Balance it out!
As an anti-war campaign, it would not make sense to support Hamas. Hamas of course believe a military resistance to be the only solution. As you know, for Hamas a state of war is a state of victory and every dead child a martyr.
This is not compatible with what you stand for: human beings must always be treated as ends in themselves. But I am surprised: as a pacifist and campaigner, how can you boast that, after Dr. Azzam Tamimi justified suicide bombing in Arts 2, only one person spoke out against him?
No need to take offense on behalf of Dr. Tamimi: he is proud of his position. He made no exception in his talk at Arts 2. That USSU allowed him to come on campus does not allow him decrease from the controversial elements of his presence.
The Student Occupation was in solidarity with Hamas. Stop the War Coalition are in solidarity with Hamas, and have been so for years. Dr Azzam Tamimi speaks on behalf of Hamas. On the first discussion, a girl from Stop the War Coalition called for solidarity with Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. Will somebody please, please tell her, that as a young woman, she would have no voice in a state run by Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria or Iran. The pictures hung around the walls of A2 were Hamas tactics: using the dead, the scorched, the impaled to score political points. The speakers who continually spoke out against Egypt, Saudi Arabia as pawns of “American Imperialism” are following the Hamas argument.
Many, like me, came to the occupation to condemn the war crimes committed by Israel. Many who believe Palestinians are as much the victims of Hamas as they are of Israel. Yet none of the speakers and none of the discussions at the Student Occupation made that distinction: the one between the Palestinian people and Hamas. There was no voice for those who also condemn both Israel and Hamas.
I believe you when you say you do not support terrorist activities. This may have all been out of the Student Occupiers’ control – a triumph of passivism, not pacifism. It is very easy for big campaigns to exploit students. For example, one of the speakers, John Molyneux, also from Stop the War, at the start of his talk asked the occupiers to sign a petition against his recent arrest. He equated this to “the principle” of standing in solidarity with Gaza. Here he used the suffering of Palestinians, and the good will of the Occupying Students for his own political gains.
Every view in a conflict should be given a voice. If the Student Occupiers want to support Hamas, they have that right to. But they cannot delude themselves into thinking this was an all inclusive campaign. Those who refused to sign the Occupation petition, were seen as war sympathisers.
The Occupation believed it could claim the status quo on an anti-war campaign against Israel, yet it refused to present a coherent, multi-sided debate at any one time. This alienated more people than those brought into solidarity.
Maybe it was a case of bad speakers, a lack of organisation, and an absence of knowledge in Middle Eastern politics. It is a shame that student campaigners can still romanticise the Orient (as their colonizing forefathers did) and not question what it is they are campaigning for. Hamas’ military resistance against Israel has nothing to do with the Student struggle against University Management.