|TED HONDERICH AND DAVID AARONOVITCH:
A LOOK BY HONDERICH AT THEIR DON'T GET ME STARTED TELEVISION PROGRAMMES, THE REAL FRIENDS OF TERROR AND NO EXCUSES FOR TERROR -- WITH TRANSCRIPTS OF THE PROGRAMMES
Do the following reflections and judgements of Ted Honderich on the two programmes show that they make up a case study, an illustrative instance of a general fact? Are they a case study of something too common in disagreement about Palestine, terrorism and so on? Something of wider consequence than just these two television programmes, deadly consequence?
The programme 'The Real Friends of Terror', by me and nine other contributors, was to be the last one in the 2006 Don't Get Me Started series on the British television channel Five. It was decided, when a rough cut or first version of the programme was seen, that there would be another programme added to the series, a response. This would be by David Aaronovitch, a journalist who writes for The Times and the Jewish Chronicle, and has himself been a television researcher, producer and editor. It was 'No Excuses for Terror', transmitted a week later. Both programmes, each 40 minutes long, were directed and produced by the award-winning Eamon T. O'Connor for Liberty Bell Productions.
There are transcripts of them below. To see them as they were transmitted, go to the videos The Real Friends of Terror and No Excuses for Terror.
In a column in The Observer Richard Ingrams wrote that it was remarkable that there was to be a second programme. The whole idea of the Don't Get Me Started programmes, stated and advertised, is that each of them gives someone a chance to put one side of a story, that the programmes are authored polemics, that they are controversial, precisely not balanced. In the newspaper listings of television programmes, they are often enough called rants.
Under the heading 'Fair Play: The Second Casualty of War', Ingrams wrote, very truly, that in the two series of programmes, each of them disputable and some of them on subjects serious indeed and passionately controverted, it had never happened before that there was a 'balancing' programme a week later. He put it down to some kind of pressure, conceivably an anticipation of pressure, maybe some kind of motivated use of public communications regulations or principles. 'Israel's Fifth Column,' he said, 'has achieved another little victory in its propaganda war.' This is not my own concern in what follows, but something will be said of it.
1. Humanity and Selfishness
The main line of argument of the first programme, 'The Real Friends of Terror', was taken from my book Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7..., differently titled Right and Wrong, and Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7.... in the United States and Canada.
That line of argument, unmediated and simpler in the book, is that we cannot settle such fundamental questions of right and wrong as that of Palestine and so on by 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. In my view, 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, it was argued, 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 one-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 also 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 effectively a friend of such horrors as 7/7, since he is not tough on both terrorism and the causes of terrorism.
The Aaronovitch programme does not mention the Principle of Humanity. It therefore does not proceed in terms of the great human goods or desires, or bad lives, or rationality about them.
But neither does it proceed in terms of international law, U.N. resolutions, or doctrines of human rights. It does not actually depend on the passing words and self-approval of a minister of the New Labour government on our hierarchic democracy, which words and self-approval would have been less flatulent if they had included something on the connection between inequality and unfreedom in the making of our democratic decisions.
Of greater consequences than that the Aarnovitch programme does not deal with the principle of the first programme is something else.
'No Excuses for Terror' gives no general ground whatever, none at all, for its explicit or implicit denials of the propositions in the first programme -- other than perhaps the first proposition, about the justification of exactly and only Zionism as defined. 'No Excuses for Terror' neither gives nor mentions or alludes to a general ground.
This void, this absence of any means to consistency, raises a question. It is the question of whether the programme issues from no more than the self-interest of a people, the Jewish people, the indefensible self-interest that is a selfishness -- or rather, as so many of that very people say, from an illusion of self-interest.
2. Inconsistency and a Non-Group
The most salient declaration of at least the first part of 'No Excuses for Terror', nonetheless, is that there is inconsistency or one-sidedness or double standards in the condemnation of neo-Zionism and so on by a certain group of people. They are variously labelled as leftists, liberals, left and centre left, the very centre of political opinion now influenced by far left and far right, Western liberals and intellectuals, those on the left and centre left who have lost their marbles, persons in mainstream political discourse, the British Left, those calling themselves 'left', wider liberal left opinion, those who style themselves humanitarian socialists, those who include demented liberals, and so on.
These people somehow condemn Israel -- no effective distinction is made in the programme as a whole between Zionism and neo-Zionism -- but do not condemn very many other parties. They do not condemn Palestinian terrorists in Palestine, Hezbollah in the Lebanon, King Hussein of Jordan, Kuwaitis, the Muslims on the two sides in the Iran-Iraq War, the genocidal killers in Darfur, the Chinese in Tibet, the Russians in Chechnya, the terrorists of 9/11, the terrorists of 7/7, the gangs of kidnappers and killers in Iraq now in October 2006, people who are for a cult of death rather than creativity, and so on.
A first thing to be said of this is that in fact there is no significant proposition about inconsistency to be considered here. This is so since no significant group of people whatever is identified by the many labels, the condemnation of Israel, and the non-condemnations.
Is there anybody in the world, for a start, who does not condemn some of the listed parties, campaigns, actions and so on? So here is an utterance about inconsistency without a subject. The utterance is in fact blabber. Disparate sets of people are run together in a transparently futile attempt to enlarge and strengthen some contention about inconsistency. This attempt at mere persuasion or influencing serves no purpose whatever of what is different, which is inquiry and argument.
3. Supposed Inconsistency and Right and Wrong
Suppose we were to set to work and try to arrive at a definition or indication of some significant group of persons, or probably a number of groups of persons, who might be thought to serve the purposes of the 'No Excuses for Terror' programme. Suppose we were then to try to arrive at an inconsistency or inconsistencies on their part of the desired kind, consisting in condemnation of neo-Zionism, but no condemnation of other things. Suppose for the sake of argument that we arrive at such an inconsistency or inconsistencies.
There would remain, hardly touched at all, the question of whether neo-Zionism is right or wrong.
This dim television programme is empty of any useful idea of connection between any supposed inconsistency and actual mistake as to right and wrong, more exactly between supposed inconsistency and wrong. To be inconsistent, of course, may be to advance one absolutely defensible or true proposition, say against neo-Zionism. Two inconsistent propositions cannot be defensible or true, but one can.
This matter of inconsistency and right and wrong is not simple. But do you think for a moment that instead it would somehow follow from the existence of the inconsistency we are contemplating for the purposes of argument that the proposition against neo-Zionism is false? If you do, here is a question for you.
Does it follow from so much Jewish ignoring or diminishing of other past genocides that the Holocaust is not so wrong? Does this follow, too, from Jewish forgetfulness of the other non-Jewish victims in the German camps? Does the Holocaust now require a certain toleration, some understanding, some slight apology to the Germans?
4. No Actual Inconsistency About Israel at All
There is something more important about the supposition for the sake of argument that we might arrive at an inconsistency in connection with a significant group or groups of people.
The Aaronovitch programme gives no reason whatever, not a breath of one, for supposing that we could arrive at an inconsistency. This would depend, obviously, on the likeness of neo-Zionism to the other things, its not being different from them. Inconsistency is treating the same things differently.
The programme is empty of argument against the common belief as to the uniqueness of neo-Zionism. It is empty of such reminders of the uniqueness of neo-Zionism as those offered by Prof. Anat Biletzki of Tel Aviv University, one of so many honourable Israelis. The reminder is that there have now been 39 years of neo-Zionism, a viciousness that has been intransigent, untouched by United Nations condemnations without parallel, a viciousness made no less obdurate and relentless by the existence of Israeli 'doves' as against 'hawks'.
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.
If there is this uniqueness, which needs asserting and reasserting by us, we are also obliged not to fall to the level of thinking of the claim about inconsistency that we are discussing. It would be wholly wrong to suppose that a moral attitude to neo-Zionism carries no consequences for other things. Any reason for or against any single thing is general. That is what a reason is. So of course a condemnation of neo-Zionism will commit us to other condemnations, condemnations not of identical cases but related condemnations of cases to some degree similar.
That is not to say, by the way, that there is no room for concentration in a single life, no room for concentration in a life of a single philosopher, historian, journalist or whatever. We are not committed to speaking tours on all of the related subjects by our condemnation, say, of what is happening in Darfur, or, most relevantly, the Holocaust. If it is possible to be unfair here, and it is the part of anti-semites to be so, it is also possible to forget what is a greater fact. A rape with two other rapes not considered, even ignored, is still a rape, no less a rape.
5. Inconsistency and Anti-Semitism
The Aronovitch programme offers no significant explanation of its supposed fact of inconsistency. No significant answer is given to the question of why the programme supposes so many people condemn Israel in a way inconsistent with their own attitudes to other things. No significant answer to why they allegedly are obsessed with neo-Zionism and forget or understand Palestinian terrorists, the genocidal killers in Darfur, the present murder gangs in 2006 in Iraq, etc.
It surely cannot be, as is airily speculated by a teacher of international law in the programme, that the explanation of the supposed inconsistency is some 'orientalism' that the leftists, liberals, centrists etc have inherited, maybe a spell put on the British population by The Arabian Nights, Ali Baba, T. E. Lawrence or whatever or whoever, maybe by darker stuff -- a spell said by the teacher to have in it, for good measure, some anti-Arab racism.
Is the imagined inconsistency explained by the fact the leftists, liberals, centrists etc are merely feeble-minded, devoid of minimal rationality, as so many other usages in the Aaronovitch programme claim or suggest? That too is unlikely. To be plainer, it is absurd.
There are many lines in the programme, quite different, that bring to mind a familiar answer to the inconsistency question. It is that the leftists, liberals, centrists etc are anti-semites. The libel and slander is not engaged in by 'No Excuses for Terror', and it would not quite be true to say that it is implicit in the programme. It must be the answer the programme brings to mind, however, to the question of why the leftists, liberals, centrists etc are inconsistent in their judgement on neo-zionism.
