Friday, May 28, 2010

Main Mission

There was one extremely depressing paragraph in a generally depressing story about a flotilla of ships seeking to breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip and deliver humanitarian aid:
Noam Shalit, father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, told CNN he offered through his lawyer to attempt to convince the Israeli government to let the flotilla arrive in Gaza if participants would pass aid, including letters and medicine, to his son. The organizers of the convoy, including Berlin, refused, he said, telling him their main purpose is to break the siege.

This is highly indicative. To bring along letters and aid to Shalit is essentially a cost-free move by the convoy participants. It would signal nothing more than that its concern for human rights is universal, rather than particular only to when Israelis are wronging Palestinians (and not a particularly strong signal at that). And yet, they refused, because apparently it would distract from their "main purpose". I don't see how a proposal which would have made it more likely the convoy would reach Gaza shores would be in conflict with "breaking the siege", but I do see how such a proposal would distract from a main purpose of highlighting Israeli depravity and Palestinian innocence.

Oh, go to hell already. It's amazing how few people examining this conflict have a universal and principled concern for human rights and human dignity.

And also, I might add, the Israeli government claims it is perfectly willing to allow the goods into Gaza, so long as they are checked for security threats at an Israeli port. This probably isn't quite as one-sided as it sounds -- the convoy is bringing in construction materials, which Israel has been classifying as a security threat (one can use construction materials to construct bunkers), but it is meaningful information.

29 comments:

joe said...

Wouldn't such an agreement be, in a sense, caving in to extortion? You get your aid through, but not because of any "human rights" of the blockaded population, but because you did something for the people with the guns intruding on those rights in the first place (who, you may argue, are basically agreeing to this arrangement under the principle of "One of ours is worth a hundred of their civilians.") That would seem an approach similar to the one used by various governments claiming they do not negotiate with terrorists.

There are other principled arguments I could think up, given time, and probably even a few that go to bargaining tactics.

But my main point is that this is why consequentialism owns other systems of morality. I'd like to think I would be pragmatic enough to agree to that deal in a heartbeat. At most, the consequentialist case against it would be that agreeing now would encourage future blockades for additional leverage, and it's better to take the bird in the hand over speculation in these situations.

But most people are not very pragmatic when we get down to it. Hence society's glorification of "the matter of principle" wherein the analysis of damage and benefit is cast aside.

David Schraub said...

The apple falls very far from the tree that was weeping about collective punishment and essentialization a few threads ago. "[F]or the people with the guns intruding on those rights"? For the person being held in captivity in violation of International Humanitarian Law, which you purport to care about. If all Israel's "extortion" is that the convey exhibit a net increase in mitigating human rights violations, well, then call me Al Capone because I get behind that.

joe said...

Okay, you're Al Capone ; )

But seriously, let's take it easy and not -- what's the term? -- nutpick. Considering how I said they should take the deal. (Although indeed, most of my "position" on International Humanitarian Law is an observational response to N. Friedman's insistence that there's "no consensus" about settlements. [Sound enough like any global warming debates?] As a consequentialist what I really care about is minimizing harm and maximizing benefit, so the settlements are bad because they're a major obstacle to peace regardless of legalities.)

And, lest you think I'm just here to Israel bash, you can take my note about encouraging future blockades a step further. F'rinstance, perhaps by facilitating the use of Shalit as a bargaining chip, the flotilla encourages the taking of additional hostages (and all the future conflict and, yes, additional deaths, that would likely entail). Clearly anyone who cares about human rights would never want to place more parents in Noam Shalit's position.

So yeah, it's possible the world is not as black and white as you paint it. It's indeed possible that instead of being solely focused on painting Israel as a monster -- a very Israel-centric interpretation of events, whether you mean it or not, unless you've overnight become a one-stater to patch the Gaza-sized hole in that view -- there may well be other considerations at work for the convoy leaders, like hidden future costs (possibly externalities) to striking a deal now.

Now, instead of insulting each others' intentions, let's focus on confronting the tough questions. In simplest terms, extortion comes in with the implication that, if the convoy should for whatever reason not agree to facilitate an additional increase in human rights, Israel will block the convoy to impose (at least in the convoy's eyes) a net decrease in human rights. (And for those that focus on these things, remember turning back ships is an active use of force; not delivering a letter is as passive as it gets -- equally passive as Noam Shalit not lobbying the government absent the agreement he seeks.)

