Israeli minister summons Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood to protest publication of pro-terrorism letter

Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, on Thursday, instructed the Government Press Office (GPO) to summon the Guardian’s correspondent in Israel to protest a letter published in the paper which justified terrorism.  (See CiF posts, here, here, and here).

As we noted previously, the letter, by Ted Honderich, a professor of philosophy at University College London, made the case that the Guardian’s “Palestine Papers” showed that Israel was such a morally indecent nation that:

“The Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism within historic Palestine…Terrorism, as in this case, can as exactly be self-defence, a freedom struggle, martyrdom, the conclusion of an argument based on true humanity.”

Edelstein wrote Guardian editor Ian Black to express his outrage that his newspaper would publish a letter that calls for the murder of innocent civilians. He asked that Black print an apology and clarification stating that the newspaper did not condone terrorism in any form and did not consider it a legitimate tool in a struggle for freedom.

Edelstein also instructed GPO head Oren Helman to “urgently summon”Guardian correspondent Harriet Sherwood to discuss the letter. (Apparently, however, Sherwood is currently in Egypt.)

Coming on top of the heated criticism by Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, of the Guardian’s commentary of the “Palestine Papers” (which, Prosor said, was so sympathetic to extremism it risked “out-Hamasing Hamas”) it appears that the Israeli government has made a decision to rightly “name and shame” the Guardian for their egregious anti-Israel agenda – an ideological orientation which increasingly seems sympathetic to the most radical, not to mention reactionary, violent movements.

While we eagerly await Ian Black’s reply to Edelstein, the paper’s Readers’ Editor, Chris Elliott – as we noted previously – already offered a curious response to criticism over their decision to publish the letter by Honderich.

Elliott said:

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

But, then, justifying the letter, he argued:

[Honderich] 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.

However, this argument ignores the wording of Honderich’s letter, which (as we’ve noted) wasn’t some philosophical meditation on the ethics of war and conflict but, rather, a specific reply to the “revelations” of the “Palestine Papers” – which Honderich argued provided moral justification for specific acts of terrorism against Israeli men, women, and children.

In other words, contrary to Elliott’s defense – and regardless of the defense that may be provided by Ian Black or anyone else at the Guardian – no amount of sophistry or obfuscation can change the fact that Honderich’s letter was solely addressing (and sanctioning) acts of murder in a particular country and against a specific group – Israeli Jews.

While we’re heartened to see that more and more people, from across the political spectrum, are beginning to realize how morally reprehensible the Guardian’s commentary on Israel truly is, there is no sign at this point that their correspondents, editors, or management are any closer to engaging in any serious reflection on the issue.

In other words, regardless of the facts and consequences of their behavior, their ideology is far too rigid and, seemingly, ingrained in their company’s culture for us to expect any growth or understanding.

It’s certainly interesting that a newspaper which so fancies itself as an agent of change in the world – one which “speaks truth to power” –  has become what they supposedly are dedicated to fighting: A behemoth far too crippled by their own hubris to be open to true reform or self-examination – an orientation, it should be noted, which is decidedly illiberal.

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