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A Palestinian response to Jared Kushner’s racist remarks

on 27 Comments

Take up the White Man’s burden —
Send forth the best ye breed —
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild —
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

— from The White Man’s Burden — The United States and the Philippine Islands by Rudyard Kipling, 1899

In classical racist literature and discourse, black/brown natives are portrayed as lazy groups who cannot run their own affairs; they belong to backward entities that clash with other modern entities. The best intentions of these nations amount in the end to nothing, and whatever they have is brought about by the powers of illusion and Western intervention. The racist ideology of colonialism justifies the occupation of other lands, and then defends the so-called human face of Western colonialism, in general, and Israeli settler colonialism, in particular.

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s Middle East adviser and son-in-law, has recently raised doubts about the ability of the Palestinians to govern themselves: “That’s one that we’ll have to see. The hope is that they, over time, will become capable of governing… [The Palestinians] need to have a fair judicial system … freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions before the Palestinian territories can become ‘investable.'” Of course, Israel, for him, does have all these freedoms, even if he fails to acknowledge that they are exclusive to a particular ethno-religious group.

He went further when asked if Palestinians could expect freedom from Israeli military and government interference by saying that it would be “a high bar!” For him, “what [the Palestinian people] want is they want the opportunity to live a better life. They want the opportunity to pay their mortgage.”

This is racism 101, taken straight from the social Darwinism of the 19th Century.

One classical definition of racism, based on a strictly biological approach, which the likes of Jared Kushner and other white supremacists from South Africa to the American South to apartheid Israel believe in is that human beings may be distinguished in terms of their biological make-up, and these differences result in essential innate differences in relation to intelligence. This is the rationale for racism.  So based on this logic, Palestinians are not as smart as White Ashkenazi Israelis to govern themselves. Let alone the fact that differences between social groupings are a function of material and historical forces. And this applies to the differences between settler-colonists and natives in Palestine.

One wonders whether Kushner has ever heard of Samira Azzam, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish, Toufik Zayyad, Ibrahim Abu Lughd, Hisham Sharabi, Naji Al-Ali, or Fadwa Touqan—to mention but a few Palestinian minds.

Palestinians, for white, rich kids like Kushner, are not genuine and authentic human beings, like Ashkenazi Israelis because they do not produce bombs and machines. Thus, they simply cannot govern themselves. But they are, of course responsible for the tragedy in their lives from 1948 until today. Israel, with the U.S., has been trying to civilize them. Palestinians have a different mentality, inferior to that of Westerners. This is why these primitive, uncivilized Palestinians should be grateful if the Ashkenazi Israeli should be generous enough to carry the burden of governing them.

Kushner’s message is clear enough: Since you cannot trust Palestinians to run their own affairs, they should accept the “deal of the century” and their own enslavement to Israelis.  Kushner’s is an ideology that is not only racist, but also, Islamophobic, and Orientalist. I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have supported the Jim Crow Laws, and the Apartheid regime since he has no problem whatsoever with the new Israeli Nation-State Law!

Let me end this piece with jewels taken from one of the greatest Palestinian thinkers of the 20th Century, the late Edward Said who noted in Culture and Imperialism that, “the common factor of both colonialism and neo-colonialism, as constituents of imperialism, is the presumption of the superiority of the white/Western colonialist over the Black/Native colonialized — and the right of the former to oppress the latter, whose role is only reaffirming the superiority of the former.”

Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. He has written widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including articles published at Znet, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and Open Democracy. He has published papers on cultural Studies and literature in a number of journals, including Nebula, Journal of American Studies in Turkey, Cultural Logic, and the Journal of Comparative Literature.

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27 Responses

  1. just on June 5, 2019, 4:56 pm

    Your piece is precious to me in every way, Haidar. I sincerely thank you for it. I have long thought about the enormous contributions of the people all over this world that have been marginalized and colonized by the greedy and ignorant. That the Jewish settlers (all of them since the beginning!), the US, and too many colonizers have been given carte blanche to continue the oppression, the disparagement, displacement, and theft of so much is, of course, unconscionable to any human with a heart, mind, and, soul.

    btw~ the photo taken by Ronen Zvulun of the despicable and ignorant Kushner reminded me of the devil incarnate. You write “One wonders whether Kushner has ever heard of Samira Azzam, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish, Toufik Zayyad, Ibrahim Abu Lughd, Hisham Sharabi, Naji Al-Ali, or Fadwa Touqan—to mention but a few Palestinian minds.” I don’t wonder at all. Maybe he’s heard of Edward Said and he’s afraid of his many truths, but I doubt that he has comprehended even a little bit. Perhaps that is partially why Dr. Ashwari’s visa was denied because:

    “Hanan Daoud Khalil Ashrawi is a Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar. She was a protégé and later colleague and close friend of Edward Said.”

