A Small Rift in the United States Regarding Palestine: A Shift in Rhetoric, But What About Foreign Policy?

By Jeffrey G. Karam

For decades, the United States’ steadfast support for Israel has been one of the pillars of its foreign policy in the Middle East.[1] This has allowed successive Israeli governments to act with impunity and evade accountability for crimes against Palestinians. President Joseph Biden and his administration’s positions are similar to how his predecessors dealt with recurrent cycles of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. During the latest stint of asymmetric violence in May 2021, the Biden Administration expressed sympathy for all the victims in the recent clashes. Nonetheless, it vehemently refused to condemn the Israeli airstrikes against Palestinian civilians.

However, an important, albeit small, shift occurred on Thursday, May 13, 2021, in the U.S. Congress.[2] This shift is part of a broader change in discourse that materialized vibrantly across different milieus. Several members of Congress spoke in support of Palestinian rights and called on the Biden Administration to pursue a more even-handed approach to Palestine and Israel. These alternative and progressive voices on the floor of the House of Representatives challenge the foundations of the official U.S. position that centers mostly on ‘objectivity,’ ‘an asymmetric conflict between two states,’ and ‘the mutual violence on both sides.’

These alternative voices, which some media outlets and political commentators called ‘progressive’ or ‘leftist,’ have ushered in an important change in discourse and public rhetoric on Palestine and the long history of occupation and everyday struggles since 1948.[3] However, the emergence of these ‘new voices,’ which are certainly progressive in the conservative circles of U.S. policymaking and lawmaking, will not necessarily lead to a drastic change in U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine. In fact, the attempt by several members of Congress to block a $735 million sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel is a small shift in the long history of U.S. foreign assistance, which is close to $3.8 billion a year in military aid.[4] Moreover, the open letter to Biden by more than 500 Democratic Party staffers and alumni from his campaign in 2020, including Jewish and Arab-Americans, called for the president to hold Israel accountable for its actions and “take concrete steps to end the occupation in pursuit of justice, peace, and self-determination for Palestinians.”[5] These important developments could serve as a turning point, though minimal, in the decades-long ‘special relationship’ between Israel and the United States.[6]

Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, and Pressley Lead Call for International Investigation Into Alleged Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Human Rights Abuses, Oct 23, 2020. Open Source.

Maintaining the Official U.S. Foreign Policy Line

In January 2021, Biden promised to resume various forms of aid to the Palestinian Authority to promote a more ‘objective’ position and restore the “credible engagement” of the United States on the stalled peace process.[7] However, the illusion of objectivity and a ‘fair and even-handed approach’ quickly dissipated. With the expulsion of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the ongoing demolition of Palestinian businesses in the al-Bustan area of the occupied neighborhood of Silwan, Biden reasserted the official and biased U.S. position on Arab-Israeli issues, which fully supports the Israeli government’s ‘legitimate’ right to self-defense against domestic and foreign threats. [8]

In line with reiterating this position, which is at the heart of the US-Israeli ‘Special Relationship’[9] since 1948 and especially after the Naksa (Day of the Setback) in 1967, the Biden Administration, in mid-May 2021, blocked an originally scheduled session at the U.N. Security Council to discuss the ongoing developments in Palestine and Israel.[10] U.S. officials, especially Secretary of State Antony Blinken, pushed for rescheduling this meeting with other major powers to “give some time for the diplomacy to have some effect.”[11] In reality, this gave the Israeli government, under Benjamin Netanyahu, the green light to continue its military aggression against both civilians and militants in the hopes of reestablishing the ‘rules of engagement’ that preceded the recent armed clashes. While the recently brokered cease-fire between Hamas and Israel is still intact, the split within the Democratic Party is unfolding.[12]

An important indicator of U.S. partiality towards Israel constantly resurfaces when officials in Washington and individuals in different research centers and media outlets frame the asymmetric violence and bloodshed as a ‘conflict between two states.’ This biased frame of analysis continues to justify attacks by the Israeli government as ‘legitimate acts of self-defense.’ To this end, a few hours into the recent cycle of unbalanced terror, the State Department, the Pentagon, and the White House all expressed their support for what they call ‘Israel’s right to defend itself.’ U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterated the same message in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz. Austin conveyed the Pentagon’s ironclad support for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people against rockets by Hamas and other groups. Biden equally emphasized that Israel’s air strikes on Gaza have not been a “significant over-reaction” to rocket attacks by Hamas.[13]

