Palestinian statehood is like DEI: both have a problem with Jews

Palestinian protesters and DEI have things in common
Palestinian protesters and DEI have things in common

The din around Palestinian statehood feels as uncomfortable as it does familiar. Not simply because statehood has been negotiated for so unbelievably long by so unbelievably many. But because the circumstances surrounding this latest stab at Arab sovereignty were born from circumstances of unimaginable violence and moral failure.

Think of what it took to get to this point. The hundreds of Israelis dead and kidnapped; the thousands displaced from their homes. Or is statehood the prize for reframing this entire nightmare, so that Palestinians are positioned as aggrieved and entitled, much like the college protestors chanting on behalf of their disputed homeland.

The truth is, while there may be little logic for progressive support for Hamas, the ideology behind statehood is something we’ve all seen before. In fact – across America’s corporations and campuses – we see it all the time: in the obsession with identity and representation; the reliance on coercion and bullying; and in the unyielding focus on equality of outcomes and achievements. Far removed from any real achievement – and armed with last week’s facade of officialdom – Palestinian statehood is now emerging as the global equivalent of diplomatic DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion).

The playbook is clear. Take legitimate grievances – historic inequality in the US, geopolitical displacement over in the Levant – and weaponise them into movements powered by vast funding and abstract demands for power rebalancing and institutional change. Operating under dubious leadership, with scant accountability or oversight, DEI and Palestinian statehood privilege optics over accomplishment, representation and ritualisation ahead of historical fact.

This is why Spanish, Irish and Norwegian recognition was so important to the statehood crowd last week; much like the DEI metrics used to measure minority advancement, the goal here is quantifiable milestones.

Fueled by the cults of liberation and low expectations, both statehood and DEI are ideological machines rife with bloat, mismanagement and impunity. In the case of DEI, the numbers are particularly staggering. At just one company – Facebook-parent Meta, for instance – the global DEI strategist Barbara Furlow-Smiles pled guilty to stealing more than $4 million via an elaborate wire fraud scheme between 2017 and 2021. Over at Boston University, some $55 million has been poured into Ibram X Kendi’s Center for Anti-Racist Research, faced allegations of poor management and a massive downsizing operation last year, as reported by the New York Times.

In the case of Palestine, the UN-backed refugee organisation UNRWA forms the nexus of the statehood swindle (in 2019, the leader of the organisation resigned amid allegations of corruption, with corresponding leaked documents leading to several European nations withdrawing their funding). Israel alleged that several employees of the organisation participated in Hamas’ October 7 massacre, claims Philippe Lazzarini (current commissioner-general of UNRWA) has denied.

The money extracted by these “do-gooder” operations is intended to address another shared obsession: the pursuit of equity beyond any measure of reason. Palestinians, the logic goes, deserve a state because the Jews took their homes and made a state of their own. Nevermind Palestine’s original 1947 UN partition, which split the British Mandate into a larger Arab territory next to a small Jewish one, nor the Oslo Accords in 1994 or Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” nearly two decades later. All were rejected, much to the detriment of Arabs.

But like with DEI – where minority success only matters when it equals that of whites or men or heterosexuals – the Palestinians will only be satisfied with a state “equal” to that of the Jewish people. Ignore the fact that Gazans elected the terrorist group Hamas democratically – and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is corrupt and dictatorial – Palestine must exist now, regardless of whether or not there are any credible leaders around to actually run it.

Neither Palestinian statehood nor DEI advocates are particularly concerned about performance. Failure to perform is what landed university presidents like former Harvard head Claudine Gay before Congress to explain their inability to keep Jewish students safe last year. Revelations of plagiarism and subpar hiring standards are what subsequently sent Gay packing. In the end, DEI provided an easy explanation (not necessarily the correct explanation) for why Harvard hired Gay in the first place. As shifts in college admissions, military readiness or corporate excellence suggests – DEI will always celebrate the bottom rather than lift it to the top.

Ultimately, what DEI and Palestinian statehood have most in common is also the easiest to overlook – a shared hatred of Jews. With its focus on race-based hierarchies and categorised grievances, DEI will always leave Jews in last place. Despite its noble intentions (and necessity), DEI cannot exist without victimhood, and victimhood cannot exist without perpetrators. And Jews have always served as history’s most maligned and idealised perpetrators – even as their accusers fail to articulate a crime.

Statehood, of course, from the Palestinian perspective, has never maligned Jews more, what with those increasing calls for sovereignty “From the River to the Sea.” Even as Israel remains reluctant to embark on its own round of negotiations, pro-Palestine rhetoric appears more unwilling than ever to tolerate any Jewish presence in the Levant.

“There is no longer a place for a two-state solution for any Palestinian,” declared Wissam Rafidi, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the three-day People’s Conference for Palestine in Detroit this past weekend. “The only solution is one democratic Palestinian land which will end the Zionist project in Palestine.” That land, added Rafidi, could continue to feature rule by Hamas, which is “part of the resistance of the Palestinian people.” Look to October 7 to guess where this might end.

For today, at least, with racism still a reality in America and chaos raging across the Near East, both DEI and a Palestinian State cannot be fully discounted. But with their overreliance on outcomes rather than effectiveness, each reveals the folly of a progressive extreme desperate for wins simply for the sake of winning. Yes, DEI and agitation over a right to statehood can be tools for achieving a fairer future for all. But without moral clarity and accountability, injustice can be the only outcome.