Hopefully, the tough question is not whether following through on such a threat (letting the perfect be the enemy of the good) can be wrong. I think the tougher question is under what circumstances we should accede to a demand when the extorting party isn't requiring an action that is harmful in and of itself. I'd say there's far from a universal rule on that one.

joe said...

(Also, to be clear, I support a two-state solution, and the "one-stater" thing was a throwaway line not intended as a sidetrack onto that issue.)

It occurred to me I see an uncomfortable parallel (and I stress that it's only one) to David Horowitz's favored tactic -- gleefully adopted by Sean Hannity, which tells us all we need to know -- of demanding critics of his position condemn Hamas. After all, that should be a cost-free move, right? (Guess we can take the leftist out of the extremist agitprop, but we can't take the extremist agitprop out of the leftist.)

Well, wait a second (and try to divorce the whole thing from David Horowitz being a major asshole). What's the assumption behind that? Silence is consent? I don't think it's tenable because there are always more petitions we could sign or human rights facebook groups we could join at essentially no cost. For that reason I find it problematic to charge that someone who expresses concern for others is a hypocrite for what he isn't doing (see also, "why are you so focused on ending DADT when there are so many other problems?"). I mean, in that sense everyone's a hypocrite, but if we want the label to have much utility for singling out major offenders we need more to go on than that.

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

You say you are a consequentialist. Let's apply that to the flotilla aiming to the Arab Israeli dispute.

One thing we know for sure, each of the sides has no difficulty supporting its efforts against the other side. So, the war goes on and on. That means, as a practical consequence, that preventing one side from winning the war means that the war goes on and on and more people will die fighting.

By contrast, if one side is choked off and actually loses, the greater probability, as in most other disputes in the world, is that the ideology of the loser tends to abate in popularity. Lest you doubt that, consider the change in Japan's political ideology since WWII.

So, one consequence of providing material support to the Gazan - as opposed to, say, supporting only the Fayyad faction, which has more or less signaled an intention to end the dispute - is that the Hamas ideology lives on to fight another day instead of being rejected by Palestinian Arabs and more, not fewer, people die.

No doubt you will say that starving the Gazans is no way to fight the Hamas ideology - collective punishment, as you would call it, claiming that such is inhumane even if the group blockaded largely supports a genocidal political party.

My reply is that, if the Hamas means what it says - and most groups that openly vow not only in their covenant but in near weekly speeches to commit genocide because that is God's command tend to mean exactly what they say, no matter how crazy it may sound -, the only way that, on this earth, has ever worked is the complete defeat of the group which holds such an ideology.

Now, you still do not quit on the issue of a consensus on the law regarding Israel's settlements. That, notwithstanding my posting for you an article which showed the varying arguments on all sides of the dispute including positions held by famed legal scholars who disagree with your point of view.

A consequentialist would ask, in reply to your evasion on the topic, how a person could refuse to recognize when he has been shown to be wrong with black and white evidence. One conclusion that might be drawn is that a person who does not respond to evidence is an ideologue. Not being a consequentialist, I shall merely say that you clearly failed to look at the article I posted, which clearly shows you are mistaken.

So that you get the point that there are different views on the issue, I quote the article: "Although not all the arguments advanced for and against legality are strong, legal arguments on both sides are durable on what are central points of contention." Now, claiming that there is a consensus that does not include people like the late Morris Abram and the late Eugene Rostow is a crackpot theory. Think about it.

joe said...

N.,

This topic is tangential to the main post, but I will say you are assuming this decades-long dispute can be "won" through military means. Short some truly extreme measures that I suspect you would agree should be kept off the table, I do not share that assumption.

Think of it this way: If the Palestinians aren't rational in their hatred of Israel, why do you expect a rational response of surrender to tactics like blockade?

In fact, let's ask Cuba how successful that kind of thing is at forcing a surrender. And I'm betting Castro has a lot less heartfelt support than Hamas.

joe said...

And if we're still on World War II, keep in mind that if you can't justify the same severity of action without the same severity of conflict.

(I did read the article, by the way, but I already explained where I get my position, so at this point we'll have to agree to disagree.)