But one is left wondering why officials in the Biden Administration refrained from strongly condemning or at least showing discontent with the Israeli government’s massive airstrikes and bombing campaigns against civilians, including children in the Gaza Strip. The lack of condemnation strongly suggests that many U.S. lawmakers, politicians, and military officials in Washington consider that Palestinian lives do not matter even when tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of different Western capitals, including of different states in the United States, to denounce the atrocities and military aggression.[14]

The Emergence of Alternative Voices and a ‘New’ Discourse in Congress

On May 13, new voices emerged on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. For instance, Rashida Tlaib, the first woman of Palestinian descent in the U.S. Congress, stated that Palestinians are being killed “as the world watches.”[15] She reminded Congress that “Palestinians are human beings” and will not go anywhere in spite of all the support provided by the United States to the “Israeli apartheid government.” Tlaib was not the only Congresswoman that condemned Israel’s violence against Palestinian civilians and the complicit role of the United States in shoring up the Israeli government. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar also said that the recent rounds of violence against the Palestinians reveal that “this is not a conflict between two states. This is not a civil war.”[16] Omar criticized the U.S. government for its generous funding and continuous support of the Israeli government’s illegal military occupation and massive displacement and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands, such as in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and elsewhere. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin lawmaker, equally denounced the Israeli occupation and likened the conditions separating Palestinians and Israelis to the apartheid system in South Africa.[17]

The emergence of dissent in the U.S. Congress is not limited to the recent mobilizations and protests across Jerusalem and more than twenty cities and the armed clashes in May 2021.[18] Instead, these critical voices relate to the past and are opposed to the official position that the White House, the State Department, and successive administrations in Washington have maintained from the Cold War to the present day. In this context, the bloodshed in May 2021 and the displacement of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and other areas have led at least two dozen Democratic members of Congress to urge President Biden and Secretary Blinken to exert “diplomatic pressure” on the Israeli government to stop its demolition and eviction campaigns.[19]

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prominent Democrats in Congress, stated that the U.S. government must acknowledge the imbalance of “power between both sides.”[20] She also argued that successive U.S. Administrations must admit their active role in the injustice against Palestinians and in the violations of their human rights. Furthermore, Congresswoman Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist, discussed how and why state violence, policing, and everyday occupation resonates with the lived experiences of millions of African-Americans in the United States.[21]

These members of Congress argued that their criticism of the biased approach on Palestine and Israel is not simply concerned with the generous support for successive Israeli governments in the last few decades. Rather, the emphasis is on the need to question the foundations of this one-sided approach. The outspoken statements by a growing progressive wing in the Democratic Party demonstrate an important change within the American public on Palestine and Israel.

The Roots of Dissidence in Congress

One should admit that this is a small rift in Congress. It signals, however, the beginning of a break with the policy of unconditional support for Israel. Over the past few years, a growing minority in the Democratic Party has shown a greater willingness to criticize Israel and defend Palestinian rights. This shift began during the Trump Administration. This is partly because the Trump Administration offered Benjamin Netanyahu unparalleled support in several areas. This included moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and promoting a ‘peace plan’ that led to normalization between many Arab countries and Israel, among other concessions. Yet, Trump’s biased position created a rift in bipartisan support for Israel and prompted many Americans, especially in Congress, to call for a more just and objective stance. Unconditional support for Israel is beginning to split along partisan lines and may eventually push the Biden Administration to adopt a closer position to the progressive voices in the Democratic Party that want a more even-handed approach on Palestine.

