Islamist Demagogue Cheered at Stop the War Meeting

Lenin’s Tomb links (approvingly) to a short video of a sanguinary speech delivered by Dr Azzam Tamimi at an anti-war meeting in London on Monday. The meeting was convened by Stop the War to oppose Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and any escalation of the conflict; Tamimi, however, seems to have little interest in stopping any war, as he rants about how Hamas and Hizbollah “deal with” the “Zionist entity”, which is “made of evil” – sentiments and rhetoric which, of course, can only delight those who wish to discredit the Palestinian cause.

Tamimi is a senior member of the Muslim Association of Britain and has strong links with Hamas, so perhaps one should not be too surprised. More depressing was the audience response. I was at a meeting in support of Palestinian rights at the same location (Friends Meeting House, HQ of the pacifist Quakers) back in 2003; I remember some nutter speaking from the floor about his delight at seeing the deaths of Israelis on TV. He was generally booed off, and a rebuke from former MP Tony Benn followed. Tamimi, in contrast, appears to have received an enthusiastic response. It looks as though the events of the past few years have had a corrosive effect on the ethical sensibilities of all sides of the debate.

Regular readers of this blog might know that I consider myself to be a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, although I don’t (usually) choose to bore people with political opinions that others have expressed far more eloquently elsewhere. But this is too much. Tamimi has many good reasons to be angry, but a pro-Palestinian (or anti-war) movement that exults in militarism and religious extremism, and which has lost its capacity for compassion, can only make the world a worse place. Those who preach dehumanisation must be challenged, wherever they are found.

UPDATE (4 August): Andrew Murray, the chair of Stop the War, has now written an op-ed for the Guardian which includes the following:

Calls for the destruction of Israel or any suggestion of welcoming the deaths of Israeli civilians in the present conflict are, of course, unacceptable. Not only wrong in principle, they also entirely miss the point that the authors of the present catastrophe are to be found in Washington and London above all.