Events around date of publication of this item.
After the Terror: a book and further thoughts
: After the Terror: a book and further thoughtsBy
: Ted Honderich Date of issue
11 September 2002Topic(s) addressed
: Commentary Abstract
In 1900, within something close to living memory, there were about 500,000 Arabs and 50,000 Jews in Palestine.3 Many of the latter had arrived recently on account of the barbarism of anti-Semitism. The subsequent horror of the mass murder of European Jews in the Second World War did not issue, as in justice it ought to have, in a protected Jewish state carved out of Germany.
After the war, according to a United Nations resolution, Palestine was to be divided into two states. There were about 749,000 Arabs and 9,250 Jews in what would be the Arab state, and 497,000 Arabs and 498,000 Jews in what would be the Jewish state. It was a moral necessity, in my morality, that a Jewish state be founded somewhere. That it be maintained as and where it was founded, partly by way of Zionist terrorism and to the detriment of the Palestinians, was also such a necessity.
There has since been no Palestinian state but rather 50 years of obstruction and the rapacious occupation of more and more land by Israel, importantly aided by a distinction between official or state killing on the one hand and non-official killing on the other hand. Most Arabs have been driven out of their homes. In the years 1989 to 1991, there were between 250,000 and 400,000 Jews settled on Arab land. Of about 7,000,000 Palestinians, about half are now outside of Palestine.
All this history, and the actions by Israel after September 11, have been importantly owed to the policies and actions of the United States in particular. The resolutions of the United Nations against Israel, unlike other resolutions, have come to nothing principally because of the United States.
These accounts of deprivation by omission and by commission, our parts in Africa and Palestine, give rise to large questions. Our present concern, however, you may remember, is the general understanding and defining of bad lives and good lives.
But let us not struggle with the matter, say, of whether a life can be bad in virtue of being frustrated just in terms of the good of culture. Let us rather resolve, if that is the right verb, that those with half-lives, dying children, quarter-lives, those who lose 20,000,000 years of living-time -- that these individuals do have bad lives. It is worth noticing that this judgement seems to be both indisputable, a matter of fact, and yet as good as in the old category of value-judgements. So too, we can take it, do the Palestinians have bad lives, first because of being denied the great good of freedom and power in a homeland.