On Libertarianism and the Jews’ 2,000 Year Old Claim to Palestine, Part II

by Sep 22, 2016Foreign Policy1 comment

An artist's depiction of the deportation and exile of the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah to Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon's temple (James Tissot/Public Domain)

Rafi Farber clings to his claim that Jews own Palestine by engaging in obfuscation and personal attacks in response to me pointing out his arguments' flaws.

Rafi Farber has posted a response to my post “On Libertarianism and the Jews’ 2,000 Year Old Claim to Palestine” on his blog, accusing me of being dishonest, but a review of the facts illustrates it’s still him being so.

During our debate on the Tom Woods Show, in which Farber argued that Jews had land ownership rights to Palestine based on a claim of 2,000 years, I rebutted that claim by simply quoting the words of him and his coauthors in their paper “The Legal Status of the State of Israel: A Libertarian Approach”, published in the Indonesian Journal of International Law. The first excerpt from their paper I quoted was as follows:

But are there no statutes of limitation? Surely, two millenia and counting would more than qualify for any statute of limitations. There is such a thing, for the libertarian, as a ‘natural’ statute of limitations: the further back ones [sic] goes into the past, the more difficult it is to encounter any relevant evidence. Since the burden of proof always rests with he who wishes to overturn extant property rights, mere passage of time can serve as a natural limitation.

I expressed my agreement, then quoted a second excerpt from their paper:

First of all, possession is nine tenths of the law. He who now possesses the land is presumed to be the rightful owner of it. It is up to the one who wants the territory, but does not now occupy it, to make the case for transfer.

I expressed my agreement again, then quoted a third excerpt from their paper:

We readily admit that there is no single Jew who can trace his ownership rights over any specific piece of land from 2000 years ago. And this, indeed, would be the criterion for transfer of land titles if we were discussing individual rights. But we are not now doing so. Instead, we are discussing tribes, not individuals…. We do so in order to perform a reductio ad absurdum: if we take the non-libertarian principles circulating in those environs and logically deduce from them, we can demonstrate that according to them Jews are the rightful owners of the terrain under dispute, and that all and any payments made by them in land purchases were supererogatory.”

So there you have it. We can plainly see that by Farber’s own admission, as a co-author of the above quoted paper, the argument that in 1948, Jews were the rightful owners of Palestine is one, a departure from Libertarian principles and, two, absurd. Hence Farber’s contradictory claim that Jews owned Palestine in 1948 based on a claim of 2,000 years fails even on his own terms as presented in the paper he co-authored.

In his long-winded and substanceless attempt at a rebuttal, Farber goes to great lengths to obfuscate the point and otherwise engages in ad hominem argumentation. He focuses entirely on the first of the above three quotes from their paper and attempts to accuse me of somehow misrepresenting their argument.

He begins with a strawman argument, suggesting that the reason I gave for why their argument fails even on their own terms is “because we both accept and reject a statute of limitations.”

Well, no, that is not the reason I stated why their argument fails even on their own terms! I said nothing either in our debate or in my previous post about them rejecting a statute of limitations. I did not suggest they were contradicting themselves in this respect at all.

Then he throws in some accusations against my character: his purpose is to “expose Hammond’s dishonesty”, and “Obviously I don’t think Hammond is an idiot. He’s just playing one because he knows we caught him on this and he can’t get out of it.” The entire post is characterized by such personal attacks and condescension.

Then he spends a great deal of time going through the excerpt I quoted to explain the meaning, as though I had somehow misconstrued their meaning. But he doesn’t actually show that I misrepresented them in any way.

After the lengthy explanation, he adds (his emphasis):

Now, what did Hammond leave out of his selective quotation of this footnote? Only this:

“However, there can be no man-made statute in this regard, at least not for the libertarian. If there were, injustice would prevail when the plaintiff can marshal proof that a property title is illicit, and yet the court would not uphold it. This would also spell almost the death knell for reparations, surely a basic element of the libertarian philosophy. See on this note 75.”

