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Riad Hamad

Reader comment on item: A Palestinian in Texas

Submitted by Gloria Stewart (United States), Nov 7, 2012 at 18:59

During an AL AWDA Conference in Los Angeles which I attended, I was curious to know whether Riad Hamad was Christian or Muslim.

Riad saw some women staffing literature tables, pulled them out of their seats, and proceeded to twirl them around, hug them, and kiss them on the lips. I figured he was not a Muslim. AL AWDA at least in the Los Angeles area is made up of Arab Christians as well as Arab Muslims, and I was surprised to see the respect with which Muslims treated them. Had they believed he was a convert to Christianity in a genuine sense, the contempt would have shown through, however.

He gave the impression not of being enthusiastic when he spoke of Palestine, but of being manic. Those who knew him well said he was manic depressive and did not always take his medication.

When the Free Gaza Movement formed, he was in from the beginning and was tasked with finding a boat. He traveled to the Mediterranean to find one. For all his vaunted personal poverty he paid for his trip abroad and put up $10,000 of his own money. He found a boat and cabled Greta Berlin to send him $25,000. He would match that amount with funds he had collected as contributions. Then the FBI and the IRS raided his house and froze his bank accounts. So the entire $50,000 was lost and the group was back to square one.


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