Sunday, June 29, 2008
"Hypocrisy" over Israel boycott
'Hypocrisy' over Israel boycott
Sir: When I was President of the Association of University Teachers, a predecessor of the University and College Union, we passed resolutions critical of China but not of Israel; now it's the other way round. Contrary to Dr Hutchison (letter, 17 June), there neither was nor is anything illogical or hypocritical here: the boot is on the other foot.
If we decide not to oppose any evils because we cannot oppose them all, we entirely trivialise the concept of evil. The list of morally similar things is always indefinitely long and always disputable at every point, because similar things are always a bit different. The demand that we check off the entire list before we speak out against, say, Israel or China is a demand that would cause all moral language to die in our mouths.
Something bad does not cease to be bad because something else is bad too. We constantly face rhetoric that changes the subject from bad acts in the world to the state of mind or alleged hypocrisy of those who condemn those acts, rhetoric which is really a sign of guilty conscience.
Sir: P J Stewart and Sara Cohen (letters: 11, 12 June) both make pertinent and helpful points. Despite the superficial divergence of their perspectives, they identify two important truths central to the tragedy of Palestine.
One: the Arab struggle was and is against Zionism, not Jews. Two: without the West's acquiescence to Zionist terror, Jews and Arabs would still be co-inhabiting a region they had shared for centuries.