Tony Greenstein | 07 April 2015 | Post Views:

Southampton’s Professor Ettinghausen – an Opponent of Freedom of Speech

There has been a wave of condemnation, not least from academics, of the Southampton University Administration’s banning of a conference on International Law and Israel.  However one slug emerged from the brickwork of Southampton University to uphold the banning edict, one Professor Ettinghausen.  Granted he’s not an academic used to philosophical or political analysis, his decision to act as a police state academic is no doubt shameful.  I therefore decided to pen him a letter so that he might understand (forlorn hope that it is) the logical fallacy in his argument.

Assuming Ettinghausen is a Zionist, a group that regularly uses and abuses the Holocaust, I wondered whether conferences on the subject should, to be scholarly, include supporters of the Holocaust and those who deny it ever happened.  I won’t wait with bated breath for a reply!

Tony Greenstein
Guardian letter 7.4.15.

Ettinghausen deep in thought or something
Dear Professor Ettinghausen,

realise that your subject is modern languages rather than anything too
analytical but even you should be able to see the logical fallacy in
your argument.

Apparently a ‘conference that allows only
one side of an argument is not scholarly and cannot promote debate’.
[Guardian Letters 7.4.15.] 

Let us take this absurd logic a
little further.  A conference on the slave trade and slavery cannot be
scholarly unless it includes advocates of slavery?

Likewise a conference on Apartheid in South Africa couldn’t have been scholarly unless it had advocates of apartheid?

something that even you might appreciate.  A conference on the
Holocaust could not be scholarly unless it included both advocates of
the holocaust and those who denied it?

I imagine even you,
confined though you are in your racist ivory tower that hears, sees and
speaks no evil about Israel, might begin to understand the flaw in your
argument.  On slavery there were key arguments about whether the
British got rid of slavery and the slave trade out of altruism or
economic interest.  Likewise why Apartheid was abolished and as for the
Holocaust I suspect that even you are aware of the many debates, from
the role of the Judenrat, the Jewish resistance, Zionist collaboration
with the  Nazis, when the Holocaust began, intentionalism v
functionalism etc. 

I realise that you are no historian but that is no excuse for stupidity.

of course that leaves to one side the question of whether there is a
very real debate to be had about whether international law has any role
in achieving justice or overthrowing Zionism in Palestine.  I believe
international law is pretty much useless in opposing injustice and that,
if anything, is the major flaw in the Conference.


Tony Greenstein

On 7 April 2015 at 21:40, Henry Ettinghausen <[email protected]> wrote:

 Dear Mr Greenstein,

 Thank you for your courteous comments on my letter.

 Your logic appears to put the existence of the state of Israel on the same plane as slavery, Apartheid and the Holocaust, and I note that you capitalise the second of these phenomena, but not the third. From what you say, I take it that, as far as you are concerned, Israel is simply an evil.

 However, Israel is one of the few states in the world whose establishment was approved by the UN – a fact that doesn’t prevent several other states from not just questioning its right to exist, but actually calling for its annihilation and for the extermination of its citizens.

 That, it seems to me, is more evil than it would be to defend slavery or Apartheid. Indeed, it amounts to a desire to see the Holocaust completed.


 Henry Ettinghausen.

El 08/04/2015 a las 0:15, Tony Greenstein escribió:
Deaer Mr Ettinghausen,

I am somewhat baffled.  I was putting to you a logical analogy, not putting the state of Israel on the same plane as the Holocaust, Apartheid or Slavery, to name but 3 evils.  I could have mentioned Rwanda, the Armenian genocide, torture as state policy. 

