Palestinian Authority Newspaper Criticized for Calling Trump Envoy 'Mongoloid'

Figures across the political spectrum in U.S. denounce op-ed that described Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt as 'retarded'

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
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Jason Greenblatt meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbass in Ramallah, March 14, 2017.
Jason Greenblatt meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbass in Ramallah, March 14, 2017.Credit: Reuters
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump’s advisers criticized a Palestinian newspaper on Sunday for publishing an op-ed in which Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, was described as “retarded” and a “mongoloid.”

The article, written by columnist Omar Hilmi al-Ghoul, appeared in the Palestinian Authority’s official daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida, which is published in Ramallah. The newspaper has a circulation of a few thousand copies, and is the least popular of the Palestinian dailies.

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In response, Greenblatt said: “The comments of Omar Hilmi al-Ghoul are disgusting and demonstrate a complete disregard for the dignity of every human life. Terms like ‘mongoloid’ and ‘retarded’ have no place in a civilized world. Persons with Downs Syndrome deserve our utmost respect & love. Shame on you Omar!"

AIPAC, the leading pro-Israel lobbying group, called the article “an outrageous personal attack on a distinguished U.S. official and an insult to basic human dignity.” David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, also denounced the op-ed.

Ori Nir, communications director at Americans for Peace Now, a group that is critical of the Trump administration’s Israel policy, also condemned the article. “I just read Omar al-Goul’s [sic] original Aarbic article in al-Hayyat al-Jadeeda, the Palestinian daily, in which the writer speculates that Jason Greenblatt has Down's syndrome and repeatedly refers to him as ‘mongoloid.’ The article is vile and reprehensible,” Nir wrote.

He added that “Greenblatt should be criticized on the merits of his poor performance,” but that this specific op-ed is “disgusting, reprehensible, damaging.”