Now that the Democratic party is in power in America and controls both the executive and legislative branches of government, they would do well to listen to what young people have to say about the Democratic agenda regarding Israel and Palestine. During a panel discussion that I hosted before the elections that can be found on the “Miko Peled Podcast” or at Mikopeled.com, a panel of young American voters from different backgrounds and different ethnicities discussed what they thought about the Democratic platform regarding this vitally important issue.
These young voters are fully aware that as they join the workforce and pay taxes, close to 4 billion dollars of their hard earned tax dollars go to Israel each and every year. These young voters talked about the fact that the Democratic party stands behind Israel 110%, that their track record going back to the Obama-Biden era is troubling, to say the least, and that Obama-Biden gave Israel the largest foreign aid package in the history of foreign aid packages.
One of the panelists brought up the fact that Kamala Harris had declared unconditional support for Israel regardless of what Israel did, completely ignoring Israel’s human rights violations. This panelist also said that this demonstrates that Harris is spineless because she bows to the Israeli lobby. Another speaker said that the Democratic party had aided and abetted war crimes committed by Israel and that the Democratic party’s policies, or rather the lack of a clear policy attitude towards the Palestinian issue, is inexcusable.
Female activists speak up
Other voices that the Biden Administration might want to listen to are female activists who work and live and what is called 1948 Palestine, in other words, among Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship. Another panel that I hosted, and can also be found on the “Miko Peled Podcast” and on Mikopeled.com, was with female Palestinian activists who reside and work in Palestine itself. Their comments regarding Israel’s treatment of Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship were as follows, “we are second-class citizens by law.” Referring to the Israeli nation-state law which elevated the status of Israeli Jews and their rights in occupied Palestine.
“Our language has been reduced from being one of the official languages of this country to just another language that is spoken,” again referring to the nation-state law which downgraded the status of the Arabic language. Then they added a statement that was perhaps the most painful of them all, that “Palestinian citizens are seen and are treated as a demographic threat.” One has to wonder what it means about a country that considers its own citizens who happen to be of a different religion and a different background to be a demographic threat, in the twenty-first century.
“We Face discrimination in all aspects of life,” said one of the activists, and she continued, “when it comes to budgets, when it comes to resources given to the Palestinian municipalities, and on top of that, the poorest of the poor within Israel are Palestinians.” “In fact,” she continued, “65% of the Palestinians citizens of Israel live below the poverty line.”
There are historic towns, particularly in the Naqab region, towns that preceded the establishment of the state of Israel and which the state of Israel refuses to recognize. These towns are known as “unrecognized towns” and within these towns, over 100,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel reside. “The unrecognized towns have no access to water, electricity, education facilities, roads, or medical facilities.”
Israel has enacted policies in the Naqab region whereby only Jewish settlers are permitted to engage in agriculture. In fact, Israel provides incentives for Israeli Jews to settle in the region and engage in agriculture work. The Palestinian Bedouin community, on the other hand, which is traditionally an agricultural community, is forbidden from engaging in agriculture and land cultivation. Traditionally this community raised livestock and knows how to use the resources of this mostly desert region in order to cultivate crops. However, Israel has mandated that they must remain in their townships and poverty-stricken cities and that they are not permitted to engage in agriculture, except as cheap labor for Israeli Jewish settlers. We should remember that the Palestinian Bedouin community of the Naqab are also citizens of the state of Israel.
Does Biden know?
The problem is that the voices of activists at the grassroots level rarely reach the halls of power. Will Secretary of State Anthony Blinken ever hear what Palestinians are saying? Will people in the Biden administration ever pay attention to the voices of young Americans who are involved in activism and care about human rights issues? What will it take for people to realize that support for Zionism is just as bad, or perhaps even worse, than support for the Proud Boys?
Secretary of State Blinken says he believes that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel and that the U.S. embassy should remain there. Does he realize, however, that right-wing religious zealots who are today in positions of power and are likely to gain more power in the upcoming elections plan to destroy more and more of historic Palestinian Jerusalem in order to accommodate their obsession with their own mythology?
One has to wonder what Secretary of State Blinken will say, and indeed what President Biden will say when they realize that they allowed radical right-wing religious Zionist zealots to destroy the glorious Arab, Muslim and Christian history of Jerusalem? Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel gave an enormous boost to the most radical and violent elements within the state of Israel and the destruction of these two iconic monuments is part of their agenda.
As the leader of the radical right, Naftali Bennett gets closer and closer to the prime minister’s chair in Tel Aviv, the radical right-wing religious zealots get closer and closer to destroying the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, two monuments that have crowned Jerusalem for over 1,000 years. One has to wonder how long it will take before any American politician realizes Zionism is toxic and that it has been poisoning Palestine with racism, violence, and hatred for close to 100 years.
Even as American politicians choose to deny that Israel is a racist state and choose to reject the Palestinian call to impose boycotts, to divest, and to place sanctions on the state of Israel, the egregious violations of international law and human rights abuses continue. Furthermore, the state of Israel enacts deeper and more severe anti-Palestinian policies throughout the entire country. Right-wing groups terrorize the countryside, the military and the police engage in the destruction of homes, destruction of communities, and the abuse of Palestinians everywhere.
Even though it is still early, it already seems that when it comes to policy regarding the Middle East and Iran, the Biden Administration, just like the Trump Administration before it, will be taking orders from the Israeli government.
Feature photo | Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not seen, give joint statements in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. Debbie Hill | Pool via AP
Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”