    For him and many others, ANY Palestinian voices must be silenced.

    Thank you again.

  2. vacyv on June 5, 2019, 7:04 pm

    ““Hanan Daoud Khalil Ashrawi is a Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar. She was a protégé and later colleague and close friend of Edward Said.” Ashrawi doesn’t belong to the list of Palestinian minds who, by the way, supported Palestinian resistance. Ashrawi belongs to the PLO/PA mob who continue to govern ( sans mandate since 2006) for 26 years since Oslo to protect Israeli interests AGAINST Palestinian resistance. That she was denied a visa is most likely due to the general incompetence of the Trump administration.

  3. wondering jew on June 5, 2019, 7:18 pm

    Are Palestinians superior to their Arab neighbors? Citing Palestinian literary or artistic genius is certainly enough to dissuade one from any racist opinions based upon I.Q. But it is not I.Q. that holds the key to good governance. (Some might blame Russia’s tendency towards authoritarianism on I.Q. But I don’t. I blame history and there is something cultural involved, it seems.) Is the governance of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan or Lebanon something that deserves to be duplicated, emulated, praised or otherwise held up as an exemplar. Certainly I am biased and lacking in knowledge, but unless the state of the Arab world is totally the fault of the west, there is some kind of failure to adapt to modernization.

    The specific case of Fatah and Hamas is insufficient to distrust Palestinian abilities to self govern, because the specific circumstances are adverse, but really: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, what about their governance should give one hope? The 3 year period of democracy in Egypt? (Did Morsi seem to be tolerant to the Copts?) Lebanon’s ability to have a parliament and more than one army? Iraq and Jordan I guess are the fault of the US and Israel. There certainly is someone to blame. but such blame is hardly proof of an ability.

    Democracy is on the rocks in much of the western world as well. Progressive thought seems to be under assault and nationalism has replaced other thoughts as the zeitgeist, so exemplars in today’s west are not that high and mighty either.

    Kushner as “negotiator” is certainly an apt opportunity to quote kipling, granted. But I do not think you can cite artists and prove competence at governance. Is it racist to point out the failure of most governments in the neighborhood? Other than blind faith how do you justify belief in the ability to self govern?

    Because the occupation is so negative and the settler aspect of the occupation makes it so much worse than a military occupation which would still be bad, although not this bad, I see that Israel needs to hand over power on the West Bank despite my lack of faith in the Palestinian ability to self govern. I have no reason to believe Palestinians can self govern, but since I do not foresee a one state solution, a two state solution is the best possibility and the keys to the west bank should be handed over to the Palestinians (and various Arab chaperons), so that the settler occupation comes to an end. This is not a good solution because I have near zero faith in the self governance of the neighborhood, but since the current situation is not tolerable from a democracy deficit point of view, I choose a bad governing self governing Palestine over the current deprivation of franchise on the west bank. this is the least bad solution given the current situation which holds up Israel as an antidemocratic force.

    • eljay on June 5, 2019, 8:25 pm

      || wondering jew @ June 5, 2019, 7:18 pm ||

      Shorter y.f.: I don’t care what happens as long as the “right”*…
      – to be a supremacist;
      – to have a religion-supremacist state in as much as possible of geographic Palestine; and
      – to do “necessary evil” unto others,
      …is protected.
      (*Applies only to people who choose to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish.)

      || … I choose a bad governing self governing Palestine over the current deprivation of franchise on the west bank. … ||

      How about we agree on a 2SS but the U.S. fully backs Palestine (economically, politically, militarily and financially) and fully shits on Israel the way it has fully backed Israel and fully shit on Palestine all these years.

      Whaddaya say, y.f.?

      Yeah, that’s what I thought.

      • RoHa on June 6, 2019, 1:46 am

        The past tense of “shit” is “shat”, cognate with “sit /sat” and “spit/spat”.

        Aside from that, not a bad idea.

      • eljay on June 6, 2019, 7:55 am

        || RoHa: The past tense of “shit” is “shat”, cognate with “sit /sat” and “spit/spat”. … ||

        Well you got caught with a flat, well, how about that?
        Well babies, don’t you panic.

        Point taken.

      • LiberatePalestine on June 7, 2019, 7:40 am

        Actually, «shit», «shat», and even «shitted» are all accepted past-tense forms of that verb. The authentic past tense is «shote», from the Old English «scāt».

