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Jewish Journal

Strange debate on State of Israel

by Brad A. Greenberg

February 7, 2008 | 10:57 am

The Jewish Chronicle, via the Bintel Blog, has a strange story about an even odder resolution passed by Britain’s oldest debating society, the Oxford Union.

The motion last Thursday, “This House believes that the State of Israel has a right to exist”, was passed by more than 100 votes, but not before the antics of some of the participants caused raised eyebrows in the union’s debating chamber.

American academic Norman Finkelstein, fresh from a tour of Britain backed by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, spoke in favour of the motion but voted against it, while Ted Honderich, professor of philosophy at University College, London, joined the two anti-motion speakers — Palestinian academic Ghada Karmi and Israeli professor Ilan Pappé — but voted in favour of the resolution.

One member of the audience decried the “absurdity” of the debate. “I didn’t think it was a question we asked any more,” she said.

Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, is the author of “The Holocaust Industry” and “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.” He seems to generate controversy most places he visits, and next week he’ll be at Cal State Northridge.

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