Thursday, May 28, 2009

DEBATE AT LOLITA BAR: Is Zionism Racism?


No, Lolita Bar isn’t becoming the U.N. for a night (that’s up in the East 40s, we’re on the Lower East Side), but next week we are broaching one of the most controversial geopolitical questions, “Is Zionism Racism?”:

Wednesday, June 3 (8pm):

Blogger at SaifHouse Saif Ammous argues yes.

Blogger at Commentary Abe Greenwald argues no.

Hosted by Todd Seavey and moderated by Michel Evanchik.

Free admission, cash bar.  Basement level of Lolita Bar at 266 Broome St. at the corner of Allen St. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one block south and three west of the Delancey St. F, J, M, Z subway stop.

The debate should be made extra-interesting by the participation of Saif and Abe (who, in addition to having debated other topics at Lolita, also used to attend the Manhattan Project social gatherings I host, noted in my right margin).  They are not mere left-vs.-right stereotypes.  Abe’s got too decent a sense of humor for that, and Palestinian-American blogger Saif is a libertarian not so unlike myself — though my vague moderate-conservative impulse has always been to lean Israel-ward on this issue.  Saif notes, though, that one of the most influential libertarians of all, Murray Rothbard, took the anti-Israel position, as he explained in this essay.  (Despite being called a Rothbardian a couple times, I don’t always agree with him, though — and I’ll stay neutral during the debate.)

Meanwhile, in keeping with this blog’s “Month of the Nerd II” theme, I must note that Saif’s pal Richard Spencer (who’ll be one of our July debaters on a different topic, as it happens) compares Star Trek’s Vulcans to the Jews in a new article for TakiMag, of which he’s managing editor.  (I wrote an article contrasting Star Trek’s U.N.-like streak with Star Wars’s more rebellious tone myself in Liberty back in the mid-90s, suggesting as a nice compromise the show Babylon 5 — about a space station that was called humanity’s “last, best hope” in the show’s opening narration.)

Richard might have added that there is an interesting (whether planned or not) generational divide between the self-descriptions of old-Spock and young-Spock in the new Trek movie.  When the Vulcans appear doomed, Nimoy says: I have been a witness to genocide.  Zachary Quinto, playing the young Spock, says: I am a member of an endangered species.  I imagine some folks at our last debate, on animal welfare, would find the latter more alarming, though I think most of us were more moved by Nimoy’s line.

In any case, we will resolve all outstanding conflicts related to these matters to everyone’s satisfaction, bringing about en era of unending peace, next Wednesday, so you have to be there.


alina said...

Wish I could be there…

Jacob T. Levy said...

That Rothbard once took a policy position fails to even be an argument from authority that libertarians should take that position… as he changed his mind about a great many applied, foreign-policy, coalition-building, and other second-best questions over the course of his intellectual life. Even someone who embraced his (consistent) philosophical core beliefs could not embrace all of his real-world as-applied beliefs simultaneously.

Todd Seavey said...

Agreed. Just valuable to see “one who thinks like myself” adopting a position one might not have been instinctively drawn to.

(The whole post-9/11 period has been like that for a lot of libertarians, I hope, since many of us thought we agreed on virtually _everything_ back in the 90s when no one was paying much attention to foreign policy, and suddenly we realized we had radical hawks and radical doves and other curious creatures among us.)

saifedean said...


The interesting thing about the Rothbard piece is not any “argument from authority” nonsense. It is the actual content of the piece. Read it instead of knocking down strawmen.

John David Galt said...

Those are three good, thoughtful pieces.

I won’t argue for either side here — but will note that the Israel/Palestine situation is a good counter-example to the leftist view that democracy and elected governments are the best way to ensure peace and stable government in any country. This turns out to be true only when the majority of voters actually WANT peace. Both the Knesset and the PA parliament have been dominated by pro-war factions for decades — indeed, both of them dissolved in votes of no confidence rather than ratify the quite balanced Oslo accord in 1993.

I don’t believe permanent peace will ever come to Israel/Palestine until one of the following happens.

(1) One of them (probably Israel) exterminates its opponents to the last man.

(2) Some strong outside country conquers both of them and imposes its rule with an iron hand. (And today, I don’t think even the US is strong enough to do this if it tried.)

I *do* believe that there will soon be a nuclear war in the region. If I lived there, no matter what my religion/race, I would move far away. Now.

Todd Seavey said...

[...] She also sort of enjoys seeing tribes duke it out and thus if she weren’t in DC right now might enjoy tonight’s Debate at Lolita Bar about Zionism and its implications for the Palestinians.  Be there.  It wasn’t easy setting up an Israelis/Palestinians debate, by the way — my original wording, “Should Israel Give Up Land?” was rejected by the originally-planned pro-Israel debater as too pro-Palestinian and rejected by the pro-Palestinian debater as too pro-Israel.  I try. [...]

Todd Seavey said...

[...] (Perhaps all that can be a side discussion during tomorrow’s Zionism-themed Debate at Lolita Bar — which is not why the establishment is called that, by the way. It’s from the “Nolita”/“Lolita” geographic distinction on the Lower East Side near Little Italy. Of course, if we ever do some sort of cross-promotion with the nearby Lolita Bra shop, people will have more reasonable grounds to criticize.) [...]

Kejda Gjermani » The Other “Other McCain” said...

[...] Leaving aside the misogynistic presumption that it must have been my husband who fed me “misinformation” or “involved” me in anything, I must correct Stacey’s allegation that it was at a libertarian event or “Paulista gathering” that my husband and I met Richard Spencer. For someone so ostensibly committed to not jumping to conclusions without knowing “the facts,” Stacey is sure making up stuff out of thin air. For the record, we met Spencer at a debate titled “Is Zionism Racism?” There was a show of hands, and guess which way Richard Spencer voted? To this day, I remain wholly confused as to what his vote revealed about his attitude to Israel, because he seems to consider racism a positive. [...]