Monday Oct 10, 201106:59 PM GMT
'Zionists abusing Palestinian rights'
Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:1PM
An exclusive interview with Ted Honderich, professor of philosophy
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A prominent professor says that the Zionist regime is plundering and abusing the Palestinians who have the moral right to fight for their survival.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Ted Honderich, professor of philosophy, elaborates on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Press TV: Let's begin with this bid of UN statehood by the Palestinians. You've talked about Palestine in your work for decades.

Honderich: I think it's an excellent idea that they're trying it on. I think it's an absolute moral disgrace that the president of the United States turns out to be a little bit of an Uncle Tom (a person who perceives themselves to be of low status, and is excessively subservient to perceived authority figures) when he's up against neo-Zionism. That's my quick answer.

Press TV: Obviously to OFCOM, we're not being racist here. You've most controversially, perhaps, tackled a subject not just specific to Palestine, but a more general subject about politics and the role of political violence. Before we get onto that, what made you choose that as a subject to concentrate on, and why do you think so few people do concentrate on that subject?

Honderich: It was chance that got me into it. When I was a young lecturer, a professor said write a book on the justifications of punishment. I did, being a sensible, rational young lecturer.

And then some Americans said you've written about the justification of punishment, turn your attention to political violence. Agreeable as always, I did that.

Press TV: I hope what you said didn't make any impact on the US Justice System, certainly the penal code which has been in the news lately.

Honderich: Well, they tried to make an impact on me whenever I speak on America. Various neo-Zionist lads turn up and raise trouble. It's also true that the Palestinians raised a little trouble for me. That must prove I'm wrong, I guess.

Press TV: But you've worked on this and educated generations of students, and yet the framing of the debate on political violence in the Middle East is always one of “Gandhi is the way forward”, non-violence is the way forward; whereas, you have talked about the nuances in the debate.

Honderich: Just one quick nuance: Gandhi didn't say non-violence is the only way forward. With respect to violence, nobody thinks violence is really ruled out.

If a woman is in the course of being raped, and she can stop him by banging him on the head, is anybody going to believe she is supposed to remonstrate with him instead?

Press TV: Well, Zionists will be the first to say that that rape analogy is not one applicable to the Middle East.

Honderich: First of all, neo-Zionists might agree with the following thought, but anybody who says that violence is never to be persisted will have to think about this...when the Russian troops with the tanks were on the way to end the Holocaust, should they have stopped and said let's have a conference in Geneva instead and discuss this? Nobody thinks that. It's simply not the case that anybody really believes there's no place for political violence.

Now, as for whether or not the analogy of rape is one that could be brought into connection with what the neo-Zionists are up to in Palestine, it seems to me to be very simple. There are lots of ways in which rape is unlike what they're doing to the Palestinians. And lots of ways in which the two things are rather close.

For example, there are no two sides to the story of a real rape. There are no two sides to the Palestinians vs. the neo-Zionists in Palestine, either. It's perfectly clear, and the entire world, the large majority of it agrees.

And if they get their votes translated into votes at the UN, you'll see that proved in a week or two.

Press TV: You're not the only one to allude to power relations, of course. In the academy, lots of people talk about power relations. By why do you think the way the media seems to speak about this situation is one, seemingly, without power? Is that the fault of the influence in the academy? Or, have you had colleagues that are more persuasive in public discourse about the fact that these sorts of analogies are pointless?

Honderich: Well, you might think that it has very little to do with the academy. It has rather a lot to do with the financing of the public life, and the vast amounts of money which are, for example, all important in Obama's failure to face up to this strong moral challenge in connection to the UN. Tis money.

I've never been a Marxist. I've never read any Marx. And I never used to have the word “capitalism” on my lips. But, I finally got around to it, haven't got around to being a Marxist. But anybody who says is the academy responsible for what's happening, ought to be introduced, as I'm sure you have been, to the word capitalism, and the use of money.

