Mark Humphrys (politics)


Hamza Tzortzis - 2024 debate

  The full video

My opening and closing speeches

My notes and supporting links

My initial post-debate thoughts

Post-debate exchange

Hamza Tzortzis debate, 2024

I debated against Hamza Tzortzis on the topic of Israel and Gaza in Belfast on 11 Jan 2024.
This was part of "The Conversation", a series of video interviews and debates by film maker Sean Murray.


The full video


Full video of the debate. (1 hour 2 min)
From The Conversation.
Also on soundcloud.
Copy also posted by Tzortzis to his channel.


My opening and closing speeches

The debate is full of Tzortzis' uninteresting interruptions, name-calling, personal abuse, and frenzied topic changes.
The only bits free of that are my opening and closing speeches.
So here they are.

My opening speech. (7 min)
I address the questions:
What was 7 October? What is the current war about? How does this current war end?

My closing speech. (4 min)
I address the questions:
What is the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Is the two-state solution dead? Is there any hope?


My notes and supporting links

Here are notes and supporting links applying to the full debate.

My initial post-debate thoughts

My initial thoughts after the debate were as follows:

The debate was a disappointment. Here was Tzortzis' chance to talk to a pro-Israel person and have a rare conversation. But all he was interested in was hurling anti-Israel invective at me and pretty much ignoring every word I said.

Obviously I never expected him to change his mind (or me change mine), but if we slowed things down and stuck to one topic every 3 minutes (not one topic every 10 seconds) it would have been a better debate.

I understand pro-Israel people are highly alien to Tzortzis, but that is exactly why he should talk to one. His "solution" for Israel is that the Israelis should agree to live under Islamic majority rule. To imagine that more than 0.1 percent of Israelis would entertain such ideas is to live outside of reality. Talking to Israelis and pro-Israel people would help.

Tzortzis was civil in person, so I was surprised when from the start of the debate he became offensive and uncivil. He rolled out words like "racist" early on, throughout, and even in his conclusion. He focused on name calling and wild accusations, rather than listening to a word I said. How can one debate against that? I did my best to get some points across but I feel his uncivil behaviour made it a missed opportunity.

When I watched the whole video, however, I realised it was not so bad. Tzortzis' incivility was only part of it. Despite his behaviour, I think the debate was worth having, and I got across most of the points I wanted to make.

Post-debate exchange

After the debate, I posted my initial thoughts, more or less as above.
Tzortzis posted a quick reply.
This gives the opportunity to write a "point versus point".
I give Tzortzis' point first and then my reply.

Writing it out here shows how we could have had a better debate, if we took it slow, and found out what each other's points were, and Tzortzis gave up the name calling and wild accusations.

"He has also misrepresented my solution. My solution included the dismantling of the apartheid system, as peace and justice cannot coexist with apartheid."

  1. I will discuss the idea of whether this "apartheid" system exists below.
  2. But first I want to state the pro-Israel position. Which is that changing any laws related to Arab Israelis or Palestinians will have no impact whatsoever on the war. Changing some of them will in fact escalate the war.
  3. Only the end of Israel itself could satisfy Hamas and most Palestinians. You helpfully suggested that at the end of your talk. So I think Israelis have your number, and they say no. If you want them to listen, get better ideas.
  4. I do not think I misrepresented you about an Islamic state. You talked at length of how there was only peace when there was Muslim rule in the land, and so you were suggesting that as a solution.

"Mark wanted Palestinians to be content under illegal occupation, apartheid and tyranny."

  1. The topic is Gaza. In Gaza before 7 October, there was no "occupation, apartheid and tyranny".
  2. Gazans could have had a state, and lived in pretty good circumstances, at any time from 2005 to 2023. They chose not to. They chose this war. That window is closed to them now, maybe for decades. And they will miss it.

"He wants Palestinians to not use their legal right to resist occupation and oppression."

  1. Our moralities differ, but nothing in my morality says that any Arab/Palestinian violence since 1947 was ever justified. Palestinians should attempt peaceful means and all their problems would be easily solved.
  2. It is particularly disgusting talking about a "right to resist" when Palestinian "resistance" does exist, and consists almost entirely of war crimes against civilians, including rape of women, torture and the sadistic massacre of families and children.
  3. Shame on Tzortzis for talking about a "right to resist" after such a barbaric massacre.

"He had no counter arguments to the fact that Israel has at least 60 laws that discriminate against Arab Israelis and Palestinians (see here)."

  1. This was quite a diversion from Gaza. Almost none of this is relevant to Gaza.
  2. I gave a lengthy talk about the idea that Israel is an "apartheid" state, that somehow gives votes to Arabs, has Arabs in power, and has 70 percent of Arabs loyal to it. So my answers are there. Let's get back to Gaza.

"I have formed the conclusion he believes that Israeli blood is worth more than Palestinian. This is clear once you watch the debate. During the debate I said he was either racist or ignorant."

  1. This is the kind of offensive incivility that disappointed me. The Israel topic is full of fanatics throwing around words like "racist" and "fascist" to anyone who disagrees. I thought Tzortzis was better but obviously not.

"He could not condemn the equivalent of five Oct 7s that were inflicted on the Palestinians since 2008 until around 2020."

  1. No such "October 7ths" exist. What Tzortzis is talking about is Hamas' wars against Israel, from 2008 to 2021, all started by Hamas for no reason, and in all of which Israel worked hard to target Hamas not civilians.

"To my surprise he described the genocidal statements of [various Israelis] as "rhetoric". ... Mark should be ashamed of himself for describing genocidal statements from people of power as just "rhetoric". Mark is a genocide enabler."

  1. Overheated statements, some with genocidal overtones, are indeed "rhetoric" and I disagree with making them. I said I disagreed.
  2. The reason I say they are just "rhetoric" is because there is no "genocide".
  3. I explained in the debate many things that upset the simple claim that there is a "genocide" going on, such as:
    • Moving civilians around to avoid the fighting.
    • Millions of leaflet drops with detailed instructions.
    • Millions of text messages and phone calls to residents.
    • Air strikes called off when civilians appeared.
    • 100 plus trucks a day of food and aid being allowed in. Israel is actually feeding Hamas fighters while it fights them!
    • Civilian children spotters not shot even though that led to IDF being killed.
    • And so on.
  4. Whatever the war is, it is not "genocide", or else every war is "genocide".

"I would like to thank @sean_murray1 for his hospitality and for giving me the opportunity to show how Zionists are immoral and ideologically twisted fascists."

  1. Another example of the rude and offensive language Tzortzis brought to the debate.

Promo for the debate.

Sean Murray, Hamza Tzortzis and I.

Sean Murray picks a clip of me for Twitter. Click through to play.
It is a perfectly good clip, making some core points of my side.
I know Murray is very much on the other side. That is no secret. He thinks Gaza is genocide. But he still tries to pick a representative clip for our side. Credit to Murray. He does seem to believe in debate. I am impressed.
I walked away from this far more impressed with Murray than before. And far less impressed with Tzortzis than before.


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