      • RoHa on June 7, 2019, 8:16 am

        “Actually, «shit», «shat», and even «shitted» are all accepted past-tense forms of that verb.”

        I’ve never heard anything but “shat”.

        “The authentic past tense is «shote»,”

        But I like that one.

    • brent on June 6, 2019, 1:43 am

      Thank you wondering jew, for your thoughtful and respectful analysis.

      Kushner may harbor racist attitudes as Eid suggests. Most people I’ve met harbor some kind of prejudice be it based on race, gender, sexual, wealth, beauty, intelligence, etc.. It’s difficult to get into another’s mind and he may well be implying Palestinians are not as smart as Jews.

      Beyond cultural and psychological explanations, as wj suggests, there may be political considerations at play. Israelis have long focused on ways to manipulate and divide, to undermine Palestinian ability to form a unity government with one authority and a one gun policy with discipline over violence, something widely recognized as a political imperative. Acting in outrageous ways, Israeli governments have appeared intent on being disrespectful, making themselves “unforgivable” and keeping anger boiling which ties the hands of leaders and prevents their engaging in a political process not trying to “civilize’ them as Eid hypothesizes.

      The upshot has been Israel has been able to argue that the volatility and proximity of the WB does not justify full independence in the short run. Ramzy Baroud has been arguing Palestinians should take this opportunity to establish a unity government which could go a long way to show Kushner’s arguments are off track.

      • Marnie on June 6, 2019, 12:40 pm

        Yonah – ‘Rock n roll is the product of African Americans and white Europeans.’

        The f#ck you say! Rock n’ roll is the child of the blues, from the Mississippi delta and points south. No white man sang the blues, only gave the blues. Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers and The Man in The Iron Mask – Haitian/French.

        Whitewash away yonah.

    • Citizen on June 6, 2019, 8:50 am

      @wondering jew

      So you are saying the Arabs have less ability to govern in a way aspiring to Western ways, which is why Arab Jews have also been labeled as inferior material for such process by Ashekanazi Jews over the years? So where did the Ashekenazi Jews learn how to do this, in Europe! They flourished due to European culture, right? So, if your logic makes sense, whites are to be congradulated, yes? Just asking.

      • wondering jew on June 6, 2019, 10:08 am

        Yes. White Europe has given the world the enlightenment and democracy and it is to be congratulated.

        Currently the biggest problem facing the planet is climate change, which industrialization has given us. This also is due to white Europe.

        But despite this my favorite art forms: books by Updike, Camus, Anne Tyler and Dostoyevsky are the products of white Europeans. Rock n roll is the product of African Americans and white Europeans.
        Television sitcoms are the products of white Europeans and Ashkenazi Jews, also called white Europeans by some and denied their whiteness by others.

        Regarding democracy it is the words of a white European that I quote: Democracy is the worst form of government, but better than all the others.

  4. Kay24 on June 5, 2019, 7:44 pm

    Kushner is going to be remembered for his part in helping Israel deprive the Palestinians of their long overdue freedom, basic human rights, and for helping Netanyahu take away Jerusalem, and soon the West Bank, leaving them with a little plot of land and no water. This is aiding and abetting the biggest theft in our lifetime by Israel, who use every ugly excuse in the book to keep a brutal occupation going, so that the Palestinians can be collectively punished, and robbed.

    If Kushner had any compassion, and most importantly a sense of fairness, he would not be this dishonest broker. He is under the illusion that just like his father, father in law, wife, family , and himself, the Palestinians will grab the money the rich Arabs, Kushner’s friends, will throw at them, nothing else, and forget their occupier has taken all that they valued, and owned.
    Kushner is as trustworthy as a poisonous snake.

  5. Mayhem on June 6, 2019, 12:42 am

    “[The Palestinians] need to have a fair judicial system …freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions before the Palestinian territories can become ‘investable.’” Of course, Israel, for him (Kushner), does have all these freedoms, even if he fails to acknowledge that they are exclusive to a particular ethno-religious group.
    Tell this to an Arab journalist like Lucy Aharish or Abu Khaled Toameh or a former judge on the Supreme Court of Israel Salim Joubran. Read the Declaration of Independence which enshrines within it tolerance for all religions in the state of Israel – “it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”.
    The author in a pro-Palestinian pique of victimhood is claiming Israel is an apartheid state which is patently nonsense as two open-minded free-thinking politicians from both sides of the political fence Liberal and Labor pointed out succinctly on Australian television.

