London-Based Hamas Palestinian Researcher 'Azzam Al-Tamimi: I Don't Give a Damn about a Palestinian State, or about the Jews Who Came to Israel from Europe
Following are excerpts from an English-language Palestinian-Israeli debate on Iranian TV, which aired on Press TV on January 14, 2008:
Interviewer: Is Hamas the problem in Gaza?
London-based Palestinian writer 'Azzam Al-Tamimi: As far as Israel and the United States of America [are concerned] – yes, of course, Hamas is the problem, because Hamas... The rise of Hamas, the birth and then the rise of Hamas, and the popularity Hamas enjoys among the Palestinians has shocked those who created Israel and continue to sponsor it, because they thought they had domesticated the Palestinian national movement, that they had been able to downgrade the P.L.O., and the Fatah movement, in particular, into accepting some form of settlement in exchange for being recognized. This is what led to Oslo. Then Hamas comes, and leads the Palestinian people in saying: "This is not what we started the struggle for." 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 those Israelis – the Jews who came from Europe and elsewhere in the world to dispossess my people and to turn us into a population of refugees. I don't give a damn about the future of Israel, and yes – I want to see Israel come to an end, because Israel is a colonial entity created on my homeland. So when Hamas said this to me, I immediately became a supporter of Hamas. I think Hamas is the future for my people.
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.
Israeli lecturer Yossi Mekelberg: Maybe we should stop talking about history from yesterday or 60 years ago. Let's talk about history from tomorrow. Let's talk about history... I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but let's talk about history...
'Azzam Al-Tamimi: What about justice? Do you ever recognize justice? What about my land? What about my home?
Yossi Mekelberg: We need justice for everyone, and I will tell you where...
'Azzam Al-Tamimi: Justice? You go back to Germany. That's justice. You turn Germany into your state, not Palestine. Why should Palestine be a Jewish state? Why?
Yossi Mekelberg: You were born in Hebron and I was born in Tel Aviv. I was born in Israel the same way that you were born in Palestine.
'Azzam Al-Tamimi: No, not the same way. Where did your father come from?
Yossi Mekelberg: You can go back in history...
'Azzam Al-Tamimi: And how did he come to Palestine? How did he dispossess my people? He turned us into refugees.
Yossi Mekelberg: Let me add a constructive suggestion. Instead of me questioning your right for Palestine, and you questioning my right for Israel, let's both of us recognize that we have some right on some of it.
'Azzam Al-Tamimi: Never! I will never recognize that you have a right on a land stolen from my people.
Yossi Mekelberg: So you perpetuate the injustice, you perpetuate the violence.
'Azzam Al-Tamimi: That's what the Zionists are doing, not us.
Yossi Mekelberg: You perpetuate the lack of...
'Azzam Al-Tamimi: We are freedom fighters, fighting for our rights.
Yossi Mekelberg: And you won't find a solution, and that's the tragedy.