In this connection, see some lines in the programme about people, certainly in the supposed inconsistent group in question, who lend their support to a movement that is happy about Zionism, since it tends to collect Jews in one place where they are more easily killed. See also the line about a wide section of western opinion, perhaps the inconsistent group of people, who are untroubled by Israeli deaths or much less troubled by them -- despite, on the programme's given line of argument and implication, the deaths being in a cause that can properly be seen as a human and justified one.
The libel and slander of anti-semitism is one that a maker of a television programme may be reluctant actually to utter. He may fear the attention of the lawyers, say Farrer & Co. In any case, it is a libel and slander now to be treated, in my view, only with contempt, partly for its connection with implicit or covert neo-Zionism.
6. History of the Palestinian Conflict
'No Excuses for Terror' supposes itself to present an irrefutable history in connection with Palestine, an arguable summary. This history includes the proposition that it has been at least as much the weak Palestinians as the strong neo-Zionists who have sought to prevent and have prevented a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian question.
This is asserted despite the truism that it is necessarily always the weak who are under most pressure to negotiate, and, yet more important, that it is the strong and rich who have room to negotiate. The proposition about Israeli reasonableness is also asserted, despite a known and written neo-Zionist policy of not negotiating seriously in order to establish what were called facts on the ground.
'No Excuses for Terror' also flatly asserts, without supplying a line of reason, that the Palestinians' recourse to terrorism in the 39 years of neo-Zionism was not necessary to their having a real hope of achieving their end. Neo-Zionism would have been open to reasonable agreement. It would have not have had even the purpose of what can be distinguished and named as historic Zionism, the movement to establish a Jewish state of some size or other in Palestine, maybe the purpose of getting as much of historic Palestine as possible.
I admit our television programme was declamatory in asserting that the Palestinians have in fact had no option but their resistance. If this factual question of probability is harder than the general question of right and wrong, to which the Principle of Humanity is an answer, it is not a question without a supported answer. If I were on the other side giving a reply to the first programme in this matter, I might have tried to find a phrase or two of support against what is perceived by all the informed world, of course excluding the United States, as the obduracy of Israel.
What can be said here quickly now about the factual question is that a brazen certainty about any propositions, on either side, unrelieved by self-doubt and self-scepticism, is as good as a proof that what is being carried forward is at best one-sidedness, not inquiry. This brazen certainty is not what can have the name of judgement, or argument, or of course the ordinary logic of decent philosophy, which is exactly a concentration on the ordinary logic of intelligent inquiry and science generally.
7. Wrong On Both Sides?
In 'No Excuses for Terror' a certain repeated assumption is both a part of the inconsistency argument considered above and also something made use of for itself. The assumption, partly presented as if derived from all our general and shared knowledge of human life, is that in the Palestinian dispute there is wrong on both sides.
There is no such general knowledge, no such general truth. There aren't two sides to the story of a real rape. There aren't two sides to the story of the beating to death of a young black man seen on a London street with a white girl. No stuff about a mini-skirt makes the real rape other than it is. No stuff of whatever kind, say about black pride being carried over into flaunting and provocation, makes the murder less than murder.
The Holocaust was the greatest of wrongs of a kind to a people in a century. It was not made just a little bit right by there being a lot of Jews in the German film industry or in banking, or the proposition that there were or would be quite a few of them in university departments and gentlemen's clubs, or that they lived in Germany but did not become German. The Holocaust was savagery that can have no qualification.
Neo-Zionism, whatever is said of the Palestinians in connection with negotiation or whatever else, is also wholly wrong. There are not two sides to this story. There are not two sides to the lives destroyed with the olive groves, the degraded children in the refugee camps, the facts constructed by Israeli settlers on the ground of another people, the inane righteousness and incantation about democracy against terrorism.
There is, do you say, more to be said? It is possible not to agree with you. It is more than possible to know that it is not true of every story that there are two sides to it.
8. Honourable Jews
'No Excuses for Terror' contains some of what is now familiar on the part on many Jewish participants in such discussions as the present one. That is at least an uttering of words in favour of, say, a genuinely viable independent state for the Palestinians. Prof. Shalom Lappin of Kings College London does this in the programme. He is to be commended.
Still, the words are distinct and different from what would matter more. That would be, after 39 years, an unqualified condemnation of neo-Zionism. Also an unqualified assertion that neo-Zionism is in no way necessary to Zionism.
Further, an unqualified assertion of the entirely simple solution to the present Palestinian problem. That solution is the immediate, unconditional and unnegotiated withdrawal by Israel from the remnant of Palestine left to the Palestinian people and also from control of it, a solution patently possible and safe, so clearly asserted by the Jewish philosopher Michael Neumann in his book The Case Against Israel.
To take this position, you can think, above all for the immediate unnegotiated withdrawal, is to join all honourable Jews, of which there are very many. Perhaps it is in fact the reflective position of Lappin, as distinct from lines in a television programme. He can clarify this.
9. The Argument of Having Been on the Left
The Aaronovitch programme says several times that its maker, and some or all of its other contributors, are or have been on the left in politics or adjacent to it. I note that no general conception of the left in politics is attempted. But suppose a clear proposition about this and about their political biographies could be produced. What would follow from it? Would if follow, for example, that present neo-Zionism is right and justified? Would anything like that follow? Would it follow that opposition to neo-Zionism is less justified?
Certainly there is a well-known piece of persuasion attempted by persons at least partly engaged in defending conservative or selfish views, including a number of persons in 'No Excuses for Terror', some of whose memberships and affiliations are mentioned at the top of the transcript of the programme. The piece of persuasion is that they are or have been, in some respects or other, of the tradition of their present adversaries. Maybe their fathers were communists. Maybe they were themselves, like Aaronovitch again, presidents of the National Union of Students.
This is at least unpersuasive. Nothing worth consideration in favour of a view follows from the mere fact that somebody who takes it once thought otherwise, or rather thought something somehow different from it. Nothing serious follows from just a lapel-badge, a claim of membership past or present. That the American philosopher Robert Nozick is spoken of as a liberal does nothing whatever to make less than savage his proposition that that families who are starving to death have no moral right to food, no moral right in the ideally just society, unless they have the money to buy it.
10. Shares of Moral Responsibility
Our 'The Real Friends of Terror' programme is specific about the familiar fact of shares of legal responsibility decided by the courts. The programme is repeatedly specific about the counterpart fact of shares and degrees of moral responsibility. Few things are said more often in the programme.
The programme in no way whatever denies the responsibility of the terrorists themselves for 9/11 and 7/7. Its condemns the monstrous culpability of the terrorists of 9/11, and its assertion of the moral responsibility of the 7/7 terrorists is as plain to read. That the programme also assigns shares of responsibility to others, notably neo-Zionists in Washington and Blair, takes nothing whatever from the judgement of responsibility of the terrorists.
As against this, the Aaronovitch programme reports that it was and is quite common -- indubitably the implication is that it was and is quite common among the leftists, liberals, centrists etc, and in particular with myself and the other contributors in the earlier programme -- to have a certain belief or attitude about 7/7.
You hear from the Aarnovitch programme that we take the terrorism of 7/7 to be somehow the fault of the British or American people, their own fault. We hold they are somehow to blame for it. We leftists, liberals, centrists etc know who is to blame when suicide bombers blow themselves up. It is not them. It is the British and American people. It is Blair in particular.
In a comment on the night his programme was transmitted, its maker said in summary of it that it 'wasn't a subtle argument'. It was 'that suicide terrorism is not our fault and that it is a choice made by murderous egotists'.
In the Aaronovitch programme itself it is said, further, that the leftists, liberals, centrists etc blame exactly the victims of the 7/7 and other terrorism for what was done to them, their suffering and death. We blame the dead daughter of a woman who appears on the Aaronovitch programme, Rev. Julie Nicholson.
In another bit of the Aaronovitch programme, something correct in this neighbourhood is added to the bundle. It is allowed that the earlier programme took the Iraq War and those who brought it about to have been a necessary condition of 7/7, not anything vaguely like a sufficient one. It is allowed, that is, that the earlier programme does not place all of the guilt for the terrorism of 7/7 on the British people or Blair and his war. This report in the earlier programme, inconsistent with the main run of suggestions and implications to the contrary of which you have heard, does little to withdraw them.
What are we then to think and say of the Aaronovitch programme with respect to what it mainly or in effect conveys of the proposition of shared moral responsibility in the first programme? What comes to mind about the second programme is a need for an extension of the concept of illiteracy.
The looseness and lowness of the bundle of stuff as a whole, including the inconsistency, will be evident to an independent reader of the transcripts of the two programmes below. The bundle is not made better by the programme's dismal way with causation and explanation generally, a way that is common with New Labour, including its representative on the Aaronovitch programme, the government minister.
An additional contribution from him, by the way, is a self-refuting refrain, so true to the Thatcherism of New Labour. It is that the terrorists are lower for in fact not being from poor backgrounds themselves, the worst-off themselves, and are acting with whatever rationality on behalf of others who are worse-off. Aaronovitch adds that for God's sake they have jobs. The refrain has no more force than being selective about horrors, so manifest in the programme in connection with 7/7 and whatever else.
11. War on Iraq, Intentionally Killing Innocent People
The Iraq War, supported and justified by Aaronovitch in his journalism from the beginning, is in his programme supported and justified by the declaration, unspecific and arguably false, that the Iraqis would not now in 2006 prefer to have Saddam back in place of the hell we have made for them. Certainly the declaration does not require consideration as a serious case for the war and its reasonably predictable aftermath, or as an indication of a serious case.
Nor is much consideration required here 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 or two 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 bit of the judge's verdict on his claim that he intended to kill only 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 of his prate of his intention, and his note of condolence.
12. Iraq and 7/7
To revert to 7/7, and to give to something only the minute that is required, it is the Blair utterance, conceivably the thinking, that 7/7 had nothing to do with the Iraq War. The thinking, if that is what it is, is that there was terrorism before 7/7, including 9/11. The thinking rests on the childlike proposition that with two or more similar or even identical effects, earlier and later, the later must have the same causation as the earlier. On the contrary, it may be that the later, say 7/7, has a necessary condition lacked by any predecessor, say 9/11.
