Why Kamala Harris’ Election Isn’t The Best News For Palestine
By Dima Kiwan
Now that the tumultuous rollercoaster that was the U.S 2020 presidential election has had a few days to settle in, both America and the rest of the world is shifting its focus from the past to the future. Despite Donald Trump’s desperate litigation efforts, the vast majority of Americans and world leaders have accepted the reality that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next President and Vice-President of the United States of America, and have turned their attention to policy and the greatest issues these new leaders face in the near and distant future.
Since modern American Vice-Presidents are largely known for playing an integral role in foreign policy, it is definitely worth taking a look at how Kamala Harris’ will impact international relations during her time in office. While the campaign largely focused on the pandemic and rebuilding the economy, Biden and Harris made efforts to paint themselves as the ticket that would restore the United States’ respect in the world. It is no secret that Trump did not maintain long-standing friendships during his term, befriending dictators instead of close democratic allies. For this reason, Biden, and especially Harris represent a new day, a new opportunity to rebuild these relationships and restore a sense of stability on the international stage.
That being said, let’s not jump to conclusions and assume that America will immediately return to the “Obama age” of foreign policy in 2021. Interestingly, Harris might be even more right-winged than Biden when it comes to international issues. Trump’s claims that she was a radical leftist who would pull Biden to the far end of the spectrum were highly misleading considering the various controversial stances she took as a state senator. In particular, let’s talk about Palestine.
Taking a trip back to 2017, Harris was heavily criticized by progressives in the Democratic party for her relationship with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a significant pro-Israel lobby. Shortly after she was elected as a Californian state senator, Harris was a notable presenter at the organization’s Policy Conference, drawing attention to her strong pro-Israel stance with nostalgic anecdotes about the Jewish National Fund boxes from her childhood in the Bay Area as well as her then recent tour of the West Bank with her Jewish husband and soon first Second Gentleman of the U.S, Doug Emhoff.
Of course, this isn’t all just about one speech. In January 2017, Harris co-sponsored a Senate resolution criticizing President Obama for abstaining in a vote on a UNSC resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Note that Obama only had one week left on his term.
When 2020 came around and Harris expressed interest in running for President, her relationship with AIPAC expectedly became quite off-the-record. While both she and Biden support a two-state solution, many powerful Democrats have been actively calling for a boycott of Israel on account of their human rights violations. Interestingly, with her praise of the U.S.-Israel relationship and her criticism of the United Nations’ “anti-Israel bias”, Harris mirrors Donald Trump in this specific respect.
Of course, the issue is not whether Harris is particularly fond of Israel, but rather her willingness to fund the state’s continuous annexation and human rights violations with American taxpayer money. Many Palestinian activists saw this election as an opportunity for progressives like Bernie Sanders to shift the power dynamic and finally condemn Israel. All in all, while Biden and Harris definitely represent change in many aspects, especially domestically, it’s important to remember that there is always more work to be done and that the Democratic party is so diverse that a blue ticket does not automatically mean justice for all.
• https://www.usnews.com/elections/kamala-harris (Picture)
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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