A lot of people in the US and around the world are celebrating the victory of President-elect Joe Biden over US President Donald Trump this week.
Biden’s victory was hailed as a win not just for Democrats, but a victory over racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, transphobia, and all the other things that the Trump presidency represented for so many people.
In just four years, President Trump’s time in office has had a significant impact not just on US citizens, but the daily lives of people around the world, like Iranian citizens, Syrian refugees and others affected by the “Muslim ban,” and of course, Palestinians.
Trump dealt significant blows to Palestinians, their leadership, and and their cause over the past few years: recognizing occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, pulling millions of dollars in funding for organizations like USAID, UNRWA, and the Palestinian Authority, changing US foreign policy to recognize Israeli settlements as legal, giving Israel the greenlight for annexation, and promoting his “Peace to Prosperity” plan in the region — to name a few.
It goes without saying, that Trump’s loss has come as a relief to many Palestinians, especially those in leadership positions, who hope that a Biden presidency would see the return of crucial financial aid to the PA, and ease some of the economic strain currently being felt by the Palestinian public.
Palestinians told Mondoweiss however, that while Trump has been one of, if not the worst, US presidents ever when it comes to Palestine, they don’t really expect things to get drastically better under Biden.
In a cafe in Bethlehem, a group of Palestinian friends were talking about the US elections, and how they think the next four years might go, compared to the last.
“Trump was horrible for us, that’s for sure, I think everyone agrees on that,” Munther Amira, a local activist, told Mondoweiss.
“But do we honestly think Biden is going to be better for us than any other President, like Obama? I don’t think so,” he said.
The group launched into a discussion about Biden’s expressed support for Israel, and repeated declarations of being a Zionist himself, pointing to a video that has been circulating widely on Palestinian social media since Biden’s win, showing the President-elect saying “If there weren’t an Israel, the United States would have to invent an Israel,” and “my father pointed out to me I did not need to be a Jew to be a Zionist.”
While Amira said that a return of financial aid to the PA and other essential agencies like UNRWA would undoubtedly improve the quality of life for thousands of Palestinian families on the ground, he doesn’t expect much in terms of progressive policy changes that support Palestinian rights and justice.
“I think Biden is going to return us back to the days of Obama, where the US maintained the facade of being an honest peace broker, but in reality was still supporting fully Israel and the Zionist agenda,” Amira said.
He pointed out that a return to the “facade” of the Obama days poses a different kind of danger than the ones posed by the Trump administration.
“If Trump did anything positive, he lifted the veil off the false pretense that the US cared about Palestinian rights,” Amira said. “But with Biden, we’d just be going back to that false sense of security.”
Sajida Allan echoed similar sentiments, saying that Palestinians only had to look to the days of Obama, where Israel was given billions of dollars in military funding, to see how the next four years under Biden might go.
“Biden was Obama’s Vice President, and Obama did nothing to solve the Palestinian cause or our issues on the ground,” she told Mondoweiss.
“Biden has already made his position clear as a Zionist, and has said for example that he’s not going to reverse Trump’s decision to move Israel’s Embassy to Jerusalem, which was a huge blow to us as Palestinians, and our rights over Jerusalem,” she continued.
Biden’s foreign policy history in the region, Allan said, has proven that Biden will “first and foremost support Israel over the Palestinians.”
Allan said that while she hopes a Biden presidency will be better for the American public and all marginalized groups in the US than Trump was, Palestinians have “little to no hope left” for the US government to support them and their struggle for justice.
Palestinians and supporters of their cause took to social media to express a lot of the same sentiment: that Biden may be better for some Americans, but not necessarily for them.
For Palestinians, to choose between Trump or Biden is akin to choosing between pork or ham! both are Haram.
Irrespective of who resides in the White House, US bipartisan policy on Palestine has never been fair, but utterly in the interest of the Israeli occupation state. pic.twitter.com/99IlYATiQn
— Dr. Mosheer Amer (@MosheerAmer) November 3, 2020
Read this great short piece by @LinahAlsaafin for an overview of Biden's relationship with Israel. He has a better relationship with Netanyahu than Obama did…& Obama gave Israel $38 billion in military aid in 2016!https://t.co/Uem7ikskfg
— Dr. Yara Hawari د. يارا هواري (@yarahawari) November 8, 2020
Others highlighted that Biden’s Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was also an outspoken supporter of Israel and self-proclaimed Zionist, and was likely to use her influence to push heavily pro-Israel policies.
We still need to remember that this presidency is a huge loss for the Middle East. Don’t forget what Biden and Obama did. I’m praying for Palestine. https://t.co/5mlPkXguu3
— sara⁷ 🍥 (@outronigga) November 7, 2020
In a comedic video posted on TikTok, one Palestinian user posted a video in Arabic and English saying when people ask him ‘Trump or Biden’ he responds by saying it’s the equivalent of getting asked if you prefer ‘diarrhea or constipation’. “It’s still shit,” he says.