Ivanka, Engel and Halbfinger– all punch Palestinians on their way out the door

It’s amazing that at a time when almost any expression of racism is considered unacceptable in the US discourse, it’s perfectly OK to slam Palestinians. Here are the three latest examples: casual expressions of anti-Palestinian racism out this week from the NYT’s Jerusalem bureau chief, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the daughter of the president of the United States.

–David Halbfinger is leaving the New York Times Jerusalem bureau after heading it the last four years. In an article on Palestinians resuming coordination with Israel, notice how he (and coauthor Adam Rasgon) characterize the Palestinian refusal to coordinate security with Israel or accept the $100 million a month in taxes that Israel collects.

The annexation plans were shelved, not canceled, and not in response to the Palestinians’ kamikaze-style pressure tactics. Mr. Netanyahu agreed to “suspend” annexation in exchange for a landmark diplomatic accord with the United Arab Emirates. 

Halbfinger is slurring the Palestinians as suicide bombers. And no editor in NY removes the slur.

–Rep. Eliot Engel looks back on 30 years in the House, to Matthew Kassel of Jewish Insider, and singles out Palestinians for derision:

The recent normalization deals between Israel and Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, according to Engel, have positively changed the geopolitical calculus in the Middle East. “It used to be where the Palestinians blocked everything,” he said. “They complained and whined and cried that they weren’t being treated fairly, and then when we tried to get together to treat them fairly, they rejected everything we did.”

Lastly, Ivanka Trump is the subject of a scalding memoir in Vanity Fair, in which Lysander Ohrstrom says she and Ivanka were inseparable for ten years from 7th grade on, then the relationship withered. Yes, I know– Ivanka said this years ago– but it just came out…

While Ivanka was laying the foundation for her conquest of Manhattan, I was experiencing a new reality in Lebanon as it was rocked by a string of political assassinations and bombings and a decimating war with Israel. The gulf between us became increasingly apparent. During my first two-year stint in Beirut, Ivanka regularly emailed me messages like, “When are you getting your ass back to NYC? You’re going to be replaced.” I remember her being the only person I knew who didn’t ask me what the war was like. By the time I did return home, she had started dating Jared Kushner, whose family was Orthodox Jewish, and my pro-Palestinian stance began to chafe. Since 2007, I’ve worn a necklace with my name written in Arabic, and Ivanka grew increasingly irritated by it. Sometimes, she would randomly say, “I hate that thing.” Then one night in the middle of dinner, she glanced at the necklace and said, “How does your Jewish boyfriend feel when you are having sex and that necklace hits him in the face? How can you wear that thing? It just screams, ‘terrorist.’”

The disturbing thing about all these comments by powerful people is that they exhibit zero awareness at all about Palestinian life under settler colonialism, or about why Palestinians might be making the choices they do. When young Americans seem to understand such learning as a vital task.

That’s the hopeful side of this post. These people are leaving. Engel is leaving a powerful position whose responsibilities he interpreted in the most narrow fashion: “I said when I ran that I would be the best friend that Israel ever had in Congress, and I think that I have kept up that bargain.” So Jamaal Bowman is replacing him for good reason. Lysander Ohrstrom says she’s pro-Palestinian in Vanity Fair and won’t let Israel lobbyists change the subject. The next NYT Jerusalem bureau chief is an Arabic speaker. Yeah, maybe 2021 will see a change in the weather.

H/t Tom Suarez, Donald Johnson, James North.

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