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

I read what you wrote about the consensus. What you wrote did not support your own position. If there were a consensus based, as you state, on UN 446, how is that UN 446 was not supported by numerous major countries including the US? How is there a consensus when the Dean of the Yale Law School wrote, subsequent to UN 446 that the Security Council does not have the legal authority to determine the issue? And, that same person, a major scholar not to mention one of the principal authors of UN 242 - which, according to the Europeans, as of 2003, in a Council of Europe Resolution, is the controlling resolution for the Arab Israeli dispute - says that Israel does have the right to settle the land.

Do you know the difference between a consensus and a situation where there are parties who disagree?

Come on, Joe. Think before you write. Here we are speaking of numerous major scholars who disagree with your viewpoint. That means, by definition, that your viewpoint is not a consensus. That is not an opinion, Joe. It is a fact, one that throwing in my face those who agree with your point of view does not alter.

N. Friedman said...

joe,

You write: "And if we're still on World War II, keep in mind that if you can't justify the same severity of action without the same severity of conflict."

Assuming your proposition to be correct - which it is not, by the way - the Arab Israeli conflict has been going on for better than 80 years. That makes it a pretty severe conflict. I was not, by the way, recommending that Israel drop nukes on Gaza. I was merely noting that your viewpoint merely feeds the fighting and makes resolution less likely. Hence, by your viewpoint, what you support is counterproductive, at least if the idea is to achieve peace.

Now, the issue in conflicts is to resolve them, where possible. The Arab Israeli conflict has added on to its inherent problems the fact of the rise of Islamist ideology which refuses any permanent settlement leaving Jews as equals, much less participating in government. The group that espouses that ideology openly advocates killing all Jews throughout the world.

How, frankly, can a person like you who waxes so much about morality lift a finger for people who are enthralled with a genocidal ideology? I do not get it. In the 1930's, establishment opinion in the US among the educated elite at major universities was the very same as your approach to groups like Hamas. Eliminationist ideology does not get better just because it comes fitted in a third world package.

joe said...

N., there will never be complete, universal agreement on everything. There are undoubtedly a handful of people with advanced scientific degrees who accept theories of creationism over evolution, or at least buy into this "teach the controversy" stuff. That doesn't mean there's no scientific consensus on that issue.

If we look at the history of 446 we see only a fifth of SC members did not vote for it. And that fifth (including the U.S., of course) didn't see fit to veto or even to vote no. If they did vote no, we'd merely have a 60 percent spread, instead of 80. Eighty percent is a lot. How many political candidates in a free society can boast that kind of margin?

Now, on your argument that I'm standing in the way of peace you've got me a little confused. Where is this supposed great victory over Hamas going to come from, and how many more decades do we have to wait to see it? Is your position that Israel can win (with relatively little carnage compared to the status quo) if only... what? What's in the IDF's way here? The big bad international community? The same one that can't get it to halt building on disputed land or even get a UNSC resolution past a US veto, the same one that may not even be able to put an end to this blockade, can just magically wave its fingers and stop Israel from defeating its sworn enemy?

And why is the big bad international community stabbing Israel in the back, for lack of a better term? Well, if I take your posts in our other discussion as any indication and don't mince words, you seem to think it's because of Arabs conspiring to control the whole world economy through "OIL" -- talk about the kinds theories popular in the 1930s.

Obviously I think you're wrong, but I'm not saying any of that to be insulting. From what you've posted so far, that's the explanation I'm able to suss out for why the world won't do the right thing for peace and let Israel win. If you have another explanation for why that is, or for how exactly you expect Hamas's ideology to be crushed, let's hear it.



As for the rest of the rhetoric here, it's really a dog-and-pony show. You trot out World War II as one interpretive frame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I point to the Cold War as a different one. But neither one is actually the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so it's not like anything is actually proven. In fact, mentally shoehorning a current conflict into some historical dynamic is a good way to lose out in the game of international relations, and no one demonstrates this better than the Interwar Period appeasers you keep alluding to!

joe said...

It's probably worth noting the flotilla's account of Mr. Shalit's offer, especially when at least one member claims to have agreed to take on the aid in question.

N. Friedman said...

joe,

I was not arguing that Israel should be allowed to win. I was arguing about your point regarding consequences.

You continue to insist that there is a consensus. I continue to insist that there is no consensus. The article I pointed to you says, in as black and white language as is possible, that there is no consensus and that it would be foolish for the US to adopt a position at this time. It shows that even on your side, there is no consensus even as to why your side is correct. My view of the legalities of the matter is that I do not know the answer.