There are examples as simple as two or three lightings of matches. To take an example closer to what is under discussion, suppose one of my brothers was killed in our feud with another family a couple of years ago. Yesterday another was killed. Someone says this had nothing to do with what happened last week, my family's having desecrated the graves of the other family. He and Blair and Aaronovitch can make common cause, stand proudly together.
13. Islamic Terrorism and Free Will, Religion, a Cult of Death
With respect to Islamic terrorism generally, the programme has various other themes.
One is that the terrorists act of their own free will. That enters into the general theme that they alone have any moral responsibility for their actions. The truth about freedom, whatever it is, ignores or is ignorant of the fact that a man's freedom in any action does nothing whatever to preclude his having a share of rather than all of the responsibility for it. Think, if you need to, of a conspiracy to murder, or simply two men guilty of the murder of a third, or purchasing a murder.
It may be useful, not in connection with shared responsibility, but more generally, to think too of the same freedom within neo-Zionism, our war on Iraq, and so on.
A second theme in the programme is that Islamic terrorism is importantly, maybe intrinsically, a matter of religion, and in particular religious zealotry, fundamentalism, religious fanaticism, and holy fascism. Some reflection on the great goods desired by all of us in our human nature would be helpful in correcting this excess.
A third theme has to do with a cult of death. This is not sufficiently clear to require discussion. Any clarification worth attention will need to accomodate the fact that innumerable American men and women, say 100,000, many of them religious, would have given their lives to prevent 9/11. Is it supposed that Islamic terrorists are in some emotional connection with death because they kill themselves in a belief as to their immortality? Do they not kill themselves for their people, then? What about the fact that neo-Zionists have killed a lot more people in Palestine than Palestinians?
Here and elsewhere in the programme there is a persistent preoccupation wih where actions come from, their agents, and not the consequences of those actions. It is a kind of supposed morality that serves certain purposes well. It is not the morality of humanity, or in fact any decent morality at all. It is a kind of self-deception at best. Does more need to be said about this? Yes. Get a book. Do some of the thinking eschewed by the contributors to 'No Excuses for Terrorism'.
14. Feeling, Care, Sorrow
To these remarks on what is said of Islamic terrorism can be added one other, about suggestions in 'No Excuses for Terror' about the feelings of some or all of the leftists, liberals, centrists etc for the victims of Islamic terrorism -- and in particular about the feelings of some of us on our programme 'The Real Friends of Terror'. The suggestion or implication is that we do not care much or enough for the victims of Islamic terrorism. We do not care enough for the daughter of the mother on the Aaronovitch programme, the daughter killed on 7/7, not care enough for the mother, Rev. Nicholson.
We care. We are ones who know care itself, not the inhumanity of selective care. We therefore care for the daughter of 7/7 and care too for the daughters and mothers in other places. We care too for other horrors, not made less than horrors by not being owed to recent violence, maybe always owed only to the threat of violence or the blindness of convention. Our world is not simple. We are not localists. If there is selective care and selective horror there is also selective sorrow. All three destroy moral decency.
15. War on Lebanon
The treatment of the Israeli war on Lebanon in 'No Excuses for Terror' is as you will now expect.
It includes, for example, one of several instances of the weak rhetorical stratagem of reporting opposition to one's position so extremely, in fact so falsely, as to try to discredit or reduce its seriousness. Lappin's account of the international judgement against the war, at bottom a war to safeguard the project of neo-Zionism, is that the international judgement on Israel was the full-scale portrayal of Israel as a demonic entity of mythic proportions, the embodiment of malice, evil, child-murder and blood-letting.
16. Islamic Fascism
It may be something other than ignorance, I take it, that explains the naming of Islamic terrorism, and also Iraq before the war, whatever is to be said against them, as Fascism.
Fascism was not religious. Further, in particular, it was not Islamic. It was narrowly national, consisting in nationalisms, despite an alliance. It was attached to parts of the German, Italian and Spanish cultures. It was without the evident and large component of humanity in Islam. It was hostile to equalities. It had a conception of a master race. It had pretentious intellectual and cultural roots. It had a different conception of leadership. It made use of sexual imagery. It was responsible for the Holocaust.
As in the case of 'terrorism', this use of a term in consideration of great issues is no more than the intelligence of Blairism. It consists in argument by enunciation, proof by intonation, demonstration by sincerity, refutation by naming.
This fact is unaffected by the further truth that some similarities can be found between Fascism and nearly any other political tradition, say conservatism or communism.
The Principle of Humanity is among other things not a product of managed social conventions of judgement, feeling and language. It is a morality that takes as necessary a disrespect of certain other attitudes, all of them like it in being other than factual or logical truths. It is better supported than them. You have heard some expression of this disrespect from me, reader. You have not heard much.
You have not heard personal abuse by me of persons on Aaronovitch's side of the argument -- personal abuse of counterparts to certain persons on my side. Say any counterparts on Aaronovitch's side of the argument to my glorifier of anti-semites George Galloway, my idiot Michael Moore, my embracer of anti-semites, misogynists and homophobes Ken Livingstone, my John Pilger unchoosy about his murderers.
You have not heard from me, either, a usage equivalent to 'sewage', which latter thing is found in the beliefs of the large group of leftists, liberals, centrists etc by Lappin in one of his contributions to 'No Excuses for Terror'. You have not heard from me slurs made against readily identifiable but unnamed persons, say a counterpart of Baroness Tonge. You have not had it discovered by me about any of my adversaries or persons linked to them that they are 'degenerate'.
None of this, whoever you are, can reasonably inspire confidence in 'No Excuses for Terror'.
18. Conclusion of 'No Excuses for Terror'
I note in passing Aaronovitch's conclusion of his programme.
In somewhat clearer words this conclusion is that to see that a sucide bomber has some justified cause, resistance to neo-Zionism or to the war on Iraq, in his unjustified killing, is the equivalent of excusing a racist murderer on the grounds that we have achieved a multi-racial society. Neo-Zionism and the war on Iraq are therefore of the great standing of a multi-racial society, a kind of civilization. Also, the suicide bomber is equivalent to the husband who beats his wife to a pulp because we have as a society come to a certain sexual enlightenment. Neo-Zionism and the war on Iraq are thus not only great and civilized but also enlightened.
19. A Right to No Reply
Let us now think a little about something larger, a matter of which you have already heard something. It is that after a first version of our programme was seen by those who commissioned it, a decision was taken, unprecedently, to commission a response to it in the 'Don't Get Me Started' series.
This was of course to be a reply of some kind, and could not be conceived otherwise. Newspaper television listings said it was a programme made in accordance with a right to reply. Some said that this right of reply might be accorded to a Jewish body of opinion and feeling by Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.
The Aaronovitch programme was said by him on the night it was transmitted to be a programme 'essentially -- though not specifically -- rebutting Ted Honderich's effort in the same series last week'. Was it essentially a reply to the earlier programme?
It was not. It is verbiage to say something can be in its essence, in its fundamental and intrinsic nature, a rebuttal of and reply to something else, presumably at least to the main lines of argument of something else, if it does not engage with them at all, unspecifically or specifically, let alone engage with secondary argument. Some relevant declamation, allusion and insinuation is nothing to the point. The main and the secondary arguments of 'The Real Friends of Terror' are not on the Hezbollah banners so heard of in the second programme or the utterances on vido of a 7/7 bomber, repeated throughout the programme.
Was 'No Excuses for Terror' any kind of reply, essentially, unspecifically or in any other way, to 'The Real Friends of Terror'?
There is no word in the Aarnovitch programme, as you have heard, on the Principle of Humanity. Also, as you will have gathered, there is nothing in defence of any alternative reliance on international law, UN resolutions, human rights, or democracy. There is no significant attention to the distinction between Zionism and neo-Zionism. There is no argument whatever articulated against the moral right of the Palestinians to their resistance. There is no distinction made between Palestinian and other terrorism, or liberation-terrorism within a homeland and other terrorism.
Also, as you have heard, there is mainly misrepresentation of the proposition of shared responsibility for some terrorism in place of reply to it. There is not a phrase uttered about the nature of intentional action, particularly the intentional killing of innocents.
There is no actual consideration of any of the different contentions of the 10 contributors to the first programme, all of whom had strong things to say, Tony Benn, Lord Ian Gilmour and Dr. Brian Klug disagreeing strongly with me.
There was no rebuttal, in any sense of the word, of our argument for the propositions that exactly Zionism remains justified, that neo-Zionism is vicious, that the terrorism of the Palestinians in historical Palestine is indeed their moral right, that 9/11 was a monstrous wrong with at least a partly good end, that our Iraq War has been and is moral barbarism, that 7/7 is the same as 9/11, and that such terrorism has an actual friend in Blair.
'No Excuses for Terror', from the point of view of argument in reply, was almost as if the previous programme had not happened. That there was the declamation, allusion and insinuation, I repeat, is nothing to the point. Those of the 400,000 viewers of the first programme who were among the 400,000 viewers of the second programme would have noted some connections, some echoes, nothing more.
Why was there no reply at all made? Why was it that the right to reply turned out to include the right to no reply?
You will expect, given the natures of such as me, and despite a self-scepticism and the like, that my answer to the question of why there was no adequate reply is that there is none. Indeed I think that on most days. A safer judgement is that no reply could be made by Aaronovitch and his contributors.
This is not any assumption of the superiority of the philosopher or academic over the journalist. This is a thought, rather, about a partisan who happens also to be a journalist. Partisans in a matter, by their nature, are not prepared for or given to a certain level of proceeding in a disagreement.
It is my judgement that the two programmes are indeed a case study of the conflict between mere partisans, persons not sufficiently attached to logic or truth, even truth by their lights, and, on the other hand, those who struggle to think, struggle to feel and also to think, to judge in conditions of uncertainty, to escape prejudice, with whatever small success. The two programmes are illustrative of the wider fact, a conflict between that struggle on the one hand, and, on the other hand, purposeful noisiness, which noisiness often prevails, having the endorsement of low governments, and thus contributes to inhumanity in Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere.
