By Al Skudsi bin Hookah

I guess many of you are wondering why you haven't heard from me since 2006. To put it simply, I was in jail. An Israeli jail. On a phony charge. Thanks to the great PR work by Gilad Shalit's father, I'm out. I'm home. I'm ready to go back to work.


LET ME TELL YOU HOW IT HAPPENED. I'm the first to admit I probably make a better reporter than an activist. But I was approaching middle age. The notion that I could do more than just write was just too tempting. I wanted to earn the respect my son gives real doers. The urge to be young and living on the edge was irresistible. Well, actually it wasn't that dangerous. We were going to call on a family who lived on the outskirts of the town. The father was always acting like he had the same rights to live on the land as we Arabs. He really had pissed off the police demanding they help him get back one of the goats our boys had borrowed. We knew the police wouldn't bust a gut rushing to help this guy. My companions were perfectly capable of handling the situation by themselves. I was there to give them an alibi if need be. They were my photographers and I was out in the night writing about the night, its stillness, the excitement I felt.

It really was a wonderful experience cutting wire fences, slithering through fields with approved moves that vertically would make me the equal of Fred Astaire. I was infiltrating a small Jewish village not far from my house in the company of a couple of youngsters. The moon would come out from behind the clouds and we'd hold still for a minute or so, breathing the night air, grinning from ear to ear. But some 19-year old Jewish snot stopped me with tear gas. I never even saw him attack us.

What still shames me is he was contemptuous. He acted like he was squashing a flea. He didn't respect we were fighting for our religion. Mohammad said we were the foot soldiers of Jihad. And even though I am a thoroughly modern man, I am the first to obey this holy injunction. But I'm afraid my reflexes weren't up to it. We were subdued, tried by a rigged judge who wasted hours making the prosecutors prove we had done a terrorist act.

It was all phony, of course. The judge. The prosecuting attorney. My attorney. Sure, they spent hours pretending to make sure I had every opportunity to refute their ridiculous claims. But I knew it was rigged. And in the end, just because there were films -- actually confiscated from one of our men, which of course is illegal -- we were sentenced. It's disgusting that they used film that was not theirs, film that was intended to be used by Hamas to show how we are dedicated to carrying out our religious duty. They had no right to do this. Anyways, suffice it to say: I was tossed in the pokie (Thanks, Hank from the UK, for teaching me Americanese. Next time you come to Gaza, I'll be there for you.)


PRISON WAS A REVELATION. In many ways, I should be glad it happened. If I have to sum up what I've learned, it is that we are going to win. How can we not? We see treasonable action, we behead the man. We see a woman trying to destroy Islam by refusing to stay in the status Mohammad put her in, we stone her. Immediately, the problem is solved. Not only that, it acts as a deterrent for the next nutter than might try to insult Mohammad's law. But these Westerners are weird. It's as if they tie their feet together before running a race. They bend over backwards before they will sentence us. And when we do go to jail, they feel totally guilty for making us prisoners. They go to ridiculous lengths to make us comfortable. Yes. You read that right. On the other hand, they don't mind harassing Jewish settlers who are fighting for their small bit of land. They touch the girls, they body search her, knowing that shames Jewish virgins. They accuse Jewish farmers of stealing from us, when they try to get their herds back. They put settler teen-agers in jail for months without due process.

Let me give you one example -- so you won't think I went to hashish land as soon as I got out. Some of my buddies were justifiably annoyed that a couple of Jews were planting trees on state land, after we had uprooted a large number of their trees, to let them know we didn't want them messing with our land. The Jews claimed that planting olive trees and pomegranates and fig trees was their way of guarding state land. As if we are going to care whether they call it state land or private land. It's all our land. Actually, we've been showing cunning ourselves. We are planting trees too -- back-breaking though it is -- just to block one Jew settlement community from another. Of course, we see to it the dumb Europeans who are very dedicated to helping us do a lot of the work. But between planting and building what the Jews call 'illegal' houses and replenishing our farm animals when we think the Jews have brought them up to snuff, we're busy, busy, busy. Anyways, getting back to the two Jews who were arrogant enough to replant trees. A Palestinian hit one of them with a hoe to teach them to show respect. The other Jew, Yigalie or Sigalie or something, had the nerve to hit back, claiming he was saving the other Jew's life. Our guy naturally immediately filed a complaint against the Jews -- imagine them striking a Palestinian! Well, Yigalie or whatever his name is and his buddy eventually trotted over to the police station and complained. Boy, were they surprised when the police told the jerks they were suspected of assaulting our boy. They always do believe us. The politicians make sure they do. And the politicians who are supposed to be 'Jew firsters' look the other way. Anyways, the Jewboys were issued a restraining order to stay away from where we were. I got a laugh reading about it. The Jew who wrote about it gave his readers good advice. He told them not to bother complaining to the police about us.

