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oh baby, it's a wild world...
even when it comes to charity.
by shaun granato

Cat Stevens is still hoppin’ on a moonshadow, only he won’t be doing it in the United States. It appears that Mr. Stevens is being tracked by the US government for potential links to terrorism by giving money to Hamas. He didn’t actually deny giving money to Hamas, he simply stated that he gave money to ‘charities’ for peaceful things like war-caused starving children in Iraq and Bosnia. Thing is, apparently there are Hamas charities that do support legitimate organizations for the aide of the Palestinian poor. I say ‘apparently’ because I really have no validation other than what I read from internet-based foreign media websites. If I personally spoke with the CFO or the lead audit team of Hamas then maybe you would trust me more than Dan Rather – but that’s a different story.

The interesting point here is not that Cat Stevens donated money to Hamas – it’s a problem of malicious secular differentiation in a large religious organization. Cat Stevens has converted to Islam. As a result, of course he would donate any charity money to Islamic-friendly groups. Hamas just happens to be one of the most prominent groups in the middle-east. They also happen to have a sect in their organization, like many other religions, composed of radicals that use violence as an instrument to either be heard or to illicit change in society based on their distorted sense of cause and effect. Cat Steven’s showed up on the US ‘terror watch’ list because of global distrust in Hamas money management. The word in the desert is that money gets diverted within Hamas to bad things from the good things, and that there is no one to really police the situation. It’s great that Cat Stevens wants to help children and the poor. So then where else could Cat send his money?

If you check out the American Institute of Philanthropy’s website (http://www.charitywatch.org/hottopics/iraqaid.html) you’ll find all sorts of organizations to donate money in order to help the situation in Iraq. The American Red Cross is there. However, a simple Google search on “American Red Cross funds mismanagement” will have your head spinning with embezzlement stories that appear to read from screen-plays of Colombo. Maybe they can’t be trusted either.

So does it come down to the lesser of evils? If I want to blindly send money to help children and poor people in war-torn cultures do I donate to someone like the Red Cross, where there is a possibility of my money landing in an off-shore bank account of a crooked politician to support his cocaine habit and eventual retirement to Thailand? Or do I give money a religious group like Hamas, where an evil-doer could divert funds to buy a bomb that may kill 20 innocent people in a bus? It’s a tough decision - ok, not really.. the Red Cross doesn't have a reputation for mass murder. Still, I’ve got to hope that it’s not all bad, and that there are just as many, if not more good stories about what these charities do.

Yes, it is a wild, wild world for Mr. Stevens, but really, he’s just caught in the middle of a problem that’s been around for a long time. If he really did donate money to Hamas that could be tracked to terrorist activity without his approval it is a sad situation, for him, and for his fans considering music sales are a source of his funds. It appears the peace train may have left the station without him this time.


more about shaun granato


tracey kelley
9.29.04 @ 9:05a

This is something that always confuses me. We can find people based on their personal donations...

...but five men only wanting to learn how to fly, not land, a plane isn't a concern? Please.

I think most people would be terrified if they closely examined the contents of their mutual funds, what the companies are doing with that money, and the resulting consequences. Jael's honey Jonathan and I were talking about this very thing last weekend.

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