reject donation from author who defends Palestinians' right to resist
Oxfam has declined a £5,000 donation from
a philosophy professor because the would-be donor has written a
book in which he supports Palestinians right to resort to violence
to free their people.
Next time you are asked to donate to Oxfam perhaps
you should reconsider - your money may not be good enough for them!
Use their freepost envelope to tell them what you think of their
political bias against the Palestinians' right to fight illegal
shuns £5,000 in row over book
October 9, 2002
Oxfam has turned down a £5,000 donation from a distinguished
professor of philosophy because it is linked to his latest book
which defends the Palestinians' right to carry out suicide bombings
and terrorist attacks.
Ted Honderich, formerly Professor of Mind and Logic at University
College, London, offered to give the charity his advance against
royalties for After the Terror, his recently published examination
of the moral dimension of the September 11 attacks.
The book, published by Edinburgh University Press, generated controversy
in his native Canada but was favourably reviewed in Britain. The
Guardian and the Times praised its thoughtful probing of the implications
of the events; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a minor theme
of the work.
After finishing the book this year, Professor Honderich, a long-time
contributor to Oxfam, decided he would like to make a gift, but
was told last month that objections had been raised.
Meanwhile a leading Canadian paper, the Toronto Globe and Mail,
published an editorial condemning the book because of its comments
about the Middle East."There is one page at the end of the
last chapter that gave rise to the [controversy]," it said.
"This page qualifies the book's strong and general condemnation
of terrorism, by asserting the moral right of the Palestinians to
After the Terror declares: "Those Palestinians who have resorted
to violence have been right to try to free their people, and those
who have killed themselves in the cause of their people have indeed
sanctified themselves. This seems to me a terrible truth, a truth
that overcomes what we must remember about all terrorism, and also
overcomes the thought of hideousness and monstrosity."
Prof Honderich, who was born in Canada and whose family owns the
rival paper, the Toronto Star, believes the row influenced Oxfam's
decision to decline the £5,000. "I readily grant that
my view... that the Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism
is unconventional and may be offensive to many ordinary people of
no particular political or other attachments." But those views
should not be relevant to the donation, he said.
The charity said in a statement: "The decision to decline
Prof Honderich's donation was taken for one reason alone, that Oxfam
cannot accept, endorse or benefit from certain opinions given in
"Oxfam's purpose is to overcome poverty and suffering. We
believe that the lives of all human beings are of equal value. We
do not endorse acts of violence... No other facts were considered
in taking the decision."
Prof Honderich believes his rejection sets an awkward precedent
and raises broader issues. "It's very obscure who they will
have to turn away now if they keep to this line. Oxfam used to say
that a few pounds would save a life. How many lives would £5,000
rejects £5,000 from author who called bombers martyrs
October 18, 2002
Oxfam has declined a £5,000 donation from a retired philosophy
professor because the would-be donor has written a book in which
he describes Palestinian suicide bombers as martyrs.
The charity turned down the contribution by Canadian-born Ted Honderich,
former professor at University College London, which represented
the advance for his recently published book about the September
11 attacks, After the Terror.
In the book, he writes: Those who have resorted to violence
have been right to try to free their people, and those who killed
themselves in the cause of their people have indeed sanctified themselves.
This seems to me a terrible truth, a truth that overcomes
the thought of hideousness and monstrosity.
An Oxfam spokeswoman told the JC: We said: No thank
you, because you condone acts of terrorism and we cant
accept donations from someone taking that standpoint.
Asked to comment, Professor Honderich, who lives in Somerset, instead
directed the JC to a lecture posted on his website delivered around
the anniversary of September 11 to universities in America and Canada.
The lecture referred to the invasion and occupation of Palestine
by Israel, certainly beyond its pre-1967 borders, [as] a moral crime.
Terrorism was the Palestinians only possible means of
Mr Honderich argued that our support of the violation of
Palestine also contributed to our share of res-ponsibility for September
Oxfams rejection of the donation has prompted a spate of
correspondence in The Guardian. Critics accused the charity of acting
politically and breaching its commitment to alleviate world poverty.
Denying this, the Oxfam spokes-woman maintained: We cant
condone violence in any form. She added that if the charity
would doubtless have been criticised had it accepted the money.
Why Did Oxfam Reject The Donation?
Ted Honderich Website
Extract from the above page, Professor Ted Honderich rings Oxfam
just after learning from a newspaper article that Oxfam have declined
his generous donation:
I rang Janet Roberts at Oxfam in Oxford and we had two conversations.
She was distraught, as I was, and kept saying how very sorry she
was. She conveyed various things to me.
The Globe and Mail had openly or in effect threatened that if
Oxfam did not publicly turn away the money, The Globe and Mail
would run a piece saying Oxfam was taking money from a terrorist-sympathizer.
Oxfam, however necessary it was to do so, had given in to the
threat of The Globe and Mail's. If it had not, she herself said,
Oxfam would have been pilloried. It was possible to wonder about
that. Still, the word "blackmail" was mentioned, perhaps
by me, certainly without dissent from Ms Roberts.
