What will President Trump mean for Palestine?

President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with Vice President-elect Mike Pence as he gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally, in New York on 9 November.

John Locher AP Photo

On a day that most people expected not to see, we can say few things with certainty.

One of them is that Hillary Clinton would have been a disastrous president for those supporting the Palestinian struggle for their rights.

Her failed campaign pitched her as the natural successor to President Barack Obama, the Democrat who just unconditionally handed Israel the biggest military aid package in history.

During the Democratic primary campaign, Clinton marketed herself as a belligerent and violently hawkish ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against the Palestinian people.

She vowed to make blocking the nonviolent Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement a priority of her would-be administration.

She went out of her way to campaign against the mildest efforts to hold Israel accountable, including appealing directly to members of her United Methodist Church last spring to vote against divestment from companies that assist and profit from Israel’s occupation.

Clinton positioned herself as an anti-Palestinian extremist at a time when the Democratic Party base showed itself more open than ever to embracing Palestinian rights.

Her extreme support for Israel is just one of the many ways she and her party operatives pandered to donors and revealed themselves to be out of touch with large segments of the country they had taken for granted.

But Hillary Clinton will not be president.

President Trump

The only thing that can be said about President-elect Donald Trump with any confidence is that no one knows exactly what he will do.

Earlier in the campaign he insisted that he would be even-handed in dealings with Israelis and Palestinians, driving many of Israel’s most fanatical and neoconservative supporters into Clinton’s arms.

But facing a backlash, he quickly pivoted, promising Netanyahu he would recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of the State of Israel,” and actively encouraging Israel to continue building colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Trump still showed flashes of unwillingness to appease. After winning his party’s nomination in July, he brushed off a reporter’s question about whether he would follow the “tradition” of other Republican candidates and visit Israel.

“It’s a tradition, but I’m not traditional,” Trump shot back.

Even if these changes reveal an erratic man with no fixed views, Trump’s most pro-Israel positions don’t differ much in substance from the policies of Obama, on whose watch settlement construction more than matched the pace during the term of President George W. Bush.

Visceral fears

In his victory speech last night, Trump returned to a regular theme: “We will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us … We’ll have great relationships. We expect to have great, great relationships.”

That will be little comfort to people in the US and around the world whose visceral fears are stoked by the forces that helped propel Trump’s rise: his racist baiting and incitement against Muslims and Mexicans, his boasts about sexually assaulting women, his denial of global warming and his indulgence of anti-Semitic white supremacists, including the Ku Klux Klan, which gave him its endorsement.

The Israeli counterparts of these vile American racists are celebrating Trump’s victory today.

Netanyahu congratulated Trump, calling him a “true friend of Israel.”

“I am confident President-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the alliance between our two countries and bring it to greater heights,” the Israeli prime minister added.

Naftali Bennett, the Israeli education minister who has boasted about his killings of Arabs, hailed the coming Trump era.

“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause,” Bennett said.

But the so-called two-state solution was already dead and Clinton would not have changed that.

Fighting back

The Palestinian cause has already shifted to a struggle for equality against an entrenched system of Israeli occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid anchored and rooted in support from the US bipartisan establishment.

Palestinians were not waiting for the result of the US election to decide which way their struggle would go.

Trump has won, but some things have not changed. Over the last decade, support for Palestinian rights has been rising in the United States, particularly among the young – and in the increasingly diverse Democratic Party base that has been utterly failed by its establishment leadership.

More than ever, people understand that US support for Israel comes not only from the same places where support for white supremacy, mass incarceration, unchecked police violence and US militarism and imperialism are strongest.

It also stems from the liberal, pro-human rights circles that championed Clinton, who more often than not equate colonizer and colonized, oppressor and oppressed, occupation and resistance.

This base has no choice now but to rally from its despair, which at any rate the election of either candidate would have precipitated, to keep organizing and fighting for its rights and the rights of people around the world.

The truth is, we had no choice but to wage that fight anyway.

