Behind the Lines: Israeli Libertarian

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Strikes, kids, and violent crime, Oh My!

So the highschool teachers are on strike, this being the 18th day (I believe).

Last night there were two terrible crimes. A 16-year-old Israeli Arab kid being stabbed to death, and a 13-year old girl dying out of alcohol poisoning and drug overdose after having sex many, many times with her two classmates. Obviously the parents claim this was an act of rape since Precious Daughter would never have agreed to have sex two guys at once. Obviously there's a huge media hoopla and the other kids are facing rape charges that can and WILL ruin their lives.

And, OF COURSE the media claimed that the school strike had something to do with this.

Except that - according to an official police press release on the matter, violent crime among highschool-age kids dropped 49% during the period of the strike. Sexual assault and rape – 90% drop.

So, if the idiots in charge of the media claimed the school strike was responsible for 'rising' crime rates, and if they claim it really does affect crime rates, will they now claim it is responsible for falling crime rates?

Oh wait. They are only stupid in one direction.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Big Brother On a Shoestring Budget

Tomorrow, on Monday, 29th Octobrer 2007, the Knesset Constitutional Committee will discuss the Communications Data Act 2007. The press have termed it 'Big Brother Act' with good reason – it will allow the government – the Police and the General Security Service free and unfettered access to your communications data – they will be able to ask for phone records (i.e. know who you called and who called you), internet communications records – and they will not need a warrant to get the info.

Let me get this across to you American readers – and Israeli readers – they now demand acess to information on what sites you browse and for how long.

This is in a country where police already have a special unit dedicated to monitoring teen blogs and then raiding the teen in question if the blog shows 'signs of suicidal psychology'.

In a country where they already 'make and receive dozens of thousands of requests for information every year'.

Of course, on paper they would still require warrants.

But the access to warrants will be made ridiculously easy now.

More importantly, the law allows for the creation of a database of communications data with the police force, which the polcie will not need warrants to access. This will contain a variety of stuff, most interestingly a map of the cellphone network, allowing them to pin down the locations of cellphone users in real time.

And what do you think the rationale for this monstrosity is?

Answer: Not fighting crime. Not fighting muslim terrorism.

They are doing it because going through lawyers and courts and judges the old-fashioned way costs too much money. No, I kid you not.

Dr. Michael Birnhak from the University of Tel-Aviv has it all here in Hebrew:,7340,L-3464920,00.html

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This was in today's Ha'aretz

"Ehud Barak has stated that the Labor Party will do everything to prevent Yigal Amir from being released. If Labor will head this struggle, he can consider himself on te path to freedom already."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Now that I actually have more than two readers, I will ask you guys two questions:

  1. What do you guys define as Zionism?

Do you view it as merely the claim the “Jews have the right to independence in Israel”, or do you view it as an ideology that mandates a given kind of state in Israel? For example, Ben-Gurion's 'classical Zionism' mandates a socialist state of sorts.

  1. Do you believe it is the moral duty of all Jews qua Jews to support Zionism as you have defined it in 1?

  2. Do you see yourself as a Zionist?

My own answers are as follows:

1. I believe Zionism is seen, by and large [especially by a large proportion of Israelis] as a mandate for a particular kind of state, one which backs large 'social equality' programs and is, by and large, defined by Ben-Gurion's legacy. I oppose this sort of Zionism.

This said, I support Israel's existence and I support Zionism as the simple contention that the Jews have the right to self-determination. Six million Jews live in Israel, and they have the right to be independent just like anybody else.

2. I don't see it as anybody's moral duty to support Zionism o any other ideology, no matter how benign. This said, a large sub-group of people use 'anti-Zionism' as a way to camouflage their hatred of Jews in general, or their hatred of America who supports Israel. Noam Chomsky is an instructive case.

3. I am inasmuch a Zionist as I believe in Israel's right to exist. I am not a Zionist in the mold of Ben-Gurion OR Menachem Begin. Further I am a member of the Free State Project .

The Strange Case of Ariel Zilber

The anniversary of the Rabin assassination is approaching swiftly, and the media is whipping up their usual storm of adoration for the man. Over the years, Rabin has stopped being, it seems, a mere mortal, and became a form of quasi-deity for these people, a sort of mini-Jesus that had laid down his soul for the Peace Process.