The police and army almost always side with us that it's our olive trees. Naturally. We should own the land, shouldn't we? So the trees have to be ours. It's only logical.

Or listen to this -- a couple of years ago, one of our guys stabbed this Jewish couple getting gas at a local gas station near their home in Kiryat Arba. I guess he got careless and didn't check but there were a couple of soldiers around and they shot him. He was lying on the ground, squirming on account of his injuries, when suddenly the Jew tried to run him over. They charged the Jew with murder, as well they should. But then later at his trial they let him off with minor charges. Disgusting. Image freeing a guy who tried to run over someone who was lying on the ground wounded. Shameful.


LET'S FACE IT. THE JEWS ARE GETTING BOLDER. We've got to put a stop to this. Especially when a lot of them are pious and they can get out the troops to riot almost as fast as we can. Of course, they don't have it down to a science like we do. But we should nip it in the bud before they learn. We don't need the politicians having to decide which side is going to make the most trouble for them. We got to keep our exclusive.

I don't mean we have to stop it ourselves. We can rely on their politicians doing it for us. The government has taken to busting rabbis who express opinions we find offensive. They got one rabbi for praising a book that could be used to justify killing Arab civilians during wartime -- they fancy it up and call it collateral damage. Seems some of these rabbis are getting angry at us using our wives and children to protect our brave freedom fighters. And they target rabbis who urge their followers not to sell their property to Arabs. These Jews are positively crazy. Can you even imagine disrespecting a Mullah like that! Gives me goose bumps just saying it. Then the hypocrites turn around and talk about how everyone has free speech. Hah!

Remember this simple fact and you'll have it right: the judges in court and the police favor us. It is actually impossible for an outsider to believe that the Jews wouldn't favor their own. Every other people does. So if the Arab wins, they figure it must be because he had the legal papers. He was 200% right. He won despite the natural impulse to favor the Jew. Ain't so. But don't worry about it. We'll figure out the Jews' crazy mental state anon. Right not, it's working for us. Use it.

I've learned from jail. I learned how strong we are.

From now on, I might talk pleasant to these Westerners who think because I wear Western pants and button down shirts I am one of them. But I can never respect them. I respect the common Arab who never stops pushing against the Jewish invaders. Of course, it helps that when we come in to destroy the crops of a Jewish farmer, the judge automatically believes us. Their behavior is ridiculous. I feel shame for them. But why should I complain? If they can't take care of their own, that's their problem. If they are psychotic, why should I not take advantage?

But I am uneasy. There is something I just don't understand. I've been thinking of this for days. It may be that I've associated with Westerns too much. Most of my contacts have admired us Hamas freedom fighters, because we go to the core of the problem. We don't fart around and raise issue that stay our hand. We slit throats. We drink the blood of our enemies. We cut their balls after death to make sure they are impotent. Yet... it is possible that some Western pity has weakened me. I'm not sure. But I must be honest. I admit I winced when I read how the murderers of the Fogel children were ecstatic slicing the throat of a 3-month baby. And I had a bad minute thinking how our knight on motorcycle grabbed the pretty little French girl and killed her.

Why would I have this ridiculous feeling? In the long run, isn't killing a baby, even a toddler, a child, any Jewish issue, the same as killing a Jewish soldier? The toddler will grow, won't it? It will be a soldier of the IDF, won't it? So why not nip it in the bud. Sounds good to me. Clearly, I must reading my Koran again. Starting with the verses that still apply. Of course I will ignore the early verses. They are kindly to the enemy; they are there for the Jews to quote to prove we love them. The fools.


I LEARNED OTHER THINGS IN JAIL. Useful things. I learned how to put sharp edges on stones. I learned ways to encourage the young to dedicate themselves to killing Jews. I've already taught my son -- by Allah, he's sprouted up tall -- to throw stones that sizzle when they hit. Of course, he's not the right material to be a suicider. He'll be more useful as a lawyer, anyways. We'll see.

But with all their bravery, I must admit our handlers are not doing half as much for our cause as does Europe, which is acting legally and quietly. I found this out when Muhie, my bunkmate, boasted he had pocket money from the European Union. I didn't believe him at first, but he was right. Actually the EU helps in many ways. They give the Palestinian Authority the money to give to the families of our shaheeds -- and if you don't think that helps encourage the suicider, think again. His whole family praising him ahead of time and reassuring him they will adore him. When he's dead. And they support all those wonderful groups that yell loud and in print every time a Jew lays a finger on one of us. And they help us turn out the textbooks that teach our children that the land is ours and that Israel is the invader, not us. Westerners must also read them. You'd be surprised how many of them believe Jesus was a Palestinian. He was one of us, we tell them. Would we lie?

