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Nov
28

International NGOs: The new feudalism

The Jerusalem Post posted an article titled, “International NGOs: The new feudalism.” The article reads in part as follows;

“Recently a man named Sherzad Mosa walked into a bar in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq, and was surprised to overhear a woman describe it as an “NGO bar.” Mosa wondered on Facebook why hundreds of thousands of refugees are living in the Kurdish region, and “kids and women” are suffering while “200 NGOs have more than 1,600 foreign people working for them and they are getting paid more than $10,000 per month and staying in the best hotels?” Others commented on his thread that NGO workers were driving around in brand new vehicles and spending just a few hours with refugees and then driving back to their hotels.

What these men had seen was only a small piece of a new kind of feudalism that involves governments, NGOs, international organizations and to a lesser extent media and academics.

Trying to quantify the extent of it is like the parable of the elephant in the room.

Everyone is touching one part of the feudal empire, but unable to see the whole of it.

Working in the Palestinian territories I came across these kinds of NGO employees and members of UN and EU government staffs over the years. Their fleets of SUVs plied the streets and their workers made ten times the local salaries. On their own they joked about the job they were doing. One German working on Palestinian election issues admitted it was all a financial windfall. There would never be elections, he said, ‘but I make great money here and get a resume builder’. A man we met who had a political science degree had somehow become a ‘security expert’ for an international organization, giving ‘assessments’ about threats in Gaza. Organizations such as the ‘Temporary International Presence in Hebron’ are not temporary, existing for decades and paying salaries to Europeans who spend their weekends, as evidenced by their vehicles, enjoying themselves at Jerusalem or Tel Aviv bars. The new colonials call themselves ‘internationals'”.

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