The Corner

As Long as We’re Passing Out Piles of Cash, Why Not $900M for Hamas?

Various la-la land conservatives and moderates assured us that Obama, despite a career spent in the Left’s fever swamps, is really a “pragmatist” who would govern from the center.  They pooh-poohed us knuckle-draggers who doggedly pointed to his radical intimates, like Hamas-apologist Rashid Khalidi.  I wonder what they’re thinking today as Obama takes time out from destroying the economy to send $900M from the mint’s busy printing press to Hamas.

Oh, of course, they’re saying it’s not going to Hamas but to the suffering people of Gaza.  As the New York Times report (linked in the NRO web-briefing) states,

the aid would not go to Hamas but … would be funneled through nongovernmental organizations….  By seeking to aid Gazans but not Hamas, the administration is following the lead of the Bush administration, which sent money to Gaza through nongovernmental organizations. In December, it said it would give $85 million to the United Nations agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The Times is careful not to mention the name of “the United Nations agency” in question.  It is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).  The paper’s diffidence should come as no surprise. 

The UNRWA is effectively an arm of Hamas in Gaza (and elsewhere).  In its second term, the Bush State Department was reckless in enabling Palestinian terrorists on its utopian quest for Middle East peace.  As in so much else, Obama is taking that parlous policy and multiplying it by a hundred.

Even Obama’s pal Khalidi has acknowledged that UNRWA has on its payroll official “members of different political groups such as… Hamas and Islamic Jihad, without reference to their belonging to a specific group” (emphasis added).  UNRWA fails to screen its 23,000 employees (99 percent of whom are Palestinians) for terrorist ties.  As my friend Claudia Rosett recently wrote in Forbes, the agency’s Israel-bashing commissioner, Karen Koning Abuzayd, absurdly told Congress it was too difficult for UNRWA to run checks against terrorist watch lists because “Arab last names sound so familiar.”  UNRWA further permits its employees to affiliate openly with Hamas and other terrorist organizations.  In addition, the agency claims it cannot screen recipients of its largesse for terror ties because – besides Arab names being so very difficult for Arabs to distinguish – attempting such screening would endanger staff members.  Translation:  Of course we give the money to Hamas.

And that’s not the half of it.  UNRWA-sponsored schools inculcate the Palestinians’ virulent, anti-Semitic brand of radical Islam.  In 2003, as the Jewish Policy Center recounts, one of the agency’s “teachers’ representatives,” Suheil al-Hindi, “openly applauded suicide bombings” at a school in Gaza’s Jabiliya refugee camp.  UNRWA’s response?  Al-Hindi received a promotion and was later elected to UNRWA’s clerks union.  Other UNRWA teachers have included Said Sayyam, now Hamas’s “minister of interior and civil affairs.”  More importantly, the UNRWA schools have produced top Hamas operatives, including Abd al-Azziz Rantisi, the terror organization’s co-founder who was killed by Israel in 2004; Ismail Haniyeh, the terrorist organization’s former “prime minister”; and Ibrahim Maqadama, who helped create Hamas’s military structure.

Furthermore, UNRWA ambulances are used by Hamas to transport weapons and explosives to terrorists.  Its other vehicles have been used to ferry terrorist operatives for attacks against Israeli troops.  Its schools have been used both for launching terror attacks and as “summer camps” that provide paramilitary training to tens of thousands of Palestinian children.  UNRWA camps are used by Hamas as bomb- and arms factories.

And most recently, UNRWA has been used as the Hamas message service.  The Israeli press is reporting that U.S. diplomats are livid because UNRWA has embarrassed them by using Sen. John Kerry to try to pass a letter to Pres. Obama during Kerry’s recent Middle East swing.  (Kerry claims ignorance, which is certainly plausible.)  The letter reportedly offers direct negotiations.

The game here is obvious.  UNRWA takes in hundreds of millions (indeed, billions) in aid.  Some is directly funnelled to Hamas in cash or in kind.  But for the most part, UNRWA performs social welfare services quite consciously to free Hamas — the Palestinians’ chosen government – to divert its limited resources to wage a terrorist war (“the resistance”) against Israel.

If an organization comprised of American citizens attempted to do this, they could be prosecuted and imprisoned for decades on charges of providing material support to a terrorist organization.  (I would say “would be prosecuted,” but with this administration, who knows?)  Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (an old hand at empowering Palestinian terrorists) are now proposing to give nearly a billion dollars to a Hamas subsidiary — knowing full well that this funding must inevitably result in the murder of innocent people.

Congress can stop this from happening.  Michael Steele and Republicans can show real leadership and moral clarity in the war against Islamic radicalism while the many Democrats who support Israel can step up to the plate.  It’s one (foolish) thing to “engage” our enemies in self-loathing negotiations; it’s quite another to fund them.

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