same thing we did, and we tell them to show restraint. If America were being attacked with an Oklahoma City every day, we would all very shortly be screaming for the administration to just be done with it and kill everything south of the Mediterranean and east of the Jordan. (Hey, wait a minute, that's actually not such a bad id . . . ooh, that is, what a horrible thought, yeah, horrible.)"
  14. Peter

    My first gripe with ayn rand

    And one last letter from Russ at the bottom, or is it Ross Levatter? It is anti Israeli and seems quite scholarly and objective. On the other hand the name Palestinian did not exist until recently. Peter From: DXIMGR To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Israel and the Palestinians...from one who's lived there Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 22:15:42 EDT The following was forwarded to me by Jeff Hummel. It is a letter from a libertarian/Objectivist friend of his, Bill Kelsey. I found Bill's first-hand observations and calm historical analysis of great interest. I also include some brief introductory comments from Jeff, whom most of you know as a libertarian scholar, recently awarded a PhD in history for his work on the Civil War. RL I've pasted in below a post from Bill Kelsey, an old libertarian friend of mine from Austin, Texas. Bill (now in his 40s) grew up in the Middle East, where his parents served as Christian missionaries; and he periodically flies relief missions there himself. For those of you who have not had time to read either of my past recommendations, David Hirst, THE GUN AND THE OLIVE BRANCH: THE ROOTS OF VIOLENCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST (London: Faber & Faber, 1977), or Stephen P. Halbrook, "The Alienation of a Homeland: How Palestine Became Israel," JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES, 5 (Fall 1981), 357-74, Bill provides one of the finest, short surveys of the Israeli land question that I have yet seen. It dramatically confirms, at least with respect to land, what Daniel Dorin, head of a Tel Aviv think tank, suggested half seriously around the time of the Gulf War: "After the fall of the regime in Albania, we might remain the last outpost of socialism in the world." Jeff Hummel What we are wrestling with is the question of how long after the displacement of one community by another does the new community have a legitimate claim on a piece of territory. The means of displacement are a factor in the discussion. The posting by Clark Patterson in response to Dan Sullivan prompts this response from me. I realize this can be tedious, but since the fragment of geography known as Israel and Palestine has been a flashpoint for a potential World War III and is currently the focus of what will be a long "clash of civilizations" we must continue to examine this vigorously. A hugely disproportionate fraction of US aid - between a quarter and a half depending on how the numbers are crunched - goes to the one-tenth of one percent of the world's population that make up the State of Israel. Like it or not, this requires our diligent attention and debate. Blurred in Clark's response is the demarcation between private ownership of land versus state sovereignty. The purchase or settling of real estate by an immigrant community does not normally confer upon it the right to secede and establish a nation, although this has been done by the settlers to Texas and the immigrants to Palestine. The subject of immigration is a touchy one in America, especially now, and the libertarian immigration plank is controversial even within our movement. Those of us who welcome immigrants are considered extreme by society at large. Imagine if the immigrants whose rights we respect went so far as to declare a secessionist Hispanic nation in Texas, or a Caribbean Creole nation in Florida, and went into armed struggle to this end, and terrorized the majority communities into leaving. Whether or not the Israeli settlers purchased the property in dispute is only of partial relevance to the question of their right to establish state sovereignty at the expense of the indigenous inhabitants. In fact some of the land was purchased at the beginning, and some developments were in deserts and swamps, but the majority of it was eventually confiscated from some very real people who had some very real houses and farms and orchards there. The notion that this was entirely an empty piece of desert is a piece of propaganda not believed by Israelis or even disseminated by them anymore. It was promulgated in some crude works such as Leon Uris' book Exodus but you will not find this in any modern Israeli propaganda. (If anyone from Israel tells you this they are taking you for a fool and saying something they do not believe themselves). Some parts of Tel Aviv were built on uninhabited desert. Others were not. Ben Gurion airport covers what used to be the Palestinian town of Lydda, whose inhabitants were forcibly evicted in 1948. There are four main phases that I would identify regarding the Palestinian land alienation. The first phase would include legitimate purchases of land by the first immigrants a century ago. Palestinians make no claim on this land. (Nor do they make a claim on land owned by Palestinian Jews who had lived there for centuries). The second phase, starting in the 1920's, was more ambiguous and generated the first hostility towards the immigrants. According to Middle East custom and land law, if property is purchased from a landlord who has tenant farmers, the tenant farmers retain rights of tenancy. Jewish settlers purchased such pieces of property, and acting in accordance with their own European laws, and protected by the British mandatory government, evicted and destroyed the huts of tenants who had hitherto been minding their own business. (Old film footage exists of the settlers doing this with pitchforks). These disgruntled peasants moved to the cities to become day laborers, only to find a campaign in place by the Histradut to force Jewish employers to fire their cheap Palestinian laborers and hire the more expensive European immigrants. The frustration of these de-landed dis-employed laborers contributed to the first communal riots and