The Hypocrisy of the Anti-Zionist Left: Relations With Neturei Karta

If you are a friend of Israel online, chances are that an opponent has at some time has given you a link to the little anti-Zionist Haredi sect known as Neturei Karta. That person, who generally knows nothing about Judaism, might then lecture you that Zionism is an affront to Judaism. If you observe anti-Israel demonstrations in London, no doubt you will see a handful of this bunch put on prominent display. Our old friend David Norris even gave them a positive mention in the Irish Senate.

In recent days you will probably have encountered anti-Israel activists express horror over extremism in Israel, pointing to the group of Neanderthals harassing girls of elementary school age in Beit Shemesh. You have no doubt been warned about the route Israel is supposedly going down. You have no doubt been told that Israel is just as bad as Iran or Afghanistan.

What you wont be told is that the Haredim engaged in these atrocities are an anti-Zionist grouping known as the Sikrikim, affiliated with Neturei Karta and composed mainly of anti-Zionist Hasidic fanatics. You wont be told that this group vandalizes religious Jewish bookstores that sell what they consider to be Zionist material, and consider licking ice-cream cones an affront to Judaism. You wont be told that they even beat up other Haredi Jews who enter their ‘turf’ in Mea Shearim.

Similarly, you wont be told that Neturei Karta claimed the Hasidic Jewish couple and their guests murdered in the infamous Mumbai attacks deserved it, or that these Neturei Karta people sound awfully like a Jewish equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church. You can see for yourself videos of anti-Zionist Sikrikim calling eight-year old girls ‘whores’ and ‘abominations’. Despite the fact that other Orthodox Jews, from the Haredi or Religious Zionist camps, are often victims of Sikrikim behavior, judging by the internet forms they will be linked to it because some people outside Israel are unable to distinguish fanatical anti-Zionist Haredim from the average observant Jew.

You wont be told all this because the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Socialist Workers Party and Anti-War Movement want to continue to march with Neturei Karta. You wouldn’t want the supposedly progressive anti-Zionist left to feel a bit awkward or hypocritical marching with people less sophisticated than most Jews were in Medieval times. No doubt that George Galloway will continue to speak at conferences with Neturei Karta and give them a warm reception on his radio shows.

P.S. The Neturei Karta website is particularly bizarre, recycling many anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic canards. They assert such gems as a supposed offer by Hitler to let all the Jews of Europe leave through Spain, provided they did not go to the British Mandate of Palestine. Those notorious softies in the Nazi Party apparently backed down because Ben Gurion opposed it. It should come as no surprise what the people who believe this stuff, David Norris’s favorite Jews, are capable of doing, even to their fellow Jews.


The Randian Supermen

An old acquaintance has said that my remarks on Michael O’ Leary were ludicrously fawning, constituting ‘Randian worship’ of ‘übermenschen’ – the kind that states some people just don’t count. He knew me in my Objectivist period and we haven’t met much since. It was on a kibbutz trying to find myself when I first read Atlas Shrugged, and as a result I was one of those insufferable admirers constantly quoting Rand for about a year and a half afterward.

Yes, I do believe Michael O’ Leary is the greatest Irishman since the country’s independence. He has done more for the average Irish person (and indeed, people all over Europe) than any politician. Daniel O’ Connell is the only political figure I can think of who managed to lift the masses and bring them more liberty in a greater way than O’ Leary. O’ Leary and Steve Jobs could be Randian supermen.

Yet to read Atlas Shrugged now, as I have done, is a little cringe-worthy. The last few years have shown how timeless the observations made by by Adam Smith are, when way back in 1776 he wrote that “people of the same trade seldom meet together… but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public”, and some contrivance to raise prices and provide them with a monopoly through state coercion. The Irish people saw in the fall of 2008 a great government-banker conspiracy against the public, just like the conspiracy at Jekyll Island in 1913.

To be fair, some of the villains in Atlas Shrugged are businessmen of the Anglo-Irish director and bondholder variety. Overall, though, Rand portrays the captains of industry as superman; intellectual and even moral giants who are the key to productivity in a capitalist system. This is far too rosy-eyed a view, and its  a mistake for libertarians to to use this kind of thing for outreach. High-minded some entrepreneurs can be, but ultimately entrepreneurship is the ability to forecast the economic future and allocate resources to meet consumer demand. A genius for making money, the desire for which is always what drives the entrepreneur, need not be fawned over as a sign of intellectual purity, as Rand bizarrely claims. The self-interested businessman will try to use the political system to crush competition, just as much as an ‘altruistic’ businessman who genuinely believes its in the public interest. Galt’s Gulch is an interesting idea, but the comparisons to businessmen fleeing to Singapore or Hong Kong some pundits have been making is not really the same thing. The captains of industry will simply never get up and leave in ideological protest, as they are in it for the money.

Sound Misesian Gary North writes:

The greatest discontinuity that we face today is the discontinuity imposed by a government-licensed central banking cartel that has lured entrepreneurs into high-risk projects. How? With false signals: low interest rates produced by fiat money rather than thrift. The threat is not that Atlas will ever shrug. It is that he will lift the earth too high, stagger, and then drop it without warning. His looming problem is not shrugging. His looming problem is a hernia, followed by a slipped disc.

As we progress towards each new year, Smith’s writings on entrepreneurs, as well as the observations on their behaviour in a fiat money system made by Mises and Hayek, will be ever more timeless. Rand’s will probably generate more chuckles.

What Next For Korea?

