Sunday, February 05, 2006

Funding Hamas: Where There's a Will, There's a Way 

Form 1702B
Change of Government, Report Form
Addendum 3 -- Trip Summary

From:     Fatah           
To:    Hamas            
Representative:  Abe Yurocrat       
Date: Near Future        

1702B-1: Section 1 -- Overview

1702B-1-1: Meeting Location and Relevant Details

I totally understood you about getting this new form filled out ASAP before giving any more checks, what with the calls to cut off even humanitarian funding because of this and that niggling problem. They can't call us "terrorist funders" anymore, not with these tight new guidelines and criteria, and everything in writing and signed as well.

Well, I wish I could tell you where the meeting was, but I can't. Not exactly. After I called the number you gave me, I was picked up, blindfolded for some reason, and then driven around, passed from car to car a few times, until I was finally dropped off and led inside a house. When they brought me to the interview room, they frisked me with more enthusiasm than I would expect from a party with such a stunning electoral mandate and humanitarian track record running ambulance services, schools, mosques and clinics to boot. Regardless, I assented to the search since it is apparently a cultural norm in this area, the Israelis causing as much trouble as they do.

That's about all I can say about the meeting's location.

1702B-1-2: Authorization of Participants

I'm relatively sure the guy interviewed was a good enough Hamas representative. You can cross check the signature at the bottom of the form against whomever they appoint as Minister of Botony or Horticulture -- if his name is Mohammad Something-or-Other, that's our man. Also, out of all the Hamas people who so graciously helped with this meeting, Mr. Muhammed was the only one who wasn't armed to the teeth, so he's obviously from the political wing.

To be sure, I asked him if he was authorized to answer these questions -- just a formality, really, in order to get the next check -- and he nodded.

But if you aren't satisfied with an actual Minister of Hydroponics, you're welcome to go back and wander the streets of Nablus yourself looking for somebody more official to interview. You'll want to wear a green headband if you try that though.

1702B-2: Section 2 -- Conformance to Guidelines Survey

1702B-2-1: Commitment to Gender-Inclusiveness
Approval:  check       
Notes: First I asked Mr. Mohamad if I could take off the blindfold and he said, "Sure, it's your head." Oh he is such a kidder, that one. We both had a good laugh about it. Well, mostly he laughed, but I was relieved to finally get the blindfold off.

Anyway, I asked him about his party's commitment to gender-inclusiveness and he seemed puzzled at first but then he figured out what we needed to hear. He told me that his party is open to participation of women at every level of the resistance, that Hamas appreciates that its women are the very wombs that produce and train their activists, and that they even send women on missions -- I had to admit I didn't know that -- and that some of their most visible incoming legislators are women,too, which if true is a most impressive gender-inclusiveness record.

For instance, he told me about one of their new legislators, Mariam Farhat. I asked if I could speak to her for a moment, to verify some of this, but Mr. Mohamed shook his head. He told me, "She is busy having a long heart-to-heart with one of her eight remaining sons -- oops, how could I forget? Make that SEVEN remaining sons. Oh, they grow up so fast don't they?" and when I asked when she'd be free, he indicated she might be in hiding for a few weeks until some sort of expected controversy blows over.

I let it drop at that and gave them a pass for this one.

1702B-2-2: Commitment to Equality of Sexual Preference
Approval:  check       
Notes: At first, when I asked Mr. Mohammed about this one, his face looked very red, but after a minute when his breathing was back to normal, he tried to answer. Basically he wanted to clarify what I meant, "So, by this so-called sexual preference, you are referring to these Burqa Boys like that Daughter of Pigs and Apes, Mike Jackson, defiling Holy Arab land with his presence?" But once I corrected him, that Michael Jackson wasn't born of Pigs and Apes (Jewish) and possibly even fathered children, I think that calmed him down a little bit, and he didn't seem to have any more problem with it. I didn't press him anymore on this one, because he was pretty worked up.

1702B-2-3: Position on Kyoto gasses and emissions
Approval:  check       
Notes: I told him we needed to know that his administration would be working on Kyoto gases, both internally, and by helping criticize countries that refuse to ratify the treaty. Once he understood this meant criticising the US, he nodded most vigorously. I pushed further for his government's stance on Kyoto gases, and he dismissed that as a question for the scientific research department, but that certainly if Kyoto gases were easier to transport that Sarin, he was all for it.

I took that as a yes.

1702B-2-4: Intended Disposition of Funds
Approval:  check       
Notes: Of course, I had to make sure the money wasn't going to go for any bombs, or terror weapons or any funny stuff, given everybody's anxiety about Hamas recently. But he was quite reasonable when I asked him, and he reassured me that the money was absolutely not for terrorism or anything of the sort, just subsidies for widows and orphans and to pay for refurbishing and renaming of city squares and streets, things like that. Charity. I even challenged him on this, since everyone says that destroying Israel is in his organization's charter, it looked a little fishy that all this money still only went to charity. But he reassured me that all of the terrorism was paid for out of completely different funds, so I don't think we have anything to worry about on this issue.