killings. Bear in mind that the immigrants - by now 20% of the population - were also openly declaring that the whole country was theirs and that their intention was to set up their own State. Their own literature advocated a "transfer" of the indigenous inhabitants. Herzl, the Zionist ideologue, had generously proposed that a few be kept in Palestine to catch snakes. The third phase of the acquisition of property took place during the war of 1948. Although accepted in the West as a case of the "Israelis accepting partition and the Arabs rejecting it and attacking the newborn democracy" the Haganah, Irgun, and Stern Gang were actively terrorizing Palestinian villagers into leaving well before any Arab armies entered Palestine. The Deir Yassin massacre, which took place in what was supposed to be the international Jerusalem zone, was one such incident. This was a village not involved in combat. After the massacre, led by Manehim Begin, other armed Israeli factions used loudspeakers and some very insidious psychological methods to panic the majority of the Palestinian inhabitants into leaving. Every town had its own story. Some were massacred, some were allowed to remain if they surrendered, some surrendered and were evicted, and some fled on the strength of the rumors about what was about to happen to them. Israeli propaganda will portray those who defended their homes as being terrorists deserving of eviction, while at the same time portraying those who tried to get out of the way of combat as having proven that they didn't really care for their homes and hence forfeited them. The total number of towns and villages completely depopulated in 1948 is about four hundred and the people ethnically cleansed numbered about 750,000. The Israelis have a governmental department called the Custodian of Absentee Property to administer the real estate. In the case of Palestinians who were displaced from their original villages but managed to remain within the borders of pre-'67 Israel there is a bureaucratic designation of "Present Absentee." Documentation exists (from both Arabs and Israelis) on the Arabic names of the villages, the amount of land pertaining to each, when they fell, where the inhabitants went to, and what became of the village, and the name of the kibbutz that replaced it. One of them, Ein Houd, was just too beautiful to destroy and it has been made into an artists' and writers' colony. You can go there and sit in cafes made of old Palestinian homes and talk about human rights and property rights and Ayn Rand and what savages the Palestinians are. While the documentation exists on paper in libraries I find it more intriguing that the traces of the destroyed villages exists in the form of the sabra cactus which they had planted as fencing. Where bulldozers have removed houses, mosques, and cemeteries, the cactus keeps growing back. The fourth phase of this confiscation of private real estate would be after the 1967 war to the present. In the conquests of 1967 there was relatively less ethnic cleansing except for the Syrian Golan heights which were depopulated of their inhabitants - Bedu, Palestinian refugee, Circassian, and Syrian Christian and Moslem communities. Druse villagers were allowed to stay along with one Alawi village. To consolidate the conquests and "create facts" the Israeli government has encouraged and subsidized a network of settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza. The word "settlement" does not quite do justice to the concept of what is going on. The most innocuous of the settlements are on "state" land which might be claimed only by shepherds for grazing rights and have no documentation. Palestinians are forbidden to settle on this land even though it is contiguous to their own communities, but huge amounts of money are spent by the Israelis, courtesy of the US taxpayer, to bring in foreigners to this land gained by conquest. Some settlements are set up on private land confiscated first for military uses and then turned over to "soldier-pioneers." Others such as Shiloh are set up as "archeological projects" and still others are set up on the spots where other settlers have been murdered. One piece of land was confiscated on the grounds that there was an irregularity in a tax payment to the Ottoman authorities 150 years ago. In one case the Jordanian government, which controlled the West Bank from '48 to '67, had awarded a piece of unclaimed and unsettled state land to a Bedu refugee community from Beersheba in exchange for their service in the Jordanian army. Although they had developed the property for about fifteen years, the documentation and final title deeds had not been completed when the Israelis captured the West Bank. As there was no documentation of their right to be there these refugees had their water and land confiscated for the convenience of an Israeli settlement. The last specific case I'll mention (out of thousands) concerns one of six houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The inhabitants of these six houses were awakened at 3 am in October of '91 and evicted by armed settlers from the Aterat Cohanim group backed by hundreds of Israeli soldiers. There had been no warning that there was a potential problem. Each house has a story - one was a complete mistake, but because a dispute had erupted over it the judge kept both parties out. The other houses had a variety specious excuses for the takeovers and surprise evictions. The owner of one of them had been visiting Amman in 1967 when the Israelis captured East Jerusalem. He was prevented from returning but his brother and other members of the family continued living in the house. Unbeknownst to them, because the title holder was absent, albeit against his will, the title was transferred to the "Custodian of Absentee Propertee." There is a law which allows this and it was done according to the law. After a certain number of years the Custodian has the authority to sell the property in its custody to the Jewish National Fund, which purchases property to be held in perpetuity by the Jewish people. Once purchased by the JNF, property can never be sold to a non-Jew. There is a law which allows this and the property was transferred