Ms Roberts also conveyed, I am sure, that she herself and others
in Oxfam in Oxford had been against the decision. It had been
taken, she said, by the senior management team of Oxfam in Oxford
and now she was, so to speak, loyal to it. She had not thought
the matter was escalating when she talked to me when she rang
me in New York, but it had escalated. I gathered that Oxfam Canada
was part of what happened, having itself been approached, if that
is the word, by The Globe and Mail , and then passed on the news
to Oxfam in Oxford.
Nor was that the end of the story, as I was given to understand.
Not only the newspaper had brought pressure to bear. Other persons
or organizations had done so. She did not identify these persons
The decision had been taken, Ms Roberts repeatedly said, to preserve
Oxfam's neutrality. Oxfam could not look like it was taking sides.
She chose not to say anything when I wondered if Oxfam took money
from Zionists -- whether it took money from individuals or companies
who explicitly or implicitly, but in any case indubitably, take
it that the Israelis have exactly a moral right to their state-terrorism
and war against the Palestinians. She did say Oxfam was in general
aware of how the Zionist lobby operates.
Another canvassed reason for not taking the £5,000 was
mentioned. It had been argued in Oxford that Oxfam's taking the
money would actually endanger its workers in the field in Palestine.
The danger, presumably, would be from Israel or Israelis. The
Palestinian regional office of Oxfam had been consulted. It had
in fact been in favour of rather than against taking the money...
To The Guardian
October 12 2002
I normally make substantial donations to Oxfam: they have totalled
£3,500 since 1999, and after my mother's death I ensured
that they received £10,000 from her estate. I am inclined
to believe that when a country is living under a foreign occupying
force, so that voting can do nothing to achieve an effective change,
individuals and groups have a moral right, and indeed a duty,
to resist in any way they can.
Would Oxfam prefer me to cease making donations, and to change
my will so that it ceases to be a beneficiary? There are other
charities that share Oxfam's aims of overcoming poverty and suffering,
so it won't cause me much inconvenience.
E J Evans
Oxfam Right To Turn Down The Donation?
"Third Sector" Magazine, whose subject includes international
aid agencies such as Oxfam, asked the question: Was Oxfam right
to turn down the donation?
Rob Cartridge, head of campaigns for War on Want replied "No":
It is absolutely legitimate to question the sources of donations
particularly when they are associated with business or (in this
case) a business deal. Accepting a donation implies a degree of
But in this case I suspect Oxfam has reacted to a vocal pro-Israeli
minority and concerns about potential damage to its future fundraising.
All NGOs working in Palestine are well aware of this lobby, which
complains on a daily basis about any support given to the opposition.
Professor Honderich's book deals with terrorism only as a minor
issue. He discusses whether Palestinians have a moral right to
use terror tactics, which is a valid debate. The book does not
support terrorism but seeks to understand it. The links between
poverty and terrorism are clear and stark. Even the Israeli military
has admitted that more than 80 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza
are living below the poverty line.
In these circumstances, Oxfam's decision not to accept the donation
seems a strange one.
Head of campaigns,
War on Want
Loss is Palestinian Aid's Gain
by Owen Bowcott and Raekha Prasad
11 December 2002
A British charity has stepped in to accept a donation that Oxfam
controversially rejected because the money was linked to a book
defending the Palestinians' right to carry out suicide bombings.
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has welcomed the £5,000
donation by Ted Honderich, former professor of mind and logic at
University College London. The money comes from advance royalties
for his book, After the Terror, which examines the moral dimension
of the September 11 attacks.
Map will also get the equivalent 1% of sales revenue from the publisher,
Edinburgh University Press.
Earlier this year, when it was offered the money, Oxfam said it
could not take the proceeds of a work that endorsed acts of violence.
Belinda Coote, MAP's chief executive, says Oxfam is entitled to
its view. But her charity is accepting the royalty advance very
gratefully. "Ted Honderich is a moral philosopher," she
says. "He doesn't trade arms or peddle baby milk."
Honderich has made it clear that his views do not have to be endorsed
by MAP, says Coote, adding: "Five thousand pounds is a lot
of money to us. To Oxfam, it's very little."
MAP, established 20 years ago, has six employees in London and
seven in the Middle East. It spends about £2m annually on
supporting health services, including mobile clinics and health
centres in the West Bank and Gaza and in Palestinian refugee camps
Honderich, who was a long-time donor to Oxfam until the charity
refused his gift, says: "My reason for giving the £5,000
to MAP is partly that Oxfam allowed itself to be recruited in the
anti-Palestinian cause. So it is particularly suitable that the
money should go to a charity trying to help the victims of Israeli
aggression and occupation."
Paul Mylrea, Oxfam's head of media, says: "We have a substantial
programme in the Middle East. We have called very strongly for an
end to the Israeli government's policy of closure of Palestinian
villages to prevent a humanitarian disaster."
When Honderich offered the money, says Mylrea, it was framed as
a private donation. But he then went public. "He linked the
charity to what he was saying, without discussing it with us first,"
says Mylrea. "Our reputation is one of our most valuable assets."