As you may be aware, the US government has, depending on the administration, taken different views on settlements.

You also know my view that it is foolish to build on land that you are offering to cede. My only point on that topic is that there is nothing immoral about building on that land. Rather, it is a nutty thing to do, which is a different thing. And, as I noted, it is not liberal to object to people moving where they want to live.

N. Friedman said...

joe,

Addressing the point of a supposed conspiracy related to oil... You have misinterpreted my views. Arabs openly use their influence, which derives from having a lot of oil, to direct countries towards their view of the Arab Israeli dispute. And, they have been known to threaten to (and, in fact, have in some instances) cut off oil supplies to countries that disagree with their view.

And again, the Arab position is directed to harming Israel if not eliminate the country, not primarily or necessarily for purposes of helping the Palestinian Arabs. In fact, there is not much, so far as can be discerned, interest on the Arab side in a Palestinian Arab state most especially if it would mean a Hamas led state. Were Israel to disappear, it is not at all sure that there would emerge a Palestinian Arab state, given that Syria, Jordan and Egypt have in the not distant past held interest in obtaining the land that is now Israel and given the rather limited interest shown by Palestinian Arabs in building a state as opposed to using territory which, to use their rhetoric, they have liberated as a means to destroy Israel.

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

By the way, with reference to UN 446, which you keep citing as if it were a law, it is not, according to the UN Charter, binding. It was expressly written as a recommendation. Which is to say, it issued under Chapter VI, not Chapter VII.

As such, that is why reference is made by most opponents to Israel's settlement policy to International Humanitarian Law and, more particularly, to the Geneva Convention related to moving populations onto occupied land.

As I noted before, scholarship on the history of that prohibition note that it was written expressly to deal with forced movement of populations, not the voluntary movement of populations.

joe said...

Ignoring the most circular lines of conversation...

And, as I noted, it is not liberal to object to people moving where they want to live.


Sure it is, depending on the circumstances. It's not liberal to object to people shouting "Fire!" either, unless of course they're doing it in a crowded theater.

Now we've already touched on the widespread belief that the settlements are an obstacle for peace. Even Reagan recognized that, but it's really a stronger view among the political left. But you would have us believe that is the "illiberal" view while the Sarah Palin faction of the American right is the greatest champion of the "liberal" view. Those are some interesting personal definitions, but at some point, for the sake of maintaining a shared understanding of the meaning of words, the rest of us liberals have to be able to outvote you on what "liberal" means.

(And please, no "classical liberalism" arguments. Only a True Believer in total open borders can credibly claim the settlements are justified from a laissez faire perspective. I know the Palinites don't subscribe to that. Unless you believe Israel has no right to enact policies to remain a Jewish state, I don't see how you could subscribe to it either.)

joe said...

(On 446, for purposes of determining to what extent there exists a consensus, an advisory opinion is still valid. You know this well, having pointed to a lot of legal scholarship that is of course, non-binding in itself.)

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

You have the habit of changing the topic. I make specific arguments and then you transpose them into different arguments.

446 was, under UN law, not an advisory opinion. It was a recommendation and has no binding impact in law. Which is why opponents of Israeli settlements normally do not site to it.

joe said...

Okay, I didn't mean advisory opinion in some U.S. Supreme Court sense. But even then, it would still be synonymous with "recommendation and has no binding impact in law."

And such a recommendation is indeed a valid thing to look at when determining if there is consensus, because "consensus" is not in itself binding.

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

You confuse the political preferences of some foreign nations with their view of the law. And, even if we knew their legal views from their votes on a UN resolution - which is not the case -, not only is there the lack of a consensus shown but, frankly, the most important party necessary in world politics upon which to predicate any consensus did not vote for the resolution. It abstained. So, what you write makes no sense at all.

