Incitement and advocacy to rebellion is sedition, but quotation of historical incitement and advocacy to rebellion, that is scholarship!--- Me, paraphrasing Gershom Scholem. Thanks to the works of Puritan political revolutionaries, I can advocate rebellion against any government merely by cutting and pasting their works, without technically saying anything new myself.
There has been much talk recently of Ephraim Khantsis, a student of Machon Meir who was temporarily deported from Israel for his supposedly dangerous political talk. See
- American Immigrant 'Exiled' Back to US for 3 Months
- Betrayal of Mossad, Betrayal of Ephraim Khantsis: What does Ephraim Khantsis have to do with the betrayal of Mossad agents in Dubai?
- Ephraim Khantsis: Portrait of a Kahanawannabe American-Jewish Settler Terrorist
To quote the last-named piece, "When are we going to wake up and realize this isn’t a Zionist dream, it is a nightmare." If you read carefully, however, you’ll see that Khantsis merely promised to defend himself. He did not say he’d go out of his way to kill anyone; he said he’d only defend himself. As Thomas Paine said in The American Crisis (which was deemed so excellent that General Washington had it read to all the American troops),
Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but ‘to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER’ and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God. … Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to ‘bind me in all cases whatsoever’ to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.
The fact is that according to libertarian democratic principles (such as were expounded first by the Swiss and Scottish Calvinists and Puritans, and which were later picked up by British thinkers such as John Locke), the government has only those powers which the people grant it. According to the theory of the social-contract, the government is merely the proxy of the people, created by the people and for the people for their own good. The government is not of heaven (unless you're a Calvinist, but I don't want to get too off-topic), and it does not have any intrinsic or absolute authority. Rather, the government is a human creation, created by the governed for their own good. Therefore, the government can be freely dismantled by the governed when the government is not serving the good of the governed. Indeed, as it says in the Declaration of Independence,
... That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.
So when the Israeli government comes to expel residents from their homes in the West Bank, the Israeli government quite simply has no authority to do so. It quite simply lacks the jurisdiction. Nowhere have the governed – i.e., those living in the West Bank – granted the Israeli government this power. Therefore, when people such as Khantsis defend themselves, they are merely defending themselves against a tyrannical government which is arrogating to itself powers which the governed never granted it. Or as Samuel Adams said in The Rights of the Colonists,
All men have a right to remain in a state of nature [= absence of any civil government] as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another. When men enter into society, it is by voluntary consent; and they have a right to demand and insist upon the performance of such conditions and previous limitations as form an equitable original compact.In other words, according to Adams: every man naturally lives in a state of absence of government, and he enters into an association with government only by his own voluntary consent. And when the government becomes tyrannical, he may freely leave that social-contract with the government. Adams continues,
Every natural right not expressly given up, or, from the nature of a social compact, necessarily ceded, remains.In other words: every natural and G-d-given right of man is retained by the governed unless they explicitly cede that right and grant the government the power to abridge that right. So unless residents of the West Bank have voluntarily ceded their rights to the government, the Israeli government has no authority in this area.
The natural liberty of man, by entering into society, is abridged or restrained, so far only as is necessary for the great end of society, the best good of the whole. In the state of nature every man is, under God, judge and sole judge of his own rights and of the injuries done him. By entering into society he agrees to an arbiter or indifferent judge between him and his neighbors; but he no more renounces his original right than by taking a cause out of the ordinary course of law, and leaving the decision to referees or indifferent arbitrators.In other words, the rights of men are abridged only insofar as is necessary for the good of society. But if a man hires an impartial arbiter to judge his cases, this does not mean he is forgoing his rights, for if the judge miscarries justice and rules in a grossly unjust way, the man has no obligation to honor the judge’s rulings. In the end of the day, a man still has all his rights. In short: man has a contract with the government. He cedes his rights to the government for the sake of receiving security in return. But like all contracts, each party stipulates precise conditions, and anything not stipulating, is simply not part of the contract. And if one party breaks its side, the contract is entirely annulled. Therefore: the government has only those powers which the governed have granted it in the social-contract, and if the government violates the contract by exercising powers not given it by the governed, then the government’s authority is entirely dissolved, at least in those areas of its power relevant to the given breach of contract.
