Behind the Lines: Israeli Libertarian

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nation surrounded by foes... how quaint

This is in response to a comment I hear very often from Israelis and non-Israelis alike, stating that “Israel needs the draft” because if it were not for the military draft, Israel would be crushed by it's enemies. This is usually followed up by the statement that “Israel is a nation surrounded by foes.” Ladies and gentlemen! Especially non-Israelis! Boris Karpa, citizen of the state of Israel (ID Card 307333377) now debunks this for what it is:

Total, insane, unmitigated bullshit.

A military draft may be justifiable when a nation is facing total, industrial-scale warfare (think Israel in 1948, France in 1914-1918, and so forth). Such warfare, determined (so some theoreticists believe) by numbers, rather by individual skill, requires one use as much manpower as possible. In this case, since the defense of the Motherland depends on draftees, surely the military draft is morally justified, especially if the potential enemy will likely commit numerous atrocities on the civilian populace.

The problem is that this theory (leaving aside it's numerous faults, inconsistencies, and so forth) no longer applies in any way to what is happening in Israel. Israel is no longer a country 'surrounded by foes', and the threat of being attacked by multiple enemies from different sides is... well, last time that happened, it was in 1973. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq were involved as the main attackers. Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties and economic cooperation with Israel, Iraq ain't attacking anyone anytime soon, and Syria has recently even failed to respond to an Israeli attack on it's positions.

All the enemies of Israel can do now is fund terrorists. Said terrorists are getting less and less effective all the time – and are hardly the kind of force that you would need draftees to cope with. Nor are they a good explanation for the host of clerks, schoolteachers, and other needless 'duties' a lot of current Israeli soldiers pull against their will. Wouldn't Israel be better off if these people were left free to go to university, start a business, or even work at a real job?

But forgive me. We are a nation surrounded by foes. That way, we don't need to repeal the 58-year old state of emergency. That way we don't need to reduce the authority of Shabak to tap phones and administratively detain people. That way we don't need to cut the defense budget, close government-owned defense-sector plants, and – God forbid! - send herds of elderly generals out to pasture. Nor do we need to repeal the military draft – or actually care about any of the nation's internal problems.

Bein a nation surrounded by foes sure does help things.

Elections and Photos

Hello people. First of all, the reason I didn't post was the run-up to the elections. I was active in the Ale-Yarok campaign. Why Ale-Yarok? Well, they want to legalize gay marriage, prostitution, gambling, and yes, light drugs. It's not good enough, but it is good.

Second, yes, Ale Yarok lost. By this I mean, they did not get into the Knesset and it does not seem likely they ever will (although the leadership is whining childishly and claims that it is possible they will get in once the last votes are counted. Bullshit, I say).

Third, Labor won – they have 22 mandates and are likely to have a key seat in the coalition. Is it necessarily bad? I do not know. On one hand, they favor a growing welfare-state. On the other, they oppose the system of children's payouts that existed before Netanyahu, as they “merely caused the poor to get stuck in poverty.” Then again, they want to increase the minimum wage.

What's really interesting is that they claim to want to do it by reducing current military and other budgets and shifting that into welfare. Which is not all bad, in my opinion, because it cuts down on the silly illusion that the Army is sacred – in Israel, most everybody believes the defense budget is sacred and not to be touched, even though we are no longer in reality in a situation where we would need to fight an all-front war.

Further, Labor wants to eliminate a lot of the bureaucracy weighing down the market in Israel – or at least claims to want to. If they do that, that would utterly kick ass. But frankly, I don't believe that. The leader of Labor, after all, is Amir Peretz. The leader of the fabled Israeli Union. Father of the strikes. Will he break down the influence of the government employees? Riiight.

And now, for pictures.

Yosi Beylin, leader of the Meretz Party

Note the slogan over his head. Yes, it IS a vodka commercial.

Friday, March 17, 2006

And I can do WHAT about this?

Recently, I've been trying to find out if there are other libertarians anywhere around me. For this purpose, I distributed a variety of ads around my campus with “Seeking neoliberals, libertarians, capital-anarchists etc.” and my phone number and email. I have gotten a variety of responses – and even an invitation to study with an free-market/austrian economics group (they're called Citizens for True Social Justice ). I recommend you, too, also go and study with them. My goal of forming a campus libertarian group has not however been reached yet.

Instead, I have received this email:

“neo liberalism is the name of the stupid mainstream in economics, as far as know.
i encountered the term "libertanians" in the book "when corporation rule the world" as the name for those who present themselves as liberals but they mean freedom for the corporations and not for the people. are we talking about the same thing? “

What can one really respond to this kind of... stuff?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sneaky Olmert

In today's newspapers, it says - one of the back pages - that the Israeli oil refinery companies - previously state owned, one in Haifa, and one in Ashdod - will be privatised soon, and the bidding has already begun. They will be sold in parts to different corporations, so as to encourage competition in the market.

