There is good reason to suspect that a pillar of the Muslim community in South Florida, who sits on the boards of many civil rights groups and charities, is actually a member of Hamas, the terrorist organization ruling the Gaza Strip. Sofian Zakkout, the founding president of the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), was born and partly raised in Gaza, which he has referred proudly to as “my nation, my hometown.”
His fondness for his birthplace, however, is not what is worrisome about Zakkout. It is, rather, that he has spent decades cloaking himself in a veil of respectability, while actively promoting violent Hamas propaganda, including virulently anti-Semitic speech.
To grasp how dubious a character Zakkout is, one need only compare AMANA’s self-described mission – and Zakkout’s positions, for example, in the Florida State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the Florida Regional Interfaith/Interagency Emergency Network in Disaster, the Miami Dade County Citizen Corps and even the Jewish-Arab Dialogue — with his activism on behalf of Hamas.
On Amana’s Facebook page, the group, established in 1992, states:
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What do Hamas and UNESCO have in common?
Both believe that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to the Holy Land.
The recent UNESCO resolutions concerning Jerusalem and Hebron are precisely what terror groups that deny Israel’s right to exist, such as Hamas, have long been hoping to hear from the international community.
The first resolution denies that Israel is the sovereign power over Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, while the second one designates Hebron and the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs as an “Endangered Palestinian World Heritage Site.”
The two UNESCO resolutions, in fact, back the position of Hamas and other Palestinians — namely that Israel has no right to exist. These decisions provide Hamas and other terror groups with ammunition with which to destroy Israel, killing as many Jews as possible in the process.
Is it any wonder, then, that Hamas leaders were rubbing their hands with glee upon the announcement of the UNESCO resolutions? Hamas can now crow: ‘We told you that the Jews are just retrofitting their claims for 3000 or 4000 years of history in this area; now even the international community endorses the idea that Jewish history in the region is a lie.’
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The Gaza Strip has been a flashpoint between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs for many years — but especially since 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrew its military and civilians from the territory it had conquered in the Six-Day War. The Israeli withdrawal — calculated at once to divest Israel of the headache of ruling a tinderbox and as an earnest gesture of goodwill — actually proved a fillip for Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that is committed in its charter to destroy Israel, and murder the country’s Jews.
As a history lesson, it’s important to know that since its founding in 1988, Hamas has been a challenger to Fatah — a party founded by Yasser Arafat, and the dominant power within the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, in 2007, Hamas seized control of Gaza, ejecting Fatah forces and throwing their officials and loyalists from the tops of buildings. After the coup, rocket fire into Israel increased exponentially, leading to three major Israeli military incursions into Gaza since then. The latest, the Gaza War of 2014 and the issues arising from it, are the subject of a new documentary produced by Robert Magid.
Eyeless in Gaza investigates how the outside world and mainstream media outlets arrive at the popular perceptions that have prevailed over the Gaza conflict. At its basic core, the prevalent international perception of Gaza is of a dominant Israeli power, unwilling to grant independence to stateless Palestinian Arabs, who have taken up arms as a result. As a corollary, there is much sympathy for the residents of Gaza, who have found themselves in the midst of Israeli-Palestinian firefights. There is also much anger against any Israeli military action, which results in dead and shattered Gazan lives. It is the contention of Eyeless in Gaza that this version of events is the product, in large part, of profoundly and systemically flawed international reportage and media bias.
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BBC Radio 4’s series “Our Man in the Middle East” continued on June 16th, with episode 15 — titled “Missiles and the Ballot Box.” The episode was devoted to Jeremy Bowen’s view of the Gaza Strip. The synopsis read:
Jeremy Bowen explores Gaza, the Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement. It’s not a place you would chose [sic] for a Mediterranean holiday, though the Palestinians used to dream of developing a tourist industry, he says. “Israel could recapture Gaza in days if it wanted to. But then it would be responsible for around a million children and about the same number of angry adults. Palestinians can’t destroy a state as strong as Israel. But Israel can’t bludgeon Palestinians into submission either.”
Bowen refrains from informing audiences that hopes of economic development in the Gaza Strip were killed off by — among other things — the Hamas, Islamist take-over of the territory. Instead, Bowen opens the program by stating the following:
Gaza is not a place you’d choose for a Mediterranean holiday although the Palestinians used to dream of developing a tourist industry. The beaches are sandy and run for 25 miles along the Mediterranean from the top right-hand corner of Egypt. It’s no wider than 7 miles and, apart from the short Egyptian border, it’s entirely surrounded by Israel. Since 2006 [sic] the Palestinian group Hamas — the Islamic resistance movement — has controlled it.
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The Hamas leadership in Gaza has threatened Israel with “an explosion” if it does not supply electricity to Gaza at the expense of Israeli taxpayers.
Blackmail is, of course, part of the Hamas repertoire. One of the main reasons why Hamas launched thousands of rockets and sent terrorists into Israel via tunnel in the summer of 2014 was to solve its dire economic problem. Hamas needs electricity to build terror tunnels and produce weapons.
Voices in Israel and abroad are advocating “moderation” – meaning capitulation – and insisting that Israel has no interest in an escalation. While Israel naturally prefers quiet along its borders, giving in to Hamas demands and granting it a victory will only lead to further demands. Supplying electricity to Gaza in exchange for a promise that Gazans refrain from shooting at Israeli civilians is no different from paying protection money to the Mafia.
There is no strategic or moral reason why Israel should supply free electricity to Gaza.
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