Note to Israel (and the U.S.) From an Anguished Jewish American: Decentralize

Posted: April 21st, 2010 by Militant Libertarian

by Scott Lazarowitz, LWR

The issues that cause me anguish have been the continuing conflicts between Israeli Jews and Arabs, the threats of Israel or the U.S. initiating a preemptive strike on Iran or Iran attacking Israel, and the Israeli government’s controversial building of new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem. It is difficult to find objective sources of information on the Arab-Israeli conflicts and the territories, which have been homelands to Jews and Arabs for centuries. Further, accusations of anti-Semitism or of being a “threat to security” have been thrown at anyone who criticizes Israel or exposes corrupt Israeli officials, but I, an anguished Jewish American, attempt to analyze these issues objectively from afar.

In addition to the U.S. government’s expansionist policies abroad, the Israeli State’s ownership of lands and its compulsory and monopolistic control over peoples’ lives has been contributing to the Middle-East’s woes for many years. People become corrupt when they are given the power of State, the power of compulsion over others and a monopoly over territorial protection. The current conflicts occur because territories are governed by the compulsory State apparatus of the Israeli government, although the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are also compulsory territorial monopolists. The idea of an entire nation to be known as a “Jewish State” has been a drawback as well, along with dependence on the State’s central planners as “protectors” of the Jewish people. Centralized governments do nothing but intrude into the lives of populations and provoke hostility. The way to peace for Israel is through decentralization.

Some people fear that the East Jerusalem construction projects will harm the neighborhood’s Arab population and further harm relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But who is the government, or the State, to be building homes for people, or decide which people can live in which neighborhoods? If the property in East Jerusalem were privatized, it would then be the owner(s) of the property who would decide what gets built and who lives there.

Private ownership of local property in each specific area gives the people who live there control over their neighborhoods, and control over their own lives, and thus would make them more likely to take responsibility for their lives and less likely to act aggressively against neighboring territories. For example, if the Israeli government didn’t interfere with the Gazans’ and others’ right to use their own natural resources, the Gazans could use the resources to support their daily living, or for exporting as a means of income.

A question that is perhaps taboo is whether there should even be a “Jewish State.” Or an “Islamic State,” or a “Christian State” or any territory devoted to people based on a religion. Some have argued that the Jewish people needed a homeland to protect them from persecution. During the mid-20th Century, because of U.S. state-imposed immigration quotas (and other reasons), many Jews were prevented from entering the United States, and many fled to Israel as a “Jewish homeland.” American “immigration quotas” were state-imposed policies which violated the rights of Americans to freedom of association and contract, the right of families and property owners to accept Jewish immigrants without the State’s intrusions. Instead, a state-imposed “forced integration” brought many European Jews to Israel in the 1930s and ‘40s, eventually turning what had been an Arab majority into a Jewish majority in Israel.

What many people don’t realize is that persecutions have mainly been committed by States, or by people acting as agents of State. Throughout the later 19th Century and 20th Century, Jews had been fleeing Poland, Russia and Germany because of the “Pogroms” of the Russian Empire and from the German- and Nazi-initiated Holocaust.

More recently, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s forcing Israelis out of Gaza and parts of the West Bank in 2005, the “Disengagement Plan,” disrupted the lives of everyone in that territory, Jews and Arabs. It was no different from an “Apartheid Plan.” The state has no such moral authority, and has no moral claim on any land, just as it has no moral authority over any one individual’s life, and the State has no more right or moral authority to engage in “occupation” of certain territories than do private individuals have to trespass on others’ lands. But we should not blame the actions of the Israeli government on the Israeli people, who are not responsible for the actions of their government just as the Palestinian people are not responsible for the violent actions of Hamas.

My Grandma Sylvia was lucky enough to leave Warsaw, Poland in 1912 at age 6 with her family, settling in a very welcoming and much freer New York City. Unfortunately, New York City is no longer that welcoming nor free, as the politicians’ taxaholism and regulatory nightmares have driven many people and businesses out of the city. Mayor Bloomberg reflects the mentality of politicians here and abroad for whom short-term fixes of confiscatory taxation and centralized bureaucratic and police control of the population is the way to solve problems. Centralized government is the real problem in New York, which needs to decentralize into separate, independent cities of Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, etc. Likewise, Israel’s centralized government has defeated the purpose of allowing Jews to have a “safe haven,” as the government’s oppressive policies not only restrict Israelis’ freedom of commerce, freedom of the press, freedom of movement and the right not to be forced to serve the state, but have also provoked Arab discontent and violence against the Israelis.

Rather than having a “Jewish State,” how about having a “free state,” or better, a “free country” of Israel (and the United States)? Follow Switzerland’s example, where much of the “public’s business” is handled at the local (as opposed to federal) level. Hans-Hermann Hoppe has written about the idea of decentralization of nation-states into many independent free cities, particularly in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, and his many articles at and The Mises Institute. In The Rise and Fall of the City, Hoppe goes even further than promoting the independence of individual cities, but individual households as well:

Households must be declared extraterritorial territory, like foreign embassies. Free association and spatial exclusion must be recognized as not bad but good things that facilitate peaceful cooperation between different ethnic and racial groups.

Such a change of decentralization, in addition to privatization and capitalization, is exactly what Israel needs, setting an example for the people of Iran, Iraq, and other countries (and the U.S.) to follow.

Decentralization also reduces the possibility that Israel could initiate a war with Iran. I am also anguished by the Big Government neoconservatives, whose suggestions of bombing Iran have been based on false propaganda. Short-term, present-oriented thinking is a common trait of the American neoconservatives, who have been supporting the U.S. government’s expansion into foreign lands to force transitions from theocracy to democracy among the Islamic states as though that will in some way protect Israel, despite many years of history to the contrary.

Unfortunately, the neoconservatives have a blind religious faith in the power and effectiveness of the State. In clinging to military industrial complex socialism and bureaucracy, the neocons support the U.S. government’s interventions and foreign entanglements with other governments, vicariously playing the role of “do-gooders” in a cops-and-robbers fantasy world in the name of protecting the U.S. and Israel. It is just as immoral to seize private wealth from American Muslims, Christians and Atheists for redistribution to Israel as it is immoral to seize private wealth from American Jews for redistribution to Muslim states such as Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan.

Like the left, the neocons have redefined “patriotism” as meaning not love of one’s country but love of the State, and that is also the prevailing attitude in mainstream Israel. It just seems that the neocons have an inability to engage in actual long-range planning that takes into account possible future consequences of the policies they support, and prefer to identify with that power of armed officialdom, force and monopoly. If one recognizes the neocons’ love of State for what it is, then one can see that they certainly seem to have more support for the Israeli government than for the Israeli people.

Just as the American Anti-Federalists have been the winners of the ideological and practical debate for over 200 years, if there ever were Anti-Federalists in Israel, they’d be right, too. Given that the main causes of civil strife have been centralized States, the real path to peace in Israel and the Middle-East (and the U.S.) is through privatization and decentralization.


Comments (2)


  1. mA says:

    Yeah, decentralization is a good idea to be apply in those ares where conflicts are prevalent. But it must be noted that such idea can only be effective if the people are open for such theory in order to solve the issue at hand. If however, they are not ready as an independent free cities, the more conflicts will emerge.

  2. The conflict between Israeli Jews and Arabs and the possibility of Iran attacking Israel have caused me anguish as well. It seems there is no end to this conflict and a solution cannot be found. But we can try out solutions and having a “free state” of Israel might be a good idea.

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