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Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Americans advocating for Palestinians should vote for Joe Biden

Not voting for Joe Biden in the 2024 election hurts, not helps, the Palestinian cause
“The U.S. and Israel have mutually reinforcing geopolitical goals.” (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The best path forward for Palestinian peace rests with President Joe Biden. 

Voting for President Biden in 2024 might seem counterintuitive; after all, it is he who has presided over the United States government as the current tragedy in Gaza continues to unfold. But in an election with a likely binary choice between Biden and Trump, the Biden Administration has positioned itself as the best of two bad options and, therefore, is the clear choice for single-issue Palestinian voters this November. 

Netanyahu, not Biden, should take full blame for Gaza

The U.S. and Israel have mutually reinforcing geopolitical goals. Israel is a stable democracy functioning as a bulwark against Iranian influence, which alone ensures that under any president, America will never abandon Israel nor refrain from providing it the resources it needs to sustain itself in a hostile Middle East. 

To that end, it is unlikely that a sitting U.S. President would publicly call for a permanent ceasefire as Palestinian activists have demanded. It is an unreasonable demand to make publicly and puts the onus on Israel to cease hostilities while an active Hamas remains a viable threat to Israeli citizens. 

However, those who call for a ceasefire are fundamentally angling for immediate and long-term peace in the region. The Biden Administration has realized these interests in its diplomacy from the beginning of its efforts, and they continue to inform the administration’s goals today. 

Just a month after the Oct. 7 massacre, Biden publicly and forcefully pushed for a multi-day pause in fighting from Israel to facilitate hostage negotiations — a position which was rejected by Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government. 

That same month, President Biden sent Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to the Middle East as part of a concerted administrative and diplomatic effort to “[prevent] the spread of the conflict and [implement] breaks in Israeli bombardments to benefit civilians in Gaza.” 

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Secret diplomacy, where “American envoys on the ground are…quietly making the administration’s case” is “a strategy that officials and analysts say may ultimately prove to be more effective” than the loud and demanding strategy that activists have pushed Biden to take. 

And yet the bombings have not stopped, and innocent Gazans continue to suffer. If the efforts made by the Biden Administration have failed, it is not due to failures within the U.S. government; it is because Netanyahu, the Israeli leader whom Biden has had a notoriously fraught relationship with even before Oct. 7, has rejected America’s plans. 

As NBC reported in November, “frustration is building among administration officials who have repeatedly appealed to Netanyahu and his government to take more action to protect Palestinian civilians and allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

Such struggles for common ground have not abated since. In January, Netanyahu “denounced the very proposal [for permanent peace] the Americans saw as a potential opening to a negotiated solution.” 

Intrinsically connected to the ongoing brutality faced by the Palestinians is both domestic and international politics. I believe Palestinian activists lose sight of this broader context with their calls denouncing President Biden and his administration for their alleged acquiescence with Israeli violence. These accusations are misdirected. 

“Mr. Blinken has been trying to secure a cease-fire in Gaza, a release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and, eventually, a broader peace process for the region. But one stumbling block during his visit seemed to be the considerable domestic political pressures facing the Israeli prime minister” according to reporting by the New York Times.  

President Biden cannot control the right-wing factions within the Israeli government that are furthering mass violence. In response, he and his administration have proven themselves to be consistent advocates for change to the Israeli government’s current approach. Whether it be the early examples of behind-the-scenes negotiations, to Biden’s most recent endorsement of Sen. Schumer’s calls for a new Israeli government (which assuredly was made in consultation with the White House), President Biden’s actions are aimed at achieving short-term and long-term peace in the region. It is Israel, and its right-wing government, that continues to resist such pressures in the furtherance of their all-consuming war with Hamas. 

The actions listed above characterize a diplomatic approach based on achieving real aims for Palestinian safety and sovereignty while preserving Israel’s right to defend itself. Palestinian activists would do well to recognize that the true impediment to long-term peace is Netanyahu and his right-wing political coalition, not President Biden. 

Either Joe Biden or Donald Trump will be president in 2024, and Palestinian activists must make an educated guess as to whose policies will be worse for Gazans. 

If Netanyahu was not leading the Israeli government, and President Biden’s desires had become reality, the hostages would have been released, and fewer Palestinians would have died. 

