That Kushner Interview Was Not Just Ignorant. It Was Racist.
The current U.S. peace team in the Middle East, guided by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, is unprecedented in its open and shameless ignorance. Kushner, Ambassador David Friedman and Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt are arrogant, hypocritical, and racist — and they never exert the slightest effort to hide it.
Their inexperience and ignorance is everywhere on display in their belief that Palestinians will give up their 70-year long struggle for equality and statehood in exchange for foreign investment.
Their arrogance comes across in their dangerous wishful thinking, like their belief that with brutality, bribery and punitive actions against the Palestinians, they will force us into submission and make us acknowledge our defeat — even as every poll conducted in the occupied territories shows that more than 80% of Palestinians reject this humiliating bargain.
The Trump team’s approach is also deeply hypocritical. Trump has shamelessly impoverished the Palestinians, defunding and cutting aid to Palestinian hospitals, schools and even coexistence groups — only to have his team turn around and “worry” that Palestinians are poor and need help, as if the team ever cared for us. It is obscene to claim that their efforts are genuinely aimed at saving us from the abyss of poverty which they caused in the first place.
Finally, this week, the racism of the peace team was starkly revealed in an interview Kushner granted Axios this week. Of course, it was there before, in Greenblatt’s frivolous trolling, bullying and browbeating of Palestinians on Twitter. It was there in Friedman’s boast last month that Israel is “on the side God”.
But in case you still weren’t sure, it was thrown into stark relief in Kushner’s most recent interview.
Jared Kushner on why the Palestinians would accept his Middle East peace plan:
“I’m not here to be trusted…They’re gonna judge it based on the facts and then make a determination. Do they think this will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not?” @dctvny @hbodocs pic.twitter.com/JnpwsmWyM9
— Axios (@axios) June 2, 2019
There, Kushner’s true contempt for us Palestinians was on full display in every answer he gave. Kushner questioned whether we Palestinians are able to govern ourselves.
“The hope is that they over time will become capable of governing,” he told Axios. “I do think that in order for the area to be investable, for investors to want to come in and invest in different industry and infrastructure and create jobs, you do need to have a fair judicial system, you need to have freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions.”
In other words, instead of urging the international community to aid Palestinians in their pursuit of justice, basic civil rights and freedoms, Kushner condescendingly proposed the exact opposite. He believes it’s the Palestinians who should work on themselves to improve their situation dramatically in order to become “investable.” They need to become worthy of Kushner’s handouts — which he deems as the end goal of the Palestinian struggle.
And when asked if the Palestinians could expect an end to Israel’s military occupation, Kushner said, “I think that it’s a high bar.” In other words, it’s under brutal blockade and military occupation that Lord Kushner optimistically hopes that we backward savages and uncivilized natives will “over time, will become capable of governing.”
There’s nothing more insulting and preposterous than a member of the most corrupt, failed and chaotic administration in recent US history lecturing Palestinians on the urgency to develop a “fair judicial system… freedom of press, freedom of expression, [and] tolerance for all religions,” while his father-in-law’s assault on these pillars of democracy played an integral role in his campaign and presidency.
Would Kushner dare propose a similar mandate over Saudi Arabia, until its megalomaniac war criminal Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud honors said reforms to become worthy of self-governing?
Kushner’s alienation, bullying and patronizing of Palestinians shows that we are essentially not the main target of his disingenuous peace plan, but are rather seen as an obstacle that ought to be gotten rid of at the cheapest political and economic costs.
Instead of giving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the attention it rightfully deserves to reach a sustainable and lasting peace, Palestinians are systematically dehumanized and framed by Kushner’s peace team as an impediment to prosperity in the region, or a distraction from “the common threat of Iran.”
The main goal of Kushner’s deal is not to find an answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but to remove the Palestinian hurdle from the way of successful Israeli-Arab normalization with US-Sanctioned brutal Arab dictators like Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Bin Salman and the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
It’s a dangerous deal with the devil, for it emboldens Israel’s fundamentalist and fanatical far-right, which now — correctly — thinks it can get away with anything. It reduces the chances for any future Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to produce genuine change to the status quo. And it disempowers the Palestinian peace camp, which is now being shamed and blamed for having wasted years believing in negotiations and peace talks, only to get Kushner’s offer for surrender and defeat.
Kushner’s plan also essentially strengthens the worst hardliners in the occupied territories who feed on the resulting popular despair, disillusionment and hopelessness.
Kushner may continue to pretend that he holds the magic recipe to peace in the region. But at the end of the day, the only thing he’s creating is anarchy in Palestine — the natural outgrowth of ignorance, arrogance, and racism.
Muhammad Shehada is a writer and columnist from Gaza. His work has appeared in Haaretz, The Forward, and Vice.