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Joe Biden stands accused of rewarding the apartheid state of Israel

September 28, 2023 at 11:17 am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) who is in New York for the 78th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, meets with U.S. President Joe Biden (R) in New York, United States on September 20, 2023 [Avi Ohayon (GPO)/Handout/Anadolu Agency]

US President Joe Biden stands accused of rewarding Israel’s racist policies even as the Zionist state tightens its brutal occupation of Palestine and imposes and an apartheid system on its people. The accusation has been made by a group of Jewish Americans who are campaigning to end US support for Israel’s apartheid system while demanding equality, justice and a thriving future for all Palestinians and Israelis.

The IfNotNow movement says that the US president’s decision to admit the settler-colonial state into America’s Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) exposes the double standards of both Israel and the US.

READ: Israel refuses to ease entry conditions for Palestinians holding EU passports

“By admitting Israel to the Visa Waiver Programme, the United States is essentially condoning Israel’s apartheid regime over Palestinians by signing off on Israel’s discrimination against Palestinian American citizens,” explained IfNotNow Political Director Eva Borgwardt. “Israel’s entrance into the programme violates the basic conditions for admittance, which would require Israel to treat all American citizens equally, something Israel has made clear for decades that it has no intention of doing.” According to Reuters on Wednesday, however, the US has said that Palestinian Americans will “have the ability to enter Israel visa free, and fly in and out of Ben Gurion Airport.”

Nevertheless, Borgwardt added that now is not the time for the US to reward Israel’s racist policies and practices. “Not now, because it is ratcheting up its assault on Palestinians and doubling down on its system of apartheid.”

The Biden administration announced on Wednesday its controversial decision to admit Israel into the VWP, which will give visa-free entry to Israeli citizens from 30 November, officials have confirmed.

The decision, which Israel’s foreign ministry boasted on Monday was already a done deal, will be seen as a huge victory for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition government, whose relations with Washington have been difficult due to its proposal to overhaul the judiciary as well as its discriminatory policies against the Palestinians. That fact doesn’t appear to have deterred Biden and his advisers from giving Israel what it wants.

To qualify for the programme, Washington insists that countries must treat all US travellers equally, regardless of any other passports that they may hold. In Israel’s case, that would mean free passage for Palestinian Americans at its airports and when travelling into and out of the occupied Palestinian territories. It will be interesting to see if that actually happens.

Some Palestinians have already protested in US courts over the VWP, saying that the US is rewarding the Zionist state for decades of discriminatory treatment of Arab Americans and harassment at Israel’s borders.

I would suggest that the rabbi tries walking in Palestinian shoes next time that he visits Israel

South Africa and its people know all about apartheid, of course. And yet, when Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said last year that Israel should be considered as an apartheid state, she was condemned by South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, who described her comments as “factually, politically, morally repugnant.” With all due respect, I would suggest that the rabbi tries walking in Palestinian shoes next time that he visits Israel. If he has an open mind, he might just change his point of view, and apologise to Minister Pandor.

READ: South Africa exempts Palestine passport holders from entry visas

She made her comment about Israel’s obvious racial discrimination against the Palestinians during a meeting of the Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa, held in Pretoria in July 2022. Wearing a traditional Palestinian scarf, she reiterated South Africa’s steadfast commitment to the Palestinian cause, comparing it to the 20th-century struggle against white minority rule in South Africa.

“For many South Africans, the narrative of the Palestinian people’s struggle does evoke experiences of our own history of racial segregation and oppression,” she pointed out. In this, she was echoing the words of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “I know first-hand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation.” And we shouldn’t forget that the late President Nelson Mandela said famously, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

The evidence is damning, and so is the growing condemnation. Biden should be ashamed of himself for rewarding the apartheid state of Israel which is openly discriminating against all Palestinians, not just Palestinian Americans. And Israel should stop trying to fool the world that it is a democracy; democracies don’t discriminate against people solely because of their ethnic origin. Israel does just that.

Shame on Israel. Shame on the Biden administration. Shame on all racists.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.