Richard Melson

February 2006

Doha Debates: Hamas


February 27, 2006

For Immediate Release

Doha Debates:

Hamas accepted as political partner

Doha, Qatar:

Sharp divisions over the Palestinian group Hamas emerged during a debate last night in Doha, as international experts argued over its election success and international reactions to it.

"Hamas has been holding a truce with Israel but the Palestinians continue to be steamrollered by the international community," said Stanley Cohen, an American lawyer who represents Hamas activists.

He was countered by David Frum, former adviser and speechwriter to President George W Bush, who argued that Hamas’s own charter should exclude it from contact with the international community. "How can anyone deal with a group that calls for the destruction of a nation that is a member of the international community? "he asked.

The exchange took place during the latest in the Doha Debates series, which is sponsored by the Qatar foundation and explores controversial issues in the Arab and Moslem worlds.

At issue last night was the motion: "This house believes the international community must accept Hamas as a political partner."

A number of students in the audience criticized American and Israeli policies and argued that the West should accept the electoral decision of the Palestinians. That view was supported by Dr Mahmoud Mohamedou, director of the Harvard programme on Humanitarian policy. He said engaging with Hamas would show the West was honest in its desire to see democracy in the Middle East.

The motion was carried by 88.2% of the audience.

Now in their second year, the Doha Debates reflect the Qatar Foundation’s mission to encourage education and free speech in the region.


26th February 2006

The Doha Debates:

"This house believes that the International Community must accept Hamas as a political partner"

tim sebastian is best known as the former presenter of the BBC’s HARDtalk program. As the host of HARDtalk, Sebastian spent seven years traveling the world interviewing newsmakers and personalities — from presidents, prime ministers and kings to authors, actors and musicians.

Based in Warsaw from 1979, Tim became the BBC’s Europe correspondent in 1982. Two years later he went as BBC correspondent to Moscow, where he stayed until 1985. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he was based from 1986 to 1989.

In 1982 Tim was awarded the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Richard Dimbleby Award and was named Television Journalist of the Year by the Royal Television Society, and for two years running—2000 and 2001—he received the Royal Television Society’s Interviewer of the Year Award.

Born in London in 1952, Tim speaks Russian and German and is the author of eight novels and two nonfiction books. He holds a B.A. degree in modern languages from Oxford University.

For the motion

Cohen is an outspoken advocate for the rights of Palestinians and has long been identified as one of the most ardent critics of United States policy towards Muslims at home and abroad. He has served as an advisor and counsel to numerous mosques and Islamic organizations throughout the United States and has frequently traveled to the Middle East to areas including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In July 2005, Cohen filed a landmark case in the District Court in Washington DC against Ariel Sharon, other Israeli leaders, President Bush, various weapons manufacturers and other organizations in the United States. The case sought damages and injunctive relief on behalf of a group of Palestinian-Americans who have had family members killed, injured and tortured and whose homes and businesses have been destroyed.

A frequent contributor to op-ed pieces and guest lecturer at various law schools, universities and other organizations throughout the United States and elsewhere, Cohen often appears on television and radio talk shows and in public debates on issues including the situation in the Middle East, U.S. foreign policy, the treatment of Muslims and the status of civil liberties and human rights in the United States.

He graduated from Pace University School of Law in 1983.

is Associate Director of Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research.

Previously, Dr. Mohamedou served as Director of Research at the International Council on Human Rights Policy in Geneva, where we helped found and direct the research and policy program. He was a post-doctoral Scholar-in-Residence at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and Research Associate at the Ralph Bunche Institute in the United Nations office in New York.

Dr. Mohamedou  is the author of several books and essays on human rights, civil society and conflict, including; Iraq and the Second Gulf War – State Building and Regime Security; Societal Transition to Democracy; Contre-Croisade – Origines et Consequences du 11 Septembre; and Non-Linearity of Engagement: Transnational Armed Groups, International Law, and the Conflict between Al Qaeda and the United States. He is currently completing a book on Al Qaeda.

