I have heard Debra Lipstat speak on many NPR shows and one of her main complaints is that the White Nationalists don't see Jews as White. And she as well as David Falkenflick condemn Ilon Omar for speaking of what 99 percent of Americans and Europeans think about Jews but are afraid to say. These people observe how the Israelis call out F-16 (gifts from the US) bomb the Palestinians, cut off water, food, and money, and have blockaded and established Gaza as a concentration camp. Making Gaza a desert and calling it peace.
JEWISH CULTURAL IDENTITY AND WHITENESS
Michael Lerner and Cornel West dialog on the relationships between African Americans and Jews in Jews and Blacks: Let The Healing Begin (1995). Lerner posits that Whiteness is by and large a social construct, not a description of skin color. There are Blacks—admittedly not many—whose history of rape and so on means they look white and can “pass.” Similarly there are many Jews whose skin color is more Arabic than European. To be “white” is to fit into the social construct of the beneficiaries of European imperialism, whose relationship to the world has been one of conquest.
A Palestinian man walks near a USAID billboard in the West Bank village of Badhan, north of Nablus, last August. Since January, U.S. financing for humanitarian programs serving Palestinians has been suspended Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images
Under orders from the Trump administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development is preparing to lay off most of its Palestinian aid workers in its West Bank and Gaza mission, according to U.S. government communications reviewed by NPR.
It's the latest step toward shrinking a decades-long U.S. aid mission to build the capacity for a future Palestinian state. In response to NPR's request for comment, a USAID official emailed a statement saying that the agency has "begun to take steps to reduce our staffing footprint." He did not want his name used.
The decision to dismiss the aid workers raises questions about how the Trump administration can implement the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan it vows to soon unveil — with an emphasis on major investments in the Palestinian economy, potentially funded by Gulf Arab states.
"It's a huge mistake," said former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, who served during the Obama administration and said he was aware of USAID's plans to lay off staffers. "Even if you get big checks from the Gulf States, you will want development experts to help steer where that money goes. We won't have our own team of experts available. None of this makes any sense."
USAID is aiming to reduce its local staff of about 100 employees to only 14, according to official communications reviewed by NPR. Most of the employees to be laid off are Palestinians or Arab citizens of Israel, and the others are Jewish Israelis.
Last month, USAID held preliminary termination hearings, a formality required by Israeli law in which employees get the chance to plead their case before the termination is final. Next month, the agency is expected to notify employees they'll lose their jobs in July.
Shapiro said it would be difficult and costly to reassemble an experienced team for any future development projects under a future U.S. administration.
Two current employees confirmed they were notified about the likely layoffs, and one of these two said he was optimistic as he awaited final word on his job. Other Palestinian staff members said they were instructed not to speak to the media and declined to comment to NPR.
"The administration is firing a national treasure. People dedicating their lives to fighting for America and fighting for peace," said Dave Harden, former director of USAID's mission for the Palestinian territories. "We are abandoning them."
The administration said Wednesday that it will unveil its peace plan after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assembles his new government and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in early June.
A spokesman for Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser leading peace efforts, did not immediately return a request for comment on whether USAID layoffs could affect the peace plan.
For years, the U.S. ran aid projects in the Palestinian territories with Israel's blessing. But last year, the Trump administration cut half a billion dollars in Palestinian aid, including money to care for Palestinian cancer patients and food to address a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The move was seen as an effort to pressure Palestinian leaders to cooperate with U.S.-led peace efforts.
Early this year, the U.S. abandoned half-complete infrastructure projects like a sewage system for a West Bank city, because of a new U.S. law targeting the Palestinian Authority for financially supporting attackers convicted of killing Israelis.
Now the U.S. is slated to part ways with much of the staff that helped oversee these aid programs.
In response to NPR's request for comment on Wednesday, USAID emailed this statement: "We are not currently taking steps to close the USAID West Bank and Gaza mission. Given the cessation of USAID programs in West Bank and Gaza, coupled with our commitment to proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars, we have begun to take steps to reduce our staffing footprint."
For years, USAID's Palestinian staff often faced personal risk during armed conflict or threats from Palestinian groups for working with the U.S. When the staff faced such threats, American officials evacuated some of these employees from Gaza, Harden said.
"They or their colleagues, USAID contractors, have been caught in crossfire, detained, their families at grave risk, all along representing America," he said.
Some local USAID employees could be offered temporary contracts with other USAID missions in the region, but they are not expected to regain full employment with the agency.
A former Palestinian development officer at USAID, who left the agency in 2015, choked up as he spoke with NPR about his former Palestinian colleagues.
"I'm emotional about this. We meant to change people's lives," he said, speaking anonymously because he did not wish to speak out against his former employer. "People really believed this is doable. USAID [has been] putting in infrastructure for factories, building hundreds of schools, creating thousands of jobs. There was a real hope there might be a future where we could live independently. Now that hope is collapsing." https://www.npr.org/2019/04/17/714269010/u-s-aid-agency-is-preparin...