...This is from notes I wrote while in prison...

I think I have acquired a thickening im my neck from shaking it in wonderment so often. I have a cell phone. My wife can visit for what they call conjugal visits. I have taken courses towards a M.A. A real M.A. No shit. I am fed well and sleep clean and warm. The Red Cross visits and I enjoy inventing complaints for them to investigate. Admittedly, sometimes I decide Israelis can't be this stupid. They must have some plan that I can't see... Why treat us better than they do their own poor children who don't get enough to eat?

So then I figure, maybe they are trying to win me over with kindness. If they think I'll think well of them, they've got another thought coming. I am more contemptuous than ever.

But then I read how they are clearing out the Jews who hold the high ground, who could shoot at us when we are ready to invade their towns. They are alreadly starting to clear out the Jews! This can mean only one thing: they must be getting ready to do another Gush Katif. Only this time, they won't kick out 10,000 Jews, they'll make some 700,000 Jews refugees. For peace. Yea, right. You don't think Jews can be this dumb? Maybe not the Jewish doctors. Or the Jewish lawyers. Or the Jewish computer scientists. But the politicians? And the sociologists? For sure, they can be relied on to screw up big time!

First thing I did in prison is to develop an ongoing relationship with one of the Arab lawyers who practically live here. My demands were modest. I needed him to contact my editor, who published my columns anonymously. Those guys. They were there for us. They were willing to do so much more. One of the lawyers was the go-between for the Mahajat El Quds people. Another I got to know took the orders from the head guys in prison to the locals who'd carry them out. It's funny, when you think about it, the diplos pretend the damn Jews can make peace with us Palestinians by dealing with Abbas. Like he speaks for Hamas. Hell, he isn't legally even PM for Fatah any more. And even if he were, and even if the people in the West Bank signed a paper and even -- and I can't see this happening -- we in Gaza pretended to make peace with them, do they really think the Mahajat El Quds and Islamic Jihad and the other gangs are going to go along? In fact, if we were crazy enough to sign up, the clans would take what they could get and then support the holdouts.

Actually we are taking over Fatah land day by day. The EU builds us beautiful houses. They tap right into Israel's water supply. Legally! We are taking over the hilltops. Together with the Jewish authorities who are throwing the Jews out of the hilltop homes, we are choking off the Jewish settlements. We will soon have a de facto Palestinian state. We don't need that clown Abbas begging for one. And once it's ours, we in Hamas can move in from Gaza.

Since I came home, I've been asked if I have advise on changing our strategy in fighting the Jews? No. I think we're winning. We just go with the prevailing winds. Everyone is against the Jewish settlers, from the Jewish college professors in the fancy universities to the President of the USA. We just need to keep doing what we've been doing. It's not just enough to aggravate them. We need to knock them off the hilltops, so when we go for the jugular, they won't be hard to kill off. The police and the IDF are demoralizing them now. Let them keep doing it. It needs to be done. No one really yells that we are occupying state land. So we just need to keep adding to our holdings. I think asking for a state right now is asking for trouble.

Getting the land quietly without a fuss is easier. Bringing in Arabs from the outside is fine. Making sure some of them are trained fighters is even better. Meantime, the Jews are training their soldiers to hit on the settlers and to pretty much ignore what we're doing. They are afraid to shoot off a gun for fear they might actually hit someone and the world will start yelling. So they vent by pushing the settlers around.

And look at our wonderful children. Why, if the Jews killed off everyone of us over the age of 30, we'd still have fighting power. We've taught our children well. Even the 2-year olds know Jews are the enemy. They won't ever stop fighting for our cause. We'll see to that.

And let's be grateful for the help we are getting from our enemies. First, the Jews gave Fatah guns. Like they'd only point them at us here in Gaza. Then the US Army has been training Fatah police They're supposed to be gunning for us Hamas guys. But some say it's the Americans that have to do the shooting. We're so much better.

Slowly, we're tightening the noose.
Have a little patience.
Soon, my brothers, soon.

Anyways, I gotta go. I need to get to my bridge-game. We're learning to deconstruct bridges. Me and a couple of the guys that got out of prison with me. What, you say, didn't you promise no more mischief? Wipe the ink off my fingers, buster. I have work to do.

Al Skudsi bin Hookah is foreign correspondent and roving reporter for the Gaza Gajeera.

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