Tangible change in US public opinion toward Palestinians

Thousands gathered at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts, during a recent demonstration to support the Palestinian struggle for rights and freedom. (AFP)
Thousands gathered at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts, during a recent demonstration to support the Palestinian struggle for rights and freedom. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 20 May 2021

Tangible change in US public opinion toward Palestinians

Tangible change in US public opinion toward Palestinians
  • Boston Globe argues that ‘conditioning aid to Israel’ should not be controversial

PHILADELPHIA, US: A recent headline in the Boston Globe, a leading US paper, which read “US aid to Israel should be a force for peace,” has surprised many readers. 

The paper, in its May 19 edition, published it as part of a hard-hitting column by its editorial board, adding: “Ultimately, conditioning aid to Israel should not be controversial.”

Trudy Rubin, a leading columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, meanwhile, put Hamas and the Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu on the same level, saying: “By treating Palestinians as irrelevant, Bibi provoked violence that has killed hundreds of mostly Palestinian civilians and threatened Israeli towns and cities.”

Major TV stations, especially MSNBC and CNN, have had anchors challenge more Israeli guests than ever before. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in major US cities, meanwhile, have seen huge turnouts.

Sarah Nahar, an African-American activist, told Arab News that since 2015, Black internationalism had seen a resurgence unseen since the late 1960s.

“Since the events in Ferguson (Missouri), there have been many black-led organizations who have traveled to Palestine and have learned firsthand what the situation is like, and have since networked Palestine with the African American community,” she said.

BACKGROUND

Major TV stations, especially MSNBC and CNN, have had anchors challenge more Israeli guests than ever before. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in major US cities, meanwhile, have seen huge turnouts.

Nahar pointed to the recent book “Except Palestine” by Marc Lemont Hill as shaking American progressives who previously supported all global liberation issues — except Palestine.

Now though, attitudes are changing. US Senator Bernie Sanders has written in support of Palestinian rights in the New York Times, and a group of Congressmen and women, led by New York progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Palestinian-American Democrat Rashida Tlaib and others, have not been shy in their clear support of Palestinians.

Donald Trump’s era created a split within US political forces in regards to Palestine.

Khaled Elgindy, senior fellow and director of the Palestine Program at the Middle East Institute, agrees that there is a shift happening in US public opinion on Palestine, which has filtered into politics as well.

“We see that in the current split inside the Democratic Party; there are progressives who are willing to be more vocal about Palestinian rights and Israeli abuses, and there is (the) more traditional pro-Israel party establishment,” he said, adding: “(President Joe) Biden appears to be on the most conservative end of the latter.”

Elgindy warned, though, that the “shift hasn’t really translated into any real shift in policy. That said, there is now, for the first time in many years, the beginning of a debate on things that were once beyond the pale, like the idea of conditioning aid to Israel.”

Dan Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Syria, Israel and Egypt, told Arab News that the situation has changed from 2014.

“That conflict was strictly between Israel and Hamas, and occurred as a result of differences of view related to Israel’s blockade and Hamas’ responsibility for maintaining a cease-fire. This time, the conflict is over Jerusalem — Sheikh Jarrah, the ‘status quo,’ and the sanctity of the Haram Al-Sharif. Thus, getting to a cease-fire is only a first step to dealing with those Jerusalem issues,” Kurtzer said.

The change in demographics in the US appears to have made a difference.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, told Arab News that the changes in the US have been developing over the last three decades, and are a function of demographics.

“On the Democratic side, we have blacks, Latinos, Asians, young people, and educated women. On the Republican side, it’s white, middle class, high school educated, ‘born again’ Christians. On many issues, foreign and domestic, these two groupings hold views that are mirror reflections of each other. That gap is growing and will continue to grow.”

Some argue, though, that technology has played a greater part.

Jamal Dajani, former head of communications at the Palestinian prime minister’s office, told Arab News that technology made it easier for Palestinians to share images of their suffering in real time, using mobile cameras and social media platforms.

He said: “This comes at a time when most people across the globe, not just in the US, do not rely on corporate or mainstream media outlets for their news anymore; therefore, Israel is no longer able to control the narrative like it used to. The timing of the release of the Human Rights Watch report on April 27 exposing Israel’s apartheid practices has helped shift the sentiment.”

Fadi Elsalameen, formerly a non-resident fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, told Arab News that this was the first time that the pro-Palestinian and anti-Netanyahu camps had merged and agreed on a need for change in the Palestinian-Israeli dynamic.

“The question remains: What happens next, and can this merge lead to actual political change on the ground,” he said.


