President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE and his transition team have added their harsh criticism to that of Israel regarding the just-adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirms the illegality of Israeli settlements. Indeed, Trump has made no secret of his support for Israel’s designs on the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967, as demonstrated by his pick of the avidly pro-settler David Friedman as his nominee for U.S. ambassador to Israel.

What chance does the Palestinian quest for rights and an independent state have under a Trump administration? To address this question one must look beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the way in which Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign trail and since has legitimated racism, xenophobia, and sexism. He has appointed figures who have nurtured white nationalism or who view the world through a clash-of-civilizations prism imbued with Islamophobia

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This has repercussions on a wide swath of domestic and foreign policy issues, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is no exception. In fact, one could argue that with Trump’s victory, Palestinians now have a roadmap for the way forward that is clearer than ever before, both at the grassroots and the policy levels.

Over the past decade, numerous organizations fighting for Palestinian rights have flourished in the U.S.  Their struggle mirrors that of other minorities here, including the Latino, Black American, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities, who are fighting against institutionalized discrimination to lead lives rooted in equality and dignity. As these organizations collectively mobilize against the threat of the incoming administration, alliances are forged and unity is engineered.

The Palestinians are a core element of this emerging convergence. In a world where the Trump administration appears a cozy bedfellow to Israel’s right-wing government, advocates for the Palestinian struggle for rights become, more clearly than ever before, natural allies to the millions of Americans who have voiced horror at the values the incoming administration stands for and the populist discriminatory policies it favors.  

The timing is fortunate. The Palestine solidarity movement – and the progressive movement overall – is today in a much better place to push back against efforts to silence and crush it, as well as to plan for the 2020 elections, because of the alliances nurtured over the past years.

It was not always thus. When, for example, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, now a coalition of hundreds of organizations, was founded in 2001, the participants in its annual conferences were predominantly white and older. Gradually, the efforts to engage with Black Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans began to take hold. And everything changed in August 2014 with the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. An outpouring of sympathy and support came from Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They understood all too well the lethal consequences of structural and institutionalized racism.

The September 2014 U.S. Campaign conference was notable for its focus on the need to challenge injustice everywhere, with key speakers taking on the issue, including Professor Robin D.G. Kelley’s memorable "Solidarity does not mean our struggles are the same. Solidarity means all struggles matter." The Movement for Black Lives platform (A Vision for Black Lives) was significant for its trenchant criticism of U.S. military aid to Israel and the way that aid is used to oppress Palestinians. The Movement held its ground, despite the uproar from Israel’s allies.       

Most recently, a multi-layered solidarity movement of Palestinian, Arab, black, Jewish, Muslim, and other minorities stood with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they successfully protested the installation of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their native lands. The Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement issued a statement of solidarity, and the Palestinian Youth Movement sent a delegation to the Standing Rock protest camp.  

These convergences amongst the grassroots and progressives have been accompanied by – indeed, have been translated into – shifts in the political party system. While the Republicans are busy wiping out what little daylight there has been between the U.S. and Israel, the Democrats appear to be recognizing they cannot rebuild without a shift to accommodate and align their policies with their progressive base. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Medicare for All': The hype v. Maryland's reality Biden says he supports paying campaign staff minimum wage Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren warns another 'economic crash' is coming The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE have been pulled into the Senate Democrats’ leadership team. And there has been unprecedented support for Keith Ellison, a black Muslim who has, like Sanders, expressed sympathy for the Palestinians, to head the Democratic National Committee despite a strong campaign against him by major Zionist organizations and donors.

The days of the PEPs (progressive except for Palestine) appear to be numbered, with the latest polling by Brookings’ Shibley Telhami revealing that 60 percent of Democrats now support some economic sanctions against Israel for its settlements in the Occupied Territories.

These shifts, the results of many years of activism, can sustain the progressive movement in the dark days ahead when legislation criminalizing free speech and association is used to block advances. This is already happening to Palestine solidarity advocates, with efforts to block boycotts to hold Israel accountable for its settlements, though these are protected free speech, and to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

The new alliances will need to grow their strength to defend against the policies of a Trump administration. They must also look toward 2020 and the opportunity to translate this mobilization of the grassroots into lasting shifts within the Democratic Party. A successful push forward into equality and dignity for disenfranchised Americans will play a large role in advancing the Palestinian struggle. And as Palestine solidarity organizations active in the U.S. strengthen their alliances with other progressive movements, it is not only possible but realistic to envision a time beyond Trump.

Tareq Baconi and Nadia Hijab are, respectively, Policy Fellow and Executive Director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.