Bingo, Hamas and the BBC

Strange combination for a blog entry, you may think. Yet Bingo, Hamas and the BBC are connected, at least in this neck of the woods.

Why Bingo? Well, my son was until recently a caller at the only Bingo hall. The Regent, here in Deal, recently closed its doors for the last time, the owner citing problems with a falling customer base, particularly since the smoking ban came into force, the advent of Internet gambling and the tax on gambling establishments. It appears that Bingo halls are now taxed in line with casinos and other gambling houses; there doesn’t seem to be any attempt by the government to distinguish between casinos with clients who earn huge salaries, in addition to those who can ill afford to gamble but are afflicted with an addition to gambling, and a small Bingo Hall that acts as a meeting place for- for want of a better phrase – working class men and women who like to meet friends and neighbours socially and have a little gamble on the side. People could meet in a Bingo Hall and discuss their problems, their successes and failures, and leave feeling that they have friends who may not be able to help them but who sympathize with their plight. Internet Bingo is gambling pure and simple; the social element of going out and meeting other people is lost.

My son has an HND in computer studies but enjoyed helping make the lives of others a little more tolerable. He has now been made redundant and it is doubtful if he will ever get an opportunity to engage in a similar social situation. Oh, he is lucky, I agree. He could use his qualifications to get a job in computing. But it isn’t what he enjoys most, which is being a friendly face to other people, to share in their trials and tribulations and their occasional enjoyment at winning a few pounds.

My son’s situation certainly isn’t unique. There are many people being made redundant or having their wages cut to keep the businesses they work for afloat. There are many other people who are living in fear of redundancy and are consequently cutting back on their expenditure. Which brings us to Hamas and the BBC. This country is in the grip of a recession. People are worried about their security, concerned that they may not be able to continue payments on their mortgage or other loans secured against their houses. They listen to the news and are made even more concerned by the constant drip feed of information about redundancies and repossessions.

Now they are being asked by charities to donate money to the Gaza appeal. People aren’t stupid, and they have memories. They remember accusations that Islamists Hamas, which forms the government of the Gaza strip, was stealing food to be distributed by the United Nations and using it to feed their own fighters instead of the general population. The British public are also aware that reports of rockets being fired at Siderot and other towns led the Israelis to attack Gaza in an attempt to stop the constant bombardment. News reports have been coming in for years about how difficult life is, especially for children, in Israeli towns within reach of Hamas missiles.

What the British public may not realize is that Fatah, the party in government in the other area run by Palestinians, the West Bank, is concerned that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza too quickly and left Hamas intact. Why should the West Bank’s government be concerned? Because it is getting on well with the Israelis and don’t want Hamas’s extreme form of Islam being imported. Likewise, the Egyptian government is fed up with Hamas and would rather Hamas disappeared.

When reporters ask spokespersons for the charities if they can be sure that supplies will reach ordinary Palestinians, it is the possibility that Hamas will steal supplies to feed their own terrorists at the expense of those who really need it that the reporters mean. Yet the charities always reply that they are sure they will get permission from Israel to allow the supplies in. The charities immediately put the blame on Israel. What are these charities: spokespersons for the OIC, the Organization of Islamic Conference? Already the OIC is committed to destroying the International Charter on Human Rights. To Islamists, humans have no rights other than to submit to the will of Allah.

Why should charities try to deflect interviewers away from the possibility that Hamas, rather than Israel, will take food from ordinary Palestinians? I have my own hypothesis: most Western charities are Christian in origin and values and have always taught that the god of Christianity is the same as the god of Islam. If people in the West were to begin to question why there is such a difference in perceptions of human rights between Islam and Christianity they may also question whether the two religions believe in the same god at all. And if not is there anything else they have been told that isn’t so?

There is a specific reason to suspect that the public may become angered by an appeal to support the people of Gaza, and it has to do with the recession. Many Arab and Islamic countries are rich in petro-dollars, so why aren’t they supplying funds to the charities? Maybe Israel would be reluctant to allow organizations from Islamic countries to enter Gaza but does that stop Arab and Islamic States from funding Western charities to do the work? In fact, Arab and Islamic countries have a poor record of funding humanitarian aid appeals, whether they are rich in oil revenues or not. It is also unusual for appeals to the public within Arab and Islamic States to raise nearly as much as in the West. While this may not be a consideration in a time of plenty, during a recession it may matter more to the public.

Is it any wonder that the BBC does not want to be associated with a charity appeal for help in Palestine? I rather think the BBC is, for once, using its intelligence and seeing the myriad of problems that may lie ahead.

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