Biden campaign removes some anti-Palestinian hate speech

Man holds microphone

Joe Biden is facing criticism for his renewed racism against Black Americans. (Gage Skidmore)

The campaign website of Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has dropped some of its more overtly anti-Palestinian language.

Until at least Sunday, Biden had pledged to “Firmly reject the BDS movement, which singles out Israel – home to millions of Jews – and too often veers into anti-Semitism, while letting Palestinians off the hook for their choices.”

BDS is the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, a grassroots global campaign led by Palestinians to pressure Israel to end its abuses. It is modeled on the successful global effort to help end apartheid in South Africa.

(Incidentally, Biden has repeatedly lied that he was arrested in South Africa during the 1970s, while trying to visit anti-apartheid struggle leader Nelson Mandela in prison.)

Although it still condemns BDS, the current version of the Biden website has removed the language about Palestinians making bad “choices” – as if Palestinians have had any choice at all about being dispossessed, colonized, occupied and oppressed by Israel.

As I noted previously, the liberal language of “choices” Biden deployed against Palestinians closely echoed the justifications used domestically since the Reagan era to support mass incarceration and to attack social safety nets that supported poor and particularly Black communities.

Biden, as a senator and as Barack Obama’s vice president, played a central role in advancing policies that demonized poor Black people and increased mass incarceration, as well as mass deportation.

The change to his website comes as Biden is facing criticism for his latest racist and dehumanizing remarks targeting Black people.

Last week, Biden admonished listeners of The Breakfast Club, a popular program hosted by Charlamagne Tha God, that if they did not vote for him, “you ain’t Black.”

The campaign had faced widespread criticism of its anti-Palestinian language.

JVP Action, a political action committee affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace, last week condemned Biden for the “choices” line.

“Blaming Palestinians for their own oppression is an anti-Palestinian talking point and there is never an excuse for such explicit racism, let alone as the Israeli government makes blatant and illegal land grabs,” the group said.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee last week told the publication Middle East Eye that “Biden’s campaign is so beholden to [Israel lobby group] AIPAC that they have adopted racist tropes to define Palestinians, the same tropes used to justify apartheid policies.”

An article by this writer pointing out how Biden’s hateful speech against Palestinians echoes his anti-Black racism also went viral.

It could be that the Biden campaign’s sensitivity indicates that it feels it cannot entirely ignore the longterm grassroots shift in the Democratic Party towards support for Palestinian rights.

But that would probably be overselling a minor change.

Now, Biden pledges to “Firmly reject the BDS movement – which singles out Israel and too often veers into anti-Semitism – and fight other efforts to delegitimize Israel on the global stage.”

This is barely an improvement, while the rest of his platform still amounts to an Israel lobby wish list.

Even if it is shorn of some of the more overtly racist terminology, Biden’s edited language still expresses a substantive hatred of Palestinians and falsely smears their peaceful struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation and apartheid as anti-Semitic.

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Anti-Semitism can be easily and succinctly defined: the irrational or abstract hatred of Jews because they are Jews. The miserable confusion of the woolly IHRA definition can be dispensed with. This tight definition should be spread wide and consistently used by those who recognise the dishonest and malicious attribution of anti-Semitism to all defenders of Palestinian rights. As for the idea that anti-Semitism motivates Palestinian resistance, even Benny Morris writes: "The fear of territorial displacement and dispossession was to be the chief motor of Arab antagonism to Zionism." Biden is a woeful candidate: dim-witted, ill-informed, vain and reactionary to a fault. The political parties are morally debased vote-gathering machines. Don't trust them. We must bring freedom without them, in spite of them. "The bitter cries about anti-Semitism which allegedly raises its head again all over the world serve to cover up the fact that what is disintegrating is Israel's position, not Jewry's. The charges of anti-Semitism aim only to inflame the Israeli public, to inculcate hatred and fanaticism, to cultivate paranoid obsession as if the whole world is persecuting us and that all the other people in the world are contaminated while only we are pure and untarnished." So wrote Uriel Tal, professor of Modern Jewish History at Tel Aviv University. And here we are with exactly those cries arising whenever the merest criticism of Israel is advanced. It is we who are the anti-racists. We who stand for universal equal rights. The Zionists are the racists. They fear secularism and Enlightenment values. They fear universal human rights. They fear the equality before the law of every citizen that is the bedrock of democracy because they are colonisers. The West Bank and Gaza are colonies. Anti-Arab racism is their basis and that goes right back to the beginning of the Zionist project, a racist project. Tal was right. Israel is disintegrating beneath its moral vacuity. Biden? Racist.

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