Scene from the North Korean Famine, mid-nineties

The history of Korea doesn’t begin with the Cold War. Its a fascinating part of the world and one I like to keep a close eye on. Korea was a monarchy from at least the 11th Century BCE, until the Japanese assassination of the Korean queen in 1910 and the subsequent Japanese occupation. This was a humiliating period in Korean history. Koreans are proud of their country’s historic resistance to foreign occupation and colonialism. It was the first country to use metal warships, and Christianity was fiercely suppressed immediately upon its arrival on the Peninsula’s shores. To this day, Koreans North and South have a special loathing for the Japanese. Japan-bashing is often used to score political points in the South, and its instrumental in state propaganda in the North.

That said, the old Korean royal family are deeply unpopular. The Yi Dynasty ruled Korea for five centuries, but the weakness and infighting in the monarchy is blamed for the Japanese walkover prior to World War I. Unlike Laos, which like North Korea is one of the last outposts of Communism, the overthrown royals have no great support among the people and offer no hope for the future (I happen to be quite passionate about the restoration of the Laotian Monarchy, but that’s for another post). In fact, Yi Seok, the man who would be heir to the Korean throne, made his living as a lounge singer, heavily influenced by Andy Williams and Pat Boone. He spent much of his working life destitute and living in the back of a van, until a few years ago when the Seoul municipal government granted him a house. Today, he gives tours of the former royal residences and happens to be an endearing fellow.

North Korea is the place we are supposed to be seriously worried about when it comes to nukes and WMDs. I am somewhat skeptical about that threat. The North Korean army may be the second largest in the world, but its arsenal is obsolete and the regime probably couldn’t even muster enough fuel for their Soviet era jets in an actual war. I’ve long said nuclear war is far more likely to erupt over the disputed, often overlooked region of Kasmir, where violent clashes are more common than at the famous 38th parallel. The United States has made some lumbering progress towards getting Kim Jong-Il to drop his nuclear weapons program, beginning in the era of Albright and Clinton. However, the process has always seemed to follow a particular pattern: North Korea huffs and puffs and occasionally explodes something, and America steps in with some much-needed cash and supplies to placate them. Then it starts all over again. North Korea has promised to freeze, but not dismantle its nuclear program. As they would, considering the foreign bribes constitute a lifeline. Interestingly, during the 1990s, Donald Rumsfeld was the director of the European engineering company ABB that won the contract to provide light water technology to North Korea. In 2003, he was US Defense Secretary when Bush made his famous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, which so angered the North it caused a battle in the Yellow Sea. Almost 30,000 American troops are still in the line of fire by the border, however, with many more stationed in Guam and Japan ready to pay a visit at a moments notice. Considering North Korean forces are little match for their southern neighbour alone, the regime of the Kims will never launch a nuke unless they are actually invaded, which is unlikely.

Most South Koreans I know strongly desire reunification, though were the Northern regime to collapse tomorrow its hard to see how South Korea could cope with millions of starving refugees and the prospect of bringing such a devastated  country up to speed. Japan and China similarly fear a human flood, as well as the rival a united Korean Peninsula might be. Lets not forget this is a very, very strategic location. The last thing the Chinese want is a united Korea in bed with the United States, with American bases right by the Chinese-Korean border and the highly important industrial region of Manchuria.

The most likely prospect in my opinion is one of Kim Jong-Il’s descendants gradually freeing the economy from state control, stopping the bluster and threats, and developing closer ties with its neighbors and the United States. Kim Jong-Il was the fiercest opponent of capitalism on the world stage. He repeatedly promised to destroy the private markets most North Korean relied on to live. These markets were grudgingly overlooked by the authorities, until a series of fanatical crackdowns and currency reform in 2009 that effectively killed them. This launched a wave of hardship the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1990s famine that killed an estimated two million people. Kim’s four sons have had western educations and traveled widely. Our dear departed elder Kim was a notorious recluse, who wrote about cinema, opera and socialism while rarely leaving his palace. Kim Jong-Nam, his eldest son, was seen as the likely successor until he was arrested trying to visit Disneyland Tokyo on a false passport in 2001. Kim Jong-Chul, the youngest, was the next favorite. A serious effort was made to glorify his mother, a dancer named Ko, who until that point had her existence kept secret. I don’t Know much about the new Kim, Jong-Un, except that he went to a Swiss boarding school and bears the closest resemblance to his father. Like his father, he is said to be a ‘heavy drinker’ who ‘never admits defeat’. Not good signs, I fear.

Michael O’ Leary On The EU, Innovation, and Why They Don’t Mix

I simply had to post this video. Michael O’ Leary is one of my heroes. He  brought the jet-setting lifestyle to the common man, making weekend trips to Prague to available to plumbers, waitresses and students. He helped change the image of the Irish nation for the better in the Celtic Tiger years and beyond. With people like him and Tony O’Reilly becoming the face of Ireland on Bloomberg, NBC and CNN, it became harder to think of the Irish as drunk men good for little but menial labor, with their battered wives at home popping out babies to add to the Pope’s never-ending legion of drones. That is why so many people hate him. I can’t recall any positive coverage of Ryanair or O’ Leary on the BBC. Yet its the likes of O’ Leary who will always make our lives better and get us out of economic malaise, not the politicians.

Marxists used to think that under a capitalist system the working classes would get progressively worse off and eventually revolt. Due to entrepreneurs like O’ Leary, they had to change their tactics. Instead, they claim free-markets hurt Third World countries (countries of course, that are nearly all socialistic) and the environment. I digress. Watch the video. O’ Leary pulls no punches.

Kim is Dead

Now I worry that his more westernized sons, with their European boarding school educations and ill-fated trips to Disneyland Tokyo, might mess up all that lovely equality that exists in the Hermit Kingdom.

Look at that all that equality