The parallels between the continuous grievances of millions of African-Americans in the United States and the images that transpired from the occupied territories, especially the vicious pictures of massive destruction and death in the Gaza Strip, marked a new phase of solidarity between Palestinians and Black communities in the United States.[22] The renewed solidarity between African-Americans and Palestinians is vital, but far from novel. This is not separate from the linkages between the broader history of racism, hatred, and colonial practices that shaped the experiences of both communities well before the recent events in Palestine and Israel.

A Mural of George Floyd on the Separation Wall by Palestinian artist Walid Ayoub, June 2020. Open Source (Twitter and Facebook).

Beyond Trump’s biased policy line towards Israel, his administration’s domestic policies thrived on segregation and reenergized existing stereotypes that emboldened an exclusionary discourse, resurrecting and bolstering lines of difference. For example, these policies focused on ‘All Lives Matter’ to undermine the imperative and just discourse on ‘Black Lives Matter,’ called for the building and funding of a wall between Mexico and the United States, and introduced the ‘Muslim Ban’ to limit the number of refugees from states in the Middle East.[23] To a large extent, much of these policies pushed droves of voters in the U.S Elections of 2020 to seek an alternative and progressive voice within the U.S. Congress and the White House.[24] Even though the walls of difference in U.S. society are far from dismantled, the election of ‘new’ and progressive faces to Congress, especially ones that were recently vocal on the need to promote an alternative discourse and policy line on Palestine on before and after May 13, is partly a reflection of resisting the absurdity of everyday politics during the Trump Administration.

The ‘Reenergized’ Faces of Political Dissent in the United States and Around the Globe

Beyond the appearance of ‘progressive’ voices on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and across social media platforms, it is crucial to underscore the reenergized faces and voices of political dissent that materialized simultaneously and in equally important settings. These voices outside of Congress are not separate from the growing wave of dissent. For instance, many faculty, staff, and students at different universities in North America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Europe have written and published letters and statements expressing their support of and solidarity with Palestinians.[25] In fact, many scholars and activists remain critical of Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians.[26] Yet, many paid the price for voicing their concerns.[27] Many universities censored progressive and critical voices through explicit and implicit forms of subjugation and repression.[28] Others have lost their jobs due to their stances.[29] The massive and fluid dissemination of information, images, and videos from Palestine and Israel across various traditional and non-traditional platforms have likewise pushed the boundaries of ‘academic freedom’ and the red lines that prohibited scholars from expressing their opinions. This has, in some ways, broken the silence on assumed neutrality.[30]

The disciplining of scholars, students, and staff on issues pertaining to Palestine and similar developments that unravel in the Global South and mostly in authoritarian states will persist. Yet, this may be an opportune moment to engage in discussions that question why many issues and sensitive topics related to human rights abuses, police brutality, the resurgence of authoritarianism, and repression within the classroom and beyond remain difficult and controversial to tackle. This includes an open discussion of why criticism of the Israeli government and its actions are equated with anti-Semitism, even when many scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies have strongly criticized the Israeli government’s unfair policies towards Palestinians.[31] To this end, a statement on the Anne Frank House website explains, “even taking action against Israel or in favour of the Palestinian cause is not automatically hateful towards all Jews and therefore not necessarily a form of antisemitism. In theory, it should be possible to disagree about everything that has to do with the State of Israel. Among Jews, too, opinion is often divided.”[32]

Demonstrations during the annual commemoration of the Nakba in Berlin, Germany, May 15, 2021. Open Source.

In this context, the “Jerusalem Declaration On Anti-Semitism,” which was developed by scholars in Jewish studies, Holocaust history, and Middle East studies, endorsed a new definition of anti-Semitism that accepts “evidence-based criticism of Israel as a state,” and stipulates that “it is not anti-Semitic to point out systematic racial discrimination.”[33] Nevertheless, many critical voices of the Israeli government, including American actor Mark Ruffalo and even Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the most critical voices in the U.S. Senate, have recently toned down some of their criticism.[34]

Along these lines, it is important to highlight the major difference between the actions of the Israeli government and those of the Israeli people. In many cases, and as demonstrated in several outlets during the fateful developments in May 2021, many Israelis, in Israel and around the globe, are critical of their government’s policies and actions toward the Palestinians and many Arab states.[35] This criticism has existed before the recent developments in May 2021 and will mostly likely continue. Therefore, it is important to guard against and counter the monolithic trope that does not clearly distinguish between the divergent voices that exist in each state and the actions of different governments. By way of example, strong criticism of any government does not immediately translate to criticizing all people in a particular state, especially considering that there will always be critical and progressive voices that will resist one-sided policies that thrive on discrimination, bigotry, and injustice.