It not, however, the identity of Itzhak Rabin this post is concerned with, but rather the media idiocy du jour.

It appears that a group of people, most notably Larissa Amir, Yigal's wife, have starred in a 15-minute video requesting the early release of Yigal Amir (under Israeli law, well-behaved lifers can have their sentence cut down to 'only' 20 years, and Amir is a well-behaved prisoner). This video was distributed online, on (Israel's Youtube), and in DVD form as well.

There is nothing really to it. The video is amateurish as all get-out, and could have possibly been done by a twelve-year old using Windows Media Player.

But of course the media strives on creating frenzies. This time they had done their best screaming their head off about the Evil Extreme Right. Naturally they've been demanding that the public ignore the video and those behind it - while replaying fragments of it on TV and inviting Larissa to every show possible.

This would have been well and good, but here's the thing: A single person of major note, Ariel Zilber, appeared in the video.

Ariel Zilber is a local singer of medium fame. He sings and plays the piano, awfully at that. He is known for his right-wing views and has previously campaigned for Feiglin during the Likud primaries.

But now he has commited the unforgivable sin.

He was included in the 15-minute Video Of Doom saying that he is not sure Yigal Amir killed Rabin [even though Amir confessed the killing and video footage of it exists], and that he believes Amir should be treated 'like any other prisoner'.

This was enough.

First, multiple cities have cancelled appearances of Zilber at city-sponsored events (starting with Tel-Aviv, of course, which is the San Francisco of the Middle-East).

Then, musical artists of different kinds have decided they wish to boycott Zilber.

And now, a radio station announced it will cancel airing a radio show because Zilber is in it in a minor role (even though it's already been recorded).

And, with the witch-hunt elevated to a new level, people down here have started demanding the maximum five-year penalty "for incitement of violence" for those responsible for this video. This has been the talk of the radio show hosts this morning.

Does nobody think this is a little bit of an overreaction?

Demanding that Amir should be treated like all the other prisoners is now such a terrible crime that it merits a witch-hunt of this sort? What, are there no real problems for this country to deal with? Have all of them gone mad?


I should get a dollar every time someone calls me an antisemite on the Internet for supporting Ron Paul.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Protecting Foreign Molluscs.

According to Ynet, the Eilat Port Authority has seized a whole lot of terrible, terrible, illegal contrabanda. Not drugs, mind you, and not guns for Palestinian terrorists.

Seashells. Crates upon crates of illegal seashells.

Apparently, the importation of foreign molluscs is illegal under CITES .

Inspectors have commented, saying: "We don't want people ruining our beaches, but we also want to protect beaches abroad."

After this, they took the obvious action to protect the endangered foreign mollusc.

They destroyed them.

Another day of hard work for the Israeli government: protecting foreign molluscs and the environments by destroying endangered species specimens.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thank you all.

Since I published the post two days ago about Ron Paul and aid to Israel, I've received a whole lot of page views and positive comments, both through this site and through email. Thanks, people.
I would especially like to thank Renee for her thoughtful comments and email.

I would like to thank the people who posted a link to this blog and my post on DailyPaul, LibertyPost, and ESPECIALLY I have long wanted to be on Lew's site, but my stuff just somehow never gets through their editors - except this time. Thank you guys. It really does mean something to me.

You guys are awesome. Thank you.

A little anecdote for my readers about just how wasteful the Israel Defense Force is, both with its own money and American money.

I spent most of my IDF service as first a system administrator, and then just a useless clerk at a base that conducts training for command staff on simulators. Essentially they put up LAN networks in comfortable air-conditioned rooms and then input data from wargaming computers that simulates what these people would be getting in a real combat sit... scratch that, they basically play wargames on computers.

Anyhow, just a month or so I arrived on base, our Communications Officer decided that this was UNREALISTIC. That the officers had to be trained in conditions approaching real field conditions (nevermind here that during real combat situations brigade staff do their thing from real airconditioned rooms). So he had a genius plan:

We would order a whole bunch of M113 armored personnel carriers, in both the ordinary and the communications version (the one fitted for more fancy electronics), put them out on our lawn, and then drill holes in them and pipe LAN cables through the holes , mounting the exercise computers inside for extra realism.

