Jared Kushner Goes Shopping in Gaza

One of the many adverse consequences of the war in Gaza is the loss of all sense of morality or kindness. Nothing exemplifies that better than a statement by Jared Kushner, who served as a key Middle East adviser to Donald Trump, despite his total lack of political experience.

In a March 8, 2024 interview with Tarek Masoud, faculty chair of Harvard University’s Middle East Initiative, Kushner said, “You may want to get as many civilians out of Rafah as possible. I think you want to clear that out. I know that with diplomacy maybe you get them into Egypt. I know that that has been refused, but [with] the right diplomacy I think it would be possible. But in addition to that, the thing that I would try to do if I was Israel right now is I would just bulldoze something in the Negev, I would try to move people in there. I know that won’t be the popular thing to do, but I think that that’s a better option to do so you can go in and finish the job.”

This is an incredibly callous statement by an insensitive, uncaring man. Not happy enough with this statement, and despite the killing of more than 32,000 Palestinians killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), 13,450 children among them, and the forced displacement of more than 1.5 million people, Kushner commented that “waterfront property could be very valuable” probably already imagining some profitable real state deals on Palestinian land. He added, “It’s a little bit of an unfortunate situation there, but from Israel’s perspective I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up.” If this is not a genocidal statement, it is difficult to think what a genocidal statement reads like.

Reading again The Trees Are Weeping, a poem by Aharon Shabtai, an Israeli poet, translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole, I realize that Shabtai falls short of Kushner dreams of building high risers on Gaza’s waterfront,

And on these parcels of land concessions will be granted to Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

This is happening as UNICEF reports that famine in Gaza is imminent, as 1.1 million people –half the population—experience catastrophic levels of food insecurity. “I think these numbers that we’re seeing out of Gaza are just staggering. We haven’t seen that rate of death among children in almost any other conflict in the world,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on March 17.

What makes this situation unacceptable is that, according to Rusell, “The speed at which this catastrophic child malnutrition crisis in Gaza has unfolded is shocking, especially when desperately needed assistance has been at the ready just a few miles away. We have repeatedly attempted to deliver additional aid and we have repeatedly called for the access challenges we have faced for months to be addressed. Instead, the situation for children is getting worse by each passing day. Our efforts in providing lifesaving aid are being hampered by unnecessary restrictions, and those are costing children their lives.”

If Jared Kushner has his say, it is probable that in a not-too-distant future, the Gaza waterfront will be occupied with Trump hotels and resorts, built on the blood and bones of Palestinian children.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”