Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Norman Finkelstein at the Oxford Union -- Round Two

When Norm Finkelstein was disinvited from appearing at the Oxford Union last term, the then president, Luke Tyrell, said that he would be invited back. I wrote about it, and then it was picked up by Tikun Olam and Muzzlewatch.

Well, he will be back all right. Although this time he will be debating the question: "The House Believes that the State of Israel Has a Right to Exist." Read about it here.

And, needless to say, he will be arguing for, not against, the proposition.

Finkelstein's partner will be Ten Honderich, a prominent British philosopher (who has written a good deal about the free will problem) But he is best known as a leftwing philosopher who has taken stands that make the average liberal philosopher queasy. From Wikipedia:

His Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7...justifies and defends Zionism, defined as the creation of Israel in its original borders, but also reaffirms that Palestinians have had a moral right to their liberation -- to terrorism within historic Palestine against what Honderich calls the ethnic cleansing of Neo-Zionism, the expansion of Israel beyond its original borders.

Against the proposition will be Ilan Pappe and Ghada Karmi. Both had been scheduled to argue in favor of the One-State solution last year. But they and Avi Shlaim walked out when Finkelstein was disinvited.

This debate looks virtually the same as the one that caused the brouhaha last term. If you believe in Israel's right to exist, you are a two-stater; if you don't, you are a one-stater.

So will Alan Dershowitz get involved? Will the Brit liberal Zionists go ballistic again?

May I suggest that the proper Zionist response is not to claim that Finkelstein and Honderich are being disingenuous. In fact, they both are in favor of recognizing the State of Israel within its 67 borders. The proper Zionist response is to claim that a debate betweeen leftwing advocates of Israel and leftwing detractors, leaves out the Zionists, and that is unfortunate. After all, it seems odd that no Zionists are on the program.

Odd, yes; unfair, no. If Zionists are not invited to this one, let them sit it out. Maybe they should ask for the following debate: ""The House Believes that the Palestinians have a Right to a State." The Zionist left will argue in favor; the Zionist right against. That would be a nice attempt to balance.

Stay tuned for more...


Anonymous said...

Honderich's position on terrorism is creepy. I was leafing through a book of his (mostly on how we should give much much more to the Third World poor, IIRC) and decided not to buy it because he was saying the Palestinians "have a right" to their terrorism. His argument was interesting in that he equated this with the deliberate bombing of civilians by Western countries. I'm all in favor of saying these are morally equivalent, but in order to condemn both, not support both. But I had grudging respect for his consistency.


Unknown said...

Read this stupid Bintel Blog entry at the Forward...but I hope you don't have high blood pressure:

"Anti-Israel firebrand turned academic-freedom martyr Norman Finkelstein recently paid a visit to his favorite Lebanese extremist group.

The AP reports that the “Holocaust Industry” author and former DePaul University professor met with Hezbollah’s commander in south Lebanon and toured a village that was the scene of heavy fighting in the summer of 2006.

“After the horror and after the shame and after the anger there still remain a hope, and I know that I can get in a lot of trouble for what I am about to say, but I think that the Hezbollah represents the hope. They are fighting to defend their homeland,” Finkelstein told reporters.

UPDATE: At least Finkelstein apparently thinks Israel has a right to exist, as this bizarre debate lineup at the Oxford Union seems to suggest."

Are we surprised he gives a hat tip to Solomonia? The Forward & Solomonia continue the canard that Finkelstein is anti-Zionist, though how you can be both "anti-Israel" and favor Israel's existence, as the author claims in the course of this single entry is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

The Union voted by about 100 in favour of the 'right to exist'. It was an ill-tempered debate. Honderich crossed the floor after his speech. What a farce. The Oxford Union has no 'right to exist' unless the idiots who run it are kicked out.