20. A Palestinian Reply
It is not my view, however, that the nature of 'No Excuses for Terrorism', its failure in terms of ordinary logic of inquiry, is a reason for saying that it should not have been made and broadcast. John Stuart Mill, a logician as well as a liberal, was on good ground in saying that all opinions, or almost all opinions, should be heard. Maybe because their values and disvalues cannot be proven, more arguably because hearing false or otherwise faulty opinions results in the better understanding of and hold on the contrary superior opinions. I suspect Richard Ingrams, of whom you heard at the beginning these reflections, is of the same mind.
That leaves a remaining question. What is essential, of course, is not what is easily described as free expressions of opinion, however weak, or a balance of opinions, where that can turn out to mean many things. There is no serious recommendation in an inequality in the expression of opinions, let alone a great or overwhelming inequality. With the inequality goes a reduction of freedom to express opinion, effectively down to no freedom worth speaking of.
It is my view, perhaps shared with Ingrams, that the existence of the programme 'No Excuses for Terror', is indeed a part of a particular inequality with respect to the expression of opinions. This is an established inequality to which a television channel may at a time be required or forced to defer. That inequality is now a part of our hierarchic democracy.
It is in fact ludicrous that a kind of Jewish response was made to 'The Real Enemies of Terror' but that there was no question of a Palestinian response. My particular proposition of the moral right of the Palestinians to their terrorism, a proposition with known counterparts on the neo-Zionist side, does not delay for a moment the judgement of ludicrousness. Nor does any selection of horrors, or any forgetfulness of numbers of children and others killed by Palestinians and neo-Zionists. It is the Palestinians who are the victims.
There ought to be a Palestinian reply to our programme, an actual reply. Channel Five should commission it. The channel, having distinguished itself absolutely in all British television, having brought some honour to itself, should rise above the wretched conventions of our society, and conventional uses of its institutions, uses that support nothing other than neo-Zionism.
27 October 2006. Slightly revised 29 March 2008.
I am grateful to Ingrid Honderich above all, and in various ways to Ken Adams, James Bowen, Thierry Chessum, Lindsay Clarke, Diana Eden, Michael Edwards, Stephen Law and Timothy Sprigge in connection with this rejoinder. They do not share all my judgements.
End of Ted Honderich's reflections on 'The Real Friends of Terror' and 'No Excuses for Terror'. What follows are transcripts of the two programmes.
THE REAL FRIENDS OF TERROR
Transcript of the television programme
Don't Get Me Started series, channel Five
Broadcast 19 September 2006
Prof. Ted Honderich: Presenter
Eamon T. O'Connor: Producer/Director
Stuart Prebble: Executive Producer
Production Manager: Judy Lewis
Head of Production: David Buckley
Production company: Liberty Bell
The transcript is very close to giving the words in the programme as transmitted, but not exactly. There were small editing changes to the programme after the transcript was made. You can now see the programme as transmitted, on the web at http://www.corkpsc.org/db.php?cid=471 and
Appearing in the programme were:
Rt. Hon. Tony Benn, MP and cabinet minister in Labour governments
Lord Ian Gilmour, former MP and cabinet minister is Conservative governments
Mr Reg Kees, father of Tom Keys, British soldier killed in Iraq
Baroness Helena Kennedy, barrister and human rights advocate
Dr. Ghada Karmi, Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University
Dr. Brian Klug, Senior Research Fellow & Philosophy Tutor, St. Benet's Hall, Oxford
Dr. Riz Mokal, Reader in Law, University College London
Prof. Steven Rose, Head of the Department of Biology, Open University; organizer proposed British university teachers boycott of Israel universities
Baroness Jenny Tonge, past member Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet
DON'T GET ME STARTED
Prof. Ted Honderich:
Terrorism is one awful fact of our time. Death and maiming and fear give rise to grim questions. Simple answers too...
Tony Blair, archive film:
This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today.
Baroness Jenny Tonge:
What is the difference between the horror and the violence created by suicide bombers and the horror and the violence created by bombs dropped from thirty thousand feet by aeroplanes?
Who are the real enemies of terrorism, who are its real friends?
Mr. Reg Keys:
It's come home to bite us on the streets of London. You can’t invade a sovereign state, kill tens of thousands of innocent people, without somebody somewhere going to take action for that.
Can suicide bombing ever be justified?
You'll be hearing a proposition or two from me that you may not like the sound of, maybe even find...outrageous or terrible. But we've really got to think about things. What is inflammatory now can turn out to be right and true.
THE REAL FRIENDS OF TERROR
Ted Honderich, University of Bath lecture:
7/7 has actual friends and actual enemies. Who are the actual friends of 7/7?
Ted Honderich, studio:
My name is Ted Honderich. I am a philosopher. For me philosophy isn't dreaming or deep thinking. It’s a kind of ordinary logic. Being clear, being consistent and not leaving things out. Sometimes about right and wrong.
Ted Honderich, University of Bath lecture:
It strikes me that the Palestinian's only hope is terrorism. That was their only means, which I absolutely believe without the slightest hesitation.
Ted Honderich, studio:
I can understand why a lot of what I say hits raw nerves. It's hard for example to accept that maybe there are degrees of moral responsibility for the terror that afflicts us. That it's not just the terrorists that need to change or be changed.
It’s very, very easy to condemn suicide bombers or terrorists -- you can say this is evil, this is terrible. And then you go away and you have your meal and your glass of wine and you feel that somehow you’ve done something for humanity. Well you’ve done nothing, it’s the easy way out just to condemn,
What we have to try and do is get inside their skins, to empathise, to try and understand, to try and say where are they coming from, what makes them do this.
I believe a direct line can be traced from where we are now, through July 7, back through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on back through the terrible attack on America on 9/11, to here, the Middle East, the creation of the State of Israel and the ongoing tragedy that is the story of the Palestinian people.
Dr. Ghada Karmi:
You know, we have to remember something very important. The Palestinians, historically and traditionally are a peaceable agrarian people. They have no history of violence or of warfare, or of aggression. Had they been left alone they would have remained that to this very day.
Lord Ian Gilmour:
The Palestinians have been under a brutal and apartheid occupation which is probably one of the longest, post war occupations. The result of which has been a sort of state of suspended war for the last sixty years, which has been a disaster for the Palestinians who have seen their country disappear.
I believe that the terrible and ongoing injustice done to the Palestinian people is a root cause among the causes of the violence we now experience.
Rt. Hon. Tony Benn
You could argue that the Palestinians in seeking to recover the land that in law belongs to them are not engaged in terrorism at all but in a liberation struggle.
But of course the media coverage of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is so biased because they always describe everything that the Palestinians do as terrorism, and everything, military action taken by the Israelis, as police action.
Well I agree about the bias, but my attitude is that the Palestinians are of course engaged in terrorism. It's also other things, one of them being self-defence.
Jenny Tonge at Trafalgar Square rally:
There are people dying all over Palestine because they can't get proper medical care, not just because...
The Liberal Democrat peer and doctor Jenny Tonge visited the West Bank in 2003.
She wanted to see for herself why people become suicide bombers.
Well I’d seen and experienced the things that are just getting worse and worse all the time. The confiscation of land, the inability of the Palestinians to make any economic progress at all, and I suppose, most of all, the checkpoints ... if you’re a Palestinian, you’re made to queue and sometimes for days, but certainly for hours. People are strip-searched at checkpoints, in front of their families. They are humiliated and I think it’s the humiliation that got to me more than anything.
Jenny Tonge was sacked from her shadow front bench job in the House of Commons after speaking out about Palestinian suicide bombers.
If I'd had to live in that situation myself, as a mother and grandmother, and I remember saying and I say this advisedly, that I might have considered becoming a suicide bomber myself -- that was the remark that was so inflammatory to so many people.
The Palestinians are up against what is said to be the fourth largest military power in the world. Do they have much choice in how they respond to it?
I say this within a context of what I shall call asymmetric warfare. In other words where you have protagonists and one of them is extremely weak and the other is extremely strong. I would say to you that they have a moral right to carry out any action in order to resist the occupation that they've had.
Well I think they have a moral right to resistance.
I think the tactics that some of the resistance groups or terrorist groups have used have been totally wrong. The Palestinians should have confined their resistance or their terrorism to the occupied territories and it was quite wrong to go and murder civilians in Israel proper.
It could be that the Palestinian people do have reason to resort to the terrible weapon that is the suicide bomber. But could it also be that the Jewish people have a moral right to their homeland?
What is it to have a moral right to something? To have a legal right to something is to have the justification of the law as it stands. To have a moral right is to have the justification of a fundamental moral principle.
The tragedy is that the so called moral act that you apparently support creating Israel in Palestine led to a string of tragedies which ends in us today discussing something called Palestinian terrorism.
To many the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 in historic Palestine despite being an injustice to the Palestinians was right. Partly it was right because the human race had to give compensation for the greatest horror inflicted in the 20th century.
Prof. Steven Rose:
Coming as I do from a family of Holocaust survivors, remembering very well those of my relatives who survived, who came back with the brand marks on their arms in 1945-1946, then absolutely the Holocaust was one of the most horrific acts of human against human in recorded history
For the Palestinians the creation of the State of Israel by the Allies as a compensation for the Holocaust was what in Arabic is called
al Nakba, the great catastrophe.
The Holocaust the aftermath was solved by the Europeans by accepting the Zionist premise that there was no way to resolve European anti-Semitism except by getting rid of your Jews, you got rid of your Jews to Palestine and in the consequence you actually created the Nakba, the catastrophe by which the Palestinians were expropriated, evicted, killed and moved from their lands.
Sound track, news film 1948, Palestine:
Jaffa itself has become a deserted city...when the state of Israel was declared
We are completely agreed that the Holocaust caused a problem so huge and so awful that everybody needed to come to the aid of the victims, we’re totally agreed.
The problem was that it wasn’t everybody who came to the aid, it was, it was done such that the Palestinians paid a disproportionate, or if you like, took a disproportionate share of the burden for compensating the victims of the Holocaust.
