Dinner May Benefit Alleged Hamas Supporters

Harvard's Islamic and Arab student groups held a fundraising dinner Thursday night to raise money for medical relief in the Palestinian Authority territories.

But the two groups for whom the funds were earmarked have recently been accused of supporting terrorist activity.

The U.S. State Department requested in August that one of the groups, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), be removed from the roster of charities and relief groups supported by the Agency for International Development because of suspected ties to Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group.

Other accusations against the two groups, the HLF and the Palestinian Red Crescent, have been levied by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Israeli military and the World Jewish Congress.

The fundraising dinner at Harvard was the final event of Islamic Awareness Week, which was coordinated by the Harvard Islamic Society (HIS) and the Society of Arab Students (SAS).

"Originally, it was to be the culmination of a week's worth of dialogue," HIS President Zayed M. Yasin '02 said. "Given the state of the Middle East, though, we wanted to make something more with it, to have a positive effect."

HIS and SAS selected the Palestinian Red Crescent and the HLF as potential recipients of funds because of their reputations for legitimacy and transparency, Yasin said.

"When I was in Albania two summers ago, I saw the HLF in action, and they were very professional. I've never heard anything bad about them," Yasin said. "The benefit of [these] foundations is that they are fairly transparent, that where their money goes is clear."

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