    • Jackdaw on June 6, 2019, 10:45 am


      Better yet, go to an Israeli hospital on shabbat and see how the units are practically all run by Arab doctors, nurses and orderlies.

      All patients in any Israeli hospital receive equal care from a mixed Arab and Jewish staff.


      Vera. Have you had to use the Israeli health care system?
      It could be an eye opening experience.

  6. Vera Gottlieb on June 6, 2019, 8:49 am

    WHO??? gives this frigging Semite the right to make such derogatory and denigrating statements about Palestinians??? He should be ashamed…if he knew what “shame” is. It is these people and their inflammatory racial remarks that make me ashamed of my Jewish background.

  7. Boris on June 6, 2019, 3:29 pm

    After 10 years of failed Oslo process, which was supposed to end with a Palestinian state, Kushner, as many other investors, are correct to ask these very prudent questions.

    A ton of money was invested in the peace process, all gone now, with a lot simply stolen by Arafat and his cronies. This article sounds like Haidar is trying to sell the same rotten deal again.

  8. [email protected] on June 6, 2019, 6:35 pm

    Judging from the responses to Mr. Kushner’s remarks on here, I think it’s safe to say that there’s far more thinking going on on Mondoweiss than there is in Mr. Kushner’s head.

    • LiberatePalestine on June 7, 2019, 7:53 am

      Indeed, little evidence suggests that Mr Kushner’s head has ever been used for any purpose other than storing hats. (It would be best used as an anchor.) Years ago, in his book The Price of Admission, Daniel Golden lifted the lid on the time-honoured custom of buying Baby’s way into an aristocratic university with a little «donation». Daddy, it seems, crossed Harvard’s palm with $2½ million just before his undistinguished scion was admitted.

      See Golden’s exposé of the Kushner case:

  9. Arby on June 6, 2019, 8:07 pm

    Jared Kushner: Here’s what I wish for you and your fascist friends and family: Pay for your crimes!!!!

  10. Marnie on June 7, 2019, 2:51 am

    The only thing wrong with the picture of kushner is that he’s not behind bars. Hopefully won’t have to wait much longer for that!

  11. Marnie on June 7, 2019, 2:58 am

    Author: Jason ParhamJason Parham
    02:36 pm

    Depth of Field: The Spooky Symmetry of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

    Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at Buckingham Palace on Monday.
    Samir Hussein/Getty Images

    Symmetry disquiets. So often people, objects, or circumstances align too perfectly, too terrifyingly for our comfort. Order can feel unsettling and foreign when chaos is the sole unchanging factor. This week, nothing brought that notion to light more starkly than the image of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner standing, uniformly framed, in a window at Buckingham Palace. Captured by Samir Hussein, the inanimate, spooky tone of the photograph evokes an immediate emotional reaction. There’s a strange emptiness to it all, and yet the picture is rich in metaphorical dimension. Its composition carries a dark tenor, reflective of present and lurking evils. What is it trying to tell us?

    Starting Monday, President Trump, along with his family, made a state visit to the United Kingdom, where he was again the focus of consternation. He is an intensely unpopular figure in Britain, and, in response, protests flooded the streets. The Tower of London was playfully illuminated with a projection of his low approval ratings compared to those of President Obama. The juxtaposition of the Royal Family and the Trumps became easy meme fodder. Still, the most telling image to surface from the week’s festivities was Hussein’s shot, where Ivanka and Jared joined the president and First Lady Melania Trump at a banquet on palace grounds.

    Ivanka Trump’s look is expressionless, ghostlike, her eyes devoid of feeling. Kushner stands by her side, cut evenly by the pane of the window, offering a faint, robotic smirk. The white of Trump’s suit top and dress blend with the white of the curtains, which stuff the photo with an added eeriness. As the image made rounds, it didn’t take long for Twitter to accentuate the similarities shared with horror staples The Omen and Flowers in the Attic. Rising maestro of the macabre Jordan Peele even joked that it provided him with a bout of inspiration for upcoming work.

    For me, the background of the photo—the pitch-black interior peppered with dots of light—suggests one of the more stinging analogies. In life, there is the illusion of horror, which the photo hints at quite powerfully, and the very fact of horror. The latter of which the Trump administration, with the help of a Republican-controlled Senate, has helped to bring about through the actual siphoning of women’s rights, the erasure of trans protections, and violent immigration policy. Both illusion and fact merge here in menacing concert. It is a dangerous photo born of dangerous, uncertain times.

