Guardian readers’ editor defends decision to publish letter justifying suicide bombing

Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, responded today to criticism that his paper chose to publish a letter from “eminent” philosopher Ted Honderich defending Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.  As we noted, here, Honderich’s apologia for suicide bombing was quite explicit.  He said:

Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism within historic Palestine [presumably the West Bank and sections of Jerusalem]…Terrorism as in this case can as exactly be self-defence, a freedom struggle, martyrdom, the conclusion of an argument based on true humanity, etc.” [emphasis mine]

Elliot notes that he received a complaint – echoing our argument – that “this letter the Guardian [published] is inciting antisemitism, violence against civilians … endorses terror and calls for the murder of Jews.”

Then, Elliott says:

“It is the policy of the Guardian not to publish letters advocating violence against others…”

Now watch this transition:

[However] It seems to me legitimate to debate…he is not advocating suicide bombing, he is questioning how it is regarded by most people in the west, and how it might be seen as something other than terrorism by people in other places and circumstances.  It is a legitimate area of discussion.

But, no matter how Elliott parses it, Honderich’s commentary wasn’t some abstract philosophical meditation published in a scholarly journal, it was a specific reply asserting the moral significance of the Palestine Papers.  Indeed, let’s look at how he begins his letter:

The revelations in detail [Guardian’s Jan. 25 piece on the Palestine Papers] of the intransigent greed, the escape from decency, of Israeli governments…serve one purpose….They provide an overwhelming argument for a certain proposition [the Palestinian moral right to terrorism]. [emphasis mine]

In other words, what Honderich has learned from the Guardian’s Palestine Papers is that Israel is such a morally indecent country that Palestinians now clearly have the moral right to murder Israeli men, women, and children.

No matter how much sophistry or rhetorical acuity Elliott attempts to employ, there’s simply no denying the obvious.

Seven years after Israel finally succeeded in ending a bloody intifada which claimed the lives of over 1100 Israelis – and left thousands more injured and permanently disabled – the Guardian published a letter morally sanctioning its return.

It needs to be remembered that evil acts throughout history have never occurred in a political vacuum.  The most violent and reactionary movements have always been nurtured by intellectual justifications for their extremism.

It is in this context that Ted Honderich’s apologia for the murder of innocent Israelis – published by the Guardian – must be seen.

If Mr. Elliott and his colleagues at the Guardian have a hard time understanding the real-world consequences of terrorist attacks in Israel, here are the names of those Israelis killed since 2000.  If he chooses to, Elliott can open the link below to see a photo and a brief bio of these very real citizens whose lives were extinguished by the extremism which intellectuals like Honderich nurtures.

Victims of Palestinian Terrorism in Israel Since 2000

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