Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Doing evil thru good

Where is your charitable donation going? Panorama- a BBC documentary news show had some interesting answers.

Last night's program was on the link between Palestinian terrorists Hamas and Islamic charities - in particular Interpal. This charity is proscribed in the US, but lauded in the UK - registered with the Charity Commission - the voluntary sector's regulatory body.

Interpal does raise money to do "good". They fund clinics, food distribution to the poor, cultural societies, youth groups and orphanages. Unfortunately, they use the youth groups, schools and orphanages to indoctrinate the kids of Palestine with the Islamist death cult ideology of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Panorama showed some chilling footage of cute little girls from an Interpal funded youth group singing songs about offering up their blood for Islam. And one little darling who sang "if you tire of the fight, put the Kalashnikov in my hands." Hamas use those social welfare funds and networks funded by Interpal to turn observant Muslims, and those who might just want to help folks in Palestine into witting or unwitting supporters of terror. I don't think there's any proof that Interpal monies buy weapons - but they certainly help deliver the people who use them.

This isn't a new strategy. Guerilla groups give food to the local villagers in hopes of creating social bonds strong enough to provide aid and comfort to the insurgency when they're in trouble. Soup kitchens and missionary societies provide a meal and a warm dry place in hopes of winning souls. Sometimes charity is performed for its own sake and sometimes to win support to a cause that might be benign or evil.

But we need to be aware of the links. I give money to the Salvation Army because I respect what they do, not because I agree with what they fundamentally believe. If they began work toward creating unrest in the Middle East or wiping out someone's country, not only would I stop donating, I would hope that they would be outlawed. Interpal contributes to doing just that, and yet they continue in the UK.

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The American government might be annoyed at the British Charity Commission for not proscribing Interpal. But we're not blameless in the charity for terror stakes. For many years, Americans raised money that was funnelled straight into IRA coffers. I've had Brits confront me directly over Noraid money that provided at the very least aid and succor to those who blew up people and property in Northern Ireland and England. I always said "Well, I never gave them any money," or "I think that was mostly people from up North who gave money to Noraid - really nothing to do with me."

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I was once set up on a quasi-blind date many years ago in Knoxville with someone who could not have been more wholly inappropriate. Over dinner he said he thought he'd seen me around or met me somewhere.

"Was it at Rock for the Zapatistas?" he asked. [A fund raiser for the poor in Chiapas and the Zapatista movement itself]

"No, I wasn't there. I don't give money to terrorists." I said.

And it all went down hill from there. They say that one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. But if you can't agree which is which, I reckon you don't have a firm foundation for a romantic relationship.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The more you read of Mexican history, the more you understand why the Zappatistas take the position they do. Chiapas has long been a land of the forgotten (exiles were sent there). People in charge were so isolated from the rest of Mexico that the ill-use of the indigenous people never hit the DF's radar.
Actually terrorists gain foothold where problems have been LONG ignored. The fight against terrorism is actually a reaction to being forgotten--against human laziness in not paying attention to problems that need attention till there is a crisis.

But I'm glad that blind date didn't work out, I like the ViL.
VM

Sam said...

It's wonderful that Panorama streams their program on their website. I wish I had known that before.

It's always difficult to know where to put your karma seed money to maximize the benefit that all involved will derive from it. Sometimes are easier than others, like with Katrina and the tsunami. But when you want to try to make things better in places that are torn apart by sectarianism or general meanness, that's sure enough a tricky one.

When I was in the Army, they set up these pay deferrals for charitable organizations. Every month you could "tithe" to the charities of your choice and being unschooled in such things I thought it would be best to spread the love as many places as I could, so I split my 20 percent between the Anti-Defamation League, United Negro College Fund, and Catholic Charities. I fancy myself slightly more cynical now and would split my distribution in a different fashion, but I'm happy that I was once someone who derived great personal satisfaction from trying to save the world any way I could. I have since abandoned that for a fool's crusade.

Vol Abroad said...

Yes it's hard. Like I said, I give to the Salvation Army, partly because they'll muck in and deal with unpleasant situations (and people) with creativity.

BUT there are a lot of people who disapprove of their militaristic culture and their particular brand of Christianity... and I can see their point.

Vol Abroad said...

To Vol Mom: so just because problems have been ignored means that terrorism is a valid response?

India/Pakistan are places that have long
sought to solve problems (or stir them up) with violence - yet Ghandi achieved peacefully what so many people have tried to achieve violently - with a violence they said was a last resort - that there was no other way.

Vol-in-Law said...

My view of terrorism is that it's only morally justified against states that are trying to wipe you out; however against such genocidal states terrorism will almost certainly not be practically effective because they will be totalitarian like Nazi Germany and uncaring of acts against their civilian population, ergo in practice terrorism is never justified. For this reason, good guys don't use terrorism as a tactic.