Okay, so “there can be no man-made statue in this regard”. So what? Did I debate that point? No. Did I argue that there can be man-made statutes in this regard? No. Did I misrepresent them by suggesting that they said there can be such statutes? No.

So what is Farber’s point here?

Well, he doesn’t say! He’s grasping at straws, suggesting that I somehow took their quote out of context, but he doesn’t actually bother to explain how this second part of the footnote has any bearing on the point for which I quoted the first part of it. In lieu of providing an actual argument, he simply writes:

Now, I have challenged Hammond to quote the footnote in full on this dishonest incomplete lazy excuse for a rebuttal on his site here. And suprise suprise, he thinks the rest of the footnote is irrelevant.

Well, yes, it is irrelevant to the point I was making! Farber is here suggesting it’s not irrelevant, that by not quoting that part of the paragraph I somehow misrepresented them, but he doesn’t bother to explain how it is relevant to the point or how not including that part resulted in a misrepresentation of their argument!

He goes on with more of his substancless, condescending diatribe, e.g.,

I actually feel stupid, as if I’m talking to a 10 year old in an introductory course to symbolic logic and Aristotle’s basic premise that contradictions don’t exist. How could this not be relevant? I don’t know. I don’t know what to say anymore other than Hammond is being deliberately stupid so as not to get himself caught in the contradiction he has placed himself in.

Still no argument! Still no explanation of how it is relevant to my point or how I misrepresented their argument by not also quoting this part!

Eventually, reading further, we come to something somewhat substantive:

[W]e supposedly admit that we believe in a statute of limitations for the libertarian when we do not and we never did.

So his argument is that I misrepresented them by attributing to them a belief in a statute of limitations for the libertarian, but that they do not believe there is such a thing.

This is, of course, nonsense. Simply re-read the first excerpt I quoted from their paper! Here’s the relevant part again:

There is such a thing, for the libertarian, as a ‘natural’ statute of limitations: the further back ones [sic] goes into the past, the more difficult it is to encounter any relevant evidence. Since the burden of proof always rests with he who wishes to overturn extant property rights, mere passage of time can serve as a natural limitation.

That’s not an acknowledgement that there is such a thing as a statute of limitations in libertarianism? Clearly, it is — in plain English. So when Farber says he and his co-authors “do not and we never did” say they believe in a statute of limitations, what the hell is he talking about? This is simply a nonsensical self-contradiction.

So what about that part I didn’t quote, about how there can’t be any man-made statute in this regard? Does that mean that there isn’t such a thing as a statute of limitations in libertarianism? Well, obviously not. After all, they had just said that there is such a concept in libertarianism. That no state could justly enforce a law with respect to this principle does not mean that the principle doesn’t exist. The question of whether states can have laws in this regard has absolutely no bearing on the point I made.

Continuing, Farber writes:

So let me make this very clear to you Jeremy Hammond and fans, even though I am absolutely positive you all already understand perfectly and are just feigning idiocy in order to stem yourselves from admitting your contradiction:

There is no man-made statute of limitations in libertarianism, nor can there possibly be one, by the very apriori nature of libertarianism itself. The only natural statute of limitations in libertarianism is when there is no longer any hard evidence of previous claims, whether due to mere passage of time or anything else that erases evidence. OR there is an explicit relinquishment of all claims, as in the case of ייאוש.

So there you have it. There is a natural statute of limitations in libertarianism (contradicting himself again)! And it is precisely as they explained it in their paper, which is precisely as I quoted it.

The implied argument here is that I attributed to Farber, et al, a belief in a man-made statute of limitations — but that is simply false. I did no such thing. I did not paraphrase them or put words in their mouths. I quoted them verbatim. Nor did not quoting also the second part of the paragraph in any way result in any misrespresentation. This is a strawman argument, and Farber’s entire lengthy post is all just a wonderful attempt at obfuscation.

Farber continues:

But in cases where there is hard evidence of previous homesteading and no ייאוש, plus hard evidence that the nearest of kin to those original legitimate homesteaders still exist and claim this land and never ever relinquished their claims…

Well then, all land with hard physical evidence of previous homesteading by Jews, must go to the nearest of kin, which are Jews, by shares of stock in that landregardless of any subsequent homesteader on that land.