The word 'Zionism' is vague. Zionism for me, as I define it, is the founding and defence of Israel within roughly its original 1948 borders. Neo-Zionism is something else -- taking or at least controlling the last 20% of historic Palestine. There's a big difference, isn't there?
International law has not helped the Palestinians. The United Nations hasn't helped. Does it follow it would not have been right to help them?
Dr. Riz Mokal:
Since 1972, no less than 39 resolutions have been put forward on Palestine, these resolutions were about things which were as controversial as condemning Israeli forces for murdering UN employees and destroying warehouses containing internationally donated food for refugees
Archive film, U.N. Security Council, Chairman:
Those in favour of the resolution please...
Was it right that, time after time attempts by the United Nations to curb Israeli aggression against the Palestinians have been blocked by the Israelis’ great ally?
Archive film, U.N. Security Council, Chairman:
That resolution has not been passed because of a negative vote by a permanent member of the council.
The US cast a veto and these resolutions, which were supported by all countries represented on the Security Council, including the United Kingdom, were never adopted, simply because the US was able to cast them aside in this way.
Maybe Zionism, the founding of Israel in roughly its original borders was right. We have to decide. But what about neo-Zionism? -- going for the last 20% of historic Palestine after the wars of 1967 and 1973? Is there justification for that?
I think to get a clear understanding of what’s happening does require us to be straight in our mind that the Israelis have no right in law to occupy territory that does not belong to them
As there are shares of legal responsibility decided by courts, so there are shares of moral responsibility. Does America's support for neo-Zionism mean America shares moral responsibility for the injustice done to the Palestinian people?
The answer is for Israel to withdraw and for a peace settlement to be made because you see, a lot of criticism is made of the Palestinians, they don’t recognise Israel, but the Israelis don’t recognise Palestine. (Indeed)
The answer is on the basis of decisions taken by the Israelis, the Israeli government is not prepared to take and has the support of the United States in not being prepared to take.
How are we to decide such judgements of right and wrong, and moral responsibility? Maybe by depending on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
Baroness Helena Kennedy:
Under international law, I’m allowed to kill you if you attack me, and in fact under international law that’s the law of nations too. I’m entitled to defend myself and to go to war against you if you are threatening me and I feel that my own life or the life of my nation is endangered. What Human Rights law accepts is that inevitably there are going to be tensions between your rights and mine
The plain problem is that claims to human rights can conflict. How do we decide who is in the right? We need some general principle of right and wrong.
Israel does not accord any rights to five million or so Palestinians, virtually every aspect of whose lives, is controlled by Israel and yet who have no influence over Israeli institutions or Israeli decision making, perhaps other than in a negative way through their acts of resistance or other violence. It also seems to me that a democracy does not exist if you simply purge a particular territory of anybody who would disagree.
Should we decide on right and wrong not by UN resolutions or human rights but by going by democracy? In January 2006 the Palestinians democratically elected HAMAS the terrorist organization. The great powers led by the United States and the UK went against this democratic choice, and withdrew funding to punish the Palestinians for making it. So it seems we can't take democracy as a guide to right and wrong either.
If we look at the recent elections, which all international observers say were really well run, they were un-corrupt, there was no problem, we immediately get the Israeli government and the international community refusing to accept the democratically elected government of Palestinians. Now what sort of democracy is that? what law have they obeyed, what principles do they have, what is right and what is wrong. I don’t know.
What can philosophy do to help clarify thinking about all of this?
It seems clear that you don't get a principle for deciding right and wrong, and moral responsibility, from international law, or doctrines of human rights, or the verdicts of democracy. I myself stand by a fundamental principle. It is the Principle of Humanity. Simply put, it is that we must take actually rational steps, rather than pretences, to getting and keeping people out of bad lives -- frustration, deprivation, misery.
The principle gives my answer to a question about neo-Zionism, the final violation of the Palestinians. Yes, the Palestinians do indeed have a moral right to their terrorism against it in all of historic Palestine. The principle gives another answer too. Yes, the founding of Israel in its original borders, and the Jewish terrorism that helped, was also right.
They have no alternative, as all people who are in that sort of situation where they are weak, do not have the weapons of the strong and therefore have to use everything at their disposal in order to wage the war.
The Principle of Humanity condemns Bush and Blair and those who go along with them about Palestine. It condemns them as deficient in moral intelligence.
By doing the things that they do, everything they do, their war on Iraq, their bombing of Afghanistan, their failure to do anything about Palestine, and so all of those wider issues are actually fuelling terrorism.
END OF PART ONE
Moral philosophy has the aim of thinking more logically about awful facts of our time. It is less distracted by other jobs. The Principle of Humanity seems a good example. No double standards. It doesn't hold only some lives sacred. No mere conventionality in it. Not a lot of respect either. No deference to other moral attitudes pretending to be higher truths. It demands we do everything rational to get political leaders to think and act about both terrorism and the causes of terrorism.
The attack on America on 9/11 was monstrously wrong. It was wrong, according to the Principle of Humanity, because it was a monstrously irrational means to an end that was partly defensible. I mean support of the Palestinians and resistance to neo-Zionism.
Do Americans share with Bin Laden some of the moral responsibility for the attack against themselves? American neo-Zionists in particular? We really need to ask that kind of question. Palestine demands it.
Ted Honderich, at book launch in LRB Bookshop:
It seems to me clear that the Palestinians have had and continue to have a moral right to their terrorism against the ethnic cleansing of Neo- Zionism.
That judgement in my book isn't obvious. But we all have to judge under conditions of uncertainty. There are people around untroubled by uncertainty.
Questioner in LRB bookshop:
I don't think Palestine had anything to do with 9/11.
Ted Honderich in LRB bookshop:
No matter who was involved, the idea that Palestine had nothing to do with 9/11 seems to me absurd. It's not a proposition that deserves respect.
I think I'm on safe ground there. and also on pretty safe ground with the Principle of Humanity. It also rests on facts of human nature, very fundamental facts.
The Principle of Humanity is that we must take rational steps to reduce bad lives. Those are lives that are deprived in terms of six fundamental human goods...
They are for a decent length of life, bodily well-being, freedom and power, for respect and self-respect, for the goods of relationships and the satisfactions of culture.
Dr. Brian Klug:
I think that you have made an original and genuine contribution to moral philosophy and to the political debate with this Principle of Humanity. I think what you have formulated here no one has formulated before. I think it’s a noble principle and I think it’s a useful principle.
It seems to me that the Principle of Humanity is better supported, more capable of proof than any other moral attitude. But people become uncomfortable, even outraged, when the principle is applied on behalf of the Palestinians.
The Principle of Humanity says that we must take actually rational steps to get people out of bad lives and I would argue that the terrorism perpetrated by certain armed groups amongst the Palestinians is in fact counter-productive, that it works against the end that they are seeking, and this is a view that has been expressed by many Palestinians -- Palestinians are divided about this.
The Principle of Humanity and what you take to follow from it can get you in trouble with both sides of a conflict. You can be vilified by tough Palestinians for justifying the existence of the state of Israel within its 1948 borders. Some have tried to break up my lectures. You can also be judged by lawyers.
It seems to me that the Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism against the ethnic cleansing of Neo Zionism in taking from them the last fifth of historic Palestine. Do you agree that they have a moral right?
I think the language you are using Ted is so inflammatory. A moral right to terrorism, no. A moral right to their territory, yes. A moral right to having a homeland, yes. The moral right for Israel to exist, yes. I don’t believe that terrorism is a moral imperative in, even in, the circumstances the Palestinians find themselves in.
There were inflammatory things that might have been said, in say 1935 in Germany, inflammatory things said in defence of the Jewish people. So what’s inflammatory and what’s not inflammatory is a matter of operating conventions at a time. Don’t you think it’s a good idea that one should get a little bit outside of those conventions, and ask what can be said for the propositions that are said to be inflammatory?
But if you want to be an advocate for justice and fairness in the Middle East, the language you use to win people to your argument and to your side, the language has to be inclusive and has to be a language that doesn’t inflame hostility and prejudice and I think that you’re using language which will drive people away from an argument about justice.
Well, you can disagree about conventions. And also about whether you can grant somebody a moral right to something, say their territory or homeland, and then deny them the only means to getting what they want. Don't you have to withdraw the right to the end if you deny the right to the means?
Tony Blair, archive:
There is no justification for suicide bombing whether in Palestine Iraq in London in Egypt in Turkey anywhere in the United States, there is no justification for it period.
It's true that the suicide bomber intends to kill innocents, civilians, non-combatants. But what about the Israeli in his gunship, or the American or British pilot dropping down death from the safety of the sky?
I don’t see any difference, moral difference, between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. Both kill innocent people for political purposes.
...in the intentional killing of innocent people?
Ah, but then intention and unintention is irrelevant. If you kill an innocent person it’s a consequence of your act...
Thousands of innocent people died on 9/11. It was a monstrous wrong. But moral philosophy, as you've heard, asks who shares moral responsibility for a crime, who has to change or be changed.
George W. Bush, archive:
And the people who knocked down these towers will hear all of us soon...
In the aftermath of 9/11 the war on terror was declared. Once you declare vague war, you have to find an enemy to attack.
This new world faces a new threat of disorder and chaos born either of brutal states like Iraq armed with WMD or of extreme terrorist groups.
Saddam wasn't linked to 9/11, and there were no weapons of mass destruction. But the lies or equally culpable self-deceptions weren't the main thing. We went to war for about a dozen pretended and real reasons that added up to a dirty mess. A mess that cost lives.
When Tom marched off to war, he marched down that platform, his head high, his chest puffed out with pride, to do his duty for his country, and he had my full support. But it became evident before too long that this was a betrayal.
Lance Corporal Tom Keys was one of six young British Military Policemen who were placed in danger while on duty in Iraq in June 2003.
Tom was a perfect son as far as I’m concerned, a thoroughly good soldier, recommended to go high up the chain, off he went to Iraq, immensely proud of this young man serving his country.
Tom and his comrades were surrounded by a well-armed Iraqi mob maddened by the invasion of their country. The British troops didn't have enough ammunition. Their radios were faulty and they were unable to call for support. When they’d fired their last bullet, they were all killed.