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Comments

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They are not going to help us (unless we happen to have a spare $10 billion in our pocket). We are going to have to do it for ourselves and on our own. Isn't that usually the case?

Three words organize, educate and agitate. The opposition will try to block us at every turn. We are just going to have be smarter, faster and better than it is.

Though we have made progress we still have a way to go.

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Excellent summary. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by surrendering to despair. Fear of Trump has delivered us Trump. It's time we stopped fearing fascists and instead broadened our efforts on behalf of justice for Palestine and a more peaceful world. Don't mourn- organize.

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You know Tom, I rolled out of bed, the morning after, thinking it was the end of the world.
But then, while I was in the shower, I remembered I'm a white American too. I'll be alright.
Is that what you mean Tom?

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The Palestinians were among the losers of this election and, as usual, Israel a major winner. I agree with Naftali Bennet's assessment, as does Ali: any prospect of a Palestinian state is dead (and was dead well before this election). I could see Israel moving quickly to annex Area C, I could see Hamas making a separate peace with Israel for a state in Gaza, and I could see a UN Protectorate over Areas A & B -- and that's that.

What should we be doing? Ali has written about a one-state solution as the only just and workable way out. It must be a genuinely and thoroughly democratic state with equal rights, plus the Right of Return. But we can ignore neither the Israeli Jewish population nor the bi-national character of the country. I believe that embodying the principle of bi-nationalism would not only add to the Palestinians' degree of self-determination within the parameters of a single state -- like the UK, Spain, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand and other countries -- but is essential if we want to bring Israeli Jews along. Since there will be a Palestinian majority, bi-nationalism, the principle that the Palestinian/Israeli parliament cannot pass laws harming the integrity of either national community, would give Israeli Jews that layer of collective protection that would allow them to sign on.

We cannot be in a political struggle without an end-game. Palestinians and Israeli Jews should come together urgently to hammer out the outlines of a just and workable peace -- OUR agenda and program -- since Trump, Netanyahu, the PA and the international community will not do it. Thus empowered, we could then give direction to the people supporting the Palestinian cause we are not giving today.

Our allies in the international civil society are floundering and need our leadership. I believe in BDS, but it must be linked to a political program. BDS4BDS: BDS for a Bi-national Democratic State. The ball is in our court.

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I will work with those who work for a single all inclusive popular non zionist (separation of church and state) democratic state, which respects the human and legal rights of all living with in it (irregardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sex and sexual orientation).

I will work with those who work for the full return of the Palestinian diaspora-- the victims and their families of the pogroms/ethnic cleasing that occurred in Palestine in the 1940's (the Nakba).

I work for the end of racism and Zionism and for equality and justice. I will work with those who work for that.

As Plessy vs Feguson has shown, "separate but equal" is a lie, a deception. It is just a cover for separate but unequal.

Is what I work for what you for?

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Many thanks to Ali Abunimah for his balanced assessment.

I could not disagree with Jef Halpern more as I have already
written elsewhere (eg CONSORTIUM NEWS). I am confident
that Israel/AIPAC was certain they were backing an obedient
hawk in Hillary Clinton and those who for generations have
feared for their political and bureaucratic careers should they
fail to hold the Israeli party line. Funding for H. Clinton's
scandalous campaign was never in doubt. (To do otherwise
for a Democrat would have been to criticize the one who
is funding you!)..

We do not know who the Trump neocons will be. We do know
that the former Democratic neocons under Obama will be gone.

In a basic sense, the Democrats had indeed "rigged" the election
as Trump claimed.

There were many racists and anti-Semites among Trump
supporters but their support of Trump was not in my
view an essentially anti-Semitic act or expression, if you will.

The fact is that Democratic programs have not delivered.
The medical giants control premiums for health care.
Military expenditures under Democrats have been soaring
to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere in the world.
Donald Trump may never solve these problems but
Obama was not either.

