Monday, September 7, 2009

Why Support Israel?

Another note derived from The Israel Test by George Gilder.

Although The Holocaust against the Jews is the most well known example of genocide, it is a tactical mistake for American Jews – the richest people on Earth – to try to trump the depredations that many, much poorer ethnic groups have suffered in the tale of woe that is the history of the world. The Holocaust is not a useful reason for supporting Israel.

The useful reason for supporting Israel is the same reason we, who live in free market economies, support 'middleman minorities' with our custom: 'Middleman minorities' generate wealth for the rest of society; Israel generates wealth for the rest of humanity. “In a dangerous world, faced with an array of perils, the Israel test asks whether the world can suppress envy and recognize its dependence on the outstanding performance of relatively few men and women.” We need Israel. That's a useful reason for supporting it.

It's really a subset of a larger question: Do we support a system (the free market) which allows unequal results but generates wealth for all, or do we allow envy to rule us and return to barbarism?

Why the Jews?

Some notes on The Israel Test by George Gilder. My copy finally arrived from Amazon...

Gilder rejects the idea that religion is the basis of discrimination against Jews [after all, it was the Romans who killed Jesus, not the Jews...]. Instead, he notes the similarly unpopular position of overseas Chinese in South-east Asia [we could add the example of Indians in Fiji] and compares it to that of the Jews in Europe. Although the overseas Chinese constitute just 5 percent of the population (in Indonesia, as an example), they control 70 percent of private domestic capital. They attract a lot of hostility from the remainder of the population. In fact, as Thomas Sowell says "Although the overseas Chinese have long been known as the 'Jews of South-east Asia', perhaps Jews might more aptly be called the overseas Chinese of Europe."

This resentment of wealthy 'middleman minorities' is founded on zero-sum economics; someone's gain is necessarily someone else's loss; the merchant's wealth has been bled from the general population. Yet the free market is absolutely founded on the reality of positive sum economics: If a trade does not benefit both parties it typically won't occur; the classic 'win-win situation' literally happens every minute of the trading day. Thus, the obvious wealth of the 'middleman minorities' is only the 'tip of the iceberg' of the total wealth they bring to the whole of society, through their industry. In free market economies 'middleman minorities' generate wealth for the society they live in. In this way anti-Semitism whithers in free market (positive-sum economics) countries and, conversely, it grows in socialist (zero-sum economics) countries.

In free market countries it is only in outposts of zero-sum economics, such as academia, where anti-Semitism flourishes; where one man's government research grant is another's year of having to keep teaching full time. And the man with the grant is quite likely a Neumann or a Goldstein.