Speaking out on salient issues, including everyday occupation in Palestine, the rounds of forced evictions and dispossessions of families from their homes, and the increased hate crimes against refugees and other marginalized groups in the Global South, will remain contentious issues for many to grapple with. This is glaring, especially in Middle Eastern studies milieus, where many scholars and activists, even if and when they identity as ‘progressive’ or ‘leftist,’ want to maintain some assumed ‘distance’ during moments of crisis in the Global North and/or South.[36] Nonetheless, this assumed distance is not solely related to Israel and Palestine.[37] However, the prevalence of statements in which dozens of scholars cite how different human rights organizations view Israel’s “apartheid regime” and other forms of discrimination in various localities have been shared extensively across traditional platforms and non-traditional outlets, including Twitter and Facebook.[38] While some of these tech giants have censored and attempted to silence criticism of the Israeli government, even some of the most conservative outlets of information and political talk shows invited critical experts and scholars to discuss the situation in Palestine and Israel and the gravity of limiting freedom of expression on contentious issues.[39] Many of these voices were often not invited to different political shows that sought to promote ‘objective’ analyses of the situation between Israelis and Palestinians. However, the massive protests and armed clashes in May 2021 triggered a small change in how some liberal news outlets decided to cover and discuss various political and security developments in the Middle East.

There have likewise been attempts by employees at Google, Facebook, and elsewhere to push back against their companies’ biased positions and call for a revised and inclusive approach on Palestine and Israel.[40] But this small change in coverage of developments in the Middle East, especially between Israelis and Palestinians, was reversed by some liberal news outlets, including the German-based Deutsche Welle (DW). For example, while DW attempted to feature varied and ‘critical voices of Israel,’ it, however, later ‘apologized’ for airing an interview with Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, who discussed “German complicity in Israel’s ongoing massacres of Palestinians in Gaza.”[41]

The Wider Reverberations and Global Underpinnings of Dissent

The recent rift in Congress is part of the growing dissent and resistance against established orders in different corners of the globe. The intersectionality between forms of resistance against existing regimes in the Middle East and beyond demonstrates the connections between developments in Palestine and Israel and other revolutionary struggles.[42] By understanding the root causes of the recent and transformational moment in Palestine, it is possible to draw linkages to similar struggles and experiences during the apartheid era in South Africa and the daily recurrence of police brutality against African-Americans in the United States. In fact, these new forms of political resistance and dissidence are no longer restricted to activists but have instead become part of the growing public discourse that is more willing to condemn injustice, authoritarian politics, and unfairness in an interconnected global order.

Full-page Advertisement in the New York Times Condemning the Hadid sisters and Lipa, May 22, 2021. Open Source (Twitter and Facebook)

Beyond dissidence in Congress, it is important to underscore other actors and groups that expressed their solidarity with the plight of millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories and around the world. For instance, several athletes expressed their support for Palestine and others held up a Palestinian flag after a football (soccer) game.[43] By way of example and to point out an important contrast, in 2014, athletes, such as Dwight Howard, an American professional basketball player, were condemned for tweeting #FreePalestine and pressured into revising their stances.[44] These attempts at silencing athletes that can reach millions of fans globally have been much more limited recently. Nonetheless, the New York Times ran a full-page advertisement that condemned Gigi and Bella Hadid, models of Palestinian descent, and Dua Lipa, a British-Albanian popstar, for expressing solidarity with Palestine.[45] They even equated their mobilization – demonstrated by the Hadid sisters at several pro-Palestine marches – and expressions of support as a “call for a second Holocaust.”[46] But there was pushback from various circles, including organizations in the United States. and elsewhere.[47] Many celebrities, such as Ruffalo, decried attempts to censor any criticisms of the Israeli government, even when some later toned down their positions on the developments in Palestine and the occupied territories.[48]

