Toward the end of her WorldNetDaily article, “Libertarians Who Loathe Israel,” Ilana Mercer inserts, strangely, “I understand that libertarians like Sheldon Richman (and the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review) believe, mistakenly, that all ‘the land’ belongs to the Arabs.” After making this hit-and-run charge, she blithely moves on to other matters. As readers might suspect, there are serious problems with this sentence.
By writing “I understand …” Mercer was declaring that she had not confirmed what she was about to say. In the first version of her article, no citation or link to anything I wrote or said was provided. This self-proclaimed advocate of reason expected readers to take her on faith. (A real champion of reason would know that readers care more for hard facts than a writer’s vague “understandings.”)
Now Mercer has belatedly added a link to one of my articles. But it does not confirm what she alleges. The article states, “After all, Jews and Arabs lived together in Palestine for many years before the 20th century. As my orthodox grandfather taught me, the relationship between the two communities deteriorated when Judaism was transformed (by secular Jews) into a political movement whose program included encroachment on innocent Arabs in the quest for Greater Israel. (It may come as a surprise, but the harshest critics of Zionism were Reform and Orthodox Jews.) It was the first president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Judah Magnes, who said, ‘The slogan ‘Jewish state or commonwealth’ is equivalent, in effect, to a declaration of war by the Jews on the Arabs.’ In candid moments, Israeli military leaders acknowledged that the land belonged to Arabs.”
The reader can judge for himself whether I believe that all the land belongs to the Arabs.
More seriously, placing me in the company of “the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review” can only have been intended to imply that I am a Holocaust-denier. Re-read her sentence and the title of her article. Since the people at IHR are not known to be libertarians, there was no other purpose in mentioning the organization.
In other words, Mercer has smeared me. Since I am a Jew, she was denied the opportunity to accuse me of anti-Semitism and so had to settle for hinting that I deny that millions of Jews were slaughtered by Hitler and the Nazis. As one who lost family in the Shoah, I find this more than a little ironic.
To put it mildly, Mercer has shown a reckless disregard for the truth.
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at the Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va., author of “Ancient History: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East since World War II and the Folly of Intervention” and editor of Ideas on Liberty magazine.