There was palpable relief, and even joy, throughout the progressive movement when the U.S. presidential race was finally called for Joe Biden at the beginning of November. Four years of an administration that relentlessly attacked every minority group imaginable would finally be coming to an end, and with it, perhaps, a move away from constant firefighting.
Yet Biden’s election was by no means welcomed by progressives as an unmitigated win. Beyond the unimaginable wreckage left behind by the Trump administration — damage that will likely outlast Biden’s presidency — those in the movement are also clear-eyed about the limitations of a centrist Democratic government.
Nowhere does that assessment ring as true as in the Palestine movement, where, as Sandra Tamari, executive director of the Adalah Justice Project, tells the +972 Podcast, activists have to reckon with an administration that is “no friend of Palestine.”
AJP, which launched in 2014, is a grassroots organization that organizes within the progressive movement and at the Congressional level. The group works to advance justice, freedom and equality for Palestinians, while working toward collective liberation in solidarity with other oppressed and indigenous communities.
As far as the Middle East is concerned, Tamari sees that American liberals and centrists are heralding the arrival of Biden’s presidency for precisely the reasons that activists for Palestine are skeptical: it presages a return to the peace process and the idea of the two-state solution, which Tamari calls a “facade.”
“It was very clear under Trump where Palestinians stood vis-à-vis Israel; the lines were drawn very clearly,” says Tamari. “There was a very ideological line between authoritarian regimes in the world — like the Trump regime, like the [Benjamin] Netanyahu regime — and then there were people around the globe that were rising up against those oppressive figures. And Palestinians were part of that global struggle for justice.
“My fear is that now we’re entering a period where Biden will complicate that story,” Tamari continues. “Because Biden will make nice. He’ll hide his conflict with Israel from public light and will really try to push forward this idea that it’s the Palestinians who are hindering progress on negotiations, or a return to negotiations.”
At the same time, Tamari stresses, there is cause for optimism: unlike the Trump White House, a Biden administration is “a target that can be moved.” The current generation of Palestinian activists are more than up for the task, Tamari adds, calling them “more fearless and unapologetic than ever before.”
That motivation, Tamari concludes, is translating into a wider progressive movement that is looking beyond the U.S.’s borders — and that is looking to make the country “a different kind of force in the world.”