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Burns, The Bogus Ayn Rand “Biographer”

From “Six things you probably didn’t know about Ayn Rand” (Christian Science Monitor), on item number five “Atheism and Israel” Rand “biographer” Jennifer Burns conflates the “Jewish race” (genetics) versus the “Jewish religion” (ideas):

Rand was a life-long atheist with a secular philosophy. “She was Jewish, but she always said her religion had no meaning to her,” says Jennifer Burns, a history professor at the University of Virginia and author of the biography “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right.” But in 1973, she made the first monetary donation of her life to the state of Israel. Scholars are still trying to explain it.

Not Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute — see Israel Morals Match Rand Ideology.

Returning back the to CSM article:

Some say the donation had nothing to do with religion. “Rand had a tendency to overlook certain facts when she was enthusiastic about something,” says Heller.

What “facts” Rand is “ignoring” is not stated in the article. Later in the article:

[…] Rand did see Israel as a bastion of civilization in the region, but her individualist philosophy of honoring only commitments one chooses – unlike family or religion, which one is born into – makes her contribution to Israel notable, says professor Burns in a telephone interview. “Her donation raises some interesting questions about whether her religion was more important to her than she was willing to publicly admit.”

Actually Ayn Rand did publicly “admit” them on The Phil Donahue Show:

Quoting Ayn Rand on Israel (Ford Hall Forum lecture, 1974):

Question: What should the United States do about the [1973] Arab-Israeli War?

Ayn Rand: Give all the help possible to Israel. Consider what is at stake. It is not the moral duty of any country to send men to die helping another country. The help Israel needs is technology and military weapons—and they need them desperately. Why should we help Israel? Israel is fighting not just the Arabs but Soviet Russia, who is sending the Arabs armaments. Russia is after control of the Mediterranean and oil.

Further, why are the Arabs against Israel? (This is the main reason I support Israel.) The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it’s the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent. When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are. Israel is a mixed economy inclined toward socialism. But when it comes to the power of the mind—the development of industry in that wasted desert continent—versus savages who don’t want to use their minds, then if one cares about the future of civilization, don’t wait for the government to do something. Give whatever you can. This is the first time I’ve contributed to a public cause: helping Israel in an emergency.

For more on the Objectivist view on Israel see Israel Has A Moral Right To Its Life by Yaron Brook.

For a review of Burn’s book see “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right.”

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