And furthermore, in the end of the day, ultimate authority belongs to G-d. Therefore, for example, no one can grant the government power to murder innocents, for this violates the commands of G-d, and no one can grant the government such a power which he (the governed) himself does not have. Indeed, democracy as we know it today began with the Puritan John Knox asking the Swiss Reformed Christian Heinrich Bullinger whether a man must obey an idolatrous Catholic monarch; Bullinger answered that no, ein shaliah b'davar `averah, and the government is to be obeyed only when its commands are just. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail puts the matter excellently:
One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all." Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.Or as Henry David Thoreau said in his On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,
Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.Or as Thoreau's friend Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his Politics,
We are superstitious, and esteem the statute somewhat: so much life as it has in the character of living men, is its force. The statute stands there to say, yesterday we agreed so and so, but how feel ye this article today? Our statute is a currency, which we stamp with our own portrait: it soon becomes unrecognizable, and in process of time will return to the mint. ... But our institutions, though in coincidence with the spirit of the age, have not any exemption from the practical defects which have discredited other forms. Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well.
As Adams says,
In short, it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.Ultimate sovereignty is G-d's. The Hebrew slave who refuses to leave his master, his ear is bored, and the Talmud explains that the man whose hear heard at Sinai, ‘I am the L-rd your G-d’, but who nevertheless chose a new master instead of G-d, his ear is to be bored. When the people ask Samuel for a king, G-d answers that the people, in requesting a king, have rejected not Samuel, but G-d. We see that becoming a slave with a master, and choosing a king, and renouncing one’s liberty and freedom (Samuel provides the people with a litany of the abuses of liberty which kingship will bring), are all forms of rejecting G-d, which is another way of saying avodah zara.
In theory, all men are equal. When Moshe objected to Korah's proclamation that "All the congregation is holy", Moshe agreed in theory with Korah, for indeed, Moshe elsewhere said, "Would that all the congregation would be prophets!". Korah was wrong only because in reality, some men are brighter or more skilled or more responsible than others. But in theory, all men are equal, and so we should have as little leadership and as little government as possible, and everything should be left as much as possible to individuality and free will. Government is a concession to reality, but it remains an unfortunate one. If all men would do their duties, we'd need no government at all, and so we should strive to have the smallest amount of government that will get the job done. As Henry David Thoreau says in his On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (which greatly inspired by Ghandi as well as Martin Luther King, Jr.),
I heartily accept the motto, - "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, - "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. ... The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to - for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well - is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.Cf. the words of Thoreau's friend Ralph Waldo Emerson in his "Politics".
If Ephraim Khantsis is a terrorist, then so was Samuel Adams. In fact, the British government certainly did consider the American Revolutionaries to be terrorists!!! If Khantsis is a terrorist, then he is in very good company, for he has joined the company of such great men as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, John Locke, Heinrich Bullinger, and Samuel Rutherford. I’m not saying that I agree with Khantsis that full armed force should be used against the IDF soldiers, particularly because I’m not sure how guilty the IDF soldiers themselves are. I’m not sure the soldiers are fully aware of the evil they are committing, and so I do not believe they deserve to die. My point is not that Khantsis is justified and correct, but only that his views are perfectly consonant with those thinkers who rebelled against Britain. Khantsis is merely acting in accordance with normative democratic political thought.
And Khantsis would appear to have the support of Henry David Thoreau as well as his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, the former of which was the major and nearly sole inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther. In Gandhi's own words (as quoted by Wikipedia here),
[Thoreau's] ideas influenced me greatly. I adopted some of them and recommended the study of Thoreau to all of my friends who were helping me in the cause of Indian Independence. Why I actually took the name of my movement from Thoreau's essay 'On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,' written about 80 years ago.According to Martin Luther King, Jr. (as quoted by Wikipedia, ibid.),
Here, in this courageous New Englander's refusal to pay his taxes and his choice of jail rather than support a war that would spread slavery's territory into Mexico, I made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance. Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times. I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. The teachings of Thoreau came alive in our civil rights movement; indeed, they are more alive than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, these are outgrowths of Thoreau's insistence that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.However, we should note that the great Henry David Thoreau was not committed to civil disobedience only when it was nonviolent. Thoreau supported civil disobedience whether it was peaceful or violent, as is evidenced by his support for John Brown, a man who quite violently opposed slavery, and who killed not a few slaveholders. See Thoreau's The Last Days of John Brown. And again, in his Slavery in Massachusetts, Thoreau supports violently resisting Federal marshals who are upholding the Fugitive Slave Act and attempting to return runaway slaves in Massachusetts to their slavemasters in the south. Of course, not all tyranny is equal, and some deeds permit violent opposition, while others permit only nonviolent. It is obvious that the permitted degree of violence is equal to the degree of tyranny; mild tyranny permits only nonviolent resistance, while egregious and severe tyranny permits violent resistance.
In practice, I very much disagree with Khantsis’s specific advocacies for which precise and specific action should be taken, but I must admit that in theory, his beliefs are perfectly democratic, and would seem to have the full agreement of those who created democracy in America. But while I denounce the specific deeds that Khantsis would have taken, I must admit that his advocacy is in keeping with the best and most authentic of democratic thought.