The Ruderman Family Foundation, international leaders in advocating for the full inclusion of people with disabilities into society, has denounced the Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper for publishing an opinion piece in which President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt was referred to as a “mongoloid,” a pejorative term for a person suffering from Down syndrome.
Scientifically, the term Mongoloid refers to a grouping of various peoples indigenous to Asia, North America, South America, and the Pacific Islands. The term was proposed in the 18th century by Georges Cuvier, to describe the “three races of humanity,” the other two being Caucasoid and Negroid.
The term was later borrowed in medical literature referencing to individuals with Down syndrome, and is generally avoided as highly offensive. Individuals inflicted by the syndrome were often referred to as suffering from “Mongolian idiocy” or “Mongolian imbecility.”
“It is unacceptable to use disability as a slur as it perpetuates stigmas that have been used to denigrate people with disabilities,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “People with disabilities represent hundreds of millions of people around the world of every race, religion and ethnicity.”
The newspaper column, by Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, which appeared in Sunday’s edition of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, railed against the White House’s proposed plan for an Israel-PA peace agreement and the officials behind it. Al-Ghoul claimed it was not only Greeenblatt who appeared to be a Mongoloid but the entire administration behind President Trump, whom Al-Ghoul described as a “politically crippled creature.”
“While political differences will always exist, it is never appropriate to refer to someone using a derogatory term for disability as it demeans people with disabilities as lesser human beings and impedes their progress toward equal civil and human rights,” Ruderman stated.
The comments of Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul are disgusting & demonstrate a complete disregard for the dignity of every human life. Terms like “mongoloid” & ‘retarded” have no place in a civilized world. Persons with Downs Syndrome deserve our utmost respect & love. Shame on you Omar! https://t.co/PvKduilgkQ
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) March 4, 2019
Al-Ghoul’s comments have since been slammed by Greenblatt himself as “disgusting and demonstrate a complete disregard for the dignity of every human life,” while US Envoy to Israel David Friedman also condemned the piece as an “utter disregard for the value of every human life.”