    People often gaze at portraits hoping they suggest humanity, that the photographed are recast empathetically through our looking. But that is not true here. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner emerged from a darkness. The image promises they might retreat to it once this long political nightmare is over.”

    Jared and Ivanka – fodder for future horror film by Jordan Peele. In the meantime, they haunt us. An incredibly despicable couple, gaslighting the world with so-called peace plans and feckliss fake feminism.

  12. Ossinev on June 7, 2019, 7:30 am

    ” Read the Declaration of Independence which enshrines within it tolerance for all religions in the state of Israel – “it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”.

    You are not keeping up with the times sunshine. You have obviously missed out on the passing of the wonderful new “Nation State Law” which pisses all over the so called ” Declaration of Independence”.

    Try to keep up.

  13. RoHa on June 7, 2019, 8:12 am

    Two thousand years ago, the efficient, well-organized, civilized, empire, with the well-trained and disciplined army, was run by Italians.

    Germany was populated by fierce, hairy, barbarians. Their society was primitive and disorganized , and consisted of tribes who frequently fought against each other.
    Would those primitives ever be capable of running a decent society, let alone actually contributing anything of worth to humanity?

    Kushner might have racist thoughts about the intellect of Palestinians, but I don’t see that in the comments quoted in the article.

    All I see there is that he has doubts about whether Palestinians could do a good job of governing themselves, but expresses the hope that they would be able to learn to do so. This suggests that he thinks it is a matter of culture, not intellect.

    And it is clear that the Arab states have not coped with the twentieth century and Western dominance as successfully* as the East Asian states. My knowledge of history (as revealed above) leads me to suspect that this weakness is cultural rather than racial.

    The Palestinians may share this weakness. But I cannot see that they will be able to overcome it without the experience of governing themselves.

    So far, WJ will not dissent. But when I add this to my advocacy of a one state solution, he will protest that this would mean that Jews would also be subjected to the putative bad government of the Palestinians.

    It would. But, as I see it, justice requires the one state solution. The possibility of disadvantage to the Jews of the area does not out weigh the requirement of justice.

    There is a possible compromise solution. Namely, that Israel becomes a state of all its citizens, admits a number of Palestinian refugees, and compensates the rest. The West Bank and Gaza become a state (also of all citizens, but mostly run by Palestinians) with close economic and social co-operation with Israel. Eventually, when things have settled down, the two states can merge into one.

    The big problem with this is that it is what Eljay has been advocating.

    (*Success measured in terms of being able to resist that dominance, gain international political and economic power, and materially improve the lives of the citizens.)

    • eljay on June 7, 2019, 9:03 am

      || RoHa: … There is a possible compromise solution. …

      The big problem with this is that it is what Eljay has been advocating. ||

      Right: It’s a sensible solution. No problem.   :-)

  14. LiberatePalestine on June 7, 2019, 8:20 am

    → For [Kushner], “what [the Palestinian people] want is they want the opportunity to live a better life. They want the opportunity to pay their mortgage.”

    Has Kushner ever met a Palestinian? Would he be willing to shake the hand of a Palestinian without donning rubber gloves?

    No Palestinian appointed Kushner to say what Palestinians want. His comment about paying a mortgage is especially stupid in light of a few facts:

    * In violation of international law, the Zionist entity bars some 7 million Palestinians in exile from entering Palestine, never mind buying land there.

    * Most of the land that Palestinians owned in Palestine has been stolen by settler-colonial people backed by Zionism.

    * The Zionist entity reserves most of the land in Palestine for Jews only («Jews» being defined according to Zionist standards, whatever they may be). Unless they happen to be Jewish, Palestinians cannot buy that land, with a mortgage or otherwise.

    * Contracting a mortgage while Palestinian is far from easy under Zionist settler-colonial occupation.

    * The Zionist entity routinely seizes Palestinians’ land and gives it to Jewish claimants. Even a Palestinian who owns land free and clear cannot be confident of title to it.

    * The Zionist entity rarely grants building permits to Palestinians. Those with the temerity to build anyway, because they need a place to live, are likely to see their houses demolished or filled with cement by the Zionist occupying army on fifteen minutes’ notice.

    * The quotation seems calculated to suggest that Palestinians can «live a better life», with «the opportunity to pay their mortgage», under Zionist apartheid and settler-colonial occupation. Even if that were true, it would be no argument against the righteous cause of Palestinian national liberation from Zionist settler-colonialism backed by Yankee imperialism.

  15. Ossinev on June 7, 2019, 9:11 am

    Kushner to me always looks as if he has just arisen from his coffin after a good days sleep.

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