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Israeli TV Decision

My column New Israel: A Win-Win-Win Proposal, published back in 2001, has resulted in one of the highest amounts of feedback, and longevity–I still occasionally get emails about it. Some similar proposals that came out after mine are:

Today I got a call from an Israeli TV producer with Kuperman Productions. They are “currently preparing the largest and most important entertainment talk show on Channel 2. … As part of the show we will have an international culture slot, in which we wish to expose the Israeli viewer to international and local events around the world, the country tradition and important peoples. For example, we interviewed an Italian minister, Dutch football player, an Italian model etc. ” In Houston, he told me, they will go to NASA, interview an Astros baseball player, a sheriff, etc. “The program also explores and probes what it means to be Israeli and will attempt to reveal how Israel is perceived throughout the world.” They said they liked my “New Israel” paper and “were impressed by the interesting and brave idea.” So they wanted to interview me next month. “The interview will be held in a light and friendly manner.”

I am typically inclined not to do these things (e.g., turned down several Federalist Society invitations to speak on IP or other topics in recent years), primarily because there is always a cost to me (since I hate being away from home and my family) and there is little gain.

I ran it by some libertarian friends and colleagues, more out of curiousity than anything else. One attorney friend thought it could be a setup, a la Ali G. I don’t think so, but appreciate his cynicism. The libertarians all thought I should do it. Of course–they are all altruists! 🙂

So one firiend on the libertarian list said, when I challenged him to tell me exactly why he thinks I should do this:

me: “Why should I do it? Why is it worth 2 hours of my time?”

Friend: “I am not going to make subjective value judgements for you, but maybe you could use the 2 hours to push some libertarian theory on unsuspecting interviewers.”

Well. To me, this is altruistic.

A libertarian professor said:

“This seems like a real no brainer to me. Of COURSE you should do this. If not, at the very least you should give them the name of someone you trust to articulate your views on this matter.

Why?

Well, two reasons.

First the personal. This will shift out to the right the demand curve for your services.

Second, the political. This will help promote libertarianism. Would libertarianism be better or worse off if Ron Paul stopped running for pres, the MI disbanded, and other attempts to gain publicity for libertarianism ceased? As I say, a no brainer. Going on tv helps promote our cause; that’s why I do it, plus give public speeches, organize seminars, etc.

Another point you might want to make. Even if we cease all foreign aid to Israel, it by no means follows that Israeli safety (in their present location) will fall. First, private giving will continue. Second, our govt but not private money supports their socialism. Without it, Israel would be more capitalist, richer, and thus better able to defend itself. Third, our govt money ties their hands in terms of military options.”

As for his first reason: I don’t think this will help me more demanded as a patent lawyer or GC. Second, I don’t see how I personally benefit from marginally pushing libertarianism in Israel. The effect is slight at best; is it worth 2 hours of my life? No.

And, the deciding punch: I ran it by the wife. Her instant reply? “Absolutely not. Are you crazy?! Those f***ng people are nuts. Some *** might kill you. Who knows. This is our family.”

So, it’s a no-go on the interview. Israeli TV, I hardly knew ye.

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