Behind the Lines: Israeli Libertarian

Friday, July 31, 2009

Daniel Danon Hates Guns and Freedom

As of now, MK Daniel Danon is sponsoring a bill to ban everybody aged under 21 from owning guns and everybody under 16 from entering public ranges. On his site, he writes: "Today, even 4-year-olds can enter public ranges for "fun days" or other activities. This bill will stop this."

This is of course scaremongering of the most blatant kind - obviously it is meant to conjure up an image of four-year-olds running around with guns. This is of course not goes on at public ranges in ISrael or anywhere. It is true that young children can shoot at ranges since an early age in Israel - but, like in other countries, they do so under the safe supervision of adults.

I have written MK Danon a letter [reproduced below]. Those of you wishing to write him a letter can do so at

Dear MK Danon!

I have recently become informed that you have sponsored a bill that limits the age at which a person can receive a firearms license (under your proposal, a young citizen can not receive a firearms license until they are 21 years old, and no person younger than 16 years old can attend a public range and shoot there for training). As a Likud voter and a citizen of Israel, I am extremely concerned about this bill, for several reasons:

1.The bill discriminates against women. While it is true that men in Israel complete mandatory service by 21, a woman will have completed her service by the age of 20, and yet entirely unable to carry a weapon in self-defense for one more year. Considering hundreds of women in Israel are assaulted – sexually or otherwise – every year, this is a serious concern.

2.Citizens in Israel can obtain a license for a car – typically a far more dangerous contraption than a firearm – at the age of 18 and even earlier. A car can be the cause of a lethal accident even if the driver does everything right, whereas lethal accidents with firearms are nearly impossible unless safety rules are broken. Yet for some reason you wish to deny mature citizens of Israel, people who are old enough to serve the country in war and vote for your party, the means of self-defense. Do you genuinely believe that an Orthodox-Jewish woman or an Arab-ISraeli man aged 18 should not be able to defend themselves or to participate in the shooting sports?

3.Finally, and most prominently, I am concerned that your bill seeks to deny access to public ranges to young boys and girls aged below the age of 16. Nobody, of course , favors four-year-olds running around with lethal weapons, unsupervised – but this is not what this is about. At shooting ranges in Israel, all shooters are observed at all times by instructors, and young children come to shoot with their parents. Anybody who can observe the basic rules of gun safety (which consists of treating all guns as if they were loaded, keeping one's finger off the trigger unless one intends to fire the gun, and not shooting anything one doesn't intend to destroy, as well as being aware of the nature of one's target) can safely shoot at a range. These rules are simple and even a ten-year-old can easily master them.

Nor is the notion of young children participating in the shooting sports so unacceptable. Many experts believe that introducting young children to the shooting sports early not only imparts useful skills that could then be applied in the young man's future military service, sports career, or individual sefl-defense, but also improves various mental and physical faculties – individual responsibility one one hand and hand-eye coordination on the other. Obviously, like all other sports, shooting sports are healthy and good for our children – in the United States and Europe, there are even youth teams that compete in these sports, at early school ages. As for hunting, abroad that often invovles participants as young as nine years old (obviously, operating with adult supervision), using shotguns or rifles.

Given these facts, it makes little sense to further restrict and discourage people who seek to legally own firearms in Israel, especially given the dysmal shape of our Olympic shooting teams and the security situation in this country. As a member of the Likud Party, the notion of further reducing the ability of Israel's citizens to defend their homes and country from terrorism and crime should be especially disturbing to you.

I would like to conclude my letter by pointing out that while I have voted for your party in the last election, your actions on this bill will impact my decision regarding whether I vote for it in the next election.

Sincerely yours,
Boris Karpa,
Teudat-Zehut [number omitted]

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dromi is Acquitted!,7340,L-3746822,00.html

The Beersheba District Court on Wednesday decided by a majority vote to acquit southern farmer Shai Dromi of manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the court did convict him of weapon offenses.

Here are my thoughts [which have also been reposted on the Daily Capitalist site]

1.This is very remininscent of the Boernie Goetz case in America, where a man was convicted of firearms charges because the prosecutor could not get him on the manslaughter charge due to self-defense claims. Let me remind Western Readers - Israeli courts are not required to convict people even if they're guilty under the facts. One doubts why they did it in this case.