Observers have a hard time dividing Palestinian present suffering from Jewish past suffering. The hypocrisy of the Israelis is also a major cause of European non White Nationalist and American non White Nationalist present day Antisemitism, not Omar's mistake of saying “the emperor has no clothes”--and derives his political powers from AIPAC bribes.” This is a given in the world of reality thought—but not spoken because one does not want to be called an Anti-Semitic. Fear of punishment or censure can keep one from speaking—but nothing can keep one from thinking and lying about those thoughts.
In the West, we are inundated and intimidated by tales of the Holocaust—but when we see it played out in real time against occupied/internally colonized people: the Palestinians, it becomes problematic. The 21st century silence is broken by Ilon Omar and all the threats/cautions by the Democrats won't work because all peoples-of-color are WOKE because of Trump's attacks. Blacks have always felt an affinity and empathy with Jews knowing that their per-WWII history in Europe matched Negro history in America. And because of Jewish historians like the Forners and David Brion Davis who wrote books such as The Problem of Slavery In Western Culture that took American Slavery out of the footnotes of American history and brought it into the forefront. In other words, Jews and Blacks had a relationship based on mutual suffering at the hands of White Christians.
In the mid-1950s the path between Jews and Blacks diverged, as James Baldwin posits, “Jews became officially White and rich in the U.S., and Blacks remained Negroes and poor.” Within this divergence as Avraham Burg in The Holocaust Is Over; Let Us Rise From Its Ashes (2008) states, More than six decades after his death, Hitler retains his influence over American Jews. Vulnerability can be felt in the most impressive community the Jews have ever built, a Jewry more glorious than those of Babel and Spain, even more so than German Jewry that existed between the time of Mendelssohn and of the Shoah. The potential is there for Jews to change the world for the better, if they only free themselves from the Nazi shackles.
However, as is evident in the dialog between Lipstat and Falkenflick, they have chosen the shackles and want to place them on the lips of Omar. Burg explains how American Jews have been co-opted by the ghost of Hitler by stating that in Israel and in America, the guilt complex over the Shoah created a national obsession of exaggerated securitism, the longing for power that often morphs into primitive belligerence.
In America, the collective feeling of guilt that more could have been done if the U.S. Government was prodded to act sooner is ever present. I (Burg) do not know the details of the Jewish American experience, but I know the leadership pretty well. The Jewish masses are diverse and have a much more sophisticated agenda than presented and expressed by their leadership.
The destruction of the Shoah seems to have been burned into the leaders minds. One result is that Jewish American leaders tend to justify their government's wars and support the most right-wing foreign policies, especially vis-a-vis Israel and the Middle East. They are against everybody, including Germany, Russia, and the Arab countries [now Ilon Omar]. Furthermore, the official, organized Jewish voice is a power to reckon with in every election campaign. It is very difficult to be elected to high office in American against the wishes of the Jewish lobby.
Financial and organizational resources, public support, legitimacy—and not least, the damage the Jewish lobby can cause to unwanted candidates—turn Jewish involvement in American politics into a factor with strategic international consequences.
Falkenflick and Lipstat do not want to recognize that these are the factors that drive Antisemitism. And they see any American, especially African American criticism or truth spoken about Jewish overwhelming political power makes the critic anti-Semitic, not a teller of what 99 percent of the world is thinking about Jews and their behavior toward the Palestinians, but as Anti-Semitic. They do not see the evil of silencing; that this hypocrisy is the major driver of Antisemitism. Omar is criticizing behavior, not religion or ethnicity.
ADVICE TO ALL WHO WISH TO BE TRUE TO THINE OWN SELF
“This above all: to thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day--Thou canst not then be false to any man....
Let me be honest with you—a feat which, but the way, I find of the utmost difficulty. When one is invisible he/she finds such problems as good and evil, honesty and dishonesty, of such shifting shapes that he/she confuses one with the other, depending upon who happens to be looking through him/her at the time. Well, now I've been trying to look through myself, and there's a risk in it.
I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even just now I've tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied—not even I. On the other hand, I've never been more loved and appreciated than when I tried to “justify” and affirm someone's mistaken beliefs; or when I've tried to give my friends the incorrect, absurd answers they wished to hear.
In my presence they could talk and agree with themselves, the world was nailed down, and they loved it. They received a feeling of security.
But here was/is the rub: Too often, in order to justify them, I had to take myself by the throat and choke myself until my eyes bulged and my tongue hung out and wagged like the door of an empty house in a high wind. Oh, yes, it made them happy and it made me sick. So I became ill of Affirmation, of saying “yes” against the nay-saying of my stomach—not to mention my brain.
Ralph Ellison, “Epilogue,” Invisible Man
Donald Trump thinks that he can assassinate Ilhan Omar's reputation with accusations of Antisemitism, but I would advise him to stop his lies and diatribes playing to his base, and most of all galvanizing Black women. A friend of mind once told me an insight on African Americans: “Black folks are like cat shit; you don't know they stink until you stir them up.” We are stirred.