By Haidar Eid
Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s Middle East adviser and son-in-law is at it again. In June, he cast doubt about the ability of the Palestinian people to govern themselves. And, as if that was not enough, he made it absolutely clear this week that Israel is not responsible for Palestinian hardship.
“Israel is not the cause of all the suffering of the Palestinian people,” Kushner told the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. He went on: “If you want to go and invest in the West Bank or Gaza, the issue that’s holding you back is the fear of terrorism and that your investment could be destroyed.”
In my response to his previous racist remarks, I argued that it was racism 101. His biologist approach to race and ethnicity cannot be separated from the orientalist ideology that drove the classical colonialism of the 19th century. Here you have a colonial envoy, not unlike the British and French envoys of the heydays of colonialism, blaming the victims, as Edward Said would put it. Brown, native Palestinians are backward so much so that they should be appreciative of the generosity of apartheid Israel and Zionism and welcome Israeli peaceful soldiers with open arms. Any act of resistance on their side is deemed to failure and amounts to a form of terrorism that destroys any investment made by foreign businesses.
Forget about Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem, forget about the more than 600 military checkpoints slicing what remains of the West Bank, and the more than 60 discriminatory laws against Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Forget about the blockade of Gaza described as “incremental genocide” by Ilan Pappe, and the fact that Gaza, according to a UN report, will become “unlivable” by 2020. Forget about the thousands of deaths in three genocidal wars described by mainstream human rights organizations and UN fact-finding missions as “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” carried out by the Israeli military against the 2 million civilians of Gaza within a period of six years. Forget about 71 years of dispossession and ethnic cleansing and the fact that there are 7 million Palestinian refugees entitled to their right of return in accordance with UN resolution 194. And of course you have to forget about the increasing number of Jewish-only settlements, that all come with the unconditional support of the United States of America.
But doesn’t Mr. Kushner know this?
What did he think of the white rule of South Africa under the apartheid regime? Did he also think that “black terrorism” was responsible for the suffering of the majority of the population there? That Africans were to blame for their own suffering?
But you don’t even have to leave the United States. What did he think of the suffering of African Americans under the Jim Crow laws? Judging by the way he has been ranting about brown, native Palestinians, he must have had similar views of the likes of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Obviously his role models are Hendrik Verwoerd, P. W. Botha, Ariel Sharon, Menachem Begin—to mention but a few fanatical defenders of racism and settler-colonialism.
Actually, I imagine Mr. Kushner claims to respect Mandela, King, and even Mahatma Gandhi. And that leaves us Palestinians in a completely separate category where our non-violent, peaceful resistance to occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism is considered a form of terrorism. Any act of defiance on our part is rejected outright. Unlike Mandela and King, we are Palestinian Arabs with an intrinsic tendency for terrorism. And this, in short, exemplifies Jared Kushner’s Palestinophobia, a combination of racism, orientalism, and colonialism directed toward Palestinians who, for him, should not have been there from the beginning.