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Trump Is Lower Risk For Palestinians Than Biden – OpEd


No American president is ever really going to support true justice when it comes to the Middle East. They all end up in the same place: Israel’s back pocket, fleecing the American taxpayers to pay for Israel’s ongoing crimes.

Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton last week said something unusually honest. When interviewed by the Jerusalem Post, Bolton was asked if a Trump re-election would be risky for Israel. He responded that the incumbent president would be bad for Israel because he is unpredictable, adding: “The president’s policies could shift.”

Bolton stands firmly on the far right of the Republican party. I once debated him on National Public Radio about the Middle East and, when I confronted him with the facts concerning Israel’s atrocities, he just decided he didn’t want to engage and told the host he was hanging up. I’ve never admired Bolton, but I believe his comment about Trump is genuine.

His mention of Trump’s unpredictability was more focused on the president’s attempts to negotiate with Iran and North Korea, but that unpredictability also applies to Israel’s fears of the US making peace with the Palestinians and creating a Palestinian state.

So many Muslims disagree with Trump because of his widely misunderstood tough approach to immigration, but he could do more for Palestine than any other president. I have always argued that, while Trump has no real experience in diplomacy or politics, his unpredictability is exactly the thing the Palestinians need if they ever want to break the cycle of failure in their efforts to achieve statehood.

Does anyone think there is no Palestine state today because Republican presidents have not allowed it? The Democrats have been worse, in my opinion. The Democrats talk the talk but fail to walk the walk. They talk about peace but haven’t done a thing to prevent Israel from killing civilians in the Gaza Strip for example.

Former President Barack Obama was Palestine’s second-biggest failure, behind only Bill Clinton, who pandered to Palestinian and Israeli hopes and dreams in an effort to wipe away his failings as a president. Clinton and Obama served a combined 16 years in office and yet failed to achieve anything to help Palestine. The Democrats created an environment in which peace can never happen because they have so many preconditions for talks and red lines they won’t cross.

There are some genuine Democrats in Congress who do care about Palestine, like Rep. Betty McCollum, who I truly admire, but her voice is often packaged with those on the far left of the party that the mainstream Democrats ignore.

The Democrats have united against Israel’s planned annexation of much of the West Bank, but not because they think it will prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. I think it’s easy for them to oppose annexation because, in the reality of the status quo, Israel already controls the West Bank. With Tel Aviv not formally declaring annexation, the Democrats must feel that Israel can continue to control the territory.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the Democrat candidate to take on Trump in November’s presidential election, admits he is a Zionist. I believe his role isn’t to achieve justice for Palestine, but rather to preserve the status quo.

As Bolton said, Trump is unpredictable, and re-electing him would be a risky gamble. But, in the wake of the uncertainty caused by the failure of Democrats to turn their rhetoric about a two-state solution into reality, Trump offers the only hope for real change.

The Democrats are predictable and can be counted on to say the words of peace but not follow through. Traditional Republicans can be counted on to turn up the heat with their rhetoric in support of Israel, fueling their base by demonizing Arabs and Muslims. But what can Trump be counted on to do? He can do the unpredictable, if given the opportunity. Anything can happen under a Trump administration. And that possibility is so much more promising than the lack of action under the Democrats.

Bolton’s fears should give everyone who hopes for real change in the Middle East at least some optimism.

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Ray Hanania

*Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected]

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