The same cannot be said, however, if former President Donald Trump became president in 2024.

A Trump presidency would be worse for Palestinians

While Trump’s response to Oct. 7 cannot be definitively known, he has shown himself to be, time and time again, personally and politically unsympathetic to the Palestinian plight. 

He has called on university presidents to ban Palestinian protesters from college campuses, arguing that their advocacy is antisemitic. 

His administration created and promoted a so-called “Mideast peace plan” that “discard[ed] the longtime goal of granting the Palestinians a wholly autonomous state.” The plan, rejected by the Palestinians immediately, was not viewed as “a serious blueprint for peace,” but as a “political document by a president” working in tandem with Israel.

In 2018, the Trump Administration refused to dispense “$200 million in funding set aside for aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Moreover, during Trump’s presidency, Palestinian leadership felt so alienated and ignored that diplomatic relations between the two sides ceased, creating a stark contrast to the Biden Administration’s efforts to include Gaza’s governing authority in all potential paths to peace

All of these efforts were a part of a concerted campaign for Trump to become, as he was and is proud to proclaim, the most pro-Israel U.S. president ever

There is no reason to believe this orientation would not remain in place were he to win a second term in 2024. In fact, there is evidence his administration would permit Israel to wage deadly war on Palestinians at a scale not yet seen in the current iteration of the conflict. 

There are few who can predict what a current or future Trump presidency would look like for Israel and Palestine better than David Friedman, Trump’s former ambassador to Israel. In recent interviews, he has happily dispelled any remaining doubt that President Biden’s policies were worse for Gaza and better for Israel than Trump’s would have been and would be if elected. 

“The Trump administration would have given Israel free reign to defend itself,” Friedman said in May 2021, after Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli population centers. “Free reign” is the antithesis of the Biden Administration’s current diplomatic strategy. 

Palestinian activists must continue their advocacy through the 2024 election by putting President Biden’s name at the top of their ballot.

In recent months, Friedman has doubled down on his argument that a Trump Administration would have imposed fewer restrictions on the Israel Defense Forces’ military operations in Gaza. 

The Biden Administration is “to some extent hampering the war effort by this desire to force Israel to engage in I think what [Biden] refers to as ‘low-intensity combat’… that’s sort of the kind of messaging that America has been giving Israel,” Friedman said in a recent discussion with Israel’s Channel 12. 

Alas, Trump himself told Israeli officials to “do whatever is necessary” to win the war in Gaza. 

That phrase might as well become the tagline of a future Trump presidency.   

Voting considerations demand simplification

This argument is not intended to minimize the seriousness of the current humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza. While President Biden has been in office, more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military and more are likely to follow. 

For those who see the 2024 elections as a potential turning point in U.S. policy towards Palestine, their vote must be used to send a message. However, too many are refusing to participate in real considerations and are contorting themselves into an ideological and illogical stance against voting at all. 

“How can my vote be most effective in bringing about long-term peace for Gazans?” 

That is the singular consideration that must guide Palestinian activists in 2024. Not voting for President Biden or Donald Trump does nothing but ensure that other, less sympathetic Americans will exercise influence over Palestinian policy.

While it sends a message of dissatisfaction, Palestinian activists must not be satisfied with symbolic posturing. After all, that is what not voting is at its core. It is imperative to recognize that if the two candidates have differing policies, that difference will be expressed in fewer Palestinians killed and more humanitarian aid received. 

That consideration must remain at the forefront for activists who are worried about the deteriorating plight of Gaza under Israeli attacks — because there are only two people who have the possibility of guiding American policy regarding Gaza. 

Either Joe Biden or Donald Trump will be president in 2024, and Palestinian activists must make an educated guess as to whose policies will be worse for Gazans. 

Arguing for the “lesser of two evils” is a tired cliche, but its message is fitting in the current moment. Palestinian activists must continue their advocacy through the 2024 election by putting President Biden’s name at the top of their ballot.

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  • A

    AnonymousApr 30, 2024 at 7:46 am

    It’s one thing to advocate for the innocent non violent people od Palestine but it’s another thing to advocate for the genocide of a particular race.

  • C

    Collin MerenoffApr 27, 2024 at 7:53 pm

    Campus protests will never succeed because they’re not direct action. Direct action would be to harass the college’s accounting department.