In my debate with Jeremy Hammond on the legitimacy of the State of Israel from a libertarian perspective, the center of Hammond’s argument is that a 2,000 year old claim to previously homesteaded land is invalid because there is a statute of limitations in libertarianism.
First of all, he quotes a footnote in the paper that reads as follows.
But are there no statutes of limitation? Surely, two millenia and counting would more than qualify for any statute of limitations. There is such a thing, for the libertarian, as a ‘natural’ statute of limitations: the further back ones [sic] goes into the past, the more difficult it is to encounter any relevant evidence. Since the burden of proof always rests with he who wishes to overturn extant property rights, mere passage of time can serve as a natural limitation.
Sure sounds like there is a statute of limitations according to our paper! But Hammond deliberately leaves out the second part of the footnote to give the impression that we hold that libertarianism does support a statute of limitations, when we hold no such thing. Here is the full footnote. Note the However after Jeremy’s selective out of context quote:
I have requested that Jeremy put up the full quote on his article on his site discussing this very issue. I put it in the comments in any case.
But anyway, there is a statute of limitations in libertarianism, and it is a priori, but it has nothing to do with time passed. It cannot have anything to do with time passed because any measurement of time is a posteriori, whereas libertarianism, or should I say the positive Austrian method of deductive analysis as set forth by Ludwig Von Mises in “Economic Science and the Austrian Method” which leads to normative libertarianism, is a priori.
So what is the statute of limitations in libertarianism? It is when a claim is entirely foregone. When a claim is foregone, that claim cannot be picked up by subsequent generations. Once someone gives up a claim, that claim is gone and can no longer be inherited. In halacha the concept is called ייאוש, transliterated ye’ush. Giving up.
In Judaism for example there is a religious obligation to return lost objects to their previous owners. Lost objects cannot ever be taken regardless of the amount of time passed, unless there is ייאוש by the person who lost the object. It is not time-dependent. It is ייאוש dependent.
Once there is וודאי ייאוש, or definite relinquishing of claims, there is no longer any obligation to return a lost object, and the person who found it can keep it.
Now let’s reason this out deductively, just like Mises reasoned out the business cycle and just like Chazal reasoned out ייאוש in בבא קמא. If a person declares a piece of his property hefker (ownerless) and someone takes that piece of property, the child of that person can no longer claim that piece of property as his inheritance, obviously. Further, if a parent’s property was stolen and the parent has ייאוש, meaning he completely gives up on ever getting the property back, the child’s claim is now null and void and the child can no longer claim the property either, even though the property was lost unjustly in the first place.
If we now enlarge the sample size, do Mexicans have a claim on California and Texas? No, they do not, because Mexicans have given up their claims entirely. I don’t hear of any Mexicans claiming these places. Do Native Americans have a claim on their stolen land? In that case I am not 100% certain because I am unfamiliar with Indian tribes, but in the event that they have given up any hope of ever getting their stolen land back, then subsequent generations cannot claim it back either.
So, have Jews ever given up their claims to Judea/Israel/Palestine? No, not ever. We have never had any ייאוש regarding our eventual return to our homesteaded land. Not for a single generation. Our claims are reinforced every single day of our lives without exception and we are in fact commanded never to give up our claims. This is inherent in our mandated belief in the גאולה, the redemption of the Jewish People by the משיח at whatever point in the future and the ingathering of the exiles, which in fact has already happened.
Have some Jews given up their claims? Certainly. Have some Jews experienced ייאוש? Absolutely. Most of those Jews are no longer part of the nation. They are gone, assimilated, kaput. Many Jews have not had ייאוש, including yours truly. If and when a Jew who has given up his claims to his homeland marries one who has not, he or she re-inherits the continuous unbroken claim through marriage. Think of the Jewish Nation as one body, like Wolverine or the T-1000. If one strand breaks off and gives up the claim, the core heals and makes the body, the claim, full again. One piece flies off, but if it is found by the core and reabsorbed, the claim is restored through joining back up with the unbroken, whole Nation.
The only thing I need to prove is actual physical descent from the original homesteaders. All land with evidence of previous Jewish homesteading goes to the nearest of kin, which are Jews, whether they happen to practice Christianity or Islam or Judaism or Hinduism it does not matter. Since there is no one Jew who can prove individual ownership of any plot of land, all land with evidence of previous Jewish homesteading goes to the descendants of Jews by shares of stock, whether these descendants call themselves Palestinian or Israeli or whatever.
I can easily prove descent. I have the genes and I have the claim, repeated constantly and never, ever broken. Anyone else who can prove decent also has a right to previously homesteaded land, unless he has had ייאוש. Most Palestinians have not had ייאוש either.
So here’s what it comes down to practically:
Since possession is 9/10ths of the law, any human being sitting on homesteaded land in Israel that has no previous evidence of any homesteading by Jews, gets to stay there. If there is previous evidence of homesteading by Jews, anyone on that land must prove descent from Jews, and if they cannot, they must leave. All people who were expelled from their homesteaded land unjustly in 1948 or whenever, has a right of return. If he descends from Jews, he can return regardless of whether the land he was expelled from was homesteaded by Jews in the past or not. If he is not descended from Jews, he only has a right of return if the land he was on has no previous evidence of homesteading by Jews.
So does a statute of limitations exist in libertarianism? Yes. It is called ייאוש, ye’ush. Jews never had ye’ush, our claim is still valid, and it must be so a priori. All previously homesteaded land in Israel belongs to us by shares, simply because it is impossible to know which Jew owns which plot of land. Shares of stock in previously homesteaded land in the areas currently under the control of the Jewish State, must be distributed to all demonstrable descendants of the Jews that originally homesteaded the land.
As for Har Habayit, that specific land was homesteaded with Jewish money, donated and taxed, on the condition that it be used for the Beit HaMikdash. Any other use of it is a violation of contract. Therefore, according to libertarianism, the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, must be rebuilt.