Power & Market

From Mad (Social) Scientist to Mad Zionist


“First of all, don’t target civilians.”

~Murray Rothbard’s first principle of just war in his essay, “Just War”

Like Hans Hoppe I have been a friend of Walter Block’s for decades. I co-authored a book and an article with him, sponsored a guest lecture by him at my university; lectured twice at his invitation at Loyola University New Orleans; wrote dozens of online articles in his defense when he was libeled by the administrators of Loyola University Maryland for giving a world-class (but non-woke) lecture on the economics of discrimination; and wrote in his defense against the New York Times smear of him.

Walter has published hundreds of articles but he is probably best known to the general public for his book, Defending the Undefendable, and many related writings and speeches. He is indeed very libertarian when it comes to such topics as the legalization of drugs and prostitution, ride sharing, privatization of government-run soccer fields and swimming pools, rent control, and myriad other mundane topics. He used to be very libertarian on the issue of war as well, emailing a number of us at the outset of the Iraq War that “this will separate the men from the boys,” with the “boys” being faux libertarians who would support the bombing, invasion, and occupation of Iraq. 

But in the past eight months Walter Block has abandoned the principles of libertarianism with regard to war with his full-throated support of the war crimes committed by the Israeli government by intentionally targeting and killing tens of thousand of civilians, including women, children, and babies in Gaza. (A real American libertarian would argue that Israel’s war, and Ukraine’s war with Russia, are none of our business, period).

Walter Block is what Ryan McMaken has called a “microlibertarian.” He sounds libertarian when it comes to legalizing drugs and prostitution, but on the big, paramount issue of war he has become an outspoken advocate of war crimes committed by the Israeli government. 

Walter Block has always been “pro-Israel” and no one at the Mises Institute, named after the son of a Jewish Rabbi and co-founded by Murry Rothard, a New York Jew, ever gave it a second thought. He is no longer an unpaid senior fellow at the Mises Institute not because he is “pro-Israel,” as some uninformed or dishonest commentators have asserted. It is because the Mises Institute cannot be associated with such a well-known, prolific, public advocate of the intentional targeting and killing of Palestinian women, children, and babies. 

Israel has every right to defend itself against future barbaric attacks by the gang of murderous thugs known as Hamas-- and anyone else -- but that’s an entirely different matter than having a “right” to commence a campaign of genocide against the civilian population of Gaza, as has been occurring in recent months -- accompanied by the almost apoplectically enthusiastic support of Walter Block.

Walter “justifies” the mass killing of civilians by invoking a theory of collective punishment, something that was outlawed by the Fourth Geneva Convention. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he and a coauthor lectured us that “The West” must support “an overwhelming, unprecedented use of military force” and that “Hamas is and will be responsible for any civilian casualties.” It’s not the bombs supplied by the U.S. government to Israel and dropped on civilian-populated areas that are responsible for civilian deaths, they write, but Hamas. Israel must do “whatever it takes,” to defeat Hamas, and their subsequent writings prove beyond all doubt that that includes the war crime of targeting and killing civilians. 

The West, they say, has a “moral duty” to “support Israel” in its effort to “do whatever it must to finish this war in the fastest way possible, with minimum civilian and military casualties on its side” (emphasis added). That is, minimum Israeli civilian casualties, but to hell with worrying about Palestinian civilian casualties. This is moral? 

Walter has written several belligerent articles on an Israeli Web site called Israel Hayom. One is entitled “Open Letter to the “Children of Gaza” in which he conflates the Hamas murderers with ALL parents in Gaza. “Your parents,” he writes, “launched a despicable, unwarranted . . . attack on October 7” where “Many Israeli children were mangled, just as you now are; many more have been slaughtered, the fate of all too many of you Gazan children.” In saying this he sheds an ocean of crocodile tears. 

Of course, it is complete nonsense and a lie to say that ALL parents in Gaza participated in the murderous attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. It is heartless and cruel and sociopathic to tell these children that it is not Israeli/American bombs that are maiming and killing them but their own parents. In a “moral, just society” writes Walter Block, our new self-appointed pope of morality and justice, “you would be taken away from your evil mothers and fathers.” Yes, and placed under the tender loving care of the IDF and the Mossad in a concentration camp built just for you.

In the same article Walter attaches two cartoons for the Gazan childrens’ enjoyment. One is of a “Hamas fighter” holding a baby in front of him as a shield. “[T]his eloquently depicts how adult Gazans treat their children: they do not safeguard you, they endanger you,” he writes. Note that Walter claims again that ALL Gazan parents behave like this, not just “Hamas fighters.” “Israeli parents love their children, he says, “even if the same cannot be said of your mothers and fathers.” How despicable to address such comments to children.

In a clear, full-throated endorsement of the “just and moral” killing of Gazan children by the Israeli government, Walter then writes that “Your injuries and deaths are what is called collateral damage. This is vey regrettable, but is the only way Israel can defend itself” and is therefore justified in the mind of Walter Block. Walter Block is therefore an enabler of the worst kind of war crimes: the intentional killing of children.