1702B-2-5: Governmental Policies Against Sexual Harrassment
Approval:  check       
Notes: Mr. Mohommed seemed most surprised that I was unaware of his party's progressive policies against sexual harrassment, how it would be absolutely impossible in his administration's work place. He told me of their spirtual leaders' wise policy of "out of sight, out of mind" so that any women in his administration -- and of course there would be very many -- would all be covered from head to toe so that no man would be the slightest bit tempted. When I told him, half-jokingly, that I was surprised we hadn't tried that one yet ourselves, he nodded and said that perhaps we would someday, Allah-willing.

1702B-2-6: Freedom of Religion
Approval:  check       
Notes: His answer to this one was, "There is no God but Allah" and I smiled, his faith was just so quaint, so Pat Robertson-like. But I told him I still had to dot the i's and cross (so to speak) the t's, and I asked him if he would have any problem with freedom of religion for others, like Jews for instance. He pointed out that he didn't expect there to be any Jews under his jurisdiction, not for very long at least, not now nor in any future territories he might someday be responsible for. So he said it was kind of a moot point.

I didn't let him off the hook though, and pressed on about Christians. And he said he would have no problem, as long as they paid the special jizzy tax, educated their children in madrassas, didn't build any new churches, or rebuild any old ones that might happen to burn down, and didn't build their houses higher than his. But other than that, they were free to practice their faith. In private. Without wine. But Christians were must assuredly welcome to live under his rule. Frankly, it sounded like we might want to send a few American religious fundamentalists, Pat Robertson and the like, to live in Mohammed's Holy Land, maybe mellow them out a little.

1702B-2-7: Opposition to Holocaust Denial
Approval:  check       
Notes: When I brought this one up, he sighed and told me he was just worn out from all the Jewish carping on the subject. He said, "We don't necessarily deny the holocaust; although, our principled support for freedom of the press enshrines the right to do so. Nevertheless, we don't interpret Brother Ahmadinejad's recent statements, for instance, as literal denial of the holocaust, but more as a call for investigation into why the job wasn't completed properly, that's all." When I asked him if this meant he supported a new holocaust, he seemed hurt by the accusation. "Me? Look, is Tel Aviv a decimated wasteland glowing under a radioactive cloud yet?" I shook my head, no, it isn't. "So what crime are we accused of? Apparently you would imprison a thief who has not stolen." Touche, as they say.

1702B-2-8: No Support for Terror
Approval:  check       
Notes: I apologized but told Mr. Muhamed that I had to ask the next question, as the world is so upset about the whole terror issue these days, and surely he understood. But he wasn't bothered at all, said that on the issue of support for terror -- no, his government supported only freedom fighters, resistance, not terror. He said, "Furthermore, now that we are a state" -- proto-state, I corrected him -- "it isn't terror is it? It's diplomacy."

1702B-2-9: Respect Right to Exist of Neighbor States
Approval:  check       
Notes: Well, Mr. Muhamad caught on to this one right away. He said, "This is about the Zionist entity, isn't it?" I nodded and got to the point: "Yes, it is. Will a Hamas government recognize Israel's right to exist?" Yes, just like that, I came right out with it, point blank.

And he didn't even blink. "Of course, we can talk about this," he said, "as soon as the Zionists recognize OUR right to exist. They are allowed to call for Hamas to be outlawed, and for no one to talk to Hamas or deal with Hamas, to claim Hamas is illegitimate. And then the world expects Hamas to recognize THEIR right to exist? Let the Zionists enact a National Hamas Appreciation Day and then maybe once the hypocrisy has subsided, we can begin to consider thinking about discussing the possibility they might have a right to exist."

He had a point.

1702B-2-10: Commitment to these Commitments Until Next Elections
Approval:  check       
Notes: So then I told him I was sorry, but I only had one more hoop he had to jump through to get his check, and he kind of bristled, saying they would not jump through hoops for money, even if the hoops were burning, but he put his knife away as soon as I explained it was just a figure of speech.

So I told him we needed him to promise he would keep these promises throughout his government's term, until the next elections. I can't tell you how good it was to see him laugh like that, I laughed too. When we'd both stopped laughing, he looked at me and said, "We care about the so-called next elections about as much as Muhamad Atta cared about landing lessons in flight school." And I laughed and laughed, and he was very good because he didn't laugh at his own joke even a bit. Very funny man. But finally, I told him, seriously, we just need you to promise to keep these promises, and he smiled. But he didn't say anything. So I did a little quick thinking, because I was too close to take no for an answer now. So I told him, if you won't promise to keep these promises, say so now, otherwise I'm just going to assume you're giving your word to keep your word, ok?

That worked.

1702B-3: Section 3 -- Recommendations/Actions

In light of a perfect score in all areas, international concerns notwithstanding, I had no choice but to release the check in the full amount of etc. and etc. and so on and so forth.

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