according to the law, again, unbeknownst to the title holder in Amman or his relatives living in his house in Silwan. The JNF has the authority to sell property in its possession to deserving Jewish individuals or organizations and again, according to law, sold the property to Aterat Cohanim, and again, without the knowledge of the title holder or the residents. So one dawn in October 1991, the armed members of this group banged on the door and threw out the terrified family and their furniture and their food. Israeli apologists will look you straight in the eye and tell you that it was all done according to law. Americans need to know about this stuff. What has been happening over the past thirty five years is a process in which the Israeli government takes over parcels of land in the West Bank and Gaza, puts the most abrasive immigrants on this land, confiscates more land to set up defense perimeters, bulldozes nearby Palestinian orchards, drills deep wells to provide nice lawns and swimming pools while drying up Palestinian water sources, confiscates more land to build access roads, bulldozes more trees alongside the access roads for security purposes, and occasionally shoots the protesting dispossessed. On a personal level I am a libertarian because of my lifelong proximity to this unfortunate quarrel. To wit: (1) The State does not have the right to choose my friends and enemies for me. Although I count Israelis among my friends, the state of Israel is not my friend and my Federal government has decreed that it is. When I served in the Armed Forces the alliance with the State of Israel took precedence over the oath to support and defend the Constitution - one of the reasons I resigned. I also have Palestinian friends and Federal government requires me to collude in murdering them through payment of taxes. (Whether the history I gave above is accurate or merely my hallucination becomes irrelevant here - I have lived close to this, come to my own conclusions and am entitled to them. I do not require anyone to support them. Supporters of Israel require me to finance their version of history). ( 2) The libertarian movement does not believe in foreign aid. Israel receives the bulk of it. The effect within Israel is to undercut Israelis who would come to an understanding with the Palestinians and strengthen the hands of those who are the sociological and ideological equivalents of the Ku Klux Klan. (3) The libertarian movement believes in avoiding entangling alliances between the US and foreign nations. Israel is an "ally" much as a tapeworm is ally to its host. (4) The libertarian movement would abolish the income tax. If this is ever successful I would be free of subsidizing the murder of my Palestinian friends and of enabling my Israeli friends to do things which get them killed in the long run. (5) The libertarian movement welcomes immigrants to our shores and so do I. This is a tough sell. The presence of a few Vietnamese fishermen in the Gulf twenty years ago cranked up the Ku Klux Klan. A demographic change of a few percentage points makes people very nervous. We libertarians shock Americans by welcoming immigrants who make a tiny demographic dent in our society. Yet Palestinians are considered at fault because they had a problem with a community of 6% expanding to 30%, establishing a state for its own benefit, expelling the majority community, confiscating private property and then continuing the process for the foreseeable future. (6) Libertarians are against the confiscation of land under the laws of eminent domain. This is done for public works projects all over the world, but in Israel private property is confiscated from Palestinians under laws of eminent domain for the purpose of settling immigrants from Russia, the US, and many other countries. I mentioned Deir Yassin, where the Palestinian inhabitants were massacred. Today on the grounds of Deir Yassin there is an Israeli mental institution housing Holocaust survivors who lost their minds in the concentration camps. I believe this is symbolic of the situation in its purest manifestation. Both communities need our compassionate understanding. Neither needs our tax dollars or our weapons. Bill Kelsey
  15. Peter

    My first gripe with ayn rand

    Michael wrote, “I had a lot of talks with Barbara Branden about Israel from a very simple perspective--that two wrongs do not make a right.” BB’s posts below refers to “We Jews . .. “ many times and it is a powerful letter as is the response. Look for “Why Arab/Muslim anti-Semites are worse than the Nazis, which I believe she is quoting. Peter From: "Ralph Hertle" To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: The Case for Interventionism Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 16:54:26 -0400 Jason Walker wrote: "The simplest solution to this problem would simply be for Israel to divorce church and state, and become fully secular. There would be no need for a separate Palestinian Muslim state, as all races and religions would be treated equally under the law."] J ason. You've written an excellent piece that correctly identifies the problem of state religion as well as the consequences of that problem. Interestingly, you show the logical, moral and practical link between the creation of new well-defined universal liberties regarding freedom of religion, and, probably, ideas in general, and the necessary consequence of the diminution of hostilities in Israel. I think that the people of Israel, and many in Palestine as well, would welcome the new liberties. They would go for liberty in the realm of philosophical ideas in a big way. Israelis should take the lead and strike down the prohibitions that the state invokes on ideas in Israel, and remove the many other evil consequences at the same time. For example, the special favors that are granted to religionists would be removed, and the restrictions upon the rights of women and children, and the rights of property ownership and trade would be removed. Palestinians would love that. The special favors that are granted to the religious racists insofar as grants of land which did not belong to them as that was confiscated from the previous owners would be removed, and