Justice demands it
Depriving the Palestinians of self-determination in
their own territories deserves condemnation by all, Jew
and non-Jew alike.
By Ted Honderich
Guardian" --- - We cannot settle such
fundamental questions of right and wrong as that of
Palestine and so on by the common recourses to
international law, UN resolutions, doctrines of human
rights or our hierarchic democracy. Rather, for
consistency and other reasons, we need a fundamental
principle of right and wrong. This is the principle of
humanity. It is, in short, that we must take actually
rational steps, as distinct from political pretences and
the like, to get and keep people out of bad lives, the
latter being defined in terms of lacks and denials of
the great human goods.
This morality of humanity includes certain propositions.
It justifies Zionism, not vaguely understood but taken
as the founding and maintaining of Israel in roughly its
original 1948 borders. The morality of humanity also
condemns neo-Zionism, understood as the taking from the
Palestinians at least their freedom in the last fifth of
their homeland. It gives to them a moral right to their
liberation-terrorism against neo-Zionism in historic
Palestine, including Israel.
The morality of humanity judges 9/11 to have been
monstrously wrong, an irrational means to ends that
included resistance to neo-Zionism. It condemns our Iraq
war as moral barbarism for our intentional killing of
many thousands of innocents. It as entirely condemns the
terrorism of 7/7 in London. It maintains that Blair is
not effectively an enemy of such horrors as 7/7, since
he is not tough on both terrorism and the causes of
All this involves the judgement that neo-Zionism and
American and British policies and actions in support of
it have been a part, one part, of the explanation of
9/11 and of a good deal else. They have, of course, not
been the whole explanation. They have been necessary
conditions rather than a sufficient condition.
Certainly, they have been necessary conditions of
But if you state this common belief, you may find other
propositions assigned to you: "Al-Qaida isn't the fault
of poverty, it turns out. It's the fault of the Jews."
Thus the journalist Nick Cohen in a recent piece on me
in the New Statesman. This is more than the raising of
the question of whether the common belief is anti-semitic.
It is more than the raising of the question of whether I
am an anti-semite. Yet more is done by what follows, the
report that I blame all of a lot of violence on "the
What this comes to, then, is an unveiled, if safeguarded
imputation of anti-semitism based on a ludicrous
falsehood about my common beliefs as to the explanation
of 9/11, the weighting of necessary conditions, shares
of responsibility, and so on.
In a television programme, another journalist, David
Aaronovitch, was first concerned to argue that judgment
on neo-Zionism is inconsistent with a lack of judgment
on other crimes against humanity.
Well, there is a uniqueness about neo-Zionism. There
have been 39 years of the violation of the only
indigenous people of a place by another people,
violation by a people of knowledge and experience, in
two centuries of history when the violation could be
seen for what it is. A violation of the weak by the
strong. A violation unhidden by impertinent pretences
about the course of ancient history. A violation whose
attempted justifications lack numbers for populations at
relevant times and also for deaths. A violation not made
weakly defensible, even, by the proposition that it has
been required for the good or security of a larger
society of the same people, as in the case of the
Russian crime against Chechnya. A violation almost
without precedent for wider consequences in the world. A
violation supported by religious affirmations of the
sacredness of Jewish lives against others.
To come round to Iraq, not much consideration is needed
of the piece of moral stupidity that to do a thing in
the knowledge that it will kill innocents is not
intentionally to kill innocents - and so we are not
killing innocents in Iraq. An introductory word will do.
Think for a start of the husband whose wife leaves him
and who cannot handle the fact. He goes to the house she
is in, with glue for the door locks and petrol to start
the fire. He sees a cleaning woman go into the house. He
goes ahead anyway. Think a little of the judge's verdict
on his claim that he only intended to kill his wife, and
so is guilty of only one murder, and is sorry about the
cleaning woman. Think a little about the family of the
cleaning woman and their view about his prate of his
intention, and his note of condolence.
It needs asserting and repeating that it is Jews first
of all who must, without equivocation, condemn that
necessary condition of Iraq that is neo-Zionism. They
can have a little more effect on it than others. They
have the special obligation that comes with that fact.
They have a special obligation that must overcome the
plain fact of kinship, loyalty and other connection that
understandably unites Jews, owed in one part of the
history of anti-semitism. They have more obligation than
anyone else to resist change away from decent Jewish
moral attitudes, to maintain their membership in the
high tradition of Jewish realism and compassion - to
resist change in those attitudes owed to the pressure of
They need to look to their proper and great leaders,
including leaders of us all, Noam Chomsky at their head.
Those who are of a reflective turn of mind need to get
onto their bookshelves The Case Against Israel by
Professor Michael Neumann. It offers the clarity,
perhaps the Jewish clarity, that the Palestinian problem
is not complex, not difficult, not a problem. The decent
solution is simple, without need for bargaining or
hesitation or qualification.
It is, of course, that Israel withdraws without
negotiation or any other delay from the last fifth of
the historic homeland of its indigenous people, the
Palestinians. To declare that, without caveat, is the
part of Jews actually against neo-Zionism.
Copyright The Guardian.