This would be wasteful if it were done - it cost us millions to order and receive the M113s.

They were new (or looked new) when they arrived.

Wasting them on this would be stupid in and of itself.

But then they descended to a new level of stupid.

In the 18 months I served in that unit, the APC's were to my knowledge never used in exercises, nor were they ever fitted for LAN cables.

They rusted.

They gathered dust.

Weed grew through the tracks.

But that was basically it.

Note this: Here we took several million (possibly several dozen million, I don't know how much 15-20 M113's cost) dollars of US and Israeli taxpayer money, dumped it on our lawn and let it rot away.

If you are American or Israeli, it is likely your money paid for this.

Are you happy about it? I sure am not.

But remember, if you oppose this sort of spending, you hate Jews. And freedom.

And the Strikes Begin Again

Some of you know already that Israel's public sector is continuing on it's usual trajectory of strikes, strikes, and more strikes.

Merrily, last week there were three announced strikes:

One by the high-school teachers. What is it about? Why, the teachers don't get paid very well, despite the fact the public education budget is huge enough to send every kid in the country to private schools in America and there would be money left to by them all tickets there.

So the teachers, in their glory, have made a deal with HR companies, to find them temporary jobs while they clamor for a doubling of wage and a suspension of the pro-accountability reforms. Note I am not kidding about that one.

Israel has practically no private schools (only 60,000 children are in private schools), and homeschooling is virtually banned except for a few dozen families. So what this means is that the union will be able to extract yet more money from the hapless taxpayer. It's only a question of when and how much.

The second strike was by the Union of University Directors (Irgun Rashey Ha-Universitaot). These didn't even have the common decency to demand wages – they were making a raw political demand, an increase in the budget of higher education. They got it. Several hundred million shekels.

Scarily, the government caved before the strike even technically began.

Israel has no private universities, only a few private colleges, which are hamstrung and crippled by the government. To close down all public universities effectively means shutting down all public education.

And yet nobody in the media asked if it is even legitimate for a public servant to deny citizens the services which are their right under law in order to demand political reforms. (Bear no mistake – the size of a budget, any government budget, is a political issue).

And so, on the heels of this one came the strike of the senior university staff. They will not conduct any lectures until their wages are increased. Again, this essentially shuts higher education down for a few days (over 60% of university lectures are shut down).

So here you have it: Education is ostensibly a 'right' under Israeli law, but unelected officials are enabled by the state monopoly on education to deny it to us on a whim or a political demand.

The only way to fix this is not to adjust labor laws, reform salaries, or increase budget.

The only way to fix this is to kill the public monopoly on education.

Kill it.

Kill it with fire.

Let there be private universities, where people will be able to hire professors based on their individual accomplishments rather then collective bargaining, let there be homeschooling which will promote a variety of opinions and mindset, and for the love of God let there be private schools.

Then maybe we won't have to be holding onto the edge of our seats every time autumn approaches, checking if the public education monopolists decide to hold our education system hostage again.aa

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Questions for The Republican Jewish Coalition

Questions for the Republican Jewish Coalition

Recently, there was a large hoopla in the libertarian areas of the political Internet about the Republican Jewish Coalition. The Coalition – so did the Internet have it – refused to receive Ron Paul at their “Victory 2008 Republican Jewish Coalition Candidates Forum”. According to a variety of sources, Ron Paul was not allowed to get on the forums because he was 'not seen as a top tier contender' and 'opposed aid to Israel'. Given that the Internet is plagued with the kind of folks that'll blame 'the Israeli lobby' for global warming if you let them loose, I was doubtful.

But given that the editors of are very interested in the Ron Paul Revolution, I went out and called the RJC myself to verify. RJC's very kind press secretary (whose surname I was, unfortunately, not able to write down) confirmed to me that this was indeed true: Ron Paul was not invited because he was considered a 'long-shot candidate' and because he 'votes against aid to Israel' and 'criticizes the Israeli lobby'.

I will not discuss the first of these statements – the RJC has invited Huckabee, who polls consistently behind Ron Paul in both straw polls and scientific Gallup and Harris polls, and then refused to replace him with Ron Paul when Huckabee refused to arrive at the Candidates Forum. It is clear to me that the main reason for Ron Paul not being invited is the difference in policy between him and the RJC.

