On Israel, Trump Is Even Worse Than Biden

1 month ago 31

 Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesFormer U.S. President Donald Trump arrives during a “Get Out the Vote” rally in Greensboro, N.C., on March 2, 2024. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

To understand the state of American politics today when it comes to Gaza, Israel, and Palestine, just look at the very different ways in which the House of Representatives handled the cases of Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, and Rep. Brian Mast, a Florida Republican.

Tlaib was punished for her views on Israel and the war in Gaza. Mast was not.

It’s not hard to figure out why.

Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, was censured by the Republican-controlled House in November after she posted a video of protesters in Michigan chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Israel’s supporters claim the chant is code for a desire to wipe the Jewish state off the map, but Tlaib responded that it was just “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction or hate.”

“I can’t believe I have to say this,” she added, “but Palestinian people are not disposable.” 

Tlaib’s censure was a symbolic act that has no substantive impact on her ability to function in Congress, but that wasn’t the point. House Republicans just wanted to embarrass her and politically marginalize any congressional support for the Palestinian people. House Democrats briefly sought to censure Mast for comparing Palestinians to the hundreds of thousands of German civilians carpet bombed into oblivion by the Allies in Nazi Germany during World War II. His implication was that Palestinians deserve to be obliterated for the crimes of Hamas, just as German civilians were annihilated for the crimes of Hitler and the Third Reich. “I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians,” he said. “I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II.”

The motion to censure Mast was introduced in the House last November, at the same time the Republicans were going after Tlaib. But while the censure motion against Tlaib succeeded, the motion against Mast was quietly withdrawn.

Ever since, Mast has doubled down on his anti-Palestinian rhetoric without facing any consequences. He even wore an Israeli military uniform to a Republican conference meeting on Capitol Hill. When questioned about it by reporters, he said that since Tlaib displays a Palestinian flag outside her office, he thought he should wear his old Israel Defense Forces uniform. A U.S. Army veteran who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan in 2010, Mast briefly volunteered with the IDF in January 2015, performing support functions like packing medical kits. Virtually every other Republican in Congress shares Mast’s views and would gladly don an IDF uniform if they had one.

Earlier this year, Mast expanded on his comments about Palestinian civilians, saying that even Palestinian babies are not innocent and are thus legitimate targets. “It would be better if you kill all the terrorists and kill everyone who are supporters,” he told Code Pink protesters. When asked about images of Palestinian infants being killed in Israeli attacks, he said “these are not innocent Palestinian civilians.” 

The contrasting outcomes of the Tlaib and Mast cases highlight an undeniable fact: The American political establishment still strongly favors Israel over the Palestinians. But if Donald Trump gets back into the Oval Office, he and his MAGA Republicans like Brian Mast will be even worse.

Trump is a big fan of war crimes, especially against Muslims. During his first term, he intervened on behalf of Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL platoon leader convicted of posing for a photo with the body of dead Iraqi; another SEAL team member told investigators that Gallagher was “freaking evil,” but Trump said at a political rally that he was one of “our great fighters.” Trump also pardoned Blackwater contractors convicted of killing Iraqi civilians in a wild shooting spree in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. There is no chance that he would try to stop Israel from indiscriminately killing Palestinians.

After the October 7 Hamas attack, Trump was briefly critical of Netanyahu and blurted out that Hamas was “very smart.” He was immediately and roundly attacked by other Republicans for his comments, and he quickly renewed his long-standing pledge to align the United States fully with Israel. If he’s reelected, he will give Israel unalloyed support for all-out war, and he will do so with the wholehearted backing of the Republican Party.

Republicans’ support for Israel is matched or exceeded by their hatred for Palestinians. Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Montana Republican who was secretary of the interior in the Trump administration, has proposed legislation that would prevent Palestinians from entering the United States and trigger the mass deportation of those already here. It would ban those holding passports issued by the Palestinian Authority from obtaining U.S. visas, while mandating the removal of Palestinian passport holders already living here. 

Many Republicans express their unwavering support for Israel in biblical and apocalyptic terms. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Christian evangelical, made his first public appearance after being elected House speaker last October at a conference of the Republican Jewish Coalition, where he said that “God is not done with Israel.”

It is dangerous to get between evangelicals and their theology. Trump recognizes their importance to his political success, and his support for Israel is a way to satisfy his evangelical Christian base. “No president has done more for Israel than I have,” Trump claimed in 2022. “Our wonderful Evangelicals are far more appreciative of this than the people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the U.S.”

At the 2016 Republican convention, Trump pushed through a provision in the party platform ending GOP support for a two-state solution and a Palestinian state. Now, Trump and Republicans agree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he says that Israel can no longer agree to a two-state solution. “In any future arrangement … Israel needs security control over all territory west of the Jordan,” Netanyahu said in January. “This collides with the idea of sovereignty. What can you do? This truth I tell to our American friends, and I put the brakes on the attempt to coerce us to a reality that would endanger the state of Israel.”

That’s fine with Trump and Republicans like Brian Mast.

 Civil defense teams and citizens continue search and rescue operations after an airstrike hits the building belonging to the Maslah family during the 32nd day of Israeli attacks in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on November 7, 2023. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Read our complete coverage

Israel’s War on Gaza

Although the Biden administration has bent over backward to support Israel, the president has said repeatedly in recent weeks that an independent Palestinian state is still possible. What’s more, political unrest within the Democratic Party is starting to have an impact on Biden, forcing changes in the White House’s approach to Israel. Over the weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris called for an immediate ceasefire; such new pressure from the Biden administration appears to be working, as Israel and Hamas now seem closer to an agreement.

Trump would never face such pro-Palestinian pressure from within the Republican Party. He and his MAGA cult of Christian nationalists would never force Israel to accept a ceasefire — or a Palestinian state. Mast has harshly attacked Biden for continuing to support a two-state solution, dismissing the idea by saying that “a Palestinian state would be run by terrorists.”

There are limits to Biden’s support for Netanyahu. Trump and the Republican Party have none.

The post On Israel, Trump Is Even Worse Than Biden appeared first on The Intercept.

Read Entire Article