Why do lawmakers keep saying "two-state solution"?Cartoon by Rob Rogers. Image Credit: Editorial Cartoons
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Appealing to Arab American voters has always been a challenge for politicians in the U.S. The community has diverse experiences and interests that place them all across the political spectrum, causing them to often get left out of candidates’ campaigns.
One reason why candidates are not campaigning for the Arab American vote is the fact that the community can be divided on any domestic issues. Additionally, the community does not have a history of voting overwhelmingly Democrat or Republican for any long period of time. Although Arab Americans lack overwhelming evidence of their voting habits, resources that are available still show a clear divide along party lines, which further distances candidates from this ethnic group.
The true unspoken reason as to why politicians might not want to approach the Arab American community could be because we’re the only ones asking the tough question: “What will you do about Palestine?”Palestinian loss of land map from 1946 to 2010
No lawmakers want to be asked this question because their enormous support for Israel is shameful and difficult to express to Arab American voters. And yet, when politicians do find themselves in front of Arab Americans at a campaign event, they talk about Israel-Palestine, thinking that it’s the only question the community has been asking their representatives.
While we are curious to know what this lawmaker’s position is on Palestine, it is never surprising to hear. They always regurgitate the same jargon they think is diplomatic, but in reality is overwhelmingly in favor of Israel. They assert that the two-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians live peacefully side-by-side, is the only solution to the conflict. They dart their eyes to a staffer or their notes and read verbatim the official policy of the State Department to avoid confrontation.
The utter discomfort in addressing this question has been seen from candidates throughout this hectic election cycle, from Martin O’Malley to John Kasich. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton even prides herself on being the first to say that there should be a two-state solution.Hillary Clinton (center) sits between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) during her tenure as Secretary of State. Image Credit: NeoGAF
However, their faith in the two-state solution is both antiquated and absurd. Not only are most Arab Americans fully aware that these candidates are lying to them, but the community is also no longer interested in the two-state solution anymore. Arab Americans see where this conflict is headed. The prospect of a contiguous Palestinian state erodes with every new illegal Israeli settlement built without precaution or reprimand from the U.S.
And in the same breathe that these lawmakers say, “I support a two-state solution,” they say the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is a threat to the special U.S.-Israel relationship. Without hesitation, political leaders advocate for a “dignified Palestinian state” and take away free speech rights. They are blind to the hypocrisy that bequeaths their policy platforms, and think Arab Americans will fall for such nonsense.
Lawmakers campaigning for the Arab American vote should stick to the topics they actually believe in because the two-state solution is not one of them. The community will listen to those who address other major issues, such as surveillance and counterterrorism, but gone are the days that most Arab Americans will tolerate a phony attempt at advocating for Palestinian human rights. Politicians who truly want to appeal to Arab Americans should try harder to understand the community’s values, rather than making out-of-touch statements about a conflict they care so little about.