An apology to everyone I’ve offended for speaking up against g3nocide

[Image description: A cute brown and white dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, with their head down, looking up with big, liquid eyes. Image by PicsbyFran on Pixabay]

My esteemed colleagues,

Since October 17th, when I published my first blog post talking about IsraeI and PaIestine, I have received many, many comments, emails, texts, and private messages on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook from many of you, expressing sadness and disappointment in my words. Over the next several months, I doubled down, condemning Israel’s relentless slaughter of untold children and civilians. I encouraged actions such as contacting elected officials and demanding they support a permanent ceasefire. I called for us in this sector to support an end to Israel’s settler colonial occupation and apartheid regime, and for a Free Palestine.

So many of you tried to reach me to help me see the errors of my ways. I appreciate the thoughtful funder who called my friend and asked him to relay the message to me that I had offended the “entire Jewish community” in his city by mentioning in a different keynote about how we in the US have been funding g3nocide with our tax dollars and are complicit in IsraeI’s continuing massacre of PaIestinian civilians including over 15,000 children and the injuries of thousands more, and we must as a sector publicly acknowledge it and do everything we can to stop it.

But I have been so stubborn and dismissed the dozens of messages you’ve sent me. At my last presentation, one colleague told the event organizer how disappointed they were that I condemned g3nocide but did not even once call for the release of hostages. And then, when made aware of how upset this colleague was, I further hurt their feelings by calling for the release of ALL hostages: the ones held by H@mas, as well as the nearly 10,000 PaIestinians held by IsraeI, including hundreds of children.

I finally saw the light when a colleague who, upon hearing my words on a virtual panel on reimagining our sector, wrote this message on the evaluation form:

“I am offended by the tone and potential impact of frequent references Vu Le made to US money to support IsraeI[‘s g3nocide of PaIestinians] during today’s closing keynote about overhauling the nonprofit sector. I am neither IsraeIi nor Jewish, and I’m not an expert on the war or politics. I have no credentials upon which to speak out against his comments, but I feel a responsibility to log my dissent, because I keep thinking how terribly hurtful his comments likely were to a community of people who are suffering. Is there a more appropriate forum for me to provide additional context to my concerns?”

It has been eight months now, and I will understand if this is too little too late, but I would like to apologize for my hurtful words and actions. First, to the colleague above and so many others, I am very sorry for my tone. I have been angry and sad, and that made me forget the even in speaking out against injustice, we must try not to offend people’s delicate sensibilities. I now realize that sounding angry when calling out IsraeI’s bombing of refugee camps, hospitals, schools, and mosques, and murdering PaIestinian civilians nonstop with US tax money and weapons, is just as bad as doing the above things. I am so sorry for upsetting you with my brusque tone of voice.

Several of you pointed out that I had been silent in condemning other atrocities in the past or in other parts of the world so I should remain silent now and allow the daily US-funded killing, jailing, and torture of PaIestinian children and civilians to continue. You are completely right. I would like to apologize for speaking out of turn. Since I had made the mistake in not being more conscientious of and thus not condemning past g3nocides and ethnic cleansing, I should not learn and grow now but instead should stand by silently as current g3nocides and ethnic cleansing occur.

In fact, as many colleagues have tried to tell me, I really should just stay out of all this for another reason, which is that this “conflict” has nothing to do with my main area of work, which is nonprofit and philanthropy. Please forgive my presumptuousness in thinking that our sector, which is working to advance equity and justice in the world, would involve itself in actions that would lead to equity and justice in the world. No, nonprofits and foundations should all focus on our individual missions and let the US continue to send billions of dollars over to a foreign government annually so it can continue its brutal occupation, displacement, and massacres of PaIestinian civilians. As a sector, we should not rock the boat and possibly jeopardize funding for our programs by saying things like it’s unconscionable we’ve sent nearly $20B to IsraeI this year alone to conduct g3nocide when $20B could end homelessness in the US.

There are so many things I need to apologize for. Such as pressing some of you to answer yes or no as to whether it is ever OK to murder children. I should never have forced you to be in such a binary when the answer, as several of you countered, is that it’s “complicated.” Yes, the ethics and morality of whether it is ever OK to murder children is complicated, and my insistence that the killing of children is never acceptable was so black and white and lacking in nuance.

I have seen the light now and I am deeply regretful of the things I’ve said and written. I am sorry for all the hurt and discomfort I caused to so many of you. One colleague wrote to tell me she felt unsafe walking around her neighborhood because of the type of anti-g3nocide rhetoric I and other insensitive people had been espousing. Yes, I can imagine it’s just as terrifying to walk around Brooklyn for this colleague as it is for a PaIestinian walking around Rafah. I was so thoughtless to not see that before.

I can’t list all the awful things I’ve said and done over the past several months, but I hope you will forgive me. As at least two of you said, I am on the “wrong side of history” for not supporting IsraeI’s settler colonial project and campaign of ethnic cleansing. I am sure that hundreds of years from now, history will see how perfectly justifiable it was to bomb refugees sheltering in camps, to bomb hospitals and kidnap and torture doctors, to murder journalists documenting the horror, and to destroy food and other forms of aid for people in a forced famine.

I am sure people in the future will applaud the operation that rescued four hostages by hiding soldiers in a humanitarian aid truck which then open fired on civilians in a refugee camp, slaughtering 300 children and civilians and injuring hundreds more. History, I am now positive, will see how it makes sense for us taxpayers in the US to supply an occupying force with funds and weapons and soldiers so it can continue conducting g3nocide and ethnic cleansing, which it has done since the first Nakba.

I would like to be on the right side of history, so I apologize. Not just for myself, but also for the thousands of other colleagues who also have not seen how wrong they are and have been attending protests and taking other actions in desperate and clearly misguided attempts to stop a g3nocide happening in real time. You have my word, I will do my best to reach out to them, to get them to recognize the terrible path they’re on and change their ways.

Thank you to everyone who has spent so much time writing to me across multiple platforms these past few months. Time that so many of us callously used to call elected officials, attend a protest, or take other actions. I was dismissive when you mentioned how disappointed you have been with my ignorance, uncivilized tone, inability to see how “complicated” this “conflict” is, usage of such an “incendiary” word like “g3nocide,” and speaking up against IsraeI when it’s just “defending” itself by murdering civilians including children in a territory it has been forcefully occupying for several decades, sponsored and funded by the US and other colonizing powers.

Against, I’m so sorry for upsetting so many of you. I have seen the errors of my way. I will stop speaking out against IsraeI’s US-funded g3nocide of PaIestinians and how our sector has been complicit by remaining silent or punishing the organizations and individuals speaking out. From now on, I will stick to what I do best, which is to post cute pictures of baby animals and crack jokes about grantwriting. I hope in time you will forgive me.