Azzam Tamimi is a Hamas-linked, terror-supporting, suicide bombing-lauding racist who thinks that Jews are not entitled to self-determination and that Israel (or “this cancer” as he refers to it) should be destroyed.
Azzam Tamimi is also the person the BBC World Service apparently considered most suited to answer the question appearing in the bizarrely phrased promotional Tweet below for the July 1st edition of its radio programme ‘Newsday‘.
The interview is available here.
Azzam Tamimi: “Nobody knows who kidnapped them and who killed them. No Palestinian faction has so far claimed responsibility and on record Khaled Masha’al a few days ago on Al Jazeera said that he had no information whatsoever.”
The unidentified presenter does not bother to clarify to ‘Newsday’ listeners that Masha’al’s actual words were:
“No one claimed responsibility so far. I can neither confirm [Hamas’s responsibility] nor deny it,” Mashaal said, quickly adding that the circumstances of the kidnapping were more important than the perpetrators.
“Blessed be the hands that captured them,” Mashaal said. “This is a Palestinian duty, the responsibility of the Palestinian people. Our prisoners must be freed; not Hamas’s prisoners — the prisoners of the Palestinian people.”
“The body of three settlers discovered,” wrote Hamas MP Mushir Al-Masri on his Facebook page. “Better luck next time, God willing.”
The interview continues:
Presenter: “But, Israel has actually named two men – prime suspects – with links to Hamas.”
Tamimi: “I don’t think this is the issue. The issue today is that Israel is punishing the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank collectively.”
No effort is made to correct Tamimi’s false allegation of ‘collective punishment’ which, coincidentally or not, has been one of the themes promoted by the BBC throughout its coverage of the kidnappings.
Presenter: “It is an issue though. Sorry, can we just get onto this point though. If three young men – you know – teenage boys have been murdered and the prime suspects they say are members of Hamas in Hebron. Well, are they?”
Tamimi: “I have no knowledge. I’m not a Hamas leader. Don’t ask me a question I don’t have an answer to.”
Presenter: “You say this isn’t the main point but it is the main point at the moment: who was responsible for this. And am I right in thinking that Hamas praised the kidnapping earlier?”
Tamimi: “The people responsible for any atrocities that are taking place, whether against the Jews or against the Arabs, are the occupiers of the West Bank. Had there been no occupation none of this would have happened.”
Presenter: “Do you condemn it then? As a… you describe yourself as an independent journalist; an independent Palestinian journalist….do you condemn the kidnapping of these teenagers?”
Tamimi: “These teenagers are settlers. They shouldn’t have been in the West Bank.”
Failing to clarify to audiences that only one of the three boys lived in what the BBC would describe as a ‘settlement’, the presenter goes on:
Presenter: “So you don’t condemn it?”
Tamimi: “The Israelis shouldn’t be in the West Bank. If they withdraw from the West Bank, none of this would have happened.”
Presenter: “Right, so if you don’t condemn the kidnapping, do you condemn their murder?”
Tamimi: “I condemn the Israeli occupation and persecution of the Palestinians.”
Presenter: “Why is it so difficult to condemn the murder of three innocent young boys just trying to hitch a ride and get home after their studies?”
Tamimi: “They were not at home. They were in an occupied territory.”
Presenter: “Well their homes; they’re buildings. You know their parents maybe came as settlers, but they’re just children going home.”
Tamimi: “All Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal according to international standards.”
No effort is made to conform to BBC standards of impartiality by pointing out to audiences that there are differing legal views on that topic.
Presenter: “Your view is then that these young boys are somehow guilty. Do you believe that many Palestinians in the West Bank have the same view as you? Not just that they’re settlers but they deserve to be killed for being there even if they’re teenagers.”
Tamimi: “The Israelis have been persecuting and oppressing the Palestinians for more than sixty years. The Palestinians have been the victims of the Israelis.”
Presenter: “So it’s OK to take on a soft target like a teenager. I mean the upshot is gonna be, if Hamas takes the same tone as you, that Israel is gonna strike back very forcefully. That’s what we seem to be hearing from the prime minister and the defence minister. What do you think the impact will be?”
Tamimi: “If the Israelis attack Gaza or attack the Palestinians it will not be the first time. They have done it before. They assassinated many leaders of Hamas. You see, luckily in Islam we believe that you only die when your time is up so you cannot live an hour extra if it is the time to go.”
Presenter: “Do you think this unity government between Hamas and Fatah that is only relatively recently put together – that’s going to collapse now?”
Tamimi: “It’s possible because it’s been strained by a number of developments, the last of which has been this affair of the three settlers. My view right from the beginning is that reconciliation is unlikely to succeed if you have two parties that do not agree on the basics. The Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas is a partner with the Israelis in a peace process that is considered illegitimate and [unintelligible] by Hamas, so it is highly likely that reconciliation cannot be delivered.”
Readers will probably not be surprised to learn that parts of this interview with its occasional contributor were also featured on the Guardian’s live page covering the funerals of the three murdered boys.
Beyond the presenter’s failure to correct Tamimi’s many inaccurate statements and to clarify important points of impartiality to listeners, the real issue here is why the BBC World service considers it appropriate or helpful to give an unhindered ‘open-mike’ to a known associate of an internationally designated terrorist organization with a long track record of expression of support for just such terrorist acts as the one this item purports to discuss.