If you want to say that there is a body of opinion in the world which is strongly opposed to Israel settling land in the captured territories, I would agree. If you want to say that is the majority view of scholars knowledgeable enough to hold a view (and excluding ideologue advocates), I would not agree. We know that some of the best legal minds of the last 100 years disagree with your supposed consensus. In any event, to know such a thing, we would require some evidence, of which you have none. If you want to say that the majority of dedicated activists who live on the far left of the political spectrum think it illegal to settle land conquered in war, I would bet you are correct. But, that is a consensus among people who hold the same political view. And, such people include a very large number of illiberal people. In this regard, consider what these people think. See this. Note this from the article:

Less definitive—but still arguably revealing—evidence about Whitson’s politics can be found in her opinion of Norman Finkelstein, the activist and avowed Hezbollah supporter who has likened Israel to Nazi Germany. The two became acquainted years ago, and she brought him to HRW to discuss his 2005 book Beyond Chutzpah. (“He had a very mixed reception,” she remembers. “I think people did not find his style particularly persuasive.”) In late 2006, when Finkelstein launched a letter-writing campaign demanding that HRW officials apologize for a press release critical of Palestinian officials (which they eventually did), one HRW observer e-mailed Whitson to share thoughts on Finkelstein’s over-the-top rhetoric. Whitson replied: “I agree w/ u that norm undermines himself and his cause w/ the language he uses, and his anger sometimes gets the better of him and his brilliant mind and generous spirit. I continue to have tremendous respect and admiration for him, because as you probably know, making Israeli abuses the focus of one’s life work is a thankless but courageous task that may well end up leaving all of us quite bitter.”

Frankly, your consensus is a consensus of ideologues, not a consensus on the law.

joe said...

That some illiberal people might agree with a single judgment a liberal makes doesn't make it an illiberal judgment. Just like the liberal saying "the settlements have got to go" doesn't mean he agrees with the next person in line who says "not only that, but the entire state of Israel must be abolished!"

It's a shell game.

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

I understand a liberal to be a person who views the personal rights as more important than property rights. Thus, absent some compelling reason not to settle on a piece of land, no liberal should oppose anyone or any group migrating to land.

The view you purport to be liberal seems to define land as being "Palestinian" land, meaning land that only a Palestinian Arabs may own. I, frankly, do not see how you can view such a position as liberal. It is, after all, the view of the extreme reactionary right, which makes landed property rights control over the rights of individuals.

Which is to say, people who purport to be liberals may think it wrong for Jews to settle on what they call "Palestinian" land but, anyone with any understanding of that view knows that it is a traditional view of the extreme right wing, having its roots in feudal civilization, not liberal civilization.

joe said...

Say what now? Settlers of land by definition are asserting a property right, and it's not reactionary to examine conflicting property claims to see who has better title.

Now, maybe there is some individual ownership claim settlers can credibly make over certain parts of land (I'm not sure how successful an adverse possession claim they've got given that the settlements have happened over strenuous Palestinian objection). But the real question is what territorial boundary the land falls into. Do you really think the settlers would accept a final boundary that puts them in Palestine? Israel says "You're on your own, guys, move back if you miss being in the majority"? I think not, and that's what makes it a conscious land grab on the national level.

I would also note, since you brought the general topic up, that there is a lot of land in Israel that only Jews may own or lease. I don't have much problem with Israel seeking to let mostly Jews into the country, but unequal treatment of people who are already there is abhorrent. And this example is really a symptom of the wider problem. Neither side has a monopoly on racism, on religious bias, on violence, or even on disdaining the national aspirations of the other (consider, for example, claims that there is no such thing as the "Palestinian people"; consider that the current Israeli Prime Minister not too long ago opposed any kind of sovereign Palestinian state).

joe said...

After reading the above, you might argue that only the Palestinian side displays popular calls to genocide. But show me the bloggers and western political figures who say that genocide is just. I don't hear the torrent of support for that view.

But there are an awful lot of people who claim Israel has clean hands in this business. Or, as in your case, basically think we should shut up about instances where it doesn't because Israel can't afford dissent.

And among certain right-wing circles it is quite popular to disingenuously point to the vocal argument over Israel's bad acts as proof that the critics must be anti-Semites, because where are they on Hamas's bad acts? Well, since we don't find many of our peers singing praises to Hamas, there's no occasion for a "to scale" argument against that view.

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

You write: "Do you really think the settlers would accept a final boundary that puts them in Palestine?"

I heard this question asked of actual settlers. The answer was "Yes." I cannot say that all think that way but quite a number do.

You write: "there is a lot of land in Israel that only Jews may own or lease." That is not really true. There are restrictions on a very small portion of land purchased by the government under a restrictive covenant (to put it in US law terms) from the original owners but the restrictions are not, in fact, enforced. Moreover, there are programs where, in fact, Arabs have preference over Jews for land.