A Rupture in Discourse, but Not Necessarily in U.S. Foreign Policy

Despite these new critical voices in Congress that have clear reverberations within the United States and globally, the official U.S. policy towards Israel will not immediately change. The United States and other major powers will continue to block any serious international action against Israel. However, the recent statements in Congress regarding Palestinian rights on Thursday, May 13, 2021, are a break from the unconditional support for Israel in Washington over the past decades. While many call for toning down the rhetoric on Israel, especially after the cease-fire was brokered, critical stances have surfaced loudly and clearly.[49]

Against this backdrop, a new poll on American attitudes toward the Middle East, especially on Israel and Palestine, by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggests clear differences within “both the Democratic and the Republican parties on the U.S. approach” towards Israelis and Palestinians.[50] In brief, the recent poll suggests that liberal and progressive Democrats want more U.S. support for Palestinians, while conservative Republicans seek even greater U.S. support for the Israelis. Since the cease-fire on May 21, 2021, and the formation of a new Israeli government on June 13, 2021, there have been attempts by Israeli politicians, especially Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, to repair relations with Democrats and restore long-standing bipartisan support in the United States for Israel.[51] This rapprochement with both U.S. parties results from the recent dissidence in the U.S. Democratic Party and the change in public opinion in the United States and globally.[52] Moreover, Bennett and his allies want to mitigate Netanyahu’s defiance of both Presidents Obama and Biden and his close alliance with President Trump, even though the government’s policies will be similar to previous ones.

The shift reflects an increased awareness of the Israeli government’s abuses against Palestinian human rights and is likely a starting point for genuine and strong political dissent in the U.S. Congress, across American society, and beyond. Will this dissent bring an end to war crimes, everyday occupation, the daily humiliation of Palestinians, and the intermittent cycles of violence? It will not. Nonetheless, it is crucial to assess progressive and critical voices on Capitol Hill and in Washington, even when the Biden Administration refuses to come to terms with the small rift in Congress and within the Democratic Party. The shift in discourse may not immediately translate to change in foreign policy considerations.[53] Yet, these views are no longer muted and will likely continue to grow. The transnational solidarities between these voices cannot be easily reversed, even if there are attempts to rebuild walls and red lines that prohibit forms of dissent and criticism.

The author thanks Samer Frangie for feedback on an earlier draft of this article. 


References

[1] A shorter version of this article was written and published in Arabic on Megaphone News. See Jeffrey G. Karam, “A Small Rift in the U.S. Congress,” Megaphone News, May 14, 2021.

[2] Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates of the 117th Congress, First Session, Vol. 167, No. 83, Washington, Thursday, May 13, 2021.

[3] Perry Bacon Jr., “The Progressives Are Right About Foreign Policy Too,” The Washington Post, May 25, 2021; Dan Spinelli, “Democrats Have Veered to the Left on Israel Policy. Why Hasn’t Joe Biden Caught Up?Mother Jones, May 21, 2021.

[4]U.S. House Democrats offer resolution blocking $735 million Israel weapons saleReuters, May 19, 2021.

[5] Matan Arad-Neeman, “Dear President Biden.”

[6] Stephen M. Walt, “It’s Time to End the ‘Special Relationship’ With Israel,” Foreign Policy, May 27, 2021.

[7]Biden administration to restore aid to Palestinians,” BBC, January 27, 2021.

[8] Rashid Khalidi, “What we’re seeing now is just the latest chapter in Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians,” The Washington Post, May 13, 2021; “Demolitions begin in occupied East Jerusalem’s Silwan,” Al Jazeera, June 29, 2021.

[9] Walt, “It’s Time to End the ‘Special Relationship’ With Israel.”

[10] Joseph Haboush and Talal Al-Haj, “UN Security Council to hold first public meeting on Palestine-Israel violence,” Al Arabiya English, May 13, 2021.

[11] Remarks to the Press, “Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Australian Foreign Minister and Minister for Women Marise Payne at a Joint Press Availability,” U.S. Department of State, Briefings, May 13, 2021.

