by al Skudsi bin Hookah

toddlers at play
Display put on by pupils on last day at PIJ-affiliated kindergarten in the Gaza strip. (Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Infomation Center, 13jun12)

I had such a good time the other day. I attended my nephew's graduation. 5 years old. He's in pre-school. But I humor my brother and go to the "graduation." And I must say, I am impressed. It isn't all singing and sleeping any more. There was this little one -- without blinking an eye, he said "When I grow up, I want to get on a bus with lots of Zionists and blow myself up in a suicide bombing attack and kill them..." I don't know how he does in arithmetic or grammar, but I give him an A+ in attitude. He's lost a tooth and I had to keep from laughing when he said "Thionists...." but he sure looked fierce.

Gaza kindergarden party
"Until I die as a shahid," Gaza kids during party. (Ynet, 12jun12)
Gaza boy
with rifle
entertainment at Kindergarten party (Ynet, 12jun12.)

The whole ceremony perked me up. Frankly, right now, we're going through some hard times. The same citizens who saw us as saving them from Fatah's corrupt leadership are souring on us. Thank goodness for the help from the European Union and President Obama. Even so, we don't actually seem to have enough money to support our people, especially, since too many of them aren't working. They aren't even trying. I even heard one fool complaining that things were better when the Jews were in charge and there were jobs to be had. Is it our fault that Israel is stingy in giving us water and electricity? Is it our fault the foreign politicians talk a good line about investing in us, but don't? Is it our fault some people think we are terrorists and won't come visit?

We're not the ones shooting missiles inside Gaza. These foreigners can't get it through their heads that it's the Jews who come into Gaza to kill us that are causing all the trouble. The UN keeping telling the world what the Jews are doing is criminal. But the fraidy-cats still won't come and enjoy our beaches. And they know we have luxury hotels. Look how good we treated the guys who were exchanged for Gilad Shalit. We gave them a real vacation. And even the mighty Washington Post gave us free advertising. They printed pictures of the freed prisoners with nice views of the Al-Mashtal hotel as background. They wrote how the freed men, even though they came from all over the West Bank and even Jerusalem, are going to live in Gaza. That was the deal. And so they will. Not to worry. With their skills, they will not be unemployed.


A freed Palestinian prisoner is greeted by relatives at the Al-Mashtal hotel in Gaza City, where a group of prisoners were exiled upon their release from Israeli prisons. The prisoners come from all over the West Bank, with some residents from east Jerusalem, but under the terms of the deal that allowed for their release in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, they will now call Gaza home. (Oct 20, 2011. Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images)

With all this publicity, I can't figure out why tourists aren't showing up.

I'll tell you one thing. All of this good-will takes money. And naturally, the leadership needs much of what is given to us to maintain our leadership. So there really isn't that much to spread around. We arrest the grumblers and rough them up. That should keep them from infecting others. But I have to admit, there's a lot of unhappy campers.


OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THE TUMULT IN THE ARAB COUNTRIES. With all the shifting, with the kaleidoscope of activity showing different shapes constantly, it is hard to keep steady on what we need to do. Of course, we know that we need to shore up connections with our allies, but right now our own leaders aren't altogether on the same page on who our allies are. Hamas is the child of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), so of course they are family. But we are also colleagues of Iran and Syria, and right now the MB is siding with the Syrian rebels, not with Iran's flunky, Assad. Iran is none too pleased about that, which is bad for us because they used to be generous to us with money and supplies. It pains me to see Iranian paymasters now consorting with the Islamic Jihad people. We have enough trouble controlling those uncivilized thugs in Gaza, without them acting like they won the lottery.

The upshot is that the Hamas leadership that was living in Damascus has come back to Gaza. So you won't be seeing me doing interviews in Damascus in the near future -- too bad, it's a enjoyable place to visit. Or it was. But who needs it with the Syrians shooting at each other? We'll wait it out. We may even patch things up with Fatah. If we have to. For a while.

To add to the problems, Hizbullah is sticking with Assad -- I guess on Iran's orders. And Iran is working to pump up Assad. I mean I can understand why there's all the Western stories promoting the idea that Assad isn't so bad and the Syrian rebels are all strictly fundamentalist Muslims, so why support them? That's kind of funny, considering that some al-Qaeda leaders are living in Iran, directing traffic in Pakistan and elsewhere. Iran is sharp, PR-wise, but things are still chaotic from day to day. I shudder to think what will happen if Hizbullah starts running its own show. And if that's not enough, rogue groups in the Sinai are using up their fancy new equipment, taking pot shots at Israel. They aren't stockpiling the really good stuff the way we are.

We in Hamas know where the real goal posts are -- we are committed to destroying Israel. We're just not certain what's the best way to play out our part in the coming drama.

We maintain our traditional place among our Western supporters - the Times of New York and Los Angeles. The BBC. The Guardian. The Swedish papers. There are so many who are helpful! Yes, they make us look respectable and we stay in the limelight. But let's be honest. We are small potatoes right now. Everyone is busy looking all around the region, at all the outbreaks, at the revolts. We in Gaza have so little control. We live in difficult times where we can do little to avoid harm. We could end up either in the eye of the dreaded bomb or part of its target.

