Anti-Palestinian sentiment rises amid bipartisan US support for Israel | Israel-Palestine conflict news
Washington, DC – Anti-Palestinian sentiment continues to grow in the United States, with politicians from both major political parties supporting Israel’s war in Gaza despite rising Palestinian death tolls and allegations of war crimes.
Last week, the war in Gaza dominated the third Republican presidential debate, where competing candidates were unanimous in their support for Israel.
“I’m sick of hearing the media, I’m sick of hearing other people blame Israel just to protect themselves,” said one of those candidates, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, to the audience.
Statements like these came up during the two-hour event, even when the candidates were talking about topics unrelated to the crisis. But Palestinians have almost never been mentioned, despite a death toll in Gaza that has passed 11,000.
In fact, the only time a candidate said “Palestine” or “Palestine” was when DeSantis was bragging about banning a Palestinian student advocacy group from state universities.
Advocates say this is indicative of a broader trend of US politicians – across ideological lines – justifying and rejecting Israel’s atrocities in Gaza.
“There is a bipartisan effort to dehumanize the Palestinian people,” said Ahmad Abuznaid, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USPCR).
Abuznaid cited recent events in US politics that he said reinforce hostility toward Palestinians. They include Democratic President Joe Biden casting doubt on the accuracy of the Palestinian death count and attacks on American Palestinian Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for her criticism of Israel’s military offensive.
“Whether they mention Palestinians, question our death tolls, attack our students and protests, or criticize the only American Palestinian representative in Congress, no their efforts to silence us worked,” said Abuznaid.
“As much as they want us to disappear, we are here and we will be here, and they will see a lot more of us moving forward.”
Hostility in Congress
At Wednesday’s debate, DeSantis and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, used similar language to push Israel to take strong action in Gaza.
“Finish the job once and for all with these butchers, Hamas,” said DeSantis, referring to the Palestinian group that launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7.
Haley echoed that sentiment, saying, “They finished. Finish them,” in response to a question about whether she would urge a “humane pause” during the fighting.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – another Republican presidential candidate – came after appearing in the debate with a visit to Israel on Sunday, where he also rejected calls to end the violence.
A bipartisan delegation of US congressmen, including top lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made a solidarity trip to Israel this weekend.
Ohio Republican Max Miller, who has faced outrage for saying Palestine will be turned into a “parking lot”, was with top Democrats on that trip and posted a photo of the group with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel Jacob Lew.
— Rep. Max Miller (@RepMaxMiller) November 12, 2023
Advocates have warned that comments like Miller’s could be interpreted as a call for mass violence against the Palestinian people.
But Miller is hardly alone in his feelings. Congressman Brian Mast suggested earlier this month that there are no innocent Palestinian civilians. “I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II,” he said on the floor of the House.
Such comments did not provoke rebuke in the House of Representatives. However, the chamber voted to censure its only Palestinian American member, Tlaib, for his criticism of Israel.
Twenty-two Democrats, including Democratic National Committee (DNC) vice chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, joined Republicans in supporting the symbolic punishment, which passed 234 to 188.
Attacks against Tlaib continued after the impeachment vote. On Sunday, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn accused Tlaib of “claiming ties to Hamas” and “calling for genocide against the Jewish people”.
Rashida Tlaib has said she has ties to Hamas.
Based on these accusations, it is not surprising that she calls for genocide against the Jews.
– Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) November 12, 2023
Tlaib is one of more than a dozen House Democrats who called for a ceasefire in Gaza, out of a chamber of 435 voting members.
Meanwhile, other congressional Democrats have resisted stopgap efforts, as have their Republican colleagues. Democratic Senator John Fetterman, for example, unfurled an Israeli flag as he walked with protesters calling for a cease-fire on Capitol Hill last week.
To emphasize their strong bipartisan support for Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been sharing videos of left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders expressing opposition to a cease-fire the Gaza.
Sanders is usually one of AIPAC’s most vocal critics, often criticizing the pro-Israel lobby group for spending millions of dollars on election campaigns to undermine progressive candidates.
‘all of them’
Anti-Palestinian sentiment also appears in US politics at the state level. In Florida last week, when State Representative Angie Nixon questioned how many dead Palestinians would be enough to end the violence, her fellow lawmaker Michelle Salzman responded by saying, “John all.”
Nixon had introduced a resolution calling for a ceasefire but the measure failed in a 104-2 vote.
Rasha Mubarak, a Palestinian-American organizer from Florida, called Salzman’s comments “vicious” and “disturbing.”
“It’s interesting because when the only Palestinian member of Congress calls for an end to violence and a ceasefire, she literally condemns it,” Mubarak told Al Jazeera, referring to Tlaib.
“And then we have people in the Florida Legislature, but also people in Congress, who have called for the annihilation of the Palestinian people. “
Mubarak said support for Israel appears to unite the US political spectrum – except for a minority of lawmakers who “connect the dots” between Palestinian liberation, global human rights and injustice at the house
But Mubarak said supporters of Palestinian rights are not discouraged by the anti-Israel consensus in US politics. She noted the growing protests across the country in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.
“The movements and the multitude of people – and the rare people who serve in Congress and in state, local, federal positions – are trying to stop and disrupt the status quo,” she said, referring to Palestinian rights supporters.
Mubarak also warned that the Democrats are avoiding and attacking some members of their establishment with their position towards Israel’s military offensive.
“What we’re seeing is people pledging not to vote for Biden, not to vote a ballot, not to vote for the Democrats who were not right on this issue, ” she said. “I don’t think this time people are going to forget. People remember.”
Abuznaid, of the USPCR, echoed Mubarak’s comments, saying that unwavering support for the Israeli government could fracture the political left and derail the Palestinian rights movement.
“The bipartisan support is a challenge for the movement, but the cracks in the system go deeper,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Our movement is bigger than ever and growing every day. US complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians will be another permanent stain on this country’s troubled history. Palestinian Americans remain steadfast and push for a truce and a free Palestine. “