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Monday, November 17, 2003

The Rabbi and the Deficit Hawks

Last week the Dutch newspaper I read daily (NRC-Handelsblad) reported on Rabbi's for human rights. The article is based on some research that was apparently carried out as a follow up on what’s reported by the rabbis themselves over here: a group of fundamentalist Jews in the night destroyed hundreds of olive-trees raised and owned by their Palestinian neighbours. Rabbi Arik Ascherman stated that the Israeli soldiers that were supposed to protect the Palestinians against the illegal settlers lied or slept extremely deep while the destruction with chainsaws took place at only 30 meter from their camp.

The report is noteworthy because of its reliability: who is going to accuse rabbis of anti-semitism? Somehow I immediately made the link with the “deficit hawks” Brad DeLong wrote about last week. He wrote “Of all the remarkable things the Bush administration has done, its ability to so mismanage fiscal policy as to turn even a social spending-loving Keynesian like Max Sawicky into a Deficit Hawk is surely the most strange”. On the referred issues surely there is little similarity but on the way of raising credibility to your point of view there is. It is almost the opposite of name-calling: an attempt to get the political debate on the right level: not questioning the intentions of your opponents.

One step further, but I admit that I often don not reach that level myself, is to address only policies and proposals and the (foreseen) effects of them in the real world; restraining from all negative judgments on political opponents.

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