Tom Keys' father has no doubt about who shares moral responsibility for his death.
The decision has come from Downing Street to go on this illegal war, and I hold my Prime Minister as guilty of my son's death as the Iraqis that pulled the trigger that day. He was ultimately responsible for putting my son in harm's way.
...and it hurts me to say this Ted, but they wasted that young man, they wasted that young man.
Since 2003 too many British soldiers like Tom Keys have died for a mess of reasons. So too have between 20 and 80,000 Iraqis, exactly as human. Another awful fact of our time. These deaths have and will make for more deaths.
It is a terrorist war too. Larger in scale than terrorism but sharing the essential feature of not being legal.
That’s why I feel so angry about the Iraq war -- because I feel that the circumstances in which in this modern world we should expect our young to go and fight for us, have to be really within very clear parameters...
And what our politicians don’t contemplate, is the cost that that has for the young that we expect to do it on our behalf and I think we should be ashamed that that was done in the circumstances that it was done in relation to Iraq.
There is no doubt that the war has forseeably resulted in the death of tens of thousands of innocent people. There is also no doubt that those who initiated and participated in the war, the American and British governments in particular, are deeply implicated morally as well as legally in the deaths, unjustified deaths of those innocent people.
In the general election of 2005 Reg Keys directly challenged Blair in his own constituency over his decision to take us to war.
Reg Keys, on election platform with Blair, looking at Blair:
I had to do it for my son Thomas Keys, Royal Military Policeman, killed in Iraq four days short of his 21st birthday. Sent to war under extremely controversial circumstances.
I feel that we were misled as a nation about the threat that Iraq posed. It was a downright, direct lie, it was a falsehood -- and does democracy work, you have to ask yourself at times. One has to ask does democracy work.
Only a fool or a politician able to hold his people in contempt would try to suggest that the war in Iraq was not a main necessary condition of the terrorist attack on London.
And we will start to beat this when we stand up and confront the ideology of this evil not just the method but the ideas, when we actually have people going into the communities here in this country and elsewhere and saying I'm sorry we're not having any of this nonsense about it's to do with what the British are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan or support for Israel or support for America, or any of the rest of it, it's nonsense.
That's another grim fact about our conventions and our hierarchic democracy. A prime minister can get away with vicious nonsense himself -- by saying the truth about Iraq and 7/7 is nonsense.
Fifty two innocent people, men and women, Christian and Jew, Muslim and non-believer, died in the horror that was July 7, 2005
Everyone remembers when they heard about it I suppose. Terrible shock and great brainstorms as to why those men, who were not really deprived, were not uneducated, could so such a terrible thing in July in England. Yes of course it is terrible
It is also this deep anger that somehow has been transmitted starting with the Palestinians has now been transmitted to many muslims all over the world.
In the law there are shares of legal responsibility. In real life there are shares of moral responsibility. We all have shares in the responsibility for 7/7. Some of us have larger shares, not a lot less responsible than the actual terrorists. I mean Bush and Blair. They have brought it about that the causes of that terrorism persist.
Two of the July 7 bombers have attributed their action to the suffering of their fellow Muslims, and particularly to the slaughter in Iraq.
Bush had decided to secure a regime change the day he was elected. 9/11 provided the excuse for it, although 9/11 had nothing whatever to do with Saddam.
...and so Blair, who said he took a tough decision, actually took the easiest decision open to anyone -- take orders from the man above you -- and it wasn’t an independent decision at all. It was, I think, a terribly wrong decision.
A real enemy of terror of terrorism is against both the terrorism and its causes. Someone who is only against the terror and who neglects the causes is in effect its friend.
I think to say he was a friend of it would be to misread the situation. But you’re quite right in saying that no thought has been given officially to the causes of 9/11 or 7/7 or the bombing in Spain and other examples, because if it were believed, as I think officials in the Foreign Office do believe, that these attacks on Britain or Spain were actually a consequence of the war, then it would throw greater doubt on the wisdom of going to war, and they don’t want that question raised at all,
We’re living in a world that’s becoming increasingly polarised, and Blair, unfortunately, has lent his weight to that polarisation. The actions of America and Britain have, I think, mirrored the actions of the militant violent radical Islamists, like Al Qaeda. So that between them, they are creating a world that is more dangerous, less secure than it would have been, and it’s this polarisation which I think is so dangerous, and I do think that Blair is complicit in that.
In the face of this moral barbarism, the slaughter of innocents in Iraq and the response of the 7/7 terrorists, what is the morally responsible thing for all of us to do? We must take real steps to get political leaders act with humanity, I mean political leaders who are tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism.
Tony Blair made a decision to join with our American ally in a war that I think was wrong. I think that he was, in many ways, deeply misguided about joining in that, and I think he’s probably on dark nights, visited that place that took him to that decision, but I think he made the mistake of his life in doing that. It was also a mistake of our lives and for that I’m angry.
Blair and Bush like to think they are fighting their ridiculous war against terrorism, by bombing Afghanistan, by going into Iraq. What they should have done is focussed on Israel/Palestine and sorted the Palestinian problem out first, and then think of the other issues. Palestine is the crux of the whole issue of foreign affairs and terrorism at the moment.
The principal aim of the war on Lebanon was not obscured by the usual pretext about self-defence and the capture of an Israeli soldier. The root aim was neo-Zionism. That indefatigable viciousness, unique in the explanation of 9/11, the Iraq War, and 7/7, has now been unique in the intentional killing of 1,000 innocent Lebanese men, women and children -- about 30 times as many as innocent Israelis.
What should we do if Blair or his successor tries to take us into another terrorist war? I believe, with the Principle of Humanity, that we must engage in mass civil disobedience. It can work. Bring down the real friends of terror.
END OF 'THE REAL FRIENDS OF TERROR' PROGRAMME
NO EXCUSES FOR TERROR
Transcript of a television programme
David Aaronovitch: Presenter
Don't Get Me Started series, channel Five
Broadcast 26 September 2006
Eamon T. O'Connor, Producer/Director
Stuart Prebble, Executive Producer
Judy Lewis: Production Manager
Head of Production: David Buckley
Production company: Liberty Bell
The transcript is close to giving the words in the programme as transmitted, but not exactly. There were small editing changes to the programme after the transcript was made. You can see the programme as transmitted, on the web, at
Appearing in the programme were:
Jane Ashworth, Democratiya; Engage; Euston Manifesto; Labour Friends of Iraq
Ann Clywd, MP, Blair special envoy on human rights in Iraq
Eve Garrard, Senior Lecturer, Professional Ethics, Keele University; Democratiya; Euston Manifesto
Norman Geras, Professor Emeritus, Department of Government, Manchester University; Engage; Euston Manifesto
Kim Howells, MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Alan Johnson, Reader in Social Science, Edge Hill University; Democratiya; Engage; Euston Manifesto; Labour Friends of Iraq
Shalom Lappin, Professor of Computational Linguistics, Department of Philosophy, Kings College London; Euston Manifesto
Dr Rory Miller, Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies Programme, Kings College London
Abdullah Muhsin, foreign representative, Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions
Dr Martin Navias, Visiting Senior Fellow, Mediterranean Studies Programme, Kings College London
Rev. Julie Nicholson, mother of Jenny, killed on 7/7, stepped down as vicar because unable to preach forgiveness
Jon Pike, Senior Lecturer, Staff Tutor, Region 13, Open University; Democratiya; Engage; Euston Manifesto
John Strawson, Reader in Law, University of East London; Engage; Euston Manifesto
DON'T GET ME STARTED
When suicide bombers blow themselves up, who do you blame?
Mohammed Saddiqi Khan killed my daughter. I'm very clear about that. And he could have made another decision. He took -- his choice was to do what he did. He could have chosen not to.
But can a human bomb in the midst of a peaceful society ever be justified?
I think that in some parts of the Middle East there is something like a "cult of death", an embracing of death rather than life.
the recent demonstration saw leftists marching, and the banners were saying "we are all Hezbollah now". If we are, we are finished.
Something has gone badly wrong, and we must face up to it now. There must be no siding with fascism, no "understanding of suicide bombers", and no excuses for terror.
NO EXCUSES FOR TERROR
I am a journalist and commentator who has always been on the left of the political spectrum -- pro-immigrant, pro-women's rights, internationalist -- but right now I am appalled at some of my former comrades are coming close to justifying that negation of human values: Islamist terror.
Here we are on the streets of Britain, people claiming to be big supporters of Hezbollah, the armed wing of Iran -- this theocratic state developing a nuclear bomb to kill us with.
Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has explicitly declared that he wants to kill Jews. One of the reasons that he is quite pleased about Zionism is that it tends to collect Jews in one place where they are more easily killed. Now, people who say this is what we support and this is what we are in favor of, I think, are lending themselves to a kind of racist discrimination that they really should be ashamed of.
It is the contention of many of the new apologists for terror that to understand the new dispensation you have to travel to the Middle East; specifically, that you have to understand the conflict as being between the almost wholly bad Israel and just about the entirely good Palestinians. Thank god that there are those on the left and center left who haven't quite lost their marbles over Israel and Palestine, or the threat posed by Islamist terror -- they do sometimes struggle to get a hearing, but that changes tonight.
is betrayed in words as "I told you so, that is what they would do, what do you expect, that is how Israelis would behave." Of course they would be disproportionate, of course they would kill civilians, and in particular Arab civilians, that is what they do.
You have to say in the recent conflict there was a wide sector of western opinion which were untroubled by Israeli deaths, or much less troubled by Israeli deaths.
I think that Britain is now the fulcrum of this now in Europe virtually more than any other place I know of. From the fringes of political opinion, the far left and far right, has crept right into the center a kind of view of Israel as an intrinsically criminal state.
What is this obsession with Israel-Palestine? In the years since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the consequent dispossession of as many as 700,000 Palestinians tens of thousands of Israeli Jews, Arabs and Palestinians have died, but in that same period millions more have died elsewhere including hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Muslims killed in wars launched by other Muslims, one million in the Iran-Iraq war alone. Why don't these disasters cast equally long shadows?