Is Ron Paul an enemy of Israel? He clearly isn't. He supported Israel's action against the Osirak reactor when practically everybody – including the Reagan Administration – condemned Israel. He has steadfastly refused to support congressional condemnation of Israel, or military aid to nations like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

What seems to be the core of the argument? The military aid to Israel. The 2.25 billion dollars per year of funding that Israel receives. For those not in the know, this aid comes in the form of funds that must be spent on American equipment and services – essentially a subsidy for U.S. companies. As such, it is a subsidy program for both Israel's government and the United States' military-industrial complex.

And yet, is this program necessary for Israel's survival, or even beneficial for its well-being? Certainly not according to the Jerusalem Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, who state outright: “Foreign aid is the greatest obstacle to economic freedom in Israel.” Certainly not according to Binyamin Netanyahu, who, during his tenure as Prime Minister, hinted quite broadly that Israel would be better off without foreign aid.

Foreign aid does not only destroy Israel's indigenous military industries – even now, production of army shoes, Tavor assault rifles, and other items have been shifted in part or in whole across the Atlantic to qualify for the American funds – but it has a more insidious effect. It acts as a crutch for a military bureacracy that is huge, inept, and corrupt.

Not unlike Third World officials who feel they don't need to modernize their economy because the West will keep pumping in aid and money, Israeli Ministry of Defense officials believe that no matter how bad their own screw-ups are, they are safe – as long as they can fall back on American money and weapons.

As a result, the Israeli MoD is capable of immense amounts of waste – wasting, in fact, more Israeli taxpayer money then it receives in aid from America. When I spoke to Knesset Member Yossi Beilin, he told me that the Knesset members are not even allowed to read most of the military budget before passing it. This allows for truly unprecedented amounts of waste.[2]

There is no place here to speak about army units deploying more vehicles then they have personnel[1], army units purchasing brand new armored personnel carriers and allowing them to rust away on the lawn unused until they are beyond repair. Let us just mention that an IDF officer retiring at the rank of major 33 receives $100,000 in benefits, that the amount of generals in the Israeli army rises 80% every ten years. Israel still practices the draft, which recruits thousands of soldiers the country doesn't need for any sensible military use. Ehud Barak, the Minister of Defense, claims 75% of the nation's non-combat soldiers serve no national defense purpose. The hidden economical costs are estimated to be $15,000 per draftee.

And here's the punchline: the budget for the civilian MoD bureaucracy (not the army) comes up to half the sum of US aid to Israel on its own (4-5 billion NIS). Further, according to the Ministry of Defense, only 20% of the military budget funds actual fighting and combat support units. 80% is the cost of bureacracy and rear-echelon units. That comes out to over ten billion dollars – over FOUR TIMES the size of US aid to Israel.

I would understand support for this sort of 'aid' among the American Democrats – they are known to believe that throwing money at problems solves them. But those are Republicans we're talking about here. And thus I have a few questions for any RJC members who happen to be reading this:

You people are smart enough to realize that welfare to African countries doesn't help them develop. Why do you think welfare to Israel is going to have any different effect? You people are smart enough to oppose subsidies for an abortion clinic in Omaha or a farm in Texas. Why are you willing to throw America's money at a government institution thousands of miles away? Why do you insist throwing money at people who let billions of dollars of their own money go to waste pointlessly? Maybe, just maybe, if Israel was deprived of the American government teat, it would use it's own taxpayer money with more efficiency.

Most importantly, why are you so quick to assume that a person who opposes this welfare program is not a candidate whose opinions bears listening to, if not on this one issue, then on others? Does disagreement on this one point make a candidate unlegitimate to you, even though he agrees with the Republican Jewish Coalition on so many others?

Boris Karpa is a libertarian columnist and professional translator in Ashdod, Israel.
He can be contacted at

[1]”Ma'ariv”, 27.10.03.
[2]According to the 2004 Annual Report by Israel's Inspector-General, while the Knesset budgeted 46.8 billion shekels to the IDF, de-facto 58.5 billion shekels were transferred. The difference is over 3 billion dollars wasted, or a sum greater then the entire US aid to Israel.