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

The issue with the Palestinian Arabs and the fact that the dominant party among Palestinian Arabs openly advocates genocide is not a minor issue to brush aside, as your discussion suggests. It is central to understanding the dispute. It is central to understanding the entirety of the Arab Muslim and greater Muslim regions.

Again, I urge you to read Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's new book, Worse Than War. Frankly, you should read it carefully because it will show your thinking to be, to be honest, laughable.

The Islamists, as Goldhagen shows with rather irrefutable evidence, are the most open advocates of genocide in modern history. And, as he shows, they have already put their money where their mouths are, so to speak, with the death toll from Islamist violence against non-Muslims exceeding 2 million people in openly genocidal attacks (e.g. in Southern Sudan and now in Darfur). The number of people displaced by Islamists is even more staggering. And, the number of Muslims killed by Islamists is in the millions as well. And, I am speaking about eliminationist killing, planned in advance and intended to eliminate the noted enemies of Islamists. And, it is central to the Islamist program to rid the world of Jews.

N. Friedman said...

Post to Joe continued:

The Hamas is not an ordinary group. It is an eliminationist party that is part of the wider Islamist movement and which aims and will, if it finds a way, commit genocide, as the group's avowed aim is to kill all of the world's Jews, as Goldhagen shows.

Your attempt to make this a tit for tat is, frankly, bizarre. The record of the Islamists is of a different matter of magnitude than anything coming from the Israelis. The Islamists are an eliminationst party that aims to kill, among others, all the world's Jews. That is something that owes its historic origins to the alliance between Islamists and Nazis before and during WWII. So says the research of, among others, Professor Jeffrey Herf and Matthias Küntzel. In addition, specific Muslim Palestinian Arab connections with the Nazis are not minor. They had substantial impact on Muslim Arab opinion among Palestinian Arab leaders and, as such, among large numbers of Palestinian Arabs - the very factions which we now call, by the way, Islamists.

As for the aims of the Islamists with the Nazis, read Halbmond und Hakenkreuz. Das Dritte Reich, die Araber und Palästina - in English, "Crescent Moon and Swastika: The Third Reich, the Arabs, and Palestine" - by Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers. You can read a short summary here.

What Mallmann and Martin Cüppers show is explained by Bernard-Henri Lévy in his book, Left in Dark Times:

First, that Arab anti-Semitism was not, as is always said, a circumstantial anti-Semitism, mainly linked to English support for the nascent Israeli state, which the Arabs therefore saw as a colonial creation: Germany, says the Grand Mufti in a statement the authors discovered, is "the only country in the world that has not merely fought the Jews at home but have declared war on the entirety of world Jewry; in this war against world Jewry, the Arabs feel profoundly connected to Germany"—one could hardly put it better! And second, that there was, stationed in Athens, under the orders of the Obersturmbannführer Walther Rauff the very same man who refined and then developed the use of gas trucks at Auschwitz, a special intervention force, the Einsatzgruppe Ägypten, intended to reach Palestine and liquidate the 500,000 European Jews who had already taken refuge in the Yishuv in the event Rommel won the battle of the desert: this was an Arab unit, and it was al- Husseini who, there again, in his conversations with Eichmann, had put the final touches on the intervention plan, which should indicate his full and entire participation in the Final Solution; and only Montgomery's victory at El Alamein stymied the project for extermination.

And, you need to read the research of Professor Jeffrey Herf regarding the insemination of Nazi Islamist propaganda into the Arab regions. See this article.

After reading this research by first rate scholars, then you can tell me I am wrong. Before that, I suggest that you are ill-informed.

David Schraub said...

See here, you two.

joe said...

Okay N., I don't know a lot about land purchase and if you say the functional effect on Arab Israelis is small, I'll believe you for purposes of this discussion. But it doesn't exactly speak highly of Israel when the Knesset actively approves of that kind of discrimination. (Though it good there's a court system to stand in the way of such moves.)

And restrictive covenants are a deplorable form of institutionalized discrimination. They're nothing necessary for nationalism. They aren't something that was just bad in US terms. They're inherently bad, and since you are so firm on the position that there needs to be a compelling reason to keep a particular person from living on a particular spot, I can't see how you wouldn't label them as illiberal. (For that matter, they're also terrible for future property owners who may find themselves straitjacketed by the dead hand of the past.)

joe said...

Sorry David, didn't get the update until after I hit post.