justice for the previous owners could be restored. The USA needs to stop soothing and rubbing the phony racist Israeli egos and demand liberties for all Israelis. Islam would topple by cause of the example to be made and copied. Israel and Palestine could become one free state with the change of a few basic laws. Business would continue as usual – people would simply have more liberty. The causes for civil discontent and strife would be simultaneously removed. Capitalism means that individuals have the freedom of ideas and action that are the cause for life. Rights are the necessary cause for life. If ideas are restricted there is nothing to correctly guide the actions of individuals insofar as the pursuit of productivity, sustenance and happiness. The religionists want controls over the minds and ideas of individuals in order to control their physical actions. The problem with the religious states is that they cannot provide the ideas of their citizens which are the cause life for their individual citizens. The proof is Afghanistan. They had no massive amounts of oil. Nor did they have the massive gifts of capital from the citizens and nation of the USA. Countries such as Iran, Iraq, UAE, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Libya and other Islamic nations would be no wealthier than Afghanistan, or at best Morocco, Syria or Jordan, without the infusions of wealth. Some nations have various natural resources that they depend upon. Egypt, for example, somehow supports 70 million people on an agriculture that depends, to a large extent, on the River Nile. Without the special sources of wealth the Islamic nations as well as Israel would be poverty ridden. Israel, having more well defined liberties, is able to cause its individual citizens to use their intellects to be more productive in their own interests, and as a result, Israel prospers more than the Islamic nations. Religion, in general, prevents the use of the intellect, and religion is a primary cause for the poverty of nations. I don't mean to tag your post on OWL, however, your ideas are of significant interest and merit a great deal of discussion. The brilliance of your idea is that the revision of a single provision in the Israeli Constitution or basic law that created new fundamental liberty would enable changes in lesser laws and, also, cause the more peaceful social conduct of the Israeli nation. Ralph Hertle From: "Philip Coates" To: objectivism Subject: OWL: The Middle East--Being Careful About History Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 15:34:56 -0700 1. Balance and full context in historical summaries: "[snip] Let me highly recommend a 1991 essay, " 'Ancient History': U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention" by Sheldon Richman. It can be found as Cato Policy Analysis No. 159 at:" This piece has been mentioned by (at least) three posters...Chris, Rafael, and Drew. This is an extremely long piece and I began to have problems with it less than a fifth of the way through. Richman tends to repeatedly find Israel guilty of terrorism, but has much less to say about the responsibility of the Arabs. While there certainly were postwar Israeli terrorists and massacres (Begin and the Irgun, the Stern gang), wouldn't it be fair to distribute the blame by going back to previous initiations of force earlier in the century? Who started it is always an important question in history (even when the answer turns out to be complex). Paul Johnson's award-winning history of the century, "Modern Times," discusses the long history of killing Jewish settlers and the polarizing of Arabs to wipe them out: "The Mufti outrivaled Hitler in his hatred for Jews. But he did something even more destructive than killing Jewish settlers. He organized the systematic destruction of Arab moderates. There were many of them in 1920s Palestine. Some of them even welcomed Jewish settlers with modern agricultural ideas, and sold land to them.... [His] assassination squads systematically murdered the leading Arab moderates." [p. 481, Harper Perennial revised edition]. Richman claims that the partition of Palestine was set up to give the Jews "better land" ...and more land... "57 percent". But how does this square with Johnson's claim that "the Arabs rejected the UN partition scheme, which gave the Jews only 5,500 square miles, chiefly in the Negev Desert."? The Negev is a god-forsaken place where people don't live to this day. My problem is not that I know enough to be certain that Johnson is right and Richman is wrong, but that he should at least mention the views of many historians who hold a very different interpretation than he does if only to refute them, if he can. (Johnson wrote eight years before Richman and his book may be the most influential and respected world history of the eighties, a New York Times best book of the year.) 2. In a footnote, Richman seems to offer a wider theoretical underpinning for his views of U.S. foreign policy: "...a global strategy that saw the Third World as a source of raw materials and a market for finished goods, but only under the direction of pro-American, even if brutal, rulers. The analysis of the cynical motives of the political leaders was first formulated by classical liberals--that is, advocates of free-market (as opposed to state) capitalism such as Thomas Paine,....,Herbert Spencer." This view of U.S. foreign policy sounds like a combination of the Old Right [very old, back to the eighteenth century] and the New Left [in his first sentence at the end of the essay, Richman expresses his immeasurable intellectual debt to Noam Chomsky, among others]. And this makes two logical questions come instantly to mind: (a) Doesn't the left's willingness to accept this analysis come from its cynicism about any possible good motives from a leading capitalist state? And isn't the eighteenth century classical liberals view a [legitimate, but dated] evaluation of English mercantilism, as reflected in the attempt to keep the U.S. as a non-industrial source of raw materials for the Empire, a key cause of the American Revolution? (b) But in the last two centuries mercantilism has been abandoned by America. Far from trying to keep other countries