What NGOs know about Palestine and simply don’t say

A revealing section from It’s Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street: A Jerusalem Memoir:

As [English physician] Emma Williams is preparing to leave Jerusalem for Dakar, Senegal, where her husband has been posted by the UN, she reports the following, spoken by an NGO aid worker at a dinner party in Jerusalem.

“One day,” he said, and he had not drunk too much, “we will look back on this charade with shame and ask ‘how in hell was this allowed to happen?’ We dress it up in shades of ‘security’–what are we talking about? That’s crap and we all know it. This is not about security. None of this is making anyone secure–the opposite is true, but we’re not going to say so, are we? This is about annexation of territory and slow ethnic cleansing. It’s making Israel less secure and a pariah nation on top of that. And we’re playing along with it,” he said, “pouring billions of Euros and dollars into keeping the occupied going, keeping their heads above water while they’re boxed in like animals. ‘Never mind, never mind,’ we say when the IDF destroys the things we’ve just funded. We’ll just carry on and rebuild it all, pour more money in, waiting obediently for the next round of Israeli bulldozing and bombing. Oh, but don’t let anyone hear you say it. My God, we’re in trouble if we say it like it is. No no, we must toe the line, but why?”

Why indeed?

Those words were spoken in March 2003, on the eve of Bush’s Shock and Awe. And they could have been said, with complete accuracy, on any day since over the course of the subsequent seven years. And similarly for tomorrow and the days after.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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