[12]Gaza ceasefire takes effect after Egypt-brokered deal between Israel and Hamas,” France 24, May 20, 2021.

[13] Ellen Mitchell, “Austin repeats ‘ironclad support’ for Israel in conflict with Palestine,” The Hill, May 12, 2021; “Remarks by President Biden on the Colonial Pipeline Incident,” The White House, Speeches and Remarks, May 13, 2021.

[14] Adela Suliman and Sara Mhaidli, “Thousands take part in pro-Palestinian protests in cities across the world,” NBC News, May 15, 2021.

[15] Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates of the 117th Congress, May 13, 2021.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Dana El Kurd, “Young people are leading the Palestinian protests in Jerusalem. And they aren’t going away,” The Washington Post, May 12, 2021.

[19] Ali Harb, “Jerusalem: Democrats urge Biden team to prevent displacement of Palestinians,” Middle East Eye, May 12, 2021.

[20] Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates of the 117th Congress, May 13, 2021.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Sharmeen Ziauddin, “What do Black Lives Matter and Palestine solidarity have in common?OpenDemocracy, May 25, 2021.

[23] Executive Order 13769 of January 27, 2017, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” Executive Office of the President, February 1, 2017.

[24] Jeffrey G. Karam, “One Week After the U.S. Elections in 2020,” Megaphone News, November 11, 2020.

[25]Chair’s Letter of Solidarity with the People of Palestine,” UC Berkeley, May 2021; “Statement by the Independent University Professors Association in Lebanon,” May 17, 20201; “Open Letter to Professor Stephen Toope,” Members of the University of Cambridge, May 2021.

[26] Radhika Sainath, “When It Comes to Palestine, Free Speech Rights Are Under Attack,” Jacobin, May 23, 2021.

[27] Masha Gessen, “Did a University of Toronto Donor Block the Hiring of a Scholar for Her Writing on Palestine?The New Yorker, May 8, 2021.

[28] Caren Holmes, “Zionist Groups in US Operate Campaigns to Quash Palestine Solidarity on Campus,” Truthout, May 27, 2021.

[29] Conor McCarthy, “Academic freedom, boycott and the question of Palestine,” The Irish Times, July 10, 2020.

[30]University Departments, Scholars Urge End to Israeli Apartheid,” The Palestine Chronicle, May 27, 2021.

[31]Statement on Israel/Palestine by Scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies,” May 22, 2021.

[32]Is criticism of Israel antisemitic?Anne Frank House.

[33]The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism,” 2020.

[34] Mark Ruffalo, Twitter, May 25, 2021; Ali Abunimah, “Bernie Sanders says ‘tone down the rhetoric’ on Israel’s crimes,” The Electronic Intifada, May 24, 2021.

[35] “Statement on Israel/Palestine by Scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies.”

[36]US faculty members stand with Palestinians against ‘settler colonialism and racial apartheid’Middle East Monitor, May 21, 2021.

[37] This should include open discussions of the uprisings that began in 2010 and 2011 and the wars that erupted in the Middle East and North Africa, including in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. For instance, many progressive voices remain divided on how to discuss the developments in Syria since 2011. In this vein, the rift between activists and scholars comes down to the binary of the ‘resistance axis’ and ‘American imperialism’ and why they are often viewed as mutually exclusive. However, many can be both critical of the ‘resistance axis’ and ‘American imperialism.’

For some discussion of this issue see Soulayma Mardam Bey, “De Beyrouth à Damas, l’imposture de la « moumanaa »” [From Beirut to Damascus, the sham and hypocrisy of the ‘mumanaa’ is imposed], L’Orient-Le Jour, March 22, 2021; Yassin al-Haj Saleh, “The Palestinization of Syrians,” Re-published by Al-Jumhuriya [originally published in Arabic with Al-Quds Al-Arabi], June 27, 2017; Fawwaz Traboulsi, “The Crisis of the Politics of Mumana’ah – Statehood & Participation,” Re-published by Heinrich Böll Stiftung [originally published in Arabic with As-Safir], March 3, 2014.