There seems to be something about the conflict in the Middle East that inflames people's imaginations. They seem so ready to condemn the one side and demand understanding for the other side, in ways that look so prejudicial because they are so much the result of using double standards.
A thousand, maybe plus or minus, deaths in the Lebanon, but how many deaths in Darfur? Hundreds of thousands, and nothing like the volume of outrage, shock, horror, ... you know, it is an order of magnitude there.
[scene of a Palestinian demonstration]
Over Palestine there is always anger in the streets. When was the last time that the same street saw mass demonstrations by thousands of slogan-chanting protestors calling for the West to intervene to stop, say, Chinese oppression in Tibet, or Russian slaughter in Chechnya, or even the near genocide in Darfur? Can't recall? Neither can I.
The UN General Assembly hardly ever calls special emergency sessions. It felt that there was no need to call an emergency session to deal with the tragedy in East Timor, to deal with Rwanda, but in 2003 alone it called three emergency sessions to deal with the Palestinian cause.
It is as if Israel has acted as a lighting conductor, its wars and conflicts taking the attention away from other states. Once popular in the West, it was the war in 1967 and its aftermath that seems to have made Israel the pariah, turning it from doomed little guy into a local bully.
Israel becomes the strong Israel, not the vulnerable Israel, and from that moment onwards it passed to the other side of the imperial divide, and now it is quite clearly on the side of the baddies, international imperialism; it is not on the side of the weak, the vulnerable, and the oppressed struggling for freedom.
You might thing that attacks like that at Kiryat Shimona where Palestinian fighters killed 18 Israeli civilians including nine children would upset people who style themselves humanitarian socialists, but in the 1970s there was deep ambivalence among many on the left even when terrorists were blowing up civilian airliners or murdering Israel athletes at the Munich Olympics.
I think what you saw was the emergence of a kind of terrorism that explicitly presented itself as part of a revolutionary ideology that identified itself as anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist.
The deep sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians translated into a tolerance of the crimes committed -- some with the knowledge of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Just two years after the Munich Olympics terror attack he was even invited to address the United Nations.
He would tell them, I am a rebel and freedom is my cause, and this went down fantastically, and not only with Western liberals and Western intellectuals, but among the numerous countries that had found independence in the 1960s.
But while the Western left felt attracted to the cause of the Palestinians, their fellow Arabs in the surrounding countries didn't always feel the same. At the start of the 1970s, the West's favorite Arab monarch, King Hussein of Jordan, was struggling with the consequence of having hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in squalor in his country. In September 1970, apparently fearful that Arafat was plotting to overthrow him, King Hussein struck out, bombing and shelling the Palestinian camps.
In the course of King Hussein's offensive against the Palestinian guerrillas, it is estimated that up to 5,000 Palestinians were killed.
Five thousand killed; innocent women and children killed as they hid in their tents. They called it Black September. What was the international response? Marches, riots, demands for sanctions, an academic boycott?
There has never been street demonstrations over any wrongs against the Palestinians by anyone other than Israel.
Five years later the same thing happened all over again; this time in another Arab country. And once again the West was silent.
In 1976, when Syria got involved in Lebanon in a major way, there was a fifty six day siege of a Palestinian refugee camp by the Syrian army and Christian militias which left an estimated 3,500 Palestinians dead.
I visited that camp two years later. In the intervening period there had been no mass protests or public outrage, no demanding of UN sanctions against Syria or placards with Assad assassin written on them. In 1991, the world and most Arab and Muslim countries seemed content for America and allied forces to intervene and kick the invading Saddam out of Kuwait. The Palestinians were seen by local Kuwaitis as having backed the wrong side. Once the Iraqis were ousted, the revenge began.
They were rounded up, they were executions held, they were beaten to death by mobs, they were burnt alive; there was a ferocious response. Yasser Arafat at the time said that what the Kuwaitis have done to the Palestinians is worse than what the Israelis have ever done to Palestinians in the occupied territories. But again, very few people know this, it doesn't influence attitudes in the West, no one takes to the street because the bottom line is that the only people that worry the West when it comes to Palestinian suffering is Israel.
It is a lamentable fact that no one ever stormed the barricades over the massacres in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon or Kuwait. And any honest leftie with a memory knows that is true. The only oppressor who counted was the zionist oppressor.
The complaint is really not that the left supports the Palestinians -- it should -- it should also support progressive Israelis, and it should support those Palestinians who are looking for a two state solution.
By the late 80s the tactic of terror was replaced by a mass movement of ordinary Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza, who rose in a largely unarmed revolt against Israeli occupation. The intifada seemed a desperately unequal battle.
There is no question in most people's minds in Israel, from the center all the way to the left, and even people on the center right, that Palestinians suffered an injustice and that it is necessary to solve that problem through the creation of a genuinely viable independent Palestinian state.
The first intifada with its images of heavily armed Israeli soldiers breaking the arms of stone throwing Palestinian kids helped to transform the political situation in Israel. Sympathy for the Palestinians was expressed by Israelis themselves in Peace Now, a remarkable popular mass movement demanding recognition of Palestinian rights and a negotiated peace settlement.
People began to see that the occupation and annexation that were going on were no longer viable, the brutalization of the Palestinian population couldn't continue. And that is the point when the Israeli left, like Peace Now and associated groups, became particularly powerful.
The politics of Peace Now found an echo amongst Palestinian moderates. Yitzhak Rabin, the man who had ordered the arm breaking, came to understand the need for Israeli concessions, and tearing up most of his most bellicose speeches, struck a deal with the Palestinians.
We who have fought against you, the Palestinians, we say to you today, in a loud and a clear voice, enough of blood and tears. Enough!
Such a peace was anathema to the rejectionists on both sides who wanted nothing more than annihilation for the other side. Yitzhak Rabin was murdered while leading a peace rally by Jewish terrorists. It was precisely when the air was pregnant with the possibility of peace when fundamentalists Islamists, Hamas, sent deluded young Palestinians laden with explosives to wreck at the heart of Israeli society and at the peace process. You would think that such terrible and counterproductive violence would meet with utter condemnation from all who call themselves progressives. You would be wrong.
Very few people actually justified it. Most people said:
we disapprove of it, but... But the "but" cancels out the disapproval.
There is a fundamental problem when the left is unable to say "I condemn the bombing of civilians and I condemn the use of children as suicide bombers, and I condemn the suicide bombers who are blowing up children."
The Hamas charter is not ambiguous:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." Not peace, obliteration. So Hamas sent its human bombs to obliterate Israelis, Jews and Arabs, in shopping centers, on buses full of school children, in restaurants and night clubs.
The bloody twelve hours began with the killing of teenagers in the center of Jerusalem. The devices that they detonated simultaneously contained nuts and bolts; a hail of shrapnel that cut down dozens of people.
Such actions could never be justified, but they could be understood. Not as the deliberate strategy of far right religious groups opposed to peace, but the almost as the natural response of the weak when dealing with the strong.
All of a sudden we now hear that in their struggle against the strong the weak have no other weapons but terrorism. It is not true.
Some demented liberals have even said that if they were Palestinians they might do the same thing.
I think that it is because of the very strong streak of what Edward Said used to call Orientalism within the British left. That is, a stereotyped view of how Asians, Muslims and Arabs actually operate. And the constant attempt to explain that suicide bombing, for instance, is understandable -- that if I were in the refugee camp, I would do it. It is of course, ..., actually contains a rather coded racist message. It is basically saying that that is what you would expect of Muslims and Arabs isn't it?
I think the account that is given of suicide bombing that it is the only in which that people can fight against the oppressive occupying power, and it seems to me that that is just false.
The left should have a moral benchmark. We should be the people who should stand up and say "don't do that, enough is enough, that is not justified." And one of things where we should draw that line is around the bombing of civilians, and in particular the bombing of civilian children.
A terrifying conjuncture has been created between long term Arab sense of victimhood and grievance -- some of it justified -- and a religious super zealotry. The end result is a cult of death.
[Scene of a suicide bomber reading his will]
I find it difficult to believe that God could possibly be pleased with people who try to secure their own salvation by way of killing innocents.
The slaughter unleashed by Hamas didn't even aim at a solution as we might understand it. It was designed both to kill as many Jews as possible, and to sabotage any chance of a peaceful settlement being reached.
The most telling statistic in these terms is that between 1994 and 1996 there was more anti-Israel terrorism when the peace process was at its height than between 1996 and 1999 when the peace process was stalled.
But far from these tactics increasing the left support for the peace process, it seems to have hardened the feeling that it is Israel, and Israel alone, that is the problem. And once the left had found itself able to make excuses for Palestinian suicide bombers, it wasn't long before they also found themselves understanding religious fundamentalism and fascist terrorism closer to home.
We mustn't start try to and understand in terms of justifying the action. Understanding to try to prevent any future action is one thing, but understanding in terms of justification is dangerous territory I think.
We all knew that one day something like 7/7 would happen, that it was a matter of where, when and who. When it did, one quite common response -- extraordinary really -- that it was in some way our own fault, or Tony Blair's. We hadn't done enough to help the Palestinians, we had killed Muslims, our society was deficient, and our policies discriminatory.
Suicide bombing, of course, long precedes our involvement in Afghanistan or in Iraq. And I am sombody who back in the late 60s was vehemently opposed to the American presence in Vietnam -- right or wrong. I was up in the streets demonstrating constantly; I never thought of strapping explosives to my chest and going on a London Underground and murdering 52 people. Where is that link?
I am with Kim Howells on this. I struggle to understand how anyone calling themselves "left" can defend Palestinian suicide bombing or demand understanding the suicide bombers who attack us.
This is the bit that I find nonsensical really. You know, I hear things like, maybe life is a bit difficult for these people, perhaps they come from poor backgrounds -- which isn't true by the way -- but even there, I grew up with a memory of the 1920s and 1930s in South Wales where there were marches and protest to London, but above all it was about democracy, politics, and organizing people, it wasn't about blowing people up.
It is not as if we don't know what really motivates the 7/7 bombers, we have their own vainglorious words as thoughtfully recorded on video.
