Several years ago, a friend told me about The Palestine Children Welfare Fund (PCWF), an organization dedicated to helping the children of Palestine, especially orphan or sick children, and also “typical” Palestinian children whose childhood is made hell by the Israelis, who go hungry, live in improvised housing, learn in bombed out schools in open air, have few books and fewer toys, are terrified by the sights and sounds of war, or need medication their parents cannot obtain.
It turned out that it was pretty much a one-man operation carried out selflessly and tirelessly by a Palestinian teacher by the name of Riad Hamad, from Texas.
You could contribute by making a donation or buying from him the olive oil from Palestine, kuffiyas, handicrafts, hand-embroidered Christmas cards made by women in Bethlehem and other such items that provided a meager thread of employment support.
The web site of PCWF he maintained featured photos of individual Palestinian children, describing their circumstances (e.g., father and older brother killed by the IDF, disabled uncle helping the mother and her 3 children), etc and listing their most pressing needs, like hearing aids for children whose hearing was severely affected by Israeli ‘booms” and real bombs. He also solicited books, old books, schoolbooks, any books and school materials, which he sent there.
Every summer he made a “fair” with a colorful cart display of Palestinian articles and traveled with it in Texas and neighboring states. He was cheerful, incurably optimistic and a delight to know.
I talked to him on the phone many times but I never got to meet him in person. He was human kindness personified and never gave up hope that someday Palestinian children may get to have a normal childhood.
When my father died I remembered that of all the Israeli inhumanities the one that had always shocked my father the most had been the theft of water and the deliberate destruction of water wells in the OTs. I talked to Riad and decided to pay for the construction of a water well, in whatever village he knew it was needed at the time. Later he sent me a picture with the well, flanked by two olive tree sapplings and with my father’s name on it. I am sure my father would not have cared to have his name on it, just to have the well there. I have no idea if the well is still there, knowing, as I learned later, that the Israelis like to come back and destroy whatever is rebuilt in Palestine, but I hope it lasted at least long enough to make a difference. This was my very personal connection with Riad.
I knew that he was being mercilessly harassed by various zionist outfits in the US, and by the FBI. Although they lost the dirty suit against him, in which they claimed that by helping orphans of “terrorists” he was encouraging more terrorism and that his site was promoting terrorism, his persecution did not stop, on the contrary, it intensified.
I also knew that he had a daughter he loved more than life and of whom he was enormously proud. Just as she was admitted to med school, when he was thrilled by her success, he…. supposedly committed suicide, according to the published police report. The details in the articles linked above are enough to make one howl in indignation. He, according to the police, did it the hardest way: first he bound his mouth, hands and feet with tape, then somehow he crawled out of his car (found abandoned) all the way to the lake, threw himself in, and drowned.
For me, beside the shock of his assassination, an almost equal shock was the fact that the MSM could publish this account of it and justify it by saying he committed suicide because when they fished him out of the lake the bindings were loose, so of course he had taped himself. Besides they claimed, acquaintances (like who?) said he had been depressed. The fact that a newspaper could carry such a story scared me. It showed a defying cynicism I had not seen before: “Here’s an absurd lie, we know you know it is a blatant lie, but there is nothing you can do about it.”
As Kurt Nimmo wrote:
“Finally, it should be remembered that back in 2003, Israel declared its intention to embark “upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries,” according to United Press International. “The Israeli statements were confirmed by more than a half dozen U.S. foreign policy and intelligence officials in interviews with UPI. Israeli hit teams, which consist of units or squadrons of the Kidon, a sub-unit for Mossad’s highly secret Metsada department, would stage the operations, former Israeli intelligence sources said. Kidon is a Hebrew word meaning ‘bayonet,’ one former Israeli intelligence source said.”
Is it possible a neocon hit team or as likely a Mossad “bayonet” team took out the school teacher Riad Hamad?
Certainly, it makes more sense than the lame claim that Mr. Hamad wrapped himself up in duct tape and threw himself in Lady Bird Lake. “
They silenced him ad they killed PCWF, but Riad’s memory still burns bright and always will.
He has not only helped and comforted countless suffering Palestinian children but also enriched the lives of all the people who got to know him.
I remember him with gratitude and admiration and also with poignant regret for such a terrible loss to humanity.