2.The judge in Israel is not bound to convict every criminal who is technically guilty. The judges here decided to convict Shai Dromi on a 'firearms charge' in relation to a .22LR rifle. These are not designed as weapons (though of course, as the case proved, one can technically kill with them). These are designed as sporting weapons, and in Europe they're often sold without licenses (note I am deliberately avoiding discussion of the US policy). I think it was petty to convict for possession under the circum

3.I realize that adoption of US-like firearms laws is currently not a possibility in Israel, but I think this is proof should relax them, if even slightly. Under the current laws, most citizens of Israel cannot own weapons at all:

Perhaps it would be best to except some types of weapons from the licensing requirements, or at least make it easy to purchase one. Specifically, rifles and shotguns are classic home defense weapons and they cannot really be comfortably carried or used by criminals (in the US, the gun-ownership utopia/dystopia, rifle murders constitute about 3% of total murders, even though dozens of millions of people have them). Such a limited reform would allow men like Dromi to defend themselves.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Netanyahu's New Governmeent - Questions

On this blog, I sometimes post articles I don't quite agree with. This is one from Daniel Doron, the founder of ISCEP. My comments about the article are shown below, in bold. For full disclosure - I voted for Likud.

Big government? Yes, but there's a reason

Apr. 11, 2009

Is Binyamin Netanyahu's government too big? Yes. Is that good? No. So why would Netanyahu, an experienced politician, create such an unwieldy beast? He and his government face two historic challenges: an economic crisis that has yet to fully unfold, and a nuclear threat from Iran.

How big is this crisis? We do not know. World-class economists had disagreed about how long it is going to be, what are its causes, and whether it is a crisis at all. Many say it'll be over by the end of this year. Similarly, we are not certain that Iran is such a huge crisis at all. It's not certain that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, it's not certain it's capable of having them, it's not certain that they plan to use them on us.

We all want a government that can face these challenges. Could Netanyahu's critics suggest a better alternative to the coalition he managed to form, considering the sanctimonious refusal by Kadima to join a wider coalition?

No, I cannot suggest a better alternative. But that does not make Netanyahu beyond criticism. We must continue to criticize all parties when they deserve it, to improve Israel's political climate to the point a truly free society is possible and feasible.

Netanyahu would probably prefer a more compact government. No one has suffered more from coalititis - the disease afflicting our body politics - than he. When previously prime minister, he had to devote most of his time to political survival, fending off his many adversaries from the Left and Right. They so exhausted him that he was unable to carry out most of the excellent reforms he had planned.

So he sacrificed ideas and decency for political purposes. Thank you for making this clear.

As finance minister, Netanyahu proved exceptionally able to push through crucial reforms when given a chance. When he enjoyed the backing of prime minister Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu exhibited not only an ability to frame and execute major reforms, but also a willingness - so rare among politicians - to pay a heavy political price to get them enacted. He succeeded in saving the country from an Argentina-like collapse, and in transforming 20 years of no growth and deep recession into five years of spectacular growth. But he paid for his boldness and determination by losing an election.

SO YES, Netanyahu's first task was to establish a (relatively) stable government that will allow him to handle the challenges facing the country with a modicum of a national consensus. This required as big and as varied a coalition as he could get. In politics, especially in our politics, there is no free lunch, so Netanyahu had to pay with a large and costly government. However, should Netanyahu - as he probably intends - manage to use this wide coalition to push through even some of the reforms he spoke about, especially in land use and education, the savings from these reforms, the bureaucratic waste they will cut and the efficiency they will generate will pay in spades for the additional costs of his big government.

So what some condemn as wastefulness may turn out to be a wise investment in facilitating basic reforms that have enormous potential returns.

IF YOU WANT to appreciate how intense is the personal and ideological animus that certain critics in politics, but especially in the media, have toward Netanyahu precisely because he is not part the cabal that dominates both our politics and our economy, precisely because his reforms are the only real challenge to the corrupt system of spoils that enrich them - just examine the maelstrom of criticism that greeted his appointment of Yuval Steinitz as finance minister.

True, it may have been better had Netanyahu found an accomplished economist to serve as finance minister. But a good finance minister needs qualities even more rare than a knowledge of economics (which Steinitz, a very capable man, can acquire in a reasonable time). Steinitz certainly has integrity, a keen intelligence, a good temper, a knack for teamwork and loyalty to his mentor, Netanyahu. Above all, in contrast to almost any economically savvy candidate for the job, and certainly any candidate with former economic or business experience, the very fact that Steinitz does not come from such a background may prove a refreshing guarantee that he is neither tainted by nor beholden to any of the vested interests that dominate the economy.