[Mohammed Saddiqi Khan, a 7/7 Suicide bomber states his reason for his sacrifice]
Mohammed Saddiqi Khan was the self-slaughtering headman of the 7/7 bombers. Twenty four year old Jenny Nicholson was just one of his victims.
I have occasionally wondered what might have gone through their minds before they set off the bomb. But I kind of mostly hope, whatever was going through their minds, that the last thing my daughter saw was not the eyes of her killer. There was not any courage in the video; the word that sprang to my mind was petulance, there was a petulance. If I remember rightly, there was in the video Saddiqi Khan pointing a finger, he pointed a finger of blame, "I blame Tony Blair, I am an angry young man, and I went out and I killed randomly and indiscriminately."
Mohammed Saddiqi Khan wasn't struggling to survive in some kind of fetid refugee camp. No one was oppressing him, he had a good job, he had good colleagues, he had a home in Leeds for god's sake. Is it sane or sensible to argue that he was prepared to kill and die simply because of a selective empathy for fellow Muslims thousands of miles away in Palestine, Afghanistan or Iraq? Or was it because he had become a religious fanatic, a kind of holy fascist, who thought he had the moral right to kill anyone who might disagree with him?
The world has got to realize that is the kind of enemy it is dealing with. That enemy doesn't have the rationale when it comes to explain anything to the population. It is not accountable to anyone, it is not elected by anyone, it is a self-appointed murder squad. And it does astonish me that so many people, especially people on the left, they actually go along with that. OK, it is sort of a natural way of protesting against policies.
The 7/7 bombers claim that their primary motivation was to avenge their brothers and sisters in faith who were killed in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. Some commentators seem only to have heard the bit about Iraq. And here is the thing: whatever you might think about the war in Iraq, the absence of weapons of mass destruction, or the tactics of the occupation, do you think that the Muslims of that country want Saddam back?
Saddam's dictatorial fascist regime was a catastrophe, a nightmare. Crushing repression, summary executions, killings, I mean he must have run out of time to kill so many people. He used to carry them in lorries to their mass graves in the desert, and just buried them alive.
And lets recall, while we are about it, that the principal victims of Saddam's regime were not pampered members of the secular Western middle classes. Before toppling him, the West tolerated a dictatorship whose Muslim victims ran into the hundreds of thousands. Some tolerated him more than others.
Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.
Those who had associations with the regime throughout the period when we knew perfectly well what Saddam was doing, ..., I really despise because they gave succor to the regime when they knew what the regime was doing to its own people. And I defy anybody to stand on the edge of a mass grave like that Saddam Hussein was a good man, why did you get rid of him.
Now Saddam is deposed and on trial, what do hard core sections of the left conclude? That the Saddam supporters and the headcase suicide bombers killing British soldiers -- the sadists who are killing Muslims everyday for the crime of doing what ordinary people do -- are brave freedom fighters and insurgents. There is a word for this isn't there? The word is surely "degenerate".
I think that is right; I think that why it has happened is those values that the left always held dear have been squeezed out. The reason they have been squeezed out is that a very simplistic world view has been adopted. What it tends to do, very simplistically, that anyone shooting at Americans or involved in a campaign against imperialism must be in some sense on our side.
People who are going to the marketplace, and are in the process of doing their daily shopping are suddenly blown up into pieces, killed and maimed. Morally wrong this is. And politically is also dangerous because those people who are committing these crimes they have a form of absolutism, they believe in the absolute truth, and they believe in some form of ideology -- if you don't agree with us, then we have the right to kill you to impose our... This is also politically dangerous. These people should be stopped.
The apologists for terror state it as a fact, that only a fool would deny, that 7/7 was primarily caused by Blair's adventure in Iraq. Now, that is the same as saying that without Iraq it wouldn't have happened. But before Iraq it did, never mind 9/11. Remember the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center; the African embassies in 1998...
First and foremost, for Al Qaeda is to combat the West, and more particularly the United States, the embodiment of all that is evil -- both ideologically and ideologically in the West. Al Qaeda aims to attack the United States and its allies, to drive them out of the Arabian peninsula, to reclaim lands that once were Muslim, and to establish an Islamic caliphate along territories.
Clearly the Israeli-Palestinian problem must be solved, but it must be solved on its own terms. Clearly that the situation in Iraq must be solved, the sooner the better, but to suggest that policies towards those areas will help deter and halt terror in Europe is just fanciful thinking.
The shift from insurgents killing American imperialist soldiers to insurgents killing Iraqis hasn't faced the apologists for terror -- the demonstrations were thinning out, the justifications were becoming less plausible. Then Hezbollah crossed the Lebanese border amidst a barrage of rockets, killed several Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two more. Next thing you know, the zionist demon was back.
Increasingly what has become the sort of sewage of the fringes of the far right and far left political discourse concerning Israel, have now contaminated mainstream political discourse to the point that major newspapers or major political figures very much in the center are happy to indulge in the full scale portrayal of Israel as a demonic entity of mythic proportions. So, no matter what Israel does it is treated as the embodiment of malice, evil, child murder and bloodletting -- often without relationship to the facts.
The war in the Lebanon was the apologists indignant fancy. The pictures were Israeli jets and missile hammering into Lebanese apartment blocks and villages with the cameras that Hezbollah media guides permitted to be filmed. While Hezbollah fired missiles from hospital car parks and from behind schools, Israel was slammed for disproportionate action even though its forces attempted to distinguish between civilian and fighter. Intentionality was deemed to be unimportant, so was the issue of how this conflict began; once again, it was just bad zionists against good Muslims.
One of the things that has happened, is the prism through with the left has tried to understand the phenomena of Islamism and Islamic terrorism is the prism of resistance to imperialism. So we might not agree with every dot and comma of what they do, we might have our criticism nonetheless comrade, fundamentally we have to side with the objectively progressive forces. That has led them into the most terrible alliances, and caused them to... for instance, the banners that appeared in a recent demonstration "we are all Hezbollah now".
And who did the left think Hezbollah were: A kind of welfare sans frontieres, freedom fighters willing to give up their lives for their Palestinian brothers? Or a reactionary religious private army preaching hatred of Jews, destruction of the state of Israel, subjugating its women, militarizing its children, and taking orders from paymasters in Tehran and Damascus?
I came here to extend my congratulations to the Lebanese people on a great and historic victory, and in particular, I want to congratulate the Lebanese resistance, and their leading edge, Hezbollah, whose martyrs and whose heroes have achieved this great victory, and in particular, to their leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose name now rings in joy around the whole world.
George Galloway got up and said that he wanted to glorify Nasrallah the head of Hezbollah -- which is an anti-semitic communal organization, deeply anti-semitic, which has spent five or six weeks this summer lobbing rockets on Haifa and Tel Aviv. And you have the left glorifying its leader.
It ought to be baffling, but somehow it isn't. Loathing of the prime minister, hatred of the Americans, and a lack of leadership on the left is allowing many supposed radicals to enter into bed with the worst forces of reaction, and not with the oppressed or with democrats.
Statement by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Muslim cleric, translated:
Do the Jews of yesterday (sic) bear responsibility for the crimes committed by the Jew of the past? The principle is that they indeed bear responsibility for these crimes.
You are truly welcome to London, the city of all faiths.
You get Ken Livingstone embracing a misogynist, anti-semitic, homophobic cleric in London. You get John Pilger, a fantastic journalist, who when asked "do we have to support the resistance in Iraq?" he answered: we can't be choosy. You get someone like Michael Moore, everyone is watching films and reading his books and so on; Michael Moore is an idiot. It would be a healthy political culture if we could say things like "Michael Moore is an idiot". Michael Moore writes in his books, quote, there is no threat, there is no threat, repeat after me, there is no threat, end of quote. Its kind of a corrosive poison, if you'd like, that is seeping into much wider liberal left opinion.
They need to go to our country, to Iraq, and they need to assess the situation. They need to stop plugging sentences from books, from grand theories, and try to impose them on our country. Stop being cultural imperialists, give us the solidarity, and give us the support. We are the same people who fought Saddam Hussein, and the same people who are fighting for democracy, for social justice, for equality -- we are the same people, we haven't changed, we are wearing the same clothes. Support us, stop supporting these extremists and fundamentalists who only will bring chaos to Iraq. In the future they will haunt you because they are not your friends, they are your enemy.
The idea that we are somehow to blame for the terror that sits itself down on our buses and trains, and destroys our relatives and our peace is not just wrong, it is degenerate.
[One more time (fourth in the program) where Mohammed Saddiq Khan reads his testament before his suicide]
It is a sign of the ignorance that there is about what exactly Al Qaeda, the sectarians that are murdering Muslims now within Iraq, those who never want to see a stable relationship between Palestine and Israel; what they actually believe, they believe that infidels should be killed. It is as simple as that.
I am in the business of celebrating creativity and the creation of life. And I believe that we all should be engaged in living lives in a life-giving way for ourselves and for others. For those people that cannot find a life to live, that is a great sadness and a great tragedy. But if their only redress is to strap a bomb to their back, and go into a random group of people, to make the point that their life is all wrong at some level, then the whole world has gone badly wrong.
Is the equivalent of saying that the racist murder has somehow to be understood because we have brutally forced him into a multi-cultural society. Or that the husband who beats his wife into a pulp is somehow the inevitable victim of our modern sexual morays. How dare anyone blame those who suffer for what is done to them.
I feel that the day that we find that in any way acceptable or understandable is really the beginning of the end of humanity.
For some of the book from which the first programme came, go to Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7.... For one review of the book, go to Tam Dalyell. For another review, go to Steven Poole. There is more of relevance in the earlier book After the Terror. On anti-semitism, there is The Fall and Rise of a Book in Germany and Ted Honderich and LondonStudent. Related to the Aaronovitch programme in content is an article by Nick Cohen in the New Statesman. See also thoughts on both from The Guardian website. For Palestinian condemnation of propositions by Honderich, go to On Being Persona Non Grata to Some Palestinians Too, and Some Moral Philosophy.
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