Practically speaking then, because there is no man-made statute of limitations in libertarianism, all land with hard physical evidence of previous Jewish homesteading from the Roman period, must go to the descendants of those original homesteaders, given that no one Jew can prove descent from any specific homesteader. Therefore,all of it must go to all verifiable genetic Jews with certain Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA markers by shares, to be determined by impartial third-party judges with zero connection to the Judeo-Christian-Muslim line.

Which brings us to my point in quoting that third excerpt from their paper. Once again, in their own words:

We readily admit that there is no single Jew who can trace his ownership rights over any specific piece of land from 2000 years ago. And this, indeed, would be the criterion for transfer of land titles if we were discussing individual rights. But we are not now doing so. Instead, we are discussing tribes, not individuals…. We do so in order to perform a reductio ad absurdum: if we take the non-libertarian principles circulating in those environs and logically deduce from them, we can demonstrate that according to them Jews are the rightful owners of the terrain under dispute, and that all and any payments made by them in land purchases were supererogatory.”

So, again, by their own admission, their argument (1) is a departure from libertarian principles and (2) absurd.

With respect to departing from libertarianism, I also pointed out in our debate how Farber, et al, falsely attribute to Murray Rothbard a “collectivist” approach to land ownership in his 1967 essay “War Guilt in the Middle East” and reject any such approach. (They criticize him for treating all of Palestine as “Arab land”, which is collectivism, when in fact Rothbard, “Mr. Libertarian” himself, refers to “Arab lands”, plural, which is individualism in perfect accordance with libertarianism.)

Yet as you can see above, Farber is sticking to his collectivist approach!

Note that, just as they acknowledged in their paper no individual Jew can trace ownership rights over any specific piece of land 2,000 years, Farber acknowledges in his attempted rebuttal that “no one Jew can prove descent from any specific homesteader” — the criteria that would be necessary for this argument that Jews owned land in Palestine based on a 2,000-year-old claim to be (1) consistent with libertarian principles and (2) not absurd.

So, once again, as anyone can plainly see, Farber’s argument fails even on his own terms as presented in the paper he co-authored.

The reason he felt it necessary to go to such lengths to obfuscate the point, as well as to engage in ad hominem argumentation including attacks on my character, becomes obvious.

To conclude, while Farber accuses me of dishonesty, the facts illustrate that this charge is pure hypocrisy and that it is still him who is guilty of intellectual dishonesty.

 

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

By recognizing when we are being lied to and why, we can fight effectively for liberty, peace, and justice, in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity.

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1 Comment

  1. Steven Lance Fornal

    Plus, seeing as Farber has conceded that “there is no single Jew who can trace his ownership rights over any specific piece of land from 2000 years ago” then what about the indigenous Arabs that CAN trace ownership rights over specific pieces of land from 2000 years ago?

    The NAKBA ousted Palestinian Arabs from lands to which most held legal title. The invading illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe had no legal title to those lands, had no legal authority to be there and certainly no legal right to the lands confiscated.

    The torquing of language to arrive at a place that is impossible to get to via logic and truth is a trademark of Zionist methodology (viz., the territories v territories argument made as regards UN Resolution 242).

    And, resorting to personal attack is also a trademark of Zionists whenever they engage in debate about Israel’s legitimacy (or, should I say, lack of same?) They use a time tested way to obfuscate the reality.

    In America, many people when hit with the very different set of facts presented when discussing the truth about Israel’s beginnings and continued violations of International Law, the Fourth Geneva Conventions and US Laws against using American weaponry against civilian populations, simply become numb and gently crawl into the comfort of considering the true version of reality based upon facts as being anti-Semitic. Otherwise they’d have to reconstitute their entire view of the matter which would lead to reconstituting their view re the Middle East en toto. This becomes too much to contemplate. So, most are left with He said. She said. And, comfortably numb, stay with their propagandized version of the Zionist project.

    Reply

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