University of Exeter and the Legitimacy of Terror
On September 7, the Palestine Return Centre (PRC) hosted an “International Conference on the Oslo Accords,” which it organised with the support of the Exeter Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, part of the University of Exeter.
Intelligence agencies regard the PRC as one of the leading lobby groups in Britain for the terrorist organisation Hamas, and claim that three of the PRC’s trustees are “Hamas activists who found refuge in Britain” during the 1990s. Hamas leaders also regularly address the PRC’s conferences.
The London-based Palestine Return Centre (PRC), it turns out, was originally established on the basis of opposition to the Oslo peace process. The conference is therefore unlikely to reach any positive conclusions about the Oslo Accords, or to recommend its revival.
Speakers at the PRC conference included:
- Majed Al Zeer, director of the PRC. According to intelligence agencies, Zeer was a “Hamas activist in Judea and Samaria after the movement [Hamas] was established.” In 2010, Al Zeer told Al-Jazeera TV of the necessity for “military resistance” [terrorist attacks] against Israeli targets.
Zeer (left) shares a platform with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (right). In the middle is Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, an Iranian cleric who helped establish the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah; alongside him, former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, who claims that Jews control the World and so need to be “confined to ghettoes and periodically massacred.”
- Baroness Jenny Tonge, a Peer previously forced out of the Liberal Democrat Party after she stated — while sharing a platform with Ken O’Keefe, who compared Jews to Nazis – “Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough. Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”
Further, echoing a Hezbollah conspiracy claim, Tonge has previously peddled the slander that Israeli medical teams were harvesting the organs of children in Haiti – an invocation of the medieval European blood libel, which accused Jews of drinking the blood of non-Jewish children.
- Jeremy Corbyn, MP, a British Labour parliamentarian who, in 2009, declared that he was proud to be hosting an event in Parliament with “our friends from Hezbollah.” Hezbollah attacks have murdered Jews all around the World, from the bombing of a Jewish culture center in Argentina to the suicide bombing of a bus filled with Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.
In 2011, Corbyn invited the Islamist preacher Raed Saleh to speak in Parliament. Saleh, who admitted to aiding organizations that fund Hamas, has claimed that 4,000 Jews skipped work at the World Trade Centre on 9/11; those who killed the “Martyr, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden” had “sold their consciences to Satan”; and that the honor-killing of girls is acceptable.
- Abdul Bari Atwan, a Palestinian journalist and the former editor of London-based publication Al Quds Al Arabi, will be delivering the keynote speech at the conference. In 2008, Atwan declared that the murder by Palestinian terrorists of eight Jewish students “was justified,” and that subsequent celebrations showed “the courage of the Palestinian nation.” Atwan has also said, “If the Iranian missiles strike Israel – by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square, and dance with delight if the Iranian missiles strike Israel.”
In 2012, Arabic and British media reported that Libya’s transnational government released documents demonstrating that Atwan had received monthly payments of around $3000 from Colonel Gaddafi’s regime.
- Daud Abdullah, Director of Middle East Media Monitor, a pro-Hamas publication, which brought the Hamas activist Raed Saleh to the United Kingdom. Abdullah was also the former deputy-secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, with which the British Government severed links after Abdullah became a signatory to the Istanbul Declaration, a document which called for attacks on British troops and Jewish communities.
- Khaled Waleed, from the UFree Network, who campaigns on behalf of Hamas terrorists in Israeli jails, whom he describes as “political prisoners.” Waleed is also an outspoken supporter of Dirar Abu Sisi, a Hamas operative detained by the Israeli Government for his role in building rockets fired at Jewish civilians.
- Ismail Patel, chairman of Friends of Al Aqsa. In 2009, at a rally in support of Hamas, Patel addressed the crowd with: “Hamas is no terrorist organization. The reason they hate Hamas is because they refuse to be subjugated, occupied by the Israeli state, and we salute Hamas for standing up to Israel […] to the state of Israel: you no longer represent the Jewish people.”
Patel’s website, “Friends of al Aqsa,” has published writers such as Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh, whose post claimed that Jews control America, and that the Iraq war “was conceived in and planned by Israel through the mostly Jewish neocons in Washington;” Gilad Atzmon, who claims “Hitler might have been right after all;” and Israel Shamir, who said, “In the Middle East we have just one reason for wars, terror and trouble — and that is Jewish supremacy drive.”
Ismail Patel with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
In 2010, the Israeli government banned the Palestinian Return Centre, and declared that the PRC “functions as Hamas’s organizational branch in Europe and its members are senior Hamas leaders who promote the movement’s agenda in Europe, and directly interact with various Hamas leaders, particularly from Damascus.”
Hamas is openly dedicated to the destruction of Jews worldwide and straightforwardly repudiates all peaceful settlement of the dispute with Israel — as made clear from its charter. Article 7, for instance, states:
“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews) … Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement … Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. … Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. … There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavours.”
Why, then, would a Hamas front-group organise an academic conference to discuss the Oslo accords?
