Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Are Rockets on the Registry? 

When it comes to matters of Middle East politics, I must confess that I have a few basics down, but it really isn't a strong suit of mine. I know that groups like Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah all try to portray (with a stunning degree of success) their jihads against Israel as fighting against a western imperialist beachhead and all they want is to pursue peace, brotherhood and good will towards all. I also recognize that these groups try very hard to stage photos and "film" of Israeli "atrocities" all of the time, especially when the shooting heats up. I also know that "recognizing" Israel's right to exist is seen as a major concession from Muslim countries in the region.

But even with the recognition of the tilted reporting field, there are pieces that are so over the top in their puffery that they shouldn't be ignored. Diaa Hadid wrote such a piece for AP on June 6. The article is about a Hamas run dating service in Gaza to assist women find suitable marriage partners. I have no problem with this service, but the tone and tenor of the article glosses over the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization. some choice quotes from the article:
. . . Despite its fearsome reputation elsewhere, Hamas is known here for its cradle-to-grave welfare programs for the poor. It is a cornerstone of its political support in Gaza, where poverty is deepening as Israel and Egypt maintain an almost two-year blockade of the Hamas-run territory. Now, the group is branching out into matters of the heart.

"This is our vision of humanitarian work," said Wael Zard, director of the Tayseer association. "This makes people close to Hamas and makes Hamas close to the people." . . .

. . . The one other matchmaking service in Gaza is little used. The Tayseer association was originally founded to fund and organize mass weddings, a service for poor or disabled Gazans who often can't afford the costs of a ceremony. Next month, a mass wedding is planned for more than a dozen blind Palestinians.

While Hamas is considered a terrorist group in the West because of its attacks on Israel - including suicide bombings - it also provides Gaza's poor with food coupons, medical care and other services. Its social network helped make the group popular, gaining it victory over its Palestinian rival Fatah in 2006 parliament elections. The following year, Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in clashes with Fatah . . .

Yes, yes Hamas does send homicide bombers into Israel, fires rockets at Israel from civilian locations and turns Gaza into an armed camp; but noticing that is to oversee the good they do in providing for the welfare of their poor Gazan brothers and sisters (end sarc). I would also be remiss if I didn't point out Ms. Hadid's sly dig at the Israeli military when it finally hit back last year.
. . . Tahani, who spoke on condition that only her first name be used because she is using the service without her family knowing, said she turned to Tayseer a year ago. Her mother died when Tahani was young, and none of her relatives were helping her find a groom.

The young woman said she became more determined to find a husband after Israel 's three-week war on Hamas, which ended in January. Israel 's assault killed hundreds of civilians, and Gaza's residents hunkered down in homes and shelters during the shelling, not knowing where bombs would fall next.

"My brothers held their wives when they were scared. I felt lonely," said Tahani, a university graduate in social work . . .

Like I said, I'm largely ignorant of details from the region, but it's my understanding that Hamas put their rockets in the midst of civilians in preparation for conflict. Why put your weapons in the midst of the people you are ostensibly trying to help? I don't think it's for aesthetic reasons. When Hamas put weapons in the midst of civilian populations, it knew exactly what it was doing and were cool with it, even if innocent civilians had to die.

Three final items on this piece: 1. Given the violence (there's that dastardly word again) Hamas committed against members of their "political rivals" Fatah during and immediately after the Israeli assault into Gaza last year, I'm not surprised the Hamas dating service is popular compared to the competition.
2. If this is seen as community outreach on the part of palestinian authorities, did the Tayseer Association for Marriage and Development in Gaza get any of the 1 Billion in foreign aid sent by the Obama administration to the Gaza strip?
3. You know, Hamas could buy a lot more food, medical care and the like if they just stopped buying weapons of war. It's a crazy idea I know, but it just might work if given a try.

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