Azzam Tamimi

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Dr. Azzam Tamimi, November 2008.

Azzam Tamimi (sometimes spelled Azam Tamimi; born 1955) is a British Palestinian academic and political activist. He is currently the Chairman of Alhiwar TV Channel and is its Editor in Chief. He headed the Institute of Islamic Political Thought until 2008. Tamimi has written several books on Middle Eastern and Islamic politics, including "Power-Sharing Islam", "Islam and Secularism in the Middle East", Rachid Ghannouchi, Democrat within Islamism and Hamas: A History from Within.

Personal life[edit]

Tamimi was born in 1955 and lived in Hebron in the West Bank until he was seven, when his family moved to Kuwait.[1] His father had fought against Israel.[1] After high school, Tamimi moved to London to attend college. In 1979, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Combined Sciences from the University of Sunderland[1][2] and a PhD in Political Theory from the University of Westminster in 1998.[2] Tamimi is married with three children and lives in Willesden in northwest London.[3] He and his family are British citizens.[4]

The "War on Terror"[edit]

Tamimi has stated that the War on Terror launched by the US and its allies in the wake of September 11 attacks is perceived by many in the Islamic world as a war on Islam.[5] He accused US President George W. Bush of attempting to stop terrorism through war, political oppression and violations of human rights, saying that this would not work and would instead have the opposite effect.[6]

Support for the Palestinians and Hamas, opposition to Israel[edit]

Tamimi is a strong advocate for the Palestinian people and a supporter of Hamas, advising it on proposed changes to its charter.[7] Tamimi hoped a revision of the Hamas charter would make it a non-antisemitic document. "All that nonsense about The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and conspiracy theories – all that rubbish will be out. It should have never been there in the first place." However, the revised document would still call for an end to Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state on all of the Palestine mandate.[7]

In 2004, Tamimi stated that as a Palestinian, he would never confer legitimacy upon Israel, "a state that is created on land robbed from my father, from my grandfather and from my mother."[8] He also classifies Zionism as a racist ideology.[9] Nonetheless, Tamimi favours talks between Hamas and Israel, believing that co-existence between Palestinians and Israel may be possible. He has stated that "peace may still be achieved by talking about how to co-exist."[10] In elaboration, he has said that "Hamas would only agree to a negotiated settlement based on the idea of a hudna (longterm ceasefire). In reality, of course, that would mean recognising Israel will exist within agreed-upon borders for a given period of time. It does not, however, mean recognising that where Israel sits is no longer Palestinian."[9] For the long run, Tamimi advocates what he calls a post-apartheid South African solution, in which Israel "is dissolved just like apartheid was, and all people within mandatory Palestine become equal citizens."[9]

Shortly before the invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israel in late 2008, Tamimi argued for continuation of a truce that had been maintained for five months between Hamas and Israel and for ending what he described as a siege placed upon Gaza by Israel.[11]

Martyrdom and suicide bombing[edit]

In November 2004, while being interviewed for the BBC programme Hardtalk, Tamimi said that sacrificing his life for justice for Palestine would be "a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity."[12] On 21 August 2006, London's Daily Mail published a report on a Tamimi speech with the following lead sentence: "A British-based Muslim radical appeared to back suicide bombing yesterday when he claimed that dying for your beliefs was 'just'." The article quotes Tamimi as saying that "fighting those who invade Muslims is a just cause."[4] In The Guardian, Tamimi responded to the Daily Mail report, stating that his speech was about sacrificing oneself for justice and that "martyrdom is dying for justice and peace .. not blowing oneself up killing innocent people". He further added that "the martyrdom that I said was the greatest form of sacrifice was the one that is incurred by a person who dares speak the truth in the presence of a tyrant."[13]

On 28 February 2012, Tamimi appeared at a pro-Palestinian event at Queen Mary, University of London where the former Liberal Democrat MP Baroness Tonge was also a speaker. Tamimi said: "I’d be a martyr for my country, of course", adding that "if you’re not prepared to die for your country, then you are not a patriot." [14]

Establishment of Israel in Palestine rather than in Germany[edit]

In an English-language Palestinian-Israeli debate on Iranian TV, aired on Press TV on 14 January 2008, Tamimi debated Israeli lecturer Yossi Mekelberg. In response to Mekelberg stating that "We need justice for everyone, and I will tell you where...", Tamimi stated that: "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?"[15]

In January 2006, Tamimi wrote that creation of the state of Israel "was a solution to a European problem and the Palestinians are under no obligation to be the scapegoats for Europe's failure to recognise the Jews as human beings entitled to inalienable rights. Hamas, like all Palestinians, refuses to be made to pay for the criminals who perpetrated the Holocaust. However, Israel is a reality and that is why Hamas is willing to deal with that reality in a manner that is compatible with its principles."[16]

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) provided the following quotation from an article published by Tamimi in 1998: "If the Westerners as a whole – and the Germans in particular – are immersed in feelings of guilt because of what they have perpetrated against the Jews, isn't it a just thing that they will act together to expiate for their sins by granting the Jews a national homeland in central Europe, for instance, within one of the German states? Or, why will not the U.S., the Zionist father through adoption, grant [the Jews] one out of its more than fifty states..?"[17][18]


  1. ^ a b c Grace Halsell (December 1998). "Palestinian Islamist Azzam Tamimi Defines Hamas, PLO Differences and Calls for Dialogue With Both". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 1998, pp. 23–24. 
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  3. ^ Firebrand Islamic academic: 'dying for your beliefs is just' 21 August 2006
  4. ^ a b Firebrand Islamic academic: 'dying for your beliefs is just' Daily Mail
  5. ^ Pakistan and Saudi Arabia: On Whose Side?, an archive of MSNBC 25 July 2005
  6. ^ [1], Stop Bush Rally, 20 November 2003.
  7. ^ a b Exclusive: Hamas working on 'new charter'|Jerusalem Post[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Interview with Dr Azzam Al-Tamimi, Institute of Islamic Political Thought, originally at BBC Hardtalk, 2 November 2004.
  9. ^ a b c Interview: Azzam Tamimi, Middle East Policy, Summer 2006.
  10. ^ The unrealistic terms being imposed upon Hamas are no basis for talks, The Guardian, 5 November 2007.
  11. ^ End the siege of Gaza, The Guardian, 21 November 2008.
  12. ^ "Dr Azzam Al-Tamimi". BBC. 5 November 2004. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  13. ^ Tamimi, Azzam (25 August 2006). "Martyrdom misunderstood". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  14. ^ "Controversial Palestinian academic hails 'martyrdom' U.K. event". Haaretz. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "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 (Clip no.1663)". Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 14 January 2008. 
  16. ^ Hamas will make a deal, The Guardian, 30 January 2006.
  17. ^ Institute of Islamic Political Thought, March 1998, Dr. 'Azzam Al-Tamimi, 'Reflection in Memory of the 50th Anniversary of the Ravishing of Palestine.'
  18. ^ Adam Pashut (19 February 2004). "Dr. 'Azzam Al-Tamimi: A Political-Ideological Brief (Inquiry and Analysis Series – No. 163)". Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 

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