Will the next US president be any different on his or her stance over Palestine?
“Are either of you registered to vote?” says Mona. “Please, please, please register if you’re not. It’s so easy. Very quick.” I can almost imagine my friend as she types this message to me and another friend, Randa, with enthusiasm and excitement.
It reminded me of the first time she had registered to vote for the 2012 US Presidential Election. President Barack Obama was running for a second term against Mitt Romney. At the time, Mona was in Palestine along with me and Randa. The three of us, Palestinian-Americans, had reached the age where our vote would count, officially having a say in US politics.
In that election, Randa and I did not register to vote. We didn’t like Romney, and we were not particularly happy with Obama’s first term. We expected a lot more from him when it came to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We expected, at least, a hint of solidarity with Palestinians, and not an “OK” or rather a cold shoulder when it came to the Gaza Wars of 2008-09, 2012 and 2014. We thought if we voted for Obama, as we imaginarily did in 2008, he would vote for us.
Four years later, things are a bit different. Mona is back in the United States, while Randa and I are still in Palestine. A Jewish American, Bernie Sanders, and a woman, Hillary Clinton, are running against each other in the Democratic president primaries. In the Republican race, a multibillionaire businessman, Donald Trump, is soaring in the polls and has everyone a glued to TV sets and social media in anticipation of what he will suggest next that will “supposedly” make America great again.
During the Democratic Presidential Town Hall Debate in Iowa back in January, CNN News Anchor Chris Cuomo introduced some undecided American voters who had questions to ask. After hearing this debate, as well as the coin toss that saw Clinton win in Iowa, seeing Sanders win the New Hampshire primary, and reading all the ridiculous propositions that Trump has made throughout the race, I am also an undecided American voter.
I stand undecided because eight years ago, I would have voted for Clinton, a female candidate. Eight years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that Sanders was too good to be true, but thought of him to be the right man for the job. Eight years ago, I still would have thought the same thing I think about Trump today: America, don’t do it. Don’t let him win. It’s not going to make America great.
Eight years later, US politics, as with virtually any country, is rooted in the best interest for America, even if it costs the lives of thousands of people. This “best interest” is sugarcoated with phrases like “security issues,” “illegal citizenship,” “War on Terror” and more that instill fear in the US public.
America’s “best interest” does not entail siding with Palestinians or taking Israel to the International Criminal Court. It does not include helping Palestinians to end the Israeli occupation.
Over the next four years, no matter who wins come November, it will probably not involve any of these things. Not when you have a woman who says that Tel Aviv called Washington saying Hamas militants were shooting rockets into Israel, but overlooked the death and destruction in Gaza. And definitely not when you have a man bashing 1.6 billion Muslims, who is also aiming to build a wall to prevent illegal immigrants from entering from Mexico—a wall, based on Trump’s description, that will look very similar to the Israeli apartheid wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
As a Palestinian-American, I stand as undecided as the next person over who is the best person to lead the United States of America.
But I am also undecided as to whether or not I should even vote. Voting for the most powerful man (or woman) in the world is no small issue. I am thinking of two lands, two completely different nations on opposite ends of the world. Will I be betraying either if I choose to vote?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.