Israeli academic pulls out of panel featuring supporter of suicide bombing

Israeli professor pulls out of London panel featuring supporter of Hamas and suicide bombings.

pigua in TA, april 17 29 (photo credit: AP [file])
pigua in TA, april 17 29
(photo credit: AP [file])
An Israeli academic has withdrawn from a panel discussion at a respected London science-based institution after learning about the radical views of one of the invited members of the panel. Prof. David Newman, professor of political geography at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was scheduled to take part in an event entitled "Israel-Palestine" on Tuesday at Imperial College London's Student Union as part of its Political Philosophy Society's Conflict Case-Study Week. On the panel is Robin Kealy, a former UK consul-general in Jerusalem. But it also features Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London. Tamimi is a Hamas supporter who does not recognize Israel's right to exist, openly calls for its destruction, and supports suicide bombings. In a BBC interview in 2004, Tamimi said that the act of suicide bombing was "glorious and honorable." In the same interview, Tamimi boasted that he would himself carry out a suicide bombing in Israel. In 2006, Merrill Lynch pulled its sponsorship from an event at University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies because of Tamimi's participation. Last week on Press TV, an Iranian television channel, Tamami said during a discussion with London-based Israeli academic Yossi Mekelberg that "The struggle is for our homeland. See, I don't give a damn about a Palestinian state - as a Palestinian. My mother was born in Beersheba. My mother has a house in Beersheba. I want to go back to my mother's house... I don't give a damn about the future of Israel, and yes - I want to see Israel come to an end." Tamami said that he believed Hamas represented his "people's future." "Are we, the Palestinians, made to pay for the crimes of the Nazis? If the Nazis killed the Jews in Europe, why should the Jews come and live in my mother's house, on my father's land? Is that extremism? If that is extremism, then I am an extremist. If that is terrorism, then I am a terrorist. We are freedom fighters, we are not extremists," he added. Speaking at a demonstration commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War in London's Trafalgar Square last June, Tamimi called Israel "a racist entity that see us [the Palestinians] as subhuman while they see themselves as superhuman." "Zionists from Europe, helped by the leaders of this country in order to rape my country and turn them into refugees," he said. Newman has been involved in peace-related activities and Track II discussions and negotiations, including joint Israeli-Palestinian projects that examine territorial and border issues. Recently, he has participated in a project looking at religion's role in influencing the peace discourse in Israel. He is also responsible for a project at the United States Institute of Peace that examines models for cooperation between Israel and any future Palestinian state. In a letter to the organizers of the Imperial College event, Newman said that he shared platforms with many Palestinian scholars and politicians, and would continue to do so so long as a "serious exchange of views was possible." He said he believed that there were "many" serious Palestinian academics could have been invited to participate in Tuesday's panel. "I am prepared to discuss, dialogue and debate with academics and scholars and even exchange difficult views and questions with people who hold vastly different views to my own, but given Tamimi's public declared support of suicide bombers and his volatile statements at various public events, I do not think that this is a person with whom I am prepared to share a platform," Newman said.