Of course, we agree with the Iranian mullahs. Khomeini may sound a little old-fashioned but you have to respect his resolve. A dedicated man. Not like the suits from America and Israel and Europe, who twist and turn and take the easy way: they procrastinate. They mewl. They plan a meeting to plan a meeting to talk about inflicting Swiss-cheese sanctions on Iran. Their eyes are wide open, they look so innocent. They feel no guilt that -- from their point of view -- they are allowing a few weeds to grow and take over the garden. They pretend they don't see that Iran is coming ever closer to her objective. Me? I'm committed. I'm not just passively letting it happen. Wake me up even 3 in the morning and I'll say that I am as dedicated as anyone to destroying Israel. I am, of course. But I have to tell you, I'm not keen on meeting Allah as a piece of char, courtesy of a nuclear bomb.

What if it all comes together this way: Iran is coming closer to constructing a Weapon of Mass Destruction, as they solemnly say in the news. I trust her to succeed. Suppose she doesn't want to just wave it around to terrorize the weak states around us. Suppose she goes directly to the heart of her endeavors. She fires a bomb at Israel. Unfortunately, Israel is very small. There's no way they can strike Israel and avoid wiping out Gaza. And there, as the playwright Shakespeare said, there's the rub. There should be another way. But leave it to Iran, they won't be looking for alternatives very hard.

And they should. Our neighboring states are falling apart. As one wag said, "The Arabs are Spring-ing apart, breaking into tribal units, age units, moneyed units, Sunni-Shiite units. Like the Universe, they grow further away from each other in friendliness. And yet, each in its own way, grows closer to our Ideal Human, Muhammad himself. Women are more subdued. It shows in the clothes -- western clothes are out, modesty is in. Men dominate as they should. At home when it's just the family, even I have taken to wearing clothes of a style my grandfather would have found familiar.

I also agree that it certainly makes sense we take care of our major blocks to world domination -- Israel and America -- before we settle scores among ourselves. But again, I don't necessarily want to be one of the sacrifices for this important mission. I am not alone in this attitude, am I? Khomeini isn't going to be on to the plane flying the bomb to Israel, is he?

And if they miss the target? What then? I am told that even if the bomb goes off in Lebanon, or Syria, or even in Saudi Arabia, the Jews will suffer. But that's cold comfort. We will be in no condition to celebrate, to feed our children sweets, to dance at the fate that has befallen the Jews. And what about our children, our future shuhada. Can we really deprive them of that great honor -- when they have grown a bit more?

Don't get me wrong. I like the new ballpark and I want us of Hamas to be some of the players. I know our fellow Arabs regard us as toilet paper. But we are seasoned fighters. Some of us live very well. Many of us eat well. We are healthier than most Arabs. We have skilled diplomats making our case to the world forum. We will show them yet. But we need to survive. Let us hope we can convince our masters that first we have to shore up our defenses, import some extra crops. Like the Jews wrote in their pretend history, we need to prepare for seven lean years. And then we can give our enemy a death blow.

Until we are ready to act out our destiny, I say this to you:

"Act like an Arab. You will win, every time. You will stun them stupid. It's like farting loudly at the opera. Everyone will ignore you. They have to pretend it didn't happen. Because it is just not done. So do it. Keep push the edge of the envelop. Never stop. Never let them think they have done enough. Be aggressive and intimidating. And what if they get angry? Well, of course, while you pressure them, you must keep complaining you are the real victim. Don't just say it. Feel it. Mean it. Soon you will believe it. And they will, too.


WHY AM I SO SURE? BECAUSE WE AREN'T APOLOGETIC LIKE WESTERNERS, ESPECIALLY JEWS. Let me tell you a story. I got a friend, a Jew. Mostly I come see him at the University -- my neighbors are none too friendly if he comes around my place. We were talking about 9/11. I tell him about how I was there in New Jersey when it happened. (You can read what I observed here.) The Arabs were out on the streets of Paterson dancing with joy. And everyone from the President on down was protecting the Arab community from the backlash they figured was coming, but it never came.

He chuckled and said,

Funny thing. With the Jews, it was just the opposite. I've got this aunt, lives in New York. Lived there all her life. She agrees I have the right to work for Palestinian rights. They are the underdog. They have nobody to protect them. With the help of the newspaper she reads, I've gotten her to finally understand we have to get the settlers -- the Jewish ones, anyway -- out of the West Bank. I remember once she said that they were so romantic, just like the first settlers. And I said, "That's right. The first settlers stole the land, too."

Anyways, it's 9/11 and my aunt was visiting me and she's staring at the TV and keeps moaning and groaning and asking, "Are you sure? This is horrible. Are you sure? The building is on fire! Those aren't people jumping! Oh, my God, this can't be happening!" Then she quieted down and started mumbling, "They'll blame us." I thought for a second she'd lost it. After all, she's a regular fits-right-in secular Jew. And here she's starting to sound like a mystic or something.

She keeps right on moaning, "They'll blame the Jews." And damn it if she wasn't right. Within days, they started to blame the Jews. It was amazing. Here Osama bin Ladin is saying Al Qaeda blasted America because the presence of Americans was polluting the holy soil of Saudi Arabia but the Western press is yelling that it was because of what Israel was doing to the Palestinians. And America got hit because she was backing Israel. That was the winning message.

I turned to him and said, "I betcha that not even your witch-sharp aunt guessed we'd celebrate our great deed by taking over Ground Zero to put up a mosque?" He admitted nobody had.

I tell him my wife is going to knit him a yellow Jewbadge, so when we overrun the Jewish State, he'll be safe. Not like the other Jews. He thinks I'm kidding. Well, in a way I guess I am. Nobody is going to knit him a Jewbadge. When our time of victory comes, he's still a Jew, after all.

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

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