Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the right to exist

'We’d all say a person has a right to a home, but we wouldn’t say their home has rights.'

May 7, 2013 · 2 min read

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cannot easily attack the state of Israel because he doesn’t recognise it. I don’t know why he doesn’t recognise Israel; it’s the same shape as Palestine, give or take – mainly take, obviously.

I jest; it is Israel’s right to exist that he refuses to recognise. But should people recognise it? Well, it does exist, so it’s childish to pretend otherwise. But whether states have rights is another matter. Whether people have rights is a moral rather than a biological question. The right to statehood is not like a liver. People are not born with one. Saying someone has a right to something just means you reckon they should have it.

But at least such judgements apply more sensibly to human beings than they do to geo-political entities. We’d all say a person has a right to a home, but we wouldn’t say their home has rights. Let’s imagine all Israel’s critics recognising its right to exist – although why should they say that if they don’t believe it? One can accept a fact on the ground without thinking it was historically right. But anyway, let’s say everyone accepts that Israel has a right to exist. That would still not guarantee its existence, in its present form or any other.

Did Yugoslavia have a right to exist? Does the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? We once laid claim to the South as well, and might not always be able to claim the North. And what if Scotland leaves the United Kingdom? Or Wales? Or England? What if we become a republic or we’re sold to America as Walt Disney’s Cockney World of Adventures? States come and go, and their populations change. Will Israel exist as presently constituted in 30 years’ time? It seems unlikely. Israelis will still exist, but that’s a different matter.

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about Lexit

'The left case for Brexit was an interesting exercise, a bit like a Marxist review of The Very Hungry Caterpillar or one of those games where you work out whether it would be better to have no arms or no legs'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the language around Corbyn

'After winning an open contest with massive support, Corbyn has been accused of "seizing power"...'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about Trident

'Nuclear weapons cannot be seen purely as a source of jobs'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about solidarity

'Not many people would stand by and watch someone drown if they had the chance to rescue them, but that is what Europe’s governments are doing'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the Labour leadership

'The highlight began when it looked as though Corbyn could win, and continued thereafter'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about Tony Blair

'No, it’s not time to rehabilitate Tony Blair.'