There are no leftist protests, and there is not much publicity - but Olmert has sneakily made another blow against big government in Israel - and without doing the mistake he did with the privatisation of Bezeq, where it was sold off to just one businessman, with regulations making it difficult for VOIP companies to compete.

But, yes... another nail in socialism's long-awaited coffin.

Boris likes this. A lot.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Voter Apathy?,7340,L-3225705,00.html

The person above supports mandatory voting, among other ways to reduce “voter apathy”. Why is voter apathy a bad thing, I don't know.

Dear Mr. Safran Hon!

I, too, study at the Tel-Aviv University, and perhaps we even met (I study at the Gilman building, if you wonder.) But unlike you, I do not believe there is something particularly wrong with Western hedonism and its attitude towards elections. After decades of progress, Western civilisation has reached a status – unheard before in history – where a man can fairly sure that whatever government policy is, it will not oppress him, his friends and family, and deprive him of his livelihood (unless he's Marc Emery). In the 1600's, hunger was a prevalent problem in Europe. Now, the prevalent worry of the West – Israel included – is not starvation, but obesity.

The solution for hunger has been found – Western capitalism, and some limited welfare payouts to the few unable to work, can guarantee nobody will starve. Not even in Israel. A westernized perception of human rights guarantees a lack of death camps and mass-destruction. Nothing REALLY BAD will happen if you don't vote, and by now, everybody knows that.

On the other hand, what GOOD will happen if you DO vote? We are left to choose between a nondescript centrist (Olmert) who cannot even point out a single achievement in his 40-year political career to describe how he served Israel, a socialist extremist (Peretz) whose political ideology is best left to the history books, and a sleazy corruptionist (Netanyahu) who has taken the beautiful values of the free market and of liberal economics, and used them as a fig leaf to cover a policy of cronyism and growing government democracy (under Netanyahu's reforms, regulatory bureaucracy GREW). We are left to choose between even more extreme leftists (Meretz) and religious right-wingers (MAFDAL) proudly wrapping themselves in the orange cloths of Gush Katif and Amona.

Their foreign policy differences are equally useless – Netanyahu has signed peace agreements in the past, and will, I am sure, do so again if elected PM. Olmert and Peretz state their positions outright.

Why the hell SHOULD we vote? What is the glorious new future that can be opened to us if we do? What is the POINT?

The idea of a 150-shekel fine for not voting is downright harmful. Personally, if the difference between paying and not paying the fine will induce a person to come to the polls - and otherwise he wouldn't have come to them, this person is probably not the kind of person who follows the nation's politics with care, learning about the different issues and watching the Knesset channel – that person will come to the election anyway. If a person doesn't care about the issues involved, are you SURE you want him to vote?

Most importantly, the whole point of a western democratic republic is the preservation of indiviudal rights. That, and nothing else, is the key point of democracy – the principle that “All men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights...” To preserve these rights is the purpose of government in a Westernized democratic republic. Not to give money to the poor – well and good though that be ( I support doing that). Not to fund Mr. Ollmert's salary. Among those rights is the right to express my political opinion on Election Day – and that opinion could well be “I don't give a damn.”

Sincerely yours,

Boris Karpa

Thursday, March 09, 2006

We're the Government. We're here to help.

Do you remember the Compensation and Evacuation Act? The one where we got the Gush Katif people out and compensated them for property lost?

Well, except we didn't.

The Inspector-General's report on the subject is out.
It's not written by settlers. It's a government paper.

It says, among other things:

"The Act does not allow for proper compensation of the evacuees."

But even if it did, the majority of people have not received their cash yet.

According to the government, only 40% received the entire sum they deserve so far - and 10% didn't receive the sum at all.

Wasn't eminent domain about taking your property, but at least PAYING you for it?

Screw Denmark, here comes Israel

Does anybody remember the call of the Muslims for te Denmark government to do something about the EVIL, EVIL drawings of Mohammad because they offended their religious feelings?

Guess what, I suspect the Israeli government would have accomodated. Recently, Shinui has broadcasted a campaign message which involved seven religious Jews (attire and all) grabbing onto the ankles of a 'secular Jew's (no attire) to prevent him from walking. This was to symbolize the damage dones by the power of the religious lobby, and the fact that 'they' don't want 'you' to get to the voting booth and vote Shinui. A distasteful bit, I think, especially as some religious vote for Shinui and Hetz.

But what Judge Dorit Beinish did was worse.

She banned the broadcast of the ad, citing it 'offends the public emotion.'

What that means, I know not.

What I know is Shinui now broadcasts their stuff with the relevant scenes replaced with mere black frames - and it says it even better, IMHO.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Brief Summary of Israeli Gun Laws

Firearms Act, 1949, gives a lot of discretion on the subject to the Ministry of The Interior and the Ministry of Defense. The offshoot of this is

A)According to the law, anything with a barrel that shoots objects that can harm a human, or any part of such an item is a firearm. MoI has discretion. Currently, airguns are firearms. Further, the Ministry of Defense has the authority to define what firearms are "military firearms" - barring access to common serfs. Ever since 1950, any rifle larger than .22 and any automatic weapon were firearms.

