NEW! From the people who brought you Farfur the Hamas Mouse (shown at left firing an AK-47 at Israeli occupiers).
In a story that proves that reality totally outstrips the imagination of any striking Writer's Guild member, AP reports that Gaza's Hamas rulers plan to build a $200,000,000 movie studio and media center, "at a time when the Gaza economy has ground to a standstill and its people are struggling to feed themselves because of Israeli and international sanctions against the Islamic group listed as a terror organization. " Fathi Hamad, a Hamas lawmaker and head of the project, said the project's directors have raised $1 million, a small fraction of the $200 million price tag. He said he was confident the group could raise the rest from local donations and from Palestinians living abroad. Talal Okal, a Palestinian political writer close to Hamas, said finding the money would be difficult, but not impossible, because of Hamas' network of supporters in the Arab world. He said the announcement was an important first step toward obtaining full control over the media. "(Hamas) realizes the importance of the media," Okal said.
They certainly do, but Hamas is not burdened with Western concepts of press freedom. The same AP story notes:
Hamas officials refuse to speak to Palestinian journalists who have not applied for Hamas press cards, and the group often harasses reporters who are not loyalists. On Tuesday, Hamas police stormed the house of reporter Hisham Sakallah, an editor of a local news Web site, and confiscated his computer and archives.
In sadly related news, the U.N. agency responsible for aiding Palestinian refugees indicated today that it knows exactly who to blame for the economic disaster in Gaza. Is it Hamas, which prefers raising two hundred million dollars for a media outlet for its propaganda, rather than constructing power plants, water treatment plants and factories that might actually improve the lives of Gazan Arabs? No, of course not--it's those damn Israelis.
"They're trying to punish those who've taken control of Gaza but in fact they're punishing everybody inside Gaza, a very small percentage of whom support the people who are controlling Gaza right now," Karen Koning AbuZayd of the United Nations Works and Relief Agency said at a press conference in New York. AbuZayd said that that Israel's near economic blockade of the Gaza Strip is fueling support for extremists and shattering hopes for a peaceful future. She did not mention that the "very small percentage" of Gaza residents who support Hamas actually elected them into power; that the United States and the European Union have supported the economic isolation of Hamasistan in Gaza; that Hamas vows the destruction of Israel; or that Hamas militias and other Palestinian terrorist militias launch daily rocket attacks at Israeli towns. She also didn't mention Hamas Media City.
While we are on the subject, why are the Palestinian refugees the only group of refugees in the history of the United Nations to have its own UN welfare agency, UNWRA? The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly, has a mandate to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide, with the sole exception of Palestinian refugees. UNWRA also began operations in 1950, and, according to its official website, "In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2008." Moreover, "[o]riginally envisaged as a temporary organization, the Agency has gradually adjusted its programmes to meet the changing needs of the refugees. Today, UNRWA is the main provider of basic services - education, health, relief and social services - to over 4.4 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East."
Gee, imagine that. In the 57 years since the creation of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, millions upon millions of international refugees have been resettled and have gotten on with their lives in their new homes. The website of the UNHCR states, "In more than five decades, the agency has helped an estimated 50 million people restart their lives."
In contrast, during the same time period, the number of registered Palestinian refugees, according to UNWRA, has increased from the original 910,000 (many of whom presumably have died over the past six decades) to today's 4.4 million. Surely, having successfully resettled 50 million refugees, it would not have been difficult for the UN to resettle the original 910,000 Palestinian refugees, or even their 4.4 million descendents. Why therefore has there been no "solution to the Palestinian refugee problem"? Primarly because the Arab nations and their third-world allies believed, and still believe, that the only acceptable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem is the eradication of the State of Israel. Within the UN itself, there is tremendous institutional pressure to avoid a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, because that would remove the need for UNWRA, its $487,100,000 annual budget and its 25,000 employees, including Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd.