The Passion of Husam Zomlot

4 Aug

I gave this guy something of a hard time when he came to deliver a talk at MIT a few years back (watch around the 54:30 mark). To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t really paid him much attention since, even though he frequently appears on international TV and radio to discuss an issue I follow closely (Palestine).

But this morning I feel compelled to profess my respect for the moral and intellectual seriousness on display in this BBC interview clip, a longer version of which aired last Friday. US citizens especially would do well to listen.

Below is my transcription of the latter chunk of the clip, which features Dr. Zomlot delivering an impassioned contestation of the mainstream narrative surrounding Operation Protective Edge. I did my best to include supplementary links for his main points, particularly the putatively controversial ones.

Husam Zomlot: There are two wars happening, my friend. 

There is a war by the Israeli army, the most sophisticated in the region and maybe 4th in the world, against our people, against the Palestinian people. This war has seen entire neighborhoods obliterated. This war has seen the devastation and the mayhem. Wholesale murder, everywhere. 

BBC: But it’s not against Palestinians, is it? It’s against Hamas. It’s against the group that’s firing rockets into Israel.

Zomlot: I’m sorry. No. That is absolutely a lie and not true. And we should stop this because this is the second war.

The second war that is waged by Regev and his likes. The spinning and the PR and the game of deceit to blame the victim. 

I have not seen any Hamas fighter being targeted by Israel. What I have seen is families that I know–I am from Gaza, I lived with these families, I grew up with these families, I know them–I see entire families being wiped out.

I see hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the streets of Gaza as we speak.

I see a UN shelter being targeted and 16 killed.

I see the only power plant being targeted by Israel, to devastate.

I see the water supply being cut off so they devastate the entire nation.

I see the Israeli military doctrine.

BBC: So are Israeli forces just deliberately targeting civilians?

Zomlot: Yes

Because this is the founding military doctrine of Israel. Israel was founded on murdering as many civilians as possible to put pressure on the political and military leadership of the Palestinians…

Despite four mind-numbing weeks spent inundated with emotionally-laden Gaza coverage, I found these remarks from the mouth of a spokesman for Fatah–a party whose leadership actively collaborates with the occupation and carefully hedges its public image to retain the good graces of the very powers which oppress it–quite moving.

Let’s hope the UK was watching.

Update: Another brief, powerful excerpt:


Edit Note: Just after posting, I realized I needed to append the opening to mention for context that this interview was originally published by the BBC last Friday. This thought was almost immediately followed by the grim realization that the BBC’s headline (“Gaza crisis: ‘There was never a ceasefire’ – Fatah spokesman”) is just as accurate today, despite a new ceasefire that was supposed be in effect: 

A seven-hour unilateral “humanitarian window,” which was announced by Israel on Sunday evening and took effect in Gaza from 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. EDT) Monday was almost immediately broken by an air strike on the al-Shati refugee camp in northwestern Gaza, Agence France-Presse reported.

A Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson told Al Jazeera that at least 30 people, including women and children, were injured in Israeli shelling on a residential building in the camp. And, according to other media reports, Israeli air strikes near Gaza City also killed Daniel Mansour, a commander of the Islamic Jihad group — a close ally of Hamas — just hours before the latest cease-fire was to begin. One child too was killed in the latest air strike on the refugee camp, AFP reported, citing doctors.

Israel had declared on Sunday that it would hold its fire in the Gaza Strip for seven hours following widespread international condemnation, including from the U.S. and the United Nations, over its attack on another U.N.-run school — the third one since the operation began on July 8 — on Sunday. The attack on the school in Rafah, which was reportedly sheltering thousands of displaced Palestinians, killed 10 people and injured 30 others.

Indeed, as increasingly outraged calls for an end to the violence echo from virtually the whole of the international community, basically everything in this exchange (aside from the specific strike times Zomlot rattles off at the beginning) is equally valid at the time of writing.

Here’s hoping that Israeli operations are stopped by the time you read this post.


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