That Mr. Halpern believes that Palestinians and Jews can
"come together" after generations of Israeli devastation and
oppression represents a naivte that is mind-boggling.
Little games for little minds? As equal partners, or what???
How much would Israel be willing to concede? Etc?

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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I cannot understand, for the life of me, people who aggressively side with Israel on this matter. It is utterly baffling. What they have done and continue to do is racist, immoral and cruel. How dare we aid them in their continued persecution of the Palestinian people? One Holocaust doesn't justify another. What kind of a god supports this immorality? How can one pray to such a god? How can one consider themselves a righteous human being and support this? I stand with Palestine. Shame on the U.S.

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Sessions is likely to become a Trump cabinet member. So there's that.

The question needs to be asked, especially with the fawning (exaggerated?/feigned?/attempt to attribute realities that aren't there?) of the Israeli right, but who knows at this point.

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He doesn't exactly know what he will do either ..
I firmly believe that Israel has had it's moment in time .. America is of no consequence in the scheme of things .. I know it might be hard to believe .. given the propaganda that mainstream media has spewed forth about the Almighty USA .. & especially since WWII .. it was the glory of the atomic bombs .. the zing of the power to kill & destroy that sped them on .. but the world does not revolve in the fairy tale fashion that we are brainwashed to believe.
I'm relieved that the hysterical Hillary is gone .. & soon to be forgotten I hope .. & while I feel that though Trump is a klutz .. a wild card is worth it's weight in gold.

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Can't agree with Ali on Clinton, Trump or the pursuit of two independent states being dead. Wrong leadership isn't forever and the US isn't the only game on the globe, as for that matter neither is an ineffective UN. The Arab League Plan offers Netanyahu something larger than settlement construction, a place in history, not only as a defender of the state of Israel, but as the true deliverer of peace. Will he do it? On his terms, which means no, unless key nations, institutions and individuals look to create a more open process that can deliver good for both peoples.

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I know Clinton & Trump are different primary colors and all, but they still represent the same controlling interests against the interests of the public (which is why we get such a limited choice). They can be as different as chocolate and vanilla for all I care, they still sit on the same throne and run the same empire, and no protest is going to change that. Yes, the prescription is the same, BDS for now.

What baffles me is the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth over Trump visiting Obama in the White House and all the rioting... Netanyahu/Sharon/etc all say the same racist things, in fact much worse in my opinion, but nobody chokes on their cheerios over those guys visiting Obama on our public property. I half expect the mayhem to die down as soon as the mainstream in DC sees that there is "no daylight" between the two white colonizing police state drone heads. Heck, if there was a huge difference, Clinton could just organize regime change here and steal the flag. big deal.

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Make no mistake, I believe President Trump will be a disaster for the United States and the world.

But maybe (and note the word *maybe*) for the Palestinians.... not so much. Hillary Clinton was disgusting on Israel, pandering to her donors and ignoring the Democratic base. Trump has shown flashes of even handedness that would never have come from Hillary Clinton. True, he's promised to recognise Jerusalem the capital of Israel, but many Republicans have made that promise over the years only to quietly drop it when in power.

But the best hope is surely Netanyahu. "Bigot Bigot" is an obnoxious demanding bigot who manages to irritate and offend almost every world leader he meets. Let's hope he stays true to form, and manages to anger and offend Trump. Unlike other presidents who've had the self control to suck up Netanyahu's antics, Trump just might decide some payback is in order...

One last point. Wasn't it great to see all those pro-Israel multimillionaires pissing their money away on Hillary Clinton's doomed campaign? You'd have to have a heart of stone not to find that really funny. :-)

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Yes, I find the sight of all those Israel-Firsters pissing their money away on Hillary funny and I shall laugh purely when Netanyahu pisses Donald off. Note, I say 'when' not 'if'. Viva Palestina. Every ointment needs a fly.

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Interesting supposition but much depends on events and how they affect Bibis ability to make them work for him or even to create ones that will.
Much better to have allowed zionist and American liberals run out their game. Oh well, we'll see.

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