down as sources of raw materials, we have helped rebuild them economically (the Marshall Plan in Western Europe, assisting Japan to get back on its feet in the postwar period) and have encouraged global free trade and the dropping of tariffs and WTO and NAFTA. These are hardly Mercantile-istic measures to try to control which countries provide what materials. And under mercantilism, you don't allow your corporations to go overseas and set up factories and help Third World areas like Southeast Asia industrialize. (3. I'm not ready to generalize yet, but I'm beginning to suspect that, with regard to history, while some Objectivists tend to rely too heavily on conservative sources and accept them uncritically, many libertarians (Rothbard, for example) have made exactly the opposite mistake, accepting the views of people like Chomsky and the Left too readily without independent fact checking. When trying to do something as complex as understand the history of Palestine or U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East it's important to integrate particular episodes or occurrences to all of the knowledge you possess ... including your knowledge of political philosophy and cultural trends. --Philip Coates From: "Michelle F. Cohen" To: objectivism Subject: OWL: On Assassinated Israeli Cabinet Minister Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 22:11:15 -0400 There has been some exchange on the Atlantis list on the assassination last week of Israeli Tourism Minister, Rehavam Zeevi. I would like to address certain points which were raised there. I would also like to enlighten the members of this list about Israeli politics. One issue which was raised was how could someone with Zeevi's racist platform sit in the Israeli cabinet. Zeevi's platform is summarized by the idea of "Transfer." A transfer of all Palestinians from the West Bank to other Arab countries, so that they can settle there, with monetary compensation for the land they own privately. The fact that Zeevi was elected, and allowed by Israeli law to sit in the cabinet, was taken as proof that Israel was no better than the Arab countries. I do not regard Zeevi as racist. His solution could be unrealistic, but he was motivated by security considerations, not hatred of Arabs. In view of the situation in Israel and the West Bank, the transfer could be a good solution for those Palestinians who want to have a normal life. A population transfer is not "ethnic cleansing" as claimed on Atlantis. It was done in the U.S. toward the American Indian population, which does not go to prove that the U.S. in the 19th century was no better than the Arab countries today. Rehavam Zeevi was compared to David Duke in several posts on Atlantis. I don't think he hated Arabs. In fact, he spoke fluent Arabic. I don't believe David Duke knows any African language, or even Spanish. If there was an Israeli politician who could be labeled as racist, it was the late Meir Kahane. He also propagated the transfer of the Palestinians, but his main motive was religious. He believed that Israel should be a Jewish Theocracy, where non-Jews, including Israeli Arabs, could not be citizens, only residents. He exhibited hatred toward Arabs, which Zeevi did not. Kahane's political party was *banned* in Israel as racist. When he was assassinated in New York by an Arab, there was no outrage in Israel. I hope my comments can help clarify these issues. Michelle Fram-Cohen From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Why Arab/Muslim anti-Semites are worse than the Nazis Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2001 01:47:38 EST Why Arab/Muslim anti-Semites are worse than the Nazis <A HREF=""> WITH all the attention paid to how Muslims and Arabs in America feel about the Islamic terrorists' attacks on America, it may come as somewhat of surprise to learn about another anxious group of Americans - Jews. All Americans are worried about the America hatred among groups who do not value human life. But Jews who know their history have additional fears. We Jews have reasons to worry because a significant part of humanity has a hatred of us indistinguishable in kind and intensity from that of the Nazis. The most cursory acquaintance with the Arab press and fundamentalist mosque discourse around the world makes it clear that millions of Arabs and Muslims loathe Jews and many want Jews dead. Not to mention the hundreds of millions of Muslims and Arabs who want the one tiny country Jews have ever called their own eliminated from the map. Protests that the Arab/Muslim hostility is directed only at Israeli occupation of that even tinier area known as the West Bank have no basis in reality. The Arab/Muslim world sought Israel's destruction before Israel occupied an inch of the West Bank. We Jews have reasons to worry because the last time a civilization declared such hatred against Jews, what ensued was the most organized and monumental evil in history, the Holocaust. We hoped that Nazi-type hatred would never reappear. But it has. In fact, in two ways, Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism is more frightening. First, while both Nazi and the Arab/Muslim anti-Semites have used closed societies with their controlled press to promote horrific lies about Jews, the Nazis hid their murder of Jews from the German public. They did not have confidence that enough Germans would support the murder of Jewish men, women and children. The Arab/Muslim anti-Semites, however, have no such problem. Those who kill Jews in Israel are public celebrities. On the West Bank, a Palestinian university in Nablus has been putting on an exhibition celebrating the Palestinian suicide bombing of a family pizza restaurant in Israel. The exhibition consisted of a replica of the Sbarro's restaurant complete with Hebrew inscriptions. Inside the exhibit, replicas of human body parts and pizza slices were strewn. Pictures published on the Internet showed Palestinians waiting in line to see the exhibit. In Nazi Germany, there were no public exhibits of Einsatzgruppen (Nazi mobile Jew-killing units) or gas chambers. The second more frightening aspect of Arab/Muslim Jew-hatred is that many of these haters do not value their own lives. Nazis did. We Jews have reasons to worry because no libels against Jews are too awful or too incredible in much of the Arab/Muslim world. That is why the father of Mohammed Atta, suspected ringleader of the Sept. 11th attacks, could tell Newsweek that his son was kidnapped by Israelis and that it was Israelis posing as Arab Muslims who actually attacked America. He could say this because he and millions of other Muslims (not only in the Arab world) believe it, as well as the notion that no Jews died in the World Trade Center because they were alerted in advance. Americans may recall the flap over then-First Lady Hillary Clinton listening to the wife of Yasir Arafat state that Israel was poisoning Palestinian water supplies. Like the Nazis, many Arab/Muslim societies attribute to Jews virtually all evils, including, for example, deliberately spreading AIDS in the Arab world. We Jews have reasons to worry because the West ignores this Jew-hatred. One reason is that Third World evil is rarely taken seriously among Western elites. A second reason is the psychological and political need of Westerners to believe that Islamic societies are, with the exception of "a few extremists," tolerant societies. And the third reason is that Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism is dismissed as a temporary phenomenon that will disappear when Israelis and Palestinians make peace. But this belief inverts reality. The lack of peace between the Jewish state and its neighbors is not the cause of Arab anti-Semitism, it is the result of that anti-Semitism. Since 1948, there has been one reason for the Arab-Israeli conflict - the Arab/Muslim world rejects the concept of a Jewish (or any non-Muslim) state in its midst. We Jews have reasons to worry because while much of the Muslim world – a billion strong stretching from the Atlantic through Asia to the Pacific - hates us, Europe and Japan do not defend us. Instead they defend their business deals with Saddam Hussein and with Iran's medieval theocracy. We Jews have reasons to worry because the Islamic terrorists who blow up Jews are not on the list of terrorist organizations our government is fighting. There are political reasons that account for omitting terror groups that target Jews, but whatever those reasons, how can a Jew not worry about this omission? If America, the most philo-Semitic country in the world, will not regard terrorists who murder Jews as worthy of fighting - even though these terrorists share sponsors and philosophy with anti-American terror groups - no nation will. As I write this article, my 8-year-old son is playing next to me with his Nintendo. While he is painfully aware of the attacks on America, he remains blissfully unaware that a substantial percentage of humanity would like to see him dead. One day, unfortunately, he will know this. Unless the good people of the world finally learn the great lesson of anti-Semitism – that Jew-haters hate all that is good, that they target Jews first but never Jews alone, and that Jew-haters must therefore be fought - one day he may in fact be hurt. That is why at least one Jewish father worries today. JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He is a director of Empower America and the author of "Happiness is a Serious Problem". >> Barbara From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: No Subject Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 23:39:45 EST In a message dated 11/12/01 12:12:45 AM, writes: << The Drudge Report just posted this link. In it, a sixteen year-old Palestinian</DIV> <DIV>boy reports being tortured by Israeli security forces. </DIV> <DIV> </DIV> >> It's interesting to see who David believes to be trustworthy and who not. Of course, the Palestinians have no motive whatever to coach a child to lie -- especially when the boy, like most Palestinian children, has been brainwashed from early childhood to hate Israel and to believe that any tactics used against Israel are legitimate. I'm surprised that the boy did not say the Jews ate other children for dinner -- even though they are not kosher, which everyone knows is an absolute for Jews. Barbara From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Barbara's Response to Russ Levatter's Open Letter Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 13:07:31 EST Okay, Russ, you want to know the reasons why I passionately defend Israel against the Palestinians. In fact, you already know it to a great degree. The many articles I have posted express my views and the reasons for them, and I saw no reason to state them in other words. However, you want my own words, and you shall have them. I won't go into detail about each specific point in your post, but I shall attempt to cover them in essence below. (I no longer have your post; my computer ate it, as it has been eating many posts lately. But I believe it remember it well enough for the purposes of this letter.) 1. As I have said many, many times, I have no objection to anyone giving reasonable criticisms of Israel, but many of the criticisms have been wildly exaggerated and /or unfounded. Nor do I object to those who say we should cease helping Israel financially, although I disagree with the idea that it should be done immediately; I believe that in all reason we should *gradually* begin cutting down on our financial aid until we finally give no more, in order that Israel has time to adjust to the new situation. I believe we should do this if and only if we adopt the same policy toward the Palestinians and the other countries in that area that we now assist. 