The following was originally published in Palestine in America’s politics edition (December 2019). Please support our publication by downloading a digital copy, ordering a print copy and or becoming a monthly subscriber.
The 2020 presidential election is rapidly approaching, and some could argue, this time around, Palestinian Americans have an opportunity to vote for candidates whose interests align with theirs.
Palestine in America asked some politically inclined Palestinian Americans — Rasha Mubarak and Noura Erakat — who they are voting for in 2020.
“I’ve supported Sen. Bernie Sanders since 2016 and was extremely disappointed that the Democratic Party torpedoed his campaign for a “safer” choice (i.e., Hillary Clinton) and seems set to make the same mistake again. Sanders represents a progressive movement committed to an explicitly socialist political agenda. That means a robust welfare state built with redistributive measures that will ensure, at a minimum, according to Sanders, health care and college tuition for all. While this makes a lot of Americans anxious, that is mostly because U.S. political and economic elite have equated social welfare with communism and equated communism to unfreedom. But most of our public services have been and continue to be publicly subsidized including our freeways, first responders, national parks, elementary schools, public universities, social security, and some housing programs, though insufficient and in many cases inadequate. One current proposal, the Green New Deal, is a quintessential socialist project. It aims to use federal funds and employ a public sector to produce mass scale technologies that reduce carbon emissions and stem deleterious extractive practices, like fracking. The scaling back of the state and the privatization of fundamental services reflects an international trend on the rise since the early 1980s that has been aggressively globalized under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, which have predicated loans on the restructuring of government services — a model that has put many states permanently in debt. We are currently witnessing the backlash against these policies in revolts from Chile to Lebanon, Iraq, and Sudan. This model does not work and correlates to a widening poverty gap — think about the 1% in the United States — and insecurity, which corresponds to a more intense police state featuring the criminalization of poverty, drug addiction, homelessness, and even public food banks. Sanders represents a movement aimed at shifting the fundamental logic underpinning the role of the state and civil society, central to which is labor. It is no surprise that he enjoys the support of nurses, teachers, farmers, and construction workers, those who have borne the harshest brunt of an increasingly rigged national economy. Note that my support for Sanders has nothing to do with his position on Palestine, which leaves much to be desired yet is nonetheless leaps and bounds ahead of other candidates. Even the most liberal presidents have sustained U.S. imperialism in the Middle East, and it is incumbent upon us, activists and advocates, to bring the international question into domestic focus.” — Noura Erakat
Bio: Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and assistant professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She has served as legal counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives and as a legal advocate for Palestinian refugee rights at the United Nations. Noura’s research interests include human rights and humanitarian, refugee, and national security law. She is a frequent commentator, with recent appearances on CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NPR, among others, and her writings have been widely published in the national media and academic journals.
“I will, without hesitation, be voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, a justice warrior who has and continues to move the moral compass toward a justice that is free of conditionality and exceptionalism. I believe it is through his policies and legislation — and if elected, his administration — that will help encourage others to join the world stage of human rights. It’s time for those who hold positions of power to connect the dots between our shared struggles against racism and oppression and for equality and justice. When we chant ‘from Ferguson to Palestine, end racism now’ and ‘from Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,’ we are reflecting on shared realities that emerge from a common experience living under racist regimes — and we ask voters of conscious to do the same. While it might feel like debilitating times — this political moment of crises, for rights globally, presents an opportunity to build a stronger movement for justice. Right now, a new U.S. far left, with leaders like Sen. Sanders, is taking power in the progressive wing of the world. We are living in a powerful moment, truly a new era for Palestinian rights. It’s time to draw a line in the sand for candidates, progressives, and human rights defenders: Abandon all iterations of supremacy and choose unconditional solidarity for all.” — Rasha Mubarak
Bio: Rasha Mubarak is a Palestinian American, Muslim community civil rights activist and political strategist. Mubarak was named Orlando Weekly’s “10 People Making Orlando a Better Place to Be” in 2018. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in central Florida, Mubarak is a facilitator for the Trust Orlando Coalition, an assembly of organizations that advocate for immigrant rights. Mubarak also serves as vice president for the Muslim Women’s Organization. She served as the president of the Young Democrats of Orange County in 2018, and she is the president for the Orlando chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Mubarak has also spent time as a volunteer mental health counselor for the Palestine Medical Relief Society in Ramallah, working with women and children who have PTSD.