Human rights activists converged in Philadelphia this week to campaign for Palestinian rights during the Democratic National Convention (DNC).
While Hillary Clinton secured the party’s presidential nomination, activists attended alternative events and organized Palestine solidarity actions.
Clinton has promised to bolster the US alliance with Israel.
The party and its nominee have vowed to continue supporting Israel with billions more in aid every year, while cracking down on the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Meanwhile, on the convention floor, The Electronic Intifada’s Rania Khalek says that many delegates have been holding signs and wearing stickers in support of Palestinian rights, challenging the traditional liberal framework of “progressive except for Palestine.”
For supporters of Clinton’s defeated rival Bernie Sanders, “there’s no difference between the importance of supporting free college education and universal healthcare and Palestinian rights,” Khalek said.
Khalek said party officials have been “policing” Sanders delegates who hold signs supporting Palestinian rights, even tearing some down because the signs “are not DNC approved.”
“Which I guess is true,” Khalek added, “because Palestinian rights are not DNC approved. We saw that in the Democratic platform committee – supporting Palestinian freedom and rights is not on the agenda of the Democratic Party.”
During her run for president, Clinton’s policies “have become progressively worse when it comes to Palestinian rights,” Josh Ruebner, policy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told The Electronic Intifada.
On Monday, Ruebner’s group organized events on Palestinian human rights and a panel discussion with activists and member of Congress Keith Ellison to discuss US policy on Israel.
The visible support on the convention floor, Ruebner said, “signals a change for the better among the grassroots of the Democratic party, which is becoming more and more supportive of Palestinian rights.”
As state and federal lawmakers continue to drive anti-BDS legislation across the country, Clinton has “jumped on the bandwagon” in condemnation of the BDS campaign, Ruebner added.
However, Ruebner said, activists will continue to organize despite the current and future legislation, which will no doubt be challenged in the courts.
“It must be clear to all Palestine solidarity activists that the government can impose no conditions or restrictions on our First Amendment right to freedom of expression – to organize for and to advocate for campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions,” he said.
Putting Clinton “to the test”
Meanwhile, activists are gearing up to pressure whoever becomes the next president on the issue of Palestinians’ rights.
Jennifer Bing of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) told The Electronic Intifada podcast that activists will put Hillary Clinton’s lauded history of acting on behalf of children “to the test” when it comes to advocating for Palestinian children.
The AFSC, in partnership with Defense for Children International–Palestine, has been running the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, which pressures US lawmakers to protect the rights of Palestinian children, especially those in Israeli military detention.
Last month, the No Way to Treat a Child campaign worked with 20 Democratic members of Congress to send a letter to President Barack Obama, calling on him to send a “clear signal” to Palestinian children that their lives are valued.
“I think there is always going to be an opening,” said Bing. “I’m optimistic because I think when we talk about children, when we talk about the future, no matter where you are politically, right or left, it’s at least a way to start the conversation.”
Listen to the podcast featuring interviews with Khalek, Ruebner and Bing via the media player above.
Music: “Shadeyna al-heil” (Tightening our Strength) by Revolution Makers.
You can subscribe to The Electronic Intifada podcast on iTunes (search for The Electronic Intifada). Support our iTunes podcast by rating us and leaving a review.