2. What I profoundly object to, and what I consider utterly irrational, is that while Atlantis has been inundated with the harshest possible criticisms of Israel, the people who are the most severe give no criticisms whatever of the Palestinians. The implicit meaning of this policy is that Israel is the villain and the Palestinians are the persecuted innocents. Had there been even a few condemnations of the Palestinians and Arafat from those people that were even roughly equivalent to the criticisms they direct at Israel and its leaders, I would not have taken such serious exception to them. Although in that case, I would have filled in some of my knowledge of the Palestinians and their terrorists, instead of mainly posting articles because it sickened me to deal with some of these critics. At one point, I asked Greg Johnson to give his opinion of the Palestinians. I got exactly what I expected: a few mild paragraphs admitting that many of them behaved with brutality, but never in the outraged terms and with endless posts on the subject with which he damned Israel. (I will not discuss David Rasmussen. I do not deal with blatant anti-Semites, or take them seriously. Greg, at least, tries to present reasoned arguments for his bias against Israel. I cannot say the same for David, and I refuse to forgive or deal with his hatred of Jews.) 3. Why do I consider Israel infinitely morally superior both to the Palestinians and Israel's Arab neighbors? Most of the Arab world, and especially the Palestinians, still live in a pre-Industrial Revolution world. They know nothing of industry or trade, and they care nothing, except, for many of them, to hate those who have surpassed them. It is, of course, their ideology that is responsible for their failures and their hatred, an ideology for which I have contempt. It is Israel that has made the desert grow, that is responsible for a host of scientific, literary, medical, and cultural achievements -- of which the Arab and Muslim worlds know nothing. Israel has some of the best medical schools, scientific establishment4s, and universities in the world; the Arab world has none. Israel is a democracy; they know nothing in the Arab countries but absolute rule. The Palestinians who live in Israel have most, though not all, of the rights of Jewish Israelis; they may become citizens of Israel, they may vote, they may elect Arabs to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, they are given police protection and the other protections that Jewish Israelis have. *Nowhere* in the Arab world do they have the rights that they have in Israel. The Israelites do not accept Greg Johnson's policy of removing from their country those who do not sanction a society of rights. 4, Why are so many Palestinians, after more than fifty years, still living in the squalor and degradation of camps? Because the Arab nations, with the exception of Jordan, have refused to accept them and to integrate them into their societies, as the Israelis have done with so many of them. And I have no doubt that if the Israelis had to live in such camps, they would not be places of squalor and degradation; they would have made them bloom as they did Israel. In the areas within its boundaries that Israel conceded to the Palestinians, one now finds the same conditions as in the camps; the Palestinians are turning civilization back to the pre-Industrial Revolution. There is constant warfare within their new borders, an utter disdain for human life, and no attempt to create anything of value. 6. The issue of torture: I have never disagreed with those who accused Israel of using torture against its enemies, and I totally condemn it -- *unless* there is no other way to halt planned terrorist attacks. But do you really believe that the Palestinians fail to use torture, and with a ferocity unknown in Israel? 7. Israel has offered the Palestinians almost everything they demanded, including, eventually, a Palestinian State within Israel's borders. I agree that Israel did the right thing -- although I'm concerned that it may have jeopardized its own security. What was Arafat's reaction? To reject the concessions and to begin the mini-war against Israel that has lasted for more than two years, finally accelerating into madness in the last few months. Again and again, Israel has demanded that in return for its concessions, Arafat remove from the charter of the Palestinian Authority the statement that the Palestinians intend to drive the Israelis into the sea. America also has demanded it. Arafat has refused. To this day, that clause still remains. 8. Terrorism. I wrote earlier about what I called terrorist cannibalism, that is, that terrorists cannibalize their own children, sending them in airplanes to crash into skyscrapers or with bombs strapped to their bodies which kill them when they set off the bombs. The Israelis have no such policy; they are not cannibals. Arafat, with an air of wounded innocence, has finally agreed to arrest his terrorists. He has arrested a considerable number of them; they are taken to his prisons through the front door, and they leave through the back door -- an issue about which our administration has finally begun to complain. 9. The destruction of the innocent. It is true that Israelites have killed Palestinian children; it is also true that many of those children have been trained in warfare and may well be armed. Israel does not, as a policy, set out to destroy the innocent. In the present warfare, it is attacking Palestinian military and governmental enclaves; although, as in any war, it is impossible to avoid killing innocent people. This is indeed a tragedy, but it is inherent in the nature of war -- which is part of the reason why war is terrible. But Israel does not make a concerted attempt to destroy the innocent by means of the bodies of its children. The Palestinian terrorists do. They bomb nightclubs where Israeli teen-agers go to dance and enjoy themselves. They bomb grocery stores where Israelis go to shop. They bomb busloads of Israelis on their way to and from work. They bomb cars in which elderly Israelis are driving. They torture and kill unarmed Israeli children whenever they find them alone and unprotected. Exactly like bin Luden, they target precisely the innocent, in order to instill terror in the Israeli nation. And exactly like bin Luden, they will pay the price. 10. The assertion that Israel took its land by force. This is true to some extent, but it is also true that much of the land was purchased from the Arabs who inhabited it. I cannot at the moment think of a single country that was established without the use of force, including our own. When I hear the anti-Israelites on Atlantis damn the rest of the world for establishing its boundaries by force, then I will take seriously this criticism of Israel. I am well aware of the denunciations that are about to rain on me as a result of this letter. Well, my friends and foes, if this be treason, make the most of it. Barbara From: DXIMGR To: <atlantis Subject: ATL: Broken Icons, Feet of Clay... Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2001 17:04:59 EST Barbara, in her attempted defense of Israeli policies, concludes with "Well, my friends and foes, if this be treason, make the most of it." Unfortunately, Barbara hasn't written the 21st century version of the Declaration of Independence here. She has simply written another screed in defense of Israel. She has not answered detailed charges, she has not done empirical research, she has simply continued to make assertions that express her preferences but do not, at least without argument, express any sort of principles consonant with Objectivism. Barbara has told us in the past that Rand, too, was a Zionist, as if from that claim alone we should conclude that Zionism is the correct position rather than concluding that Rand, as Barbara surely knows, was capable of emotional rationalization rather than clear thinking at times. Barbara has claimed that Palestinians torture detainees even worse than Israel does. This is news to Amnesty International and other groups that research this sort of thing. Does Barbara have even one piece of empirical research to back up this claim? It is becoming clear that Objectivism, to Barbara, means the application of reason to facts in applying one's values to achieving one's happiness in this world...unless one is talking about Israel, in which case facts become less important than emotion, and rash claims about how an oppressed people sacrifice their children is deemed as credible as...well, as some racists see The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Despite learning political theory at Rand's knee, Barbara seems to have difficulty distinguishing the actions of individuals from the actions of governments. Individual terrorists--driven like McVeigh, perhaps, to oppose what they see as evil--commit unspeakably evil actions. These actions when performed by individual Palestinians no more speak for the Palestinian people than McVeigh speaks for Barbara, and Arafat likely can do rather little to prevent such actions, just as Clinton could do little to prevent the Oklahoma City bombing. But Israel is a government, and governments have policies. I listed several well documented and specific policies of Israel, some developed by an official (if secret) commission headed by a member of their Supreme Court. These are policies which the government stands behind and can be held, qua government, accountable. If Barbara listened to the radio and heard that an American named McVeigh had destroyed a government building and killed government employees, and her first thoughts were concern that her house might be bulldozed, her neighborhood destroyed, and her children killed or imprisoned by the government because the government would retaliate against Americans in her neighborhood, then she would have a glimmer of what it is like to live as a Palestinian in Israel or the controlled territories. Barbara thinks that Israel and the Palestine authority get largely equivalent amounts of aid from the US government. This is just an example of how she demonstrates that facts, including those easily checked, are not important when it comes to defending her beliefs. It has been suggested to me off list that Barbara is, despite her devotion to Objectivism, really an intrincist at heart. She has her core set of beliefs, and they act as rules to be defended emotionally, not standards or principles to be defended rationally. Looking at facts is fine so long as they support what she already believes. This is the Ellen Moorian version of Objectivism, not the one developed by Rand. As we grow up, we are often forced to reexamine the heroes of our youth, and we find more often than not they have feet of clay. This is tragic when it first happens in one's life, progressively less sad, certainly less unexpected, when it occurs repeatedly. Barbara is entitled to her views; she is not entitled to shroud herself in a mantle of Objectivism when supporting a state that routinely tortures people detained without being accused of any crime, holds people for years without convicting them, or even accusing them, of any felony, seldom reprimands military personnel that kill children in occupied territories, and that has been soundly condemned for decades by international civil rights groups for such actions. Barbara claims there is a double-standard on Atlantis; she claims that Israel's actions are held to strict scrutiny while no complaint is ever raised against Palestinian rights violations. Barbara should consider the possibility that this focus is a result of the fact that people only need to be told what they don't already know. I suspect most people on this list were UNAWARE that Israel, in the 1980s, officially sanctioned torture through a government commission. I suspect many HAD NOT HEARD that Amnesty International found Israel the ONLY state with an official policy allowing torture. The national media in the United States DOESN'T ROUTINELY BROADCAST when Israeli soldiers, police, or settlers kill Palestinian schoolchildren (though they have become more objective about this recently). But I don't mean to cast Barbara in an undeserved state of ignorance. She is free to clarify she has long been well aware of these facts but remains supportive of Israel nonetheless. It is clear that Barbara is unable to defend Israeli policy intellectually, and it is certainly clear that she prefers her myths (Israel made the desert bloom? I guess only Israel knows how to make things grow in a region known for thousands of years as the Fertile Crescent)to a non-emotional look at what Objectivist principles would imply for a theocratic socialist state. To paraphrase a passage well known to Barbara, the words of a rabbi explaining the importance of justice: First they came for the Palestinians, but I wasn't a Palestinian, so I did nothing. Then they came for the Muslims, but I wasn't a Muslim, so I did nothing. If they come for you, Barbara, to what universal principles will you apply? Russ