Many Arabs and Muslims have asked me: “Why do you support President Donald Trump?” I have explained that he was not my preferred choice. I supported Bernie Sanders, but 40 years of covering US politics convinced me early on that Trump was going to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, something no one believed.
The mainstream news media was flush with polls predicting Clinton winning, but failed to gauge growing public anger with the status quo and insider politics. I do not support everything Trump proposes, but I see him as an opportunity when it comes to the Middle East, especially the inalienable rights of the Palestinians, the bedrock of all regional turmoil.
Trump, more than Clinton, would embrace Palestinian rights as part of a larger regional peace settlement, and stand up to Arab and Muslim extremists who have done everything to block the two-state solution. Trump is an outsider, not a politician, who battled both Republicans and Democrats. More importantly, I see through the fallacy of the anti-Trump movement, which falsely claims it is fighting for civil rights and justice.
Extremism in both the Republican and Democratic parties are obstacles to establishing Palestinian rights, which I view as the benchmark of a person’s true view of justice, fairness and civil rights. In truth, the Democratic Party that Clinton represented has been far worse.
This week, Democrats slapped down the candidacy of Keith Ellison, America’s first Muslim congressman, to become chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Ellison, nominated by Sanders and representing the 5th District of Minnesota, has campaigned for the DNC post since last year.
Instead, the DNC elected Tom Perez, former President Barack Obama’s labor secretary. Perez is a political nobody who came out of nowhere, while a Muslim was blocked from heading the Democratic Party. It reflects the hypocrisy of the Democrats, who wail about injustices to Muslims but do nothing when those injustices conflict with their sacred cow, Israel. Israel was the critical test for party leadership.
Ellison has played both sides of the Palestine-Israel conflict, expressing concern over Israel’s abuses, but carefully navigating the political minefield of Democratic opposition to Palestinian rights, including denouncing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Is anyone surprised that Democrats hate Palestinian rights as much as Republicans? They should not be. Yet activists who are attacking Trump have closed their eyes to the Democratic Party’s anti-Palestinian lies.
The media, which Trump has called the “enemy of the American people,” played a key role in sabotaging Ellison’s leadership bid. At a recent debate among the eight contenders for the post, hosted by CNN, journalist Chris Cuomo hammered the last nail in Ellison’s political coffin.
Cuomo, the brother of New York’s anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, pro-Israel Gov. Andrew Cuomo, went for Ellison’s political jugular, parroting assertions that his occasional criticism of Israel is “anti-Semitic.” In the Democratic Party, any criticism of Israel is “anti-Semitic.” That is how they oppress Palestinian supporters.
The DNC elected Tom Perez — a political nobody who came out of nowhere — while a Muslim was blocked from heading the Democratic Party. It reflects the hypocrisy of the Democrats, who wail about injustices to Muslims but do nothing when those injustices conflict with their sacred cow, Israel.
If you did not watch the CNN debate, you should. It is on YouTube. The Democratic audience applauded wildly for each of the contenders when introduced, but there was embarrassing silence when Ellison was introduced. This from anti-Trump activists who claim to champion Muslim rights?
Ellison was criticized during the traditional re-enactment of his swearing in to office for using an English translation of the Qur’an that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson rather than a Bible.
He has been the target of much media criticism, most of it unfair, including last June after he visited Hebron in occupied Palestine. While there, he tweeted a photo of the busted-up window of a Palestinian business that was attacked by Israeli settler terrorists with the protection of the Israeli military.
“I saw this as I walked down street in Hebron,” Ellison tweeted. “While window opens to street, no Palestinian can walk/drive on it.” He shared a photo he took of a sign the Palestinian businessman placed on the window that read: “Caution. This was taken by Israel. You are entering Apartheid.” Ellison found himself defending himself against false media attacks that he described Israel as an apartheid state.
Even though he is a moderate centrist on Israel and Palestine, he was still too critical of Israel for any political leadership role. In America’s biased and racist news media, you are not permitted to discuss Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians. The news media carefully protects Israel, but exaggerates accusations against Palestinians all the time.
The Democrats enable this media bias via their twisted policy of talking about peace but defending everything Israel does while denouncing the Palestinians. Wake up, activists. The anti-Trump protesters do not love Muslims. They are using the issue of Muslims to take power from Trump. The Democrats and the mainstream news media not only dislike Palestinians, they loathe them.
You may wrongly think Trump is a threat to Muslim and Palestinian rights, but the Ellison affair demonstrates that Democrats and the media share the same anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim and anti-justice stances as many Trump supporters do. We can pretend anti-Trump activists, Democrats and the mainstream news media want justice, or we can recognize that in US politics, Democrats and Republicans are all the same.
The smart move is for Arabs and Muslims to convince Trump that creating a Palestinian state is in the best interests of the US, recognizing that he is flexible on the issue of Palestine, and Arab and Muslim rights.
If we join in the phony anti-Trump “civil rights” protests, defend the mainstream US news media and support the Democrats, Trump will most likely close the door to the issues we hold righteous. Trump is no different than the Democrats, and if we continue to attack him, we are closing the door on the one person, the president, who can change US foreign policy.
• Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]