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Merrill Lynch has pulled its sponsorship from an event discussing the Palestinian elections because of the participation of a Hamas supporter who condones suicide bombing.
The event, entitled "the Palestinian Elections and their Consequences," is to be held at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies Wednesday.
Hosted by the London Middle East Institute, it was to mark a series of events sponsored by Merrill Lynch.
Speakers at the event include Ziyad Abu Zayyad, a Fatah party member from the Palestinian Legislative Council and Ambassador Robert Pelletreau, former US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East. Also speaking at the event is Dr. Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought.
In a November 2004, BBC interview, Dr. Tamimi made it clear to journalist Tim Sebastian that he was a Hamas supporter who does not recognize Israel's right to exist.
"Israel has no right to exist in my home, on my father's land - has no right to exist," he said. "It may exist despite me. It may exist because it is powerful, because it is supported by the US, but I will never as a Palestinian give legitimacy to a state that is created on land robbed from my father, from my grandfather and from my mother."
In the same interview Dr. Tamimi said that suicide bombers are part of the struggle, putting forth the opinion that suicide bombers don't do it because they are desperate or poor. "They do it because they want to sacrifice themselves for a cause after all avenues have been closed before them," he told Sebastian.
Asked if suicide bombing was so glorious and honorable would he do it, the response was a categorical "yes." "If I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I would do it. Why not?"
In an article entitled "Winning the Battle of Arguments" written in 2002, Tamimi called Israel a Zionist, racist and fascist state and defines both the two-state and one-state solution as equally inadvisable.
"In the long term Israel has no future and the Jews who support Israel and Zionism, and especially those who have chosen to migrate to Palestine to occupy the lands and homes of the Palestinians, should reconsider their positions. Eventually, Palestine will return to the Muslims as it did after more than a century of occupation by the Crusaders about 10 centuries ago," he said.
A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch said, "We pulled our support immediately from this event when this came to light [Dr. Tamimi's attendance] and are in no way associated with the debate."
Professor Robert Springborg, director of the London Middle East Institute, sees it important to have an Islamist viewpoint, especially with the result of the election swinging in Hamas's favor. He said, "We are aware of Dr. Tamimi's views but do not endorse them. We are not responsible for his views as long as he doesn't violate the university's code of ethics. We are merely providing an opportunity for those connected to, and interested in, the elections."
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