In the tradition of the great American Jewish comedians Walter concludes his correspondence with Gazan children with two real knee slappers. He tells them that Israel only wants what’s best for the people of Gaza. “Their fondest wish was to have Gaza become the Hong Kong of the Middle East.” And then he ends with the hoary Holocaust-ish line, “Never again,” as though it is Israel and not Palestine that is being subjected to an attempted genocide. Good one Walter!

Walter Block puts the lie to his own claim of all Gazan parents being terrorists when he writes elsewhere of how Hamas (created by Israel, by the way, as a counter to Al Qaeda) launches rocket attacks on Israel from the vicinity of schools. In doing so he inadvertently admits that it is Hamas that endangers Palestinian children, not all of their own parents. 

It now appears, by the way, that there is only proof of one Israeli child being killed on October 7 -- in a crossfire -- during the bloody Hamas attack on Israel. No proof has emerged of the bizarre and sensational stories of the beheading of Israeli children and baking them in ovens as claimed by the Israeli and U.S. governments. 

As of this writing there were only two comments on Walter’s article in the comments section of the Web site. One was praiseworthy and probably the work of an Israeli government hack or F.O.W. (friend of Walter’s) but the other one said: “You should rot in a Hague jail cell for this.” Are you beginning to see why Walter is no longer an unpaid senior fellow of the Mises Institute?

Walter’s fangs really come out in another Israel Hayom column entitled “No More Pauses.” This time he criticizes the Israeli government for agreeing to a humanitarian pause in all the bombing and killing. He praises the actions of the U.S. military in World War II in not pausing but firebombing civilian-populated Dresden, Germany, having “Dresdened them into smithereens,” suggesting that that is what the Israeli government should to in Gaza. He concludes with the dogmatic demand of: “No more pauses. No more food. No more medicine. No more electricity. No more water.” And much more death in the civilian population, especially infants and the elderly, apparently the fondest wish of our new self-appointed pope of morality and justice. 

In yet another Israel Hayom article entitled “Backstabbing Israel” Walter is concerned with a different type of pause. This time he complains bitterly about the Biden administration’s pause in sending more bombs to Israel to be dropped on the Gazan population, calling it “treachery.” He therefore is fully in favor of using the U.S. government’s powers of legalized theft (aka taxation) to pay for more bombs for Israel. Whatever it takes, freedom and libertarianism be damned. This alone should disqualify him as a libertarian no matter how many microlibertarian articles or blogs about the old days of libertarian meetings he posts on the internet in the future. 

As of this writing there are news reports that as many as a million people were made homeless by the Israeli bombing of Rafah in southern Gaza. Thousands more civilians were bound to have been killed as well. There are now a million additional homeless refugees wandering around in search of food and shelter. 

Before the invasion of Rafah Walter Block was in a dither over the delay in the attack, and vented his frustrations in an Israel Hayom article entitled “Invade Rafah Now!” He expressed his elation, however, that “The heroic Prime Minister Netanyahu” had set a date for the invasion, declaring that “If this is not courageous, nothing is courageous.” Heil Netanyahu!

Walter complained about the delay in the bombing of Rafah by once again blaming the Biden administration that had brought up the possibility of massive civilian deaths. He admits that “An all-out invasion would spell the death of many” of the 1.5 million civilians in Rafah but then nonchalantly moves on from that by once again condemning the Biden administration by saying “with friends like these who needs enemies?” To Walter Block, those Americans who are opposed to the additional killing of civilians in Rafah are “enemies.”

Many – probably many thousands – of civilians were in fact killed in Rafah and, as mentioned above, a million refugees were created. Not to worry about that, however, for Walter Block has a solution! “[T]his country has recently come by some 40,000 tents, which hold a dozen or so people each. They can in this way house more than half a million people in refuge camps in the Negev Desert.” The other half a million can presumably sleep in the open desert. One wonders how long 83-year-old Walter Block would last in a tent with eleven other people in the Negev Desert in the middle of summer. 

The first comment in the comment section of this article was obviously from a man who was familiar with libertarianism: “Disgusting, it’s crazy you used to be a respected libertarian. I can only hope you see the error of your bloodthirsty, statist ways.” Hans Hoppe had a point when he marveled over how Walter Block had transformed himself from a rather eccentric libertarian gadfly, researching such important topics as the optimum age of consent, to “an unhinged collectivist taken in by genocidal impulses . . .” Not the kind of person the Mises Institute can any longer be associated with. Nor the Ron Paul Institute, either, which has also dropped Walter from its list of academic advisors.

As a final aside, Walter Block fanboy Jordan Schachtel, an internet pundit, said to me in an email that he had read everything Walter Block had written on the issue of the current Israeli war and that there was not a single instance of Walter supporting or condoning the killing of civilians. Either Schachtel has a serious reading comprehension problem, or he is lying through his teeth. It appears that with such people as Block and Schachtel, Doug Casey’s description of Walter’s behavior regarding the current Israeli war is on the mark. To them, defending the Israeli government is more important than being intellectually honest. 

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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