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October 17, 2008 Clip No. 1922

British Islamist Kamal Al-Hilbawi and Liberal Nabil Yassin Debate Whether Israeli Children Constitute Legitimate Military Targets

Following are excerpts from a TV debate featuring Dr. Kamal al-Hilbawi, director of the London Center for the Study of Terrorism, and political analyst Dr. Nabil Yassin, which aired on BBC Arabic TV on October 17, 2008:

Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: I condemn the targeting of any civilian, but incidentally, I believe that every Israeli civilian is a future soldier.

Interviewer: He is what?

Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: A future soldier.

Interviewer: Even if he is two years old?

Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: Even if he is a child. A child born in Israel is raised on the belief that [the Arabs] are like contemptible sheep, and that this is a land without a people, and they are a people without a land. They have very strange concepts. In elementary school, they pose the following math problem: "In your village, there are 100 Arabs. If you killed 40, how many Arabs would be left for you to kill?" This is taught in the Israeli curriculum. What would you say about that? Should a child studying this be considered a civilian? He is a future soldier.

[...]

Dr. Nabil Yassin: What Kamal said is very dangerous. He is familiar with the case of the Kharijites. He takes us back to the Azariqa, the Kharijites who were most lethal to Muslims. They used to cut open the bellies of pregnant women, because they believed that the child would become an enemy of the Kharijites.

[...]

If we, as Arabs and Muslims, condemned every operation targeting civilians anywhere, we would be able to demand that all parties – not only the U.S. – commit themselves to the same position. I condemn the Israeli governments for teaching children such things, but I do not condemn the child, who still doesn't know how he will kill the Arabs in 20 years' time, when he becomes a soldier. We should differentiate... These things lead us back to the root of the problem: Who is a civilian, and who is a soldier, who is being targeted, and who is targeting me? We must not include civilians in the list of military targets.

[...]

Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: We must first ask ourselves, with regard to the Polish or Russian Israeli, who came with his children to occupy a land and a home that are not his, expelling the Palestinians to America, Britain, France, and Lebanon – what is his status according to international law?

Interviewer: We don't want to limit the show to the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli struggle, we are talking about terrorism in general.

Dr. Kamal Al-Hilbawi: Allow me. I absolutely do not condone the killing of civilians. But those responsible for the killing of these civilians are sometimes their own relatives and their own country.

[...]

Dr. Nabil Yassin: In my view, Sheik Al-Qaradhawi is one of the people responsible for the development of religious violence, I'm sad to say.

Interviewer: Dr. Nabil, we don't want to...

Dr. Nabil Yassin: Let's be clear on that... Religious scholars issued fatwas...

Interviewer: We are not here to pass judgment on Sheik Al-Qaradhawi or anyone else.

Dr. Nabil Yassin: We need to be realistic. For 1,400 years, we've been speaking in the name of Islam, while concealing the facts of reality. There is a movement among the clerics – and I don't believe in clerics, because there is not supposed to be any clergy in Islam... There is a group of clerics, or religious jurisprudents, who fuel the phenomenon of religious violence, provide religious justifications [for terrorism], and allow people to go to Paradise and marry the black-eyed virgins, by killing themselves and others, some of whom are Muslims.

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