The masks are off: a letter to the intl. development community

(Photo: Twitter/X)
Well over a month into the genocide of the Palestinian people, and 11,000 casualties later, I sit down to type this letter.

A letter to the international development communityاضافة اعلان

Dear international development community,

I hope my letter finds you well.

Now that the masks are off, we see you for what you truly are, a web of double standards, one for white people, and another for the rest of us.

Not that it was a secret, don’t get me wrong, we knew that all along, for we, as people of the global South, do not have the privilege of being ignorant. 

We were just being polite. 

Nodding our heads at your lectures on democracy and the rule of law, smiling at your grand recitals of human rights and gender equality, taking notes during presentations of feminist frameworks and women’s economic empowerment tools. 

Until Gaza came and put everyone in their rightful place.

You see, the truth has a tendency to do so. It strips us down to the bone, sharpens our sense of right and wrong, and aligns us with the values of humanity.

Sadly, many of you failed the test. 

Development agencies, United Nations, think tanks, political organizations, academics, and Western main-stream media, we see you for what you are; mouth pieces and gate keepers for the status-quo with no agency or desire to implement any of your charters, mission statements, or frameworks to uphold the rights of the oppressed and curb the aggression of the oppressors.

Unless, of course, the transgression occurs in the global North, then all human rights, humanitarian laws, and UN resolutions fire-up and apply.

For 75 years, you turned a blind eye to the existence of the last settler colonial occupation and the only apartheid left in the World, and chose to ignore your own analysis, reports, resolutions, international laws and conventions on Palestine.

Palestinians were an ideal beneficiary to design development projects around when they were lying still under the boot of the occupation.

You remained silent on their plight and chose to sustain and fund their path to docility. Providing grants and supporting projects that never led to one key performance indicator (KPI) on Palestinians obtaining their right to self-determination. Refugees were supported to stay where they are, scattered in camps around the world and in the diaspora, but never to attain their right of return. 

It makes complete sense now, how your empowerment components on project documents cover the economic, the social, the political, the digital, but none conveniently lead to the only objective that is relevant to any Palestinian beneficiary; obtaining freedom from occupation.

Rest assured, your position on Gaza, or lack of it, has not gone unnoticed.

We took note of how many of you broke with international law and equated the colonized with the colonizer. We took note of who reverted to draconian measures, curbing freedom of speech by silencing staff, online and offline. We took note of the dissonance by which many of you lead your organizations; designing projects for sustaining livelihoods on the one hand, and on the other, unabashedly ending the livelihoods of employees who hold you accountable when it comes to taking an ethical and rights-based position on Palestine.

Therefore, kindly note, that you are now considered the least legitimate party to speak of human rights, democracy, freedom of speech, and development goals to anyone of free will, and believe me, we are many. Go on social media and watch the marches in London, Washington DC, Amman, Baghdad, Sana’a, Paris, New York, Jakarta, Texas, Cape town, Berlin, Kerala, Barcelona, Montreal. The list goes on and on of the millions of people who have lost faith in you.

Moreover, please note that your requests for filling out gender indicators, providing disaggregated data, or conducting impact assessment reports on beneficiaries ages (0-99) cannot be met until you provide us with your project concept notes on how you plan to decolonize your organizations, your processes, and your staff, and until your log-frames include a specific objective to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine once and for all. 


Sahar Aloul 

Sahar Aloul is a women’s economic rights specialist with a particular focus on gender and mobility, and paid and unpaid care-work in relation to women’s economic participation.

Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Jordan News' point of view.

Read more Opinion and Analysis
Jordan News