Since you ask, let me assure you that I put Israel as a state on a lower plane than the first and third and on an equal level to the second.  I do not hold states, any states, as particularly worthy of one’s veneration.  I would expect you to know something about Franco, who was certainly a fascist.  To fascism the individual means nothing and the state is an object of worship.  
I hold no candle for international law.  It has no means of enforcement, is applied selectively (will Bush and Blair be tried and imprisoned at the International Court of Justice?) and is used to legitimise existing power relations.  The UN is a thieves kitchen and so your reference to Israel’s establishment by the UN persuades me of nothing other than the fact that the United States exerted enough pressure in 1947, on states like Liberia, to achieve the result it wanted. 
I don’t believe that any state ‘has the right to exist’.  States are not human beings, do not possess life and are instruments of coercion at the disposal of human beings.  The Apartheid South African State was a means of enforcing terror and dispossession and it was right that it was destroyed.  Likewise Israel.  I’m sure you would have supported the destruction of the Nazi German state but that does not extend to the annihilation or extermination of the German people.  A state is not its people. 
The destruction of the Zionist state, a state based on the supremacy of the Jewish race/nation, is a precondition for peace in Palestine and indeed the region. 
Tony Greenstein
On 8 April 2015 at 11:03, Henry Ettinghausen <[email protected]> wrote:

Dear Mr Greenstein,

Many thanks for your reply.

So you don’t believe that states have a right to exist, you want Israel destroyed and you don’t think much of international law.

As regards the first two propositions, I wonder why you pick on Israel for special treatment. Aren’t there a lot of much better targets for state-hating, if that is one’s preferred sport? What about, for instance, China, Russia, North Korea, the  African dictatorships and nearly all of the Arab states?

As for international law, certainly it’s highly imperfect and unjust, but what would you do about it? Just ditch it? Would that make the world a better place?

Tragically, attempts to recreate the world in a different image have all failed dismally and brutally. The future, if there is to be one, will (I think) depend on creative cooperation between states and individuals, not on destruction. If destruction is your solution, you’ve got a nice instance of it in the Islamic State.

For what it’s worth, my guess is that Palestinians, if given the choice between that and coming to terms with what you call the Zionist state, would prefer the latter.


Henry Ettinghausen.

Dear Mr Ettinghausen,

I don’t think there is any ‘right’ to exist in respect of states. 
States do exist, that is a fact, but there is no human right as such
attaching to that.

The reason I concentrate on the Israeli
state is the same reason I concentrated on the South African state under
the days of Apartheid and would have concentrated on the Nazi state,
viz. they are special types of states which have discrimination built
into their very existence.

There are of course, as you
mention, many repressive states but it is not the state per se but the
ruling group or class that is primarily responsible for their repressive
activities.  Certainly the African states are artificial, a product of
British imperialism drawing arbitrary lines in maps and the same is the
case for many of the Arab states, in particular the Gulf sheikhdoms,
whose only purpose is and was to separate the people from the oil.

law takes many forms.  There are relatively uncontroversial treaties
and conventions such as the Child Abduction convention but there are
also much more controversial ones such as e.g. the creation of the
Israeli state.  In this the UN was really just perpetuating the work of
the League of Nations Mandate which put a legal gloss on what was naked
land theft.

The future prosperity and peace in the world
will depend on whether the people of the world are able to take their
own future and the wealth of the world in their hands and to strip away
the control that multi-national corporations and monopolies presently
exercise.  You confuse destruction of a state with destruction of 
people as in ISL.

I have no sympathy with the butchers of
ISL.  Although it is clearly a surprise to you, Israel has been giving
them and the Al-Nusra Front (al-Quada) logistical and other help in
Syria.  I refer you to an article on 31.10.14. in Ha’aretz ‘West making
big mistake in fighting ISIS, says senior Israeli officer’ and you can read my blog article ‘Israel Supports ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria’
for further details

Israeli state has always supported Islamic fundamentalism as a way of
undermining secular and left-wing Palestinian nationalism, which is why
Shin Bet virtually created Hamas (just google ‘Israel created Hamas’) or
read my blog article ‘HAMAS – When Israel & Netanyahu Sang from a
Different Songsheet’

I realise that you will have heard none of this but that is one of the pitfalls on relying on hasbara for your information!


Tony Greenstein

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