"Jihad with money"

Just watched the very good Panorama programme “Faith, hate and charity” tonight. It dealt with U.K.-based charity Interpal, and how it seems to be sending money to Hamas to help with its indoctrination programs for young children. It was great, a really well-made documentary – apart from the editing style, which recalled Oliver Stone. (For a more relaxing visual experience, try smashing your head into a paving stone for a good half hour.)

Apparently the strategy started with a big Israeli blitz against Hamas’ money in the early ’90s, where a number of Hamas fundraisers were caught by Israel and sent to prison for supplying money to the charitable and ‘military’ sections. From then on, the decision was taken to separate the two, at least in public.

The high points of the documentary were the interviews, particularly with Hamas-aligned charities in the West Bank who were the recipients of Interpal’s money. For bare-faced lying, New Labour politicians have nothing on these guys:

JOHN WARE: I’m curious about that little sign up there. What exactly is it?

HASHEM RJOUB, ORPHANAGE DIRECTOR: ‘Do not disappoint the orphan.’ This is a Koranic verse. The Koran encourages us to protect the orphan.

JW: And that red colour coming down the arm and spilling over the world? What does that signify?

HR: By God… It’s not clear whether it’s blood or not, but in truth it looks like it might be.

JW: It conveys to me a picture of Islam dominating the world, and if necessary through bloodshed.

HR: It’s true. This picture expresses the vision of the person who drew it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these things exist. I want to stress that Islam has ruled most of the world without blood. There was no blood, it was through persuasion.

The programme also includes an inteview with Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in which he talks about the role of Islamic charities, saying: “Don’t talk about donations. I think of it as jihad with money.” Usually these would be the ramblings of some extremist idiot, but according to the programme he is the director of an umbrella organisation of Islamic charities.

Hamas has long used its charitable/social work arm to gain support in the deprived Palestinian territories, which probabaly led it to victory in January’s elections. This takes me back to something Jamie K wrote during the Israeli attacks on Gaza back in early July. To paraphrase: as a non-state organisation, Hamas was far more effective than it currently is as a quasi-state. This kind of charity-based largesse is easy to pull off, and easy to conflate with terrorist actions, when you don’t have any government budgets to balace, as well as government institutions that can be bombed to bits at a moment’s notice.

The Charity Commission comes out very badly in the programme, though from talking with my dad that doesn’t seem so surprising. He has personal experience of dealing with them in the early ’90s, when they refused to take action against a “charity” run by one guy who had applied for funding so he could get a rent-free office to run his other businesses. The developments in charity organisations, where they would become tools for political groups or for chancers looking for free money, seemed to pass the Commission by.

Well, that’s my inner Harry’s Placer all tired out. As for the general shitstorm in the Lebanon, I’m too sick of all the carnage to form an opinion, thought Shuggy’s masterful post is a good starter in itself.

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