[38]MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Program Statement on Palestinian Rights,” Northwestern University, May 14, 2021; “A Regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid,” B’Tselem, Report, January 12, 2021; “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” Human Rights Watch, April 27, 2021.

[39] Kari Paul, “Facebook under fire as human rights groups claim ‘censorship’ of pro-Palestine posts,” The Guardian, May 26, 2021; “Noura Erakat: Palestinians feel dehumanized,” CNN, May 12, 2021.

[40]Google employees urge firm to support Palestinians: Report,” Al Jazeera, May 19, 2021; Ryan Mac, “Amid Israeli–Palestinian Violence, Facebook Employees Are Accusing Their Company Of Bias Against Arabs And Muslims,” BuzzFeed News, May 27, 2021.

[41] Ali Abunimah, “Watch: German TV ‘regrets’ airing this interview about Gaza,” The Electronic Intifada, May 13, 2021.

[42] Sana Tannoury-Karam, “Transnational Solidarities: Will the Pandemic Change Ways of Social and Political Struggle?TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, June 9, 2020.

[43] Dave Zirin, “Israel causes American sports stars like Kyrie Irving to break their silence. Here’s why it’s taken years,” MSNBC, May 14, 2021; “Pogba, Diallo hold up Palestine flag at Manchester United match,” Al Jazeera, May 19, 2021.

[44] Joe Coscarelli, “Hot New Celebrity Trend: Tweeting #FreePalestine (and Then Deleting It),” Nymag – Intelligencer, July 15, 2014. 

[45]The New York Times slammed for full-page ad condemning pro-Palestinian celebrity models for their views,” Arab News, May 23, 2021.

[46]Israel condemns Bella Hadid for ‘advocating throwing Jews into the sea’ after she shared ‘anti-Semitic’ post to her 42m Instagram followers before taking part in pro-Palestine march in Brooklyn,” Daily Mail, May 17, 2021; Clara Hill, “Dua Lipa responds to advertisement in New York Times attacking her for activism on Israel-Palestine,” The Independent, May 23, 2021.

[47] Sanya Mansoor, “How Online Activism and the Racial Reckoning in the U.S. Have Helped Drive a Groundswell of Support for Palestinians,” TIME, May 21, 2021. Article’s original title was: “Why Pro-Palestinian Support is Growing Amid Israel Conflict.”

[48] Mark Ruffalo, Twitter, May 11, 2021.

[49] Abunimah, “Bernie Sanders says ‘tone down the rhetoric’ on Israel’s crimes.”

[50] Ellen Knickmeyer and Emily Swanson, “Poll: Many Democrats want more US support for Palestinians,” The Associated Press, June 23, 2021.

[51] Matthew Lee and Joseph Krauss, “New leaders, new era: US-Israel relations reach crossroads,” The Associated Press, June 20, 2021.

[52] Rashid Khalidi, “The Palestinians Will Not—and Cannot—Be Ignored,” Foreign Affairs, June 30, 2021.

[53] Alex Ward, “The progressive foreign policy moment has arrived,” VOX, May 26, 2021.


Jeffrey G. Karam is an assistant professor of political science at the Lebanese American University and a non-resident research associate at Harvard University’s Middle East Initiative. Karam is also a research fellow with the Global Scholarly Dialogue Programme of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, a 2020/2021 EUME fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien, and a research affiliate at the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics and the Otto-Suhr Institute of Political Sciences at the Freie Universität in Berlin. Karam is the editor of The Middle East in 1958: Reimagining A Revolutionary Year (London: I.B. Tauris and Bloomsbury, 2020) and is currently finishing his first book on American intelligence and foreign policy in the Middle East during revolutionary times and political change. Karam is also co-editing a book entitled The Lebanon Uprising of 2019: Voices from the Revolution, which I.B. Tauris and Bloomsbury will publish in July 2022.


Jeffrey G. Karam, A Small Rift in the United States Regarding Palestine: A Shift in Rhetoric, But What About Foreign Policy?, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 07.07.2021, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/30051.


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