The reason, according to the noted Middle East analyst, Itamar Marcus, is tactical. Over the past year, as Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh notes, Hamas has lobbied to be removed from U.S. and European Union terror lists. The refusal of some policy makers, such as the UN’s Counter-Terrorism official Jean-Paul Laborde, and journalists, such as Glenn Greenwald, to condemn Hamas as a violent terror group is a corollary of Hamas’s tactic to — as Marcus terms it — “Talk Peace in English, deny it Arabic.”
An example, notes Marcus, is Hamas Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh, who “told CBS on March 16 that he hoped to some day sign a peace agreement with Israel.” Later, according to Marcus, “a Hamas MP, speaking in Arabic to a PA newspaper, immediately denied these statements as lies, and part of a conspiracy of the US media to damage the true image of the Hamas.”
This stratagem, while hardly sophisticated, has nevertheless served to sanitize Hamas and so legitimize it as a significant political voice in the West, while allowing it to retain its reputation as a violent “resistance” organization in the East.
Hamas also pursues a similar approach within European politics. Its affiliates and supporters include charities and interfaith community organizations. The PRC’s academic conference in September, then, is most likely designed to legitimize opposition to any form of peace agreement with Israel as a reasonable approach.
Moreover, by working with academics and the University of Exeter, the PRC affords further legitimacy to the approval of Hamas by the West. Speakers include Rosemary Hollis is a Professor of Middle East Policy Studies and Director of the Olive Tree Programme, an academic “co-existence” course for Israeli and Palestinian students at City University in London; and Petter Bauck, a senior advisor at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, a directorate of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Buack is due to address the conference on “Oslo’s fatal flaws.”
Given Hamas’s dedication to exterminating Israel, should a Director of a “co-existence” program be addressing a conference run and staffed by the terror group? Would Norwegian taxpayers be happy that their employed public officials are promoting the Hamas agenda?
The co-sponsor of the conference, as stated, is the Exeter Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, established with a donation of £680,000 from Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the Saudi royal who, in 2002, also donated $27 million to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers; and, following the 9/11 attacks, tried to offer New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani $10 million with the suggestion that the US “re-examine its policies in the Middle East.”
The Institute’s academics invited to address the PRC conference include Ghada Karmi, Ilan Pappé and Uri Davis. All are strongly opposed to the two-state solution, which the Oslo Accords was designed to facilitate.
Ghada Karmi, an Honorary Research Fellow of the Institute, is a signatory to the Stuttgart Declaration, which condemned the two-state solution in favour of a single state, which could be demographically overwhelmed by Muslims.
Ilan Pappé, a Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute, also supports a “one-state solution.” He submitted testimony supporting the anti-Semitic Hamas preacher, Raed Saleh, to a British immigration tribunal examining Saleh’s claims that Jews drank the blood of Christian children in Europe.
The conference sessions are due to be presented almost entirely by extremists and academics who already support, both directly and indirectly, the PRC line. It would appear that Hamas, despite its dedication to killing Jews, is working to establish itself as an important, possibly “moderate,” contributor to the Western narrative.
As for the “one-state solution” promoted by the attending Exeter academics: it was originally the brainchild of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist faction within the PLO, and has received plaudits for its supposed advocacy of “co-existence.”
Not all, however, see it that way. Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for Bloomberg News about a Harvard conference on the one-state solution, observed:
“The other strain of thought — the “destroy Israel” approach to the Middle East problem — didn’t fade away, but the rejectionists divided into two camps, at least rhetorically.
The first camp organized themselves mainly around Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and cast their struggle against Israel in religious terms. This camp’s rhetoric is bluntly anti-Semitic (as are its terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians).
The second, more secular camp understood that violent rhetoric was limiting the appeal of its cause among Westerners, and so it tried to hide its ultimate goal — the forced disappearance of Israel — behind a screen of euphemisms. This group argues for the “one-state solution,” the merging of the Palestinian and Jewish populations between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea into a single political entity. It is an entirely unworkable and offensive idea, but because it is couched in the language of equality and human rights, rather than murder and anti-Semitism, it has gained currency in certain not-entirely-marginal circles.”
The two camps identified by Goldberg are, nonetheless, gradually pitching their tents closer together. Hamas, for example, benefits greatly from the increasing calls for a one-state solution: not only does that proposal necessitate the inclusion of Hamas (and accordingly afford the terror group recognition by the West) in a future “single state,” it also undermines the role of Hamas’s chief rival, the Palestinian Authority, or Fatah, which is publicly committed to the two-state solution.
Most importantly, in practical terms: growing support for a one-state solution provides Hamas with a legitimate, internationally-approved method for the destruction of Israel – championed by Hamas operatives ensconced in the West.
Hamas has long embedded its rhetoric and activities in the language of human rights – as shown by its involvement with charities and even interfaith dialogue. However, as illustrated by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s simultaneous promises of both “peace” and genocide of Jews, Hamas can sustain the one-state narrative without ever having to pledge support for actual co-existence.
The PRC, in its September conference, seems to be trying to extend this two-faced approach even farther. By employing the support of academics, governmental employees and “human rights” activists, and using the facade of a seemingly virtuous alternative, the PRC seems to be trying to legitimize opposition to any real, two-state solution — leaving the door open for Hamas’s violent agenda.
– First published by the Gatestone Institute