I invite our readers to list those they consider qualified and experienced candidates for finance minister, and to find one who would not come loaded with baggage and representing vested interests. A clean slate can have immense advantages.

Two word: Omer Moav.

MOREOVER, UNTIL he learns the ropes Steinitz will be helped by a prime minister who, unlike most politicians, has an excellent understanding of economics, and of how vital a healthy economy is for the survival of a country. Netanyahu also knows what must be done to assure that the economy gets well.

Steinitz will also be helped by an excellent professional team, the "treasury boys" as the enemies of reform often refer to them. Last, but certainly not least, he will enjoy the advice and backing of our exceptional Bank of Israel governor, Stanley Fischer, a top-notch economist of international fame. Steinitz will not be facing the crisis alone.

Yes, it would be great if circumstances had allowed Netanyahu to form a smaller, more efficient government based on a stronger Likud. But under the circumstances, he should be congratulated for his determination and skill in forming a government that may yet do great things, especially in economic reform.

This is the main question that I would like to ask Mr. Doron. What is this 'reform' that we're talking about? We already understand that Netanyahu's economic platform as expressed before the elections will not be implemented.

We already realize Mr. Netanyahu is not a principled free marketeer in the vein of Paul Broun, Ron Paul, or even Reagan or Thatcher. So what is this reform so precious and wonderful that we must all not just rally behind Bibi but defend him from all criticism?

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Man Speaks

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Uncomfortably Close

So I was coming home from college today and saw my entire street blocked off – police, firefighters, Army troops, the works. Naturally, I assumed that a rocket fell on my street and asked one of the soldiers where it hit – and was told it hit a 'kindergarten', with the guy pointing in the vague direction of my house. Nobody was injured, he said.

There is a kindergarten literally in front of my house. I assumed immediately this was the one hit and started making my way past the cops, spectators, and TV crews, while frenziedly calling all the house phones, trying to get to my father – I realized he wasn't directly injured, but I feared he might have had heart problems due to the events.

By the time I got closer to the end of the street Mom reached Dad's spare cell and it turned out he had slept right through the whole thing – and the rocket hit a different kindergarten a block away. It was empty – all of them are – so there were only ten people in psychological shock.


Israel's President speaks

Yesterday, we saw our soldiers with their heavy bags, carrying on their backs not just their gear, but the entire history of our people. We saw the commanders, with their night vision binoculars, looking forward, towards the future.

We are not a people who desires war. We are not an aggressive people. We do not aim to destroy the Arabs, but to bring peace. We say that the government was in grave doubt about this decision – it was because they feared doing an injustice. It is very important enough that the cause of our war be just.

Even today the government maintains a moderate tongue. We do not wish to destroy Gaza or even destroy Hamas. We only want the terror to end. When I look at the children of the Palestinians, my heart bleeds. They are being used as weapons, and we have no desire to hurt them or any other innocents. I am proud of the soldiers and commanders who have planned this operation. Operation Cast Lead is a justified and just action, aimed at hurting the Hamas, improving the Army's capacity for deterrence and achieving a long-term stable situation in Gaza and the surrounding area.

Some say that our reaction is disproportional. I ask: what is proportional? Should we only stop part of the rockets? The proper balance is between avoiding harm to innocents and making sure that the extremist maniacs realize that they have no chance, and ensuring they pay a heavy price for their actions.

We can't know how long the operation will go on. Nothing in life is perfect, and nothing is final. We are a small, democratic, fair and peaceloving nation. We feel this war is necessary and just. If we win it, then peace shall be our victory.

Shimon Peres, President of Israel, talking to schoolchildren in the South of Israel

My thoughts:

1. It seems to me that he's not really addressing the schoolkids, he's addressing the media present.
2. It also seems that he is already preparing the public for the idea that the Army will probably start short of ending the rocket fire completely. That is.... words cannot express my feeling regarding how pathetic this is. But that said, Peres is a Kadima member. Fail is their profession.
3. As this progresses, I am getting more and more the feeling that Israel will quit on this before getting a real achievement, and go home, probably because of international pressure. Hamas will declare victory.
4. The above is an optimist prediction. The pessimist prediction is that Hamas does something 'successful' – kidnaps another soldier, blows up an APC full of troops, or maybe hits a schoolbus with their rockets, and THEN Israel will leave. This will essentially be a Hamas victory, no matter what casualties we inflict on them. It'll be like the Tet Offensive, reproduced on a miniature, retarded Middle-Eastern Scale.

Friday, August 01, 2008

In the meanwhile, in America

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Ayn Rand/Nathaniel Branden