James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

Archive for January 2005

Matisyahu: The Hasidic Reggae Superstar in Iowa City

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So, I saw Matisyahu, The Hasidic Reggae Superstar, in Iowa City last night. I have to say that seeing a traditionally dressed Hasidic Jew busting out the rhymes reggae-style was quite a sight to see. Even so, he represents Jews and the Hasidic community well, demonstrating that a very religious Jew can integrate with secular society in ways one would not expect. With religious music set to pop, rock, rap or reggae, the fear is that the performer’s religious goals motivate the music more than his talent. This is not the case for Matisyahu. He is a skilled performer, who manages to weave his faith into his rhymes while keeping true to his musical talent. I had ordered his CD before I realized he was coming to town. I am glad I did. Usually I buy music with sounds I enjoy despite the lyrics. Matisyahu gives me music I can enjoy and lyrics I can celebrate.

I realize there is nothing explicitly libertarian about this post, but just observing the fact that a Hasidic Jew can perform quality reggae seems a bit libertarian to me. This is so because it demonstrates that innovation can be found in ways and places few would ever imagine.

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Written by JamesEJ

Monday, January 31, 2005 at 10:21 am

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Palestinians implement gun control too …

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Yahoo! News – Palestinian Authority Issues Weapons Ban: “The Palestinian leadership banned civilians on Thursday from carrying weapons.”

I can understand restricting members of militant groups, but ordinary civilians have real reason to fear violent crime in the territories.

Written by JamesEJ

Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 11:58 am

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BBC NEWS: Palestinians raze illegal shacks

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This article from the BBC would have been titled, ‘Israeli forces destroy Palestinian homes,’ if Israelis had done this. One thing to note, and look for in future articles regarding Israeli action, is that the article notes the buildings were constructed on government owned land. When Israelis conduct administrative demolitions, the articles typically note that Israel had not approved a building permit without noting who owns the underlying land. It makes me wonder how often Israeli action involves non-permitted structures on government, as opposed to private, land. Of course, if both Israeli and Palestinian officials think destroying these structures is good policy, it makes what may still be a human rights issue into a much smaller one.

Written by JamesEJ

Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 11:04 am

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Weapons Confiscation in the Territories

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This column from Arutz Sheva points out that even in Israel, where wepons are common, gun control is a threat: “Well, last Thursday, the civilian head of Hebron’s security apparatus, Yoni Bleichbard, who is employed by the Defense Ministry, received a phone call from an officer in the Hebron brigade. She notified Yoni that his weapon’s license, permitting him to carry an M-16 rifle, had been voided and that he was now classified as ‘weapons-negated’. ”

The columnist points out that no reason was given for the revocation of this person’s, or several other persons’, gun permits. Presumably, the guns are taken to avoid any conflict in a future withdrawal. Unfortunately, this also makes the Israelis involved, and given their roles in their communities, many other Israelis, less safe.

Written by JamesEJ

Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 10:38 am

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Markets do not lie.

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This Haaretz article points out research on market responses to targeted assassinations in Israel: “‘The difference between political leaders and military leaders and terrorists is extremely important to investors, who see the assassination of political leaders as destructive,’ the study’s authors write.”

And so it should be, although I wonder who qualifies as a terror leader and who qualifies as a political leader.

Written by JamesEJ

Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 5:56 pm

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Palestinians Fear East Jerusalem Land Grab

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The New York Times ran this article, ‘Palestinians Fear East Jerusalem Land Grab’, today, which notes in part, “In many cases the Palestinian landowners in the Bethlehem area live only a short distance from their Jerusalem property, and in some cases are right next to it.

“Johnny Atik lives in a house next to his eight acres of olive trees. His house is in Bethlehem, while the olive grove is on land that is part of Jerusalem, according to Israel. The Israeli separation barrier runs through Mr. Atik’s backyard, separating him from his olive trees, Mr. Seidemann said. In November the military sent a letter telling Mr. Atik that his grove now belonged to the Custodian of Absentee Properties in Israel, according to Mr. Seidemann.”

Adverse possession and government takings in genuine cases of abandonment should be acceptable to most people, including libertarians. But, if this example is representative, the government action here goes well beyond morally permissible conduct. May G-d help Daniel Seidemann, the Israeli lawyer representing many of the affected landowners.

That said, if Israel formally annexes East Jerusalem as a part of a final status Israel, so be it. People’s property rights should be protected, but given the history of rule of law in Israel and Palestine, an Israeli protector of property rights is probably more reliable than a Palestinian one.

Written by JamesEJ

Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 3:10 pm

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Israeli Socialism, Part II

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From Haaretz: “The Education Ministry policy that refuses to recognize undergraduate diplomas issued by U.S. universities that accept a year of yeshiva study in Israel as degree credits, is wrong and will be overturned by the end of the month, Deputy Education Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior said Monday.”

As noted below, this is probably a step in the right direction, but why should the government have so much power anyways?

Written by JamesEJ

Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 2:01 pm

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