Is this a hate speaker?
12 February 2010
Azzam Tamimi, probably Britain's best known Hamas supporter, has repeated some of his most extreme views in a talk at the School of Oriental and African Studies on Tuesday evening. According to today's Jewish Chronicle:
At SOAS, [Tamimi] praised Hamas and said: Today Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation because thats what the Americans and Israelis and cowardly politicians of Europe want, but what is so terrorist about it?
You shouldnt be afraid of being labelled extreme, radical or terrorist. If fighting for your home land is terrorism, I take pride in being a terrorist. The Koran tells me if I die for my homeland, Im a martyr and I long to be a martyr.
He criticised calls for a two-state solution and said: Why are the Jews superhuman and better than anyone else that G-d would give them a homeland? Is G-d a racist? A g-d who would prefer people because of their race is not a g-d I want to associate with. Claiming they are being given the land of G-d is a racist idea.
If the world felt so guilty about the Holocaust, the Jews should have been compensated, not brought to my country at the expense of my people.
Israel does not belong to my homeland and must come to an end. This can happen peacefully if they acknowledge what they did or we will continue to struggle until Israel is no more.
He also urged students to continue hosting debates, despite calls to ban controversial speakers from campuses.
He said: I want to encourage you not to be intimidated by the pro-Israel lobby. The Zionists tell a pack of lies.
It is not as if this is the first time that Tamimi has expressed his wish to become a "martyr". In 2004 he said on the BBC (transcript here) that carrying out a suicide bombing for Palestine "is a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my G-d and I would do it if I had the opportunity". Note that he doesn't say that suicide bombings are a terrible but necessary evil; he says, in 2004 and again this week, that they are religiously sanctioned and pleasing to G-d. Or on Islamonline in 2003:
For us Muslims martyrdom is not the end of things but the beginning of the most wonderful of things. In the next life one is in an everlasting bliss while in this life those after him continue to receive inspiration from him. No noble cause dies because of the loss of martyrs that offer their lives for it. The blood of martyrs provides nourishment and sustenance for those who continue the struggle. The cause will always be stronger when more sacrifices are offered.
Or the year before that, in South Africa:
Do not call them suicide bombers, call them shuhada as they have not escaped the miseries of life. They gave their life. Life is sacred, but some things like truth and justice are more sacred than life. They are not desperate, they are hopefuls. ... [Israelis] have guns, we have the human bomb. We love death, they love life.
Plus some pretty nasty Jewish conspiracy mongering, in an article from 2002 called "Antisemitism or just Jews behaving badly?":
One must admit that Israel and its supporters in the USA and Western Europe are highly experienced in marketing Jewish casualties and in posing before the world as the victims. They rely on extremely sophisticated propaganda machine that is the product of more than sixty years of holocaust-related campaigns aimed at making non-Jews pay Zionism and Israel for what Hitler did to his Jewish as well as non-Jewish victims in Europe. Todays victims of Israel, the Palestinians, are definitely no match to pro-Israel propaganda machine, which includes the majority of U.S. media, the U.S. film industry and a large proportion of American politicians who are indebted to Jewish money for their success. But in spite of all such backing, Israel and its supporters today are exposed and discredited. They can no longer hide their ugly faces behind the veils of the holocaust or anti-Semitism. The butchery of Palestinian children and the killing in cold blood of Palestinian activists is too obvious to conceal and too horrific to ignore...If they want to be as human as anybody else, Jews must wake up before it is too late. Israel is their number one liability and Zionism is no honorable cause for any respectable human being.
It should not be forgotten that Britain is the only European country to have exported suicide bombers to Israel. In 2003 Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Mohammed Hanif carried out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv for Hamas. Sharif had been a student at Kings College, London. There is no suggestion that Tamimi knew either man or played any role in their radicalisation; but their example proves that the idea that a British student could become so radicalised as to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel is no idle worry, but a real threat. In 1994, the Israeli Embassy and Balfour House (a Jewish and Israeli charity building) were the targets of car bombings by Palestinians who had studied and lived in London. They were PFLP supporters, not Islamists, but they didn't even feel the need to go to Israel to carry out their attacks.
Support for Hamas suicide bombings is a consistent theme in Tamimi's public talks, alongside the idea that Israel must disappear - either peacefully or through force. Yet he frequently speaks on British campuses: Birmingham University last month, Cambridge University last week, SOAS this week, and at Manchester University tomorrow, at a 'Palestine Conference' organised by FOSIS (Federation Of Student Islamic Societies). It is astonishing that FOSIS can be a government partner in countering radicalisation, while hosting such a well-known supporter of suicide bombings.
So far there has been too much talk about hate speakers on campus and not enough action; lots of well-meaning words but little clarity. So it is time to ask a direct question: if Azzam Tamimi, who repeatedly lauds Palestinian suicide bombings, calls for Israel to be eliminated (by force if necessary) and accuses Jews of considering themselves to be superhuman is not a hate speaker, then who on earth is?