SDF leader: Washington will not abandon us

SDF leader: Washington will not abandon us
Updated 8 sec ago

SDF leader: Washington will not abandon us

SDF leader: Washington will not abandon us
  • Syrian Democratic Forces’ Mazloum Abdi: US addressed concerns after Kabul withdrawal
  • ‘They reassured us that this is not Afghanistan. They said the policy was totally different’

LONDON: The leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces has said Washington has reassured him that it will not abandon them, following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.

The Biden administration sent both Gen. Frank McKenzie, a senior military officer in charge of US Central Command, and Joey Hood, assistant secretary of state who heads up Middle East affairs at the State Department, to give reassurances to Mazloum Abdi that similar scenes will not be repeated in Syria.

He said locals under his protection have been shaken by what happened in Afghanistan. “Let’s be honest, after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan people were afraid. They were afraid they might face the same situation,” he told The Times.

Washington still has some 900 troops deployed in eastern Syria, and Britain is thought to have a regular deployment of special forces personnel in the region, although no official confirmation has been given as per UK Ministry of Defense policy.

The official line on the deployment of US-led troops in Syria is that they are supporting the SDF to eradicate the final collections of Daesh fighters in a nefarious space that is locked in by borders with Turkey and Iraq and land controlled by the Assad regime.

Abdi said the Biden administration quickly responded to his concerns, sending envoys to eastern Syria to meet with him.

“They reassured us that this is not Afghanistan. They said the policy was totally different,” he said, adding that he would prefer it if Washington promised to stay in the area until the Syrian conflict is concluded with a political settlement.

Abdi expressed hope that US support toward the end of the conflict might help secure formal recognition of Kurdish autonomy.


Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October
Updated 20 min 42 sec ago

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

Jordan’s state carrier to resume direct flights to Damascus in October

AMMAN: Jordan's state carrier Royal Jordanian (RJ) will resume direct flights to Damascus as of Oct. 3, an official statement on state-owned Mamlaka television said.
Flights had been suspended due to the decade old conflict in Syria.


El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant
Updated 14 min ago

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant

El-Sisi inaugurates world’s largest wastewater treatment plant
  • The plant, which costs 20 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.27 billion), has a production capacity of about 5.6 million cubic meters per day of triple-treated water

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has inaugurated the Bahr El-Baqar water treatment plant, the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world.

The plant, which costs 20 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.27 billion), has a production capacity of about 5.6 million cubic meters per day of triple-treated water.

It includes four units, each with a production capacity of 1.4 million cubic meters per day.

The water produced by the station will be transferred to the lands of North Sinai as part of a national project to develop the governorate and optimize the use of water resources.

Egypt is implementing various large projects to benefit from agricultural drainage water.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said several development projects have been implemented in the Sinai during the last six years, including water desalination and energy, at a total cost of more than 700 billion Egyptian pounds.


Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report
Updated 28 September 2021

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report

Iran’s Eslami in Moscow for nuclear cooperation talks – report
  • Mohammad Eslami plans to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear power sector

MOSCOW: Iran’s vice president and head of the country’s atomic energy organization, Mohammad Eslami, has arrived in Moscow for talks with the chief executive of Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom, the RIA news agency cited Iran’s embassy as saying on Tuesday.
Eslami plans to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear power sector, it said.


Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know
Updated 28 September 2021

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off in three days, here is what you need to know
  • Organizers of the Dubai expo hope to attract 25 million visits
  • People with special needs can get a free entry ticket to the Expo site

DUBAI: With only three days until launch, Expo 2020 Dubai is ready to welcome on Oct. 1 visitors to the Arab World’s largest global gathering to date.

Expos are among the biggest international events that take place every five years, where this year’s 191 participating countries, businesses and individuals from across the globe gather to explore, innovate, discuss, and share ideas and experiences.

The UAE became the first Arab country to organize this global event when it beat four other countries – Turkey, Brazil, Thailand and Russia – in 2013 for the right to host Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Expo’s logo is inspired by an ancient ring dating back to the Iron Age, which was recovered from an archeological site discovered by Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Organizers of the Dubai expo hope to attract 25 million visits during the duration of the event, despite the complexities posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Expo 2020 Dubai site covers an area of 4.38 square-kilometers of the Dubai South District, near the Al-Maktoum International Airport. It is also divided into three thematic districts: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

The 15,000- square-meter UAE pavilion, designed by renowned architect and engineer Dr. Santiago Calatrava, will be the biggest while Saudi Arabia’s 13,059- square-meter pavilion comes next.

Organizers have taken precautions to ensure safety and health of participants and visitors to the expo, thus requiring visitors aged 18 and above to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.

Non-vaccinated visitors who have not been tested meanwhile can use the coronavirus testing facility adjacent to the site.

People with special needs can visit the site for free, while their companions would be given a 50 percent discount for their tickets.