He is a frequent lecturer in his fields of interest and has contributed to The International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, Civil Society, The Journal of North African Studies, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique and Al Qods al Arabi.

Dr. Mohamedou holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Relations from City University of New York.

He also holds a degree in law from the Université Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris.

against the motion

former special assistant to President George W. Bush, is also a bestselling author, columnist and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

In 2001-2002, David Frum served as a special assistant to President Bush, during which the New Yorker magazine wrote: "A…case can be made that the most influential thinker in the foreign-policy apparatus of the Administration of George W. Bush during its first two years was …David Frum."

He is the author of five books, including two New York Times bestsellers: THE RIGHT MAN: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush (2003), and co-author with Richard Perle of AN END TO EVIL: What’s Next in the War on Terror (2004). His next book, a study of US foreign policy and the next presidential election, will be published by Doubleday in late 2006.

Frum writes a daily column for National Review Online, plus weekly columns for Canada’s National Post newspaper and Italy’s Il Foglio. He also contributes frequently to the editorial pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as to Great Britain’s Daily Telegraph and Canada’s National Post. He appears regularly on CNN, Fox News, and the BBC.

In 2001, Judge Richard Posner’s study of public intellectuals listed Frum as one of the 100 most influential minds in the United States. In 1996, The Wall Street Journal acclaimed him as "one of the leading political commentators of his generation."

After receiving a simultaneous B.A. and M.A. in History from Yale in 1982, Frum was appointed a visiting lecturer in history at Yale in 1986. In 1987, he graduated cum laude from the Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Federalist Society.

Salim Mansur is the Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He is a regular columnist in North American newspapers and contributor to international journals.

February’s Doha Debate will be broadcast on BBC World at:


Saturday  March 4th 12:10 and repeated at 20:10

Sunday  March 5th 08:10 and repeated at 17:10

Doha Time:

Saturday  March 4th 15:10 and repeated at 23:10

Sunday March5th 11:10 and repeated at 20:10




are a public forum for dialogue and freedom of speech in

Qatar. Each month invited speakers debate the burning issues of the Arab and

Islamic world in front of an audience who are encouraged to participate by asking


The Debates, a project of the Qatar Foundation, are chaired by the

internationally renowned broadcaster Tim Sebastian.

In the first series of the Doha Debates, held at the headquarters of Qatar Foundation in Doha’s Education City, prominent speakers included:

Clare Short, British MP;

Dr.Mahathir Mohamed, former Malaysian prime minister;

Toujan Feisal, Jordan’s only female MP;

Mustapha Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina;

Fouad Ajami, director of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University and adviser to the Bush administration;

Rabbi Michael Melchior, Israeli minister;

Ghassan Khatib, Palestinian minister;


Mohammed al Douri, former Iraqi ambassador to the U.N.

Prominent speakers for the second series have included:

Ahmed Maher, former Egyptian Foreign Minister;

James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute;

Ramzi Salman, advisor to Qatar's Minister of Energy and Industry and former deputy secretary general for OPEC and

Raymond Tanter, former senior staff member of the U.S. National Security Council and personal representative of the U.S. Secretary of Defense to arms control talks in Europe in the Reagan-Bush administration

For more information, please visit

QATAR FOUNDATION is a private, nonprofit, chartered organization committed to the principle that a nation’s greatest natural resource is its people. The foundation is headquartered in a unique Education City, which hosts numerous progressive learning institutions and centers of research, including branch campuses of five of the world’s leading universities.

For more information, please visit

For any questions or to arrange an interview please contact:

Nardine Gerges

Hill & Knowlton Qatar LLC

International Public Relations and Public Affairs

Telephone: +974 413 1260

Fax: +974 413 1995

Mobile: +974 554 0721


Doha Debates


PostDebatesPressRelease_English_Feb27.doc (0.57 MB),

4Bios_HostEnglish(1).doc (0.04 MB)


Monday, February 27, 2006