B) The MoD can decide who it gives licenses to. The current policy is that gun licenses can be only given to:

a)People inheriting guns (no carry, possession only)
b)Hunters (2 shotguns only)
c)ex-military captains, private guards, taxi/bus drivers, gold dealers, inhabitants of danger zones (1 handgun only.)
d)target shooters (2 guns only)
e)Civil guard volunteers (1 handgun
f)Civil Guard Snipers (rifles)

.22 rifles are banned, except grandfathered ones, hunting with rifles is illegal. Any form of outdoor shooting is illegal. People may only buy 50 rounds per year, except those shot at public ranges.

Note that inhabitants of "danger zones" often get issued full-auto guns.

Their Faces

I promised to have images uploaded of the Meretz student meeting yesterday, and indeed I do.
So here I go.

Random lefty activist:

They accompanied Mrs. Gal'on throughout the event. Here's another one of her "guards"

Here's MK Gal'on herself:

The lady on the right is from HADASH, the communist party - she asked Gal'on whether she opposes the fashion industry. Naturally enough, Gal'on said - with PRIDE! - that indeed she does just that. Note the facial expression.

Our next specimen is this here fellow. He's an operative of the Labor party, accusing Gal'on of slandering the good name of the Labor party - "Why are you saying we are not the real left? SURE WE ARE!"

The next picture is of him arguing with the HADASH lady, accusing her, among other things, of killing the 'true communist movement'. Either way, I would like to point out that this lady was opposed to the fashion industry and it's promotion of a "certain kind of feminine beauty."- so how can I not post pictures of her and not point out she's a large-breasted blonde? :D

And, just for kicks:

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Zehava Gal'on

I just attended a political meeting with Zehava Gal'on, who is a member of the Knesset for the Meretz party.

It seems that the lady had very interesting ideas on personal liberty. First of all, she supported legalizing non-religious marriage and gay marriage (it was interesting to see how the tolerant leftists edged away when I pointed out I was bisexual). And she said she "supported the right of every woman to own her body and her life". But then it got weird:

"I would wish the government to provide free education since age 2 and up through college."

When I asked about school vouchers, pointing out they are already proposed by some right-wing parties, she said "It may be a good idea, but it's a right-wing idea." Also, she said she believes "it is the responsibility of the government to provide education.

I should have mentioned homeschooling.

There was also her stance on the military draft - she believes that every citizen should be granted the free choice to either serve in the military or... serve the government for two to three years in another manner. The rationale for that? "We provide you with free education, so you owe the government some service." - didn't I already pay for that with tax money?

There was a communist lass there who asked MK Gal'on why doesn't she oppose the fashion industry (it humiliates women, you see). Gal'on replied "Actually, I frequently speak out in public both against beauty contests and the fashion industry."

There also was a Labor agitator who tried to prove his party was the Real Left-Wing Party[tm].

More details of this silliness coming soon - and pictures, once I can upload them!

The Man Who Speaks For Himself

This man is Silvan Shalom. He has criticized the government for, and I quote, allowing the Ale-Yarok party to run in the elections.

Under Israeli law, all parties are allowed to run, unless they ‘oppose the goals of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state’. To my knowledge, the last time a party was banned it was for advocating Israel bomb it’s own Arab citizens (Kahane Hai). Even the Arab parties who advocate turning Israel under the warm, loving hand of the Shariat law are allowed to run – and yet, Silvan Shalom wants to ban Ale-Yarok because they are advocating… the legalization of marijuana.

He has continued to state that a war should be waged on all drugs, “regardless of type”, also stating “it starts with a cigarette and ends in heroin and cocaine.”

I can’t really add anything here. The man speaks for himself.


So, dear friends.

I’m Boris Karpa. I live in Israel, and this nation does not comply with any of the famous libertarian principles. Here, the political climate is all about Big Government [mamlachtiut, in Hebrew], gun control [Let’s just say these guys are not just after guns, they are after knives and airguns and airsoft), drug prohibition [They’ve made movement to ban the drug legalization party from running in the elections. It failed – so far], and so forth.

Israel does not have trial by jury, poisoned tree principle, or any kind of protection against unreasonable search and seizure. We have a government monopoly on electricity (de-facto), local phone calls (de-jure), and nearly everything is regulated by them.

There is no separation of religion and state – the religious interests, various yeshivas etc. benefit from a 950 million-shekel budget. The government is corrupt like there’s no tomorrow.

And, last but not least, as far as I know, there’s no libertarian party, movement, or anything like that in Israel. There’s just me. Boris Karpa, a guy with a camera and a blog, who will take all of you through the deepest recesses of the Israeli body politic.

Buckle up and ready your barf bags! Let’s lock and load!