Guardian contributor tells Palestinians to boycott Western aid if it ‘disempowers’ terrorist groups

The Guardian’s ‘Poverty Matters Blog’ (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) published a post about Palestinian development by Nora Lester Murad, titled ‘Should the Palestinians boycott international aid?, Oct. 18.

Murad, an American Jew who married a Palestinian Muslim and now lives in “Palestine” (East Jerusalem), on the Guardian’s site dedicated to fighting poverty, makes several arguments.

First, on the obstacles to Palestinian development:

“We know the main obstacle to development is the occupation, colonisation and dispossession of the Palestinian people.”

What do Palestinians want?

“Palestinians at least don’t want “aid” at all. They want political intervention and the financial support they are entitled to in order to pursue their own development. Moreover, they advocated rejection of false development projects that are, at best, distractions, and at worst, harmful to Palestinian dignity, independence and sustainability.” [emphasis added]

How are current development projects harmful to Palestinian dignity?

“I’ve been disillusioned with aid-funded development in Palestine since I arrived in 2004 and found local NGOs chasing international funding by modifying their programmes…

 A huge swath of global civil society now appears to be co-opted into a formal process of “aid reform” that has a diluted vision, wastes precious resources and often can’t practise what it preaches – all because society groups work within the unacceptably narrow constraints prescribed by donors. [emphasis added]

What constraints is she referring to?

“I helped found the Dalia Association, a Palestinian NGO that promotes self-determination through local control over resources. Dalia’s articles “Does the international aid system violate Palestinian rights?”…framed aid in Palestine as a right.”

The article she cites includes this:

‏”Donor countries and aid actors are obliged to provide humanitarian assistance in a lawful manner,‭ ‬without discrimination on the basis of political belief.‭ ‬

‬…the donor countries‭’ ‬policy of isolating Hamas risks undermining the effectiveness of the humanitarian response in Gaza implicating all those in the aid process.‭ ‬We call on aid actors to engage in civil disobedience against these unlawful and immoral anti-terrorism policies by refusing to be contractually obligated to enforce them.”

Murad’s views on development are spelled out even more clearly in a comment she posted at an international development website, in a story titled Global Giving Workshops in Israel and the Palestinian Territories“.

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What Murad objects to is the USAID requirement that NGOs operating in the West Bank and Gaza pledge not to engage in activity with terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

The Guardian contributor is evidently offended by the requirement that US funds not support Islamist terror groups which reject the existence of Israel within any borders, and openly call for the murder of Jews.

Murad, after arguing in her Guardian piece that that Palestinians should boycott aid which stipulates that terrorist groups be excluded from receiving funds, makes the following point:

“Maybe we can’t change donors’ aid policies, but Palestinians can stop participating in their own oppression by refusing aid offered on detrimental terms. Through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), Palestinians and their supporters refuse to do business with people or entities that undermine the prospects for a just peace. Should BDS expand to target aid? I think it should. By focusing on what they can control – their own policy about what aid they will accept or reject – Palestinians can take control of their development.”

The challenge is formidable. There will be political pressure, millions may become even poorer, and the elite may fight efforts to change a system they profit from. [emphasis added]

Astonishingly, the Guardian contributor would rather millions become poor rather than have development funds denied to terrorist groups.

According to Murad, not only should Palestinians be entitled to billions in Western aid, but absolutely nothing should be required of them in return – not even, evidently, the demand that they disassociate themselves from the most reactionary and dangerous movements within their communities.

How much lower can you possibly set the bar?  

Perhaps so-called humanitarian activists like Murad may want to consider the possibility that the “dignity” of Palestinians would most likely be enhanced if they were to boldly reject the shameful antisemtism, incitement and violence of radical Islamist groups who speak in their name. 

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