Press TV: Of course, the Arab Spring, which has been seen by many to be in opposition to the US hegemonic power in the region and in the “Mahgred”, particularly. And again they say, you see these were peaceful revolutions, revolutions shouldn't be violent. You would still reject the disparity that it was only through non-violence and, my extension, that it was the Palestinian Authority the ones to be talked to and not Hamas spoken to?

Honderich: There's too much in there. I can't possibly handle that. So let me handle the “Arab Spring”, briefly.

I haven't got much to say for Gaddafi and, for that reason; I'm a little hesitant about what to say for Libya, in particular. I take it that his record is pretty bad. But I'm curious as to what kind of a society Libya was, I actually don't know. And I'm even more curious as to what kind of a society is going to come out of the Arab Spring in Libya.

I am, as you know, a professor of philosophy, so I go by other professors. And I heard one on the box sometime in the last fortnight or so. And he was asked why was it that those people are still fighting on Gaddafi's side? And he gave three answers.

The first was because of tribal connections.

The second was because of regional connections.

And the third was because they were fighting for Gaddafi against the incoming government because they were connected with the side he was also connected with. The third thing, the poor...well, I don't really know about that.

I'd like to wait a little bit to find out what I think about the “Arab Spring”. Wait until I get a few more facts.

Press TV: When it comes to Gaza, because certainly there is unanimity in the media framing the debate; Gaza, Hamas, they're not to be spoken to, we now have leaks showing that the Americans say they'll only speak to the Palestinian Authority.

Honderich: What is happening in Palestine, what is being done by neo-Zionism is such that it gives Palestinians, I happen to believe this and it's gotten me into trouble, a moral right to their terrorism against neo-Zionism within all of historic Palestine.

A lot of people believe that. A few people are in a position to be able to say it because they need votes or they need friends, or something like that, or they're too young.

Press TV: But, you've been giving a philosophical justification, from first principles, it has to be said, for years. And yet, even the regulator of this program, when it's broadcast in Britain, may say what you just said is inciting violence. How is it that things have seemed to get worse since you've been working on these topics.

Honderich: I've lately read in a book whose title is called Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War, and you'll find a section in there on incitement, and what incitement is.

I'm writing books. I'm not inciting people. I just give them the best possible reason to give them that the Palestinians have a moral right...

Press TV: Of course, in return, you have been vilified. I think you're even thinking of suing someone for calling you an anti-Semite. How long do you think that confusion between anti-neo-Zionism, as you call it, and anti-Semitism is going to persist?

Honderich: I think you shouldn't sue anybody for what could properly be regarded as an inane lie. Inane falsehoods don't really need suing.

I happen to be married to a Jewish woman. I've got Jewish people in my family. And the general idea that I'm an anti-Semite is at the level of the public relations of [David] Cameron. It's that kind of drivel.

Press TV: Do you think it's gotten worse in terms of being able to debate subjects like the ones you have been debating?

Honderich: It's the case, to be a little more serious, that public discourse in Britain and certainly in America has been dragged down to a level such that getting a hearing for certain views is, more or less, impossible. I'm not quite sure what to do about that.

I'm also not sure about what to do about what is rational with respect to the level of discourse that one goes in for one's self. Should one observe parliamentary language? Should one go in for academic restraint?

Or, should one, thirdly, show a proper, and state a proper moral contempt for, for a start, neo-Zionism?

I'm a little more drawn these days to that third possibility.

Press TV: President Obama certainly was very clear when he said they would use the veto.

Honderich: He may be reasoning that he must carry on in such a way to achieve the most he can in that depraved society. And the most may be very little. The most may be so little that he has even got to do this wretched thing at the UN in order to achieve it.

There is something called the principle of humanity, and in a brief sentence it is, 'take every rational step; take every rational step and only rational steps to get people with bad lives out of those bad lives'. That is not a principle, it's full of deference. It's not full of deference even to political reality. It is full of the attempt to say straightly what ought to happen and, as you gather, I stick to it.

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