CODEPINK organized a joint letter from over 100 diverse organizations to Joe Biden, calling on him to support Palestinian rights. ReThinking Foreign Policy joined If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Council on American-Islamic Coordination, American Friends Service Committee, PAX Christi U.S., Demand Progress, Win Without War, Peace Action, and many other groups in signing the letter.
The following is the press release that CODEPINK put out today.
Over 100 U.S. Organizations Urge Biden to Support Equality for Palestinians
WASHINGTON – Today, more than 100 organizations representing millions of Americans sent a letter calling on presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Trump to adopt a just and principled foreign policy towards the state of Israel and the Palestinian people, one that prioritizes freedom, dignity, and equality for all people.
The letter, organized by CODEPINK, states: “Current U.S. positions supporting, indeed enabling, Israeli government violations are out of touch with voters… U.S. foreign policy on Israel/Palestine should be rooted in the same values and principles that are supposed to guide U.S. policy throughout the rest of the world — respecting human rights and international law, promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts, supporting diplomacy over military intervention, and utilizing multilateralism and multilateral institutions for dispute resolution.”
The letter comes on the heels of a recent Biden campaign statement conflating American Jewry with support for Israel and bragging about having increased military assistance to Israel at the end of Obama’s term. The statement also promised to continue, in violation on the First Amendment, attacks on individuals and organizations that boycott Israel for political reasons and referred to Palestinian “choices” to commit violence.
Within days of the release of the statement from the Biden campaign, so much backlash had accumulated that the degrading language of Palestinian “choices” was removed. This backlash reflects the growing American support for Palestinian rights, which provides an opportunity to influence policy regarding Palestinians and the state of Israel as America heads into the November 2020 election.
“Rather than reflecting the growth of support for Palestinian human rights within the Democratic party, Biden seems to be trying to show that he can be almost as hawkish and one-sided as Trump when it comes to the issue of Israel and Palestinian rights,” said CODEPINK co-director Ariel Gold. “Despite paying mild lip service to the dangers of Israel annexing parts of the West Bank, Biden’s positions are to the right of where the Obama administration was. Palestinians have been campaigning for over 70 years for their basic rights and freedoms. It is far past time for the U.S. to stop carrying water for the Israeli government and instead support justice and equality for all people.”
The shift in American opinion towards Israel and the Palestinian struggle was best captured in two key moments in the past year. One was at the March 2019 policy conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, when eight out of ten Democratic candidates refused to attend. The second was at the October 2019 J Street conference, when the audience burst into applause after then-candidate Bernie Sanders suggested leveraging the $3.8 billion the U.S. gives to Israel to push Israel towards respecting Palestinian human rights.
When Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign, Joe Biden indicated that he would integrate some of the politics of the progressive wing of the Democratic party in order to reflect the movement the Sanders campaign had built. Unfortunately, as far as Palestinian rights are concerned, Biden has done nothing of the sort.
“Public and media discourse, and crucially, voters’ opinions on Israeli violations and Palestinian rights, have dramatically shifted in recent years but too many past and present officials are out of touch, and unaware of those changes,” said Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies and board member of Jewish Voice for Peace. “Large percentages of key voting blocs want major changes in US policy to match those changing public opinions – and any candidates hoping to win support from young, Black, Democratic, progressive, and increasingly Jewish voters, will ignore those changes at their peril.”
The birth of a new phase of the civil rights movement in the United States should also be an impetus for rethinking the role of the United States in supporting repressive policies abroad. “As Americans, we cannot talk about ending the institutional and systemic racism in this country while we enable a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories,” said Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, National Executive Director of American Muslims for Palestine. “We cannot demand an end to police brutality in our streets without demanding that our government stop financing Israeli brutality with our tax dollars.”