Why This Kansan Won’t Be Voting for Biden

I did this embroidery of Palestinian journalist Bushra al-Taweel in November 2019, two years after she was arrested by occupation forces for the third time. A few days back she was arrested yet again during a raid in the occupied West Bank. Since October 7, Israeli forces have arrested more than 7000 people in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, bringing the total number of Palestinian political prisoners to nearly 10,000.

“Liberals are doomed to destroy themselves inside out. And they are militantly out of touch with the rest of the world.” That’s from Tamara Nassar—an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada, an online publication focused on Palestine—in response to a tweet that states that if we Americans don’t vote for Biden, we will lose everything and that the Trump-team’s plans for a second term will, in the words of the tweeter, “kill your country.”

But there’s an occupied land being destroyed right now, before our very eyes, and our supposedly liberal government is doing nothing to stop it. Never have we been privy to a minute-by-minute account of a genocide like this in real time.

When I followed my conscience in the 2016 presidential election, and didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, people said, “Well, that’s OK. Your vote doesn’t really matter because Kansas is going to go Republican as always.” True. But this time it’s not just Kansas. Many Democrats in swing states like Michigan, where votes withheld from Biden could well sink him, are holding him accountable for continuing to supply Israel with the munitions it needs for carrying on this genocide.

And, the conscientious liberal should ask, will it matter to Palestinians whether it’s Biden or Trump in office? No. Those among us who care about domestic issues like reproductive rights, gun reform, immigrant rights, etc. must ask whether it will be worse for the world if Trump comes back. The answer to that, I believe, also is no. Either Trump or Biden will most likely be the face of the United States—the one country with the power to stop this genocide but also the one that never fails to betray the Palestinian people. No matter who occupies the White House, their policies will only build upon the already failed ones.

And no, Seth McFarlane, it is not “a fact that people in their 20s and 30s are gravitating to Trump.” As Katie Halper noted, they’re moving away from Biden, not toward Trump. Like me. I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, and I’m not going to this year. “Genocide Joe”: That’s how the current president will go down in history books, whether he wins or loses in 2024.

The United States, right now, under a Biden presidency is fully participating in a horrific ethnic cleansing campaign, massacring Palestinians, denying them flour and water, dropping piddly & faulty humanitarian aid airdrops on them and killing at least five, destroying their homes, schools, neighborhoods, annihilating entire families, targeting hospitals, heritage sights, universities, and on and on till there’s nothing left for the people of Gaza to go back to, and nowhere for them to escape to from American-made weaponry that is coming at them from every direction.

Every day, not a minute goes by that we don’t see another unimaginable atrocity being committed on the body and mental well-being of a child in Gaza. Even a premature baby is not spared by these perpetrators of genocide. According to The Electronic Intifada, on November 10, as “part of a series of airstrikes, raids and attacks on hospitals,” the Israeli military ordered doctors at the al-Nasr Pediatric Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip to leave five babies that they were caring for. “The tiny infants died starving cold and alone. Their bodies decomposed… still connected to ventilators and intravenous tubes.”

As many of us know, Refaat Alareer was murdered by Israeli occupation forces on December 6th. He is famous for his poem If I Must Die, Let it Be a Tale which was translated in many languages after he was killed. But he is also famous for saying what he would do if he was ever attacked by Israel. “ I am an academic. The toughest thing I have at home is an Expo marker. But if the Israelis invade, if they charge at us… to massacre us, I am going to use that marker, throw it at the Israeli soldiers. Even if that is the last thing that I will be able to do.” In this embroidery I show Refaat holding an Expo marker. He was also proud to be from Gaza City’s Shujaiya district. The pattern on the border surrounding Refaat’s portrait says Shujaiya in Arabic.

And here at home, our house speaker can’t decide if destroying an embryo is tantamount to murder.

The constant bombardment of hasbara and propaganda in order to whitewash war crimes is fashionable these days in the narrative of our beloved media which hides behind the fog of hollow mottos like “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” The New York Times, in an infamous article now thoroughly debunked, had no shame in disseminating the unfounded lie of “mass rape” by Hamas on 7 October. According to Mondowiess, “the veracity of the New York Times story was undermined almost as soon as it was published, including from the Abdush family itself who says there is no proof Gal Abdush [one of the alleged victims of the sexual violence] was raped and that the New York Times interviewed them under false pretenses.”

Our institutions are being hollowed out one by one, and now it’s up to ordinary citizens to not fall prey to the propaganda that helps perpetuate the genocide in Palestine. In a piece titled, Shielding US Public From Israeli Reports of Friendly Fire on October 7 published by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), author Bryce Green does a fantastic job of analyzing and exposing the fact that “since October, the Israeli press has uncovered damning evidence showing that an untold number of the Israeli victims during the October 7 Hamas attack were in fact killed by the IDF response.”

“Silence is complicity,” reads an open letter signed by over 40 health justice organizations to the global health and human rights communities on the crisis in Palestine. The silence of “universities, medical schools, professional associations and academic bodies” is as loud as Israel’s war crime of deliberately targeting hospitals, among other atrocities. Alongside this there is “a climate of virulent censorship, especially in the Global North, [which has] led to open victimization of health workers and academics who dare to speak out… in defense of the rights of Palestinians.”

U.S. students attending rallies and advocating for Palestinian rights are getting sprayed with hazardous chemicals and being labeled terrorists, while Israeli state terrorism is killing Palestinians by the tens of thousands in Gaza. According to statistics put out by the human rights monitor Euro Med, between October 7 and February 23, 38,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in Gaza. They include 14,350 children, 326 health professionals, and 130 journalists.

This does not include the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where since October 7, more than 413 Palestinians, including 107 children, have been killed, most of them by Israeli forces and the rest by settlers. More than 7300 detained by Israeli forces.

I did this portrait of Layan al-Farra in October 2019. Layan lost nine of her family members in August 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, one of five military assaults launched by Israel on Gaza since 2007. She survived the attack along with her father Baseem al-Farra. I don’t know what’s become of her or her father, since. She would be 16 years old today. Please go here to see more on this embroidery project.

Lastly, to my liberal friends who are squeamish about resisting genocide through armed struggle, I say there’s violence in silence. Israel is committing barbaric acts against Palestinians who, like all colonized people, are resisting in every way they can. It’s easy to turn one’s nose up at a people fighting back hard against an apartheid state, when it’s not you on the receiving end of the genocide.

Hamas was democratically elected in 2006, winning 76 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament, with support from a whopping 77 percent of voters in Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas is a part of Palestinian civil society, born in a ghetto under a 16-year siege (preceded by 59 years under occupation). Imagine if another country decided to punish the United States for electing a political party they didn’t like, by sieging our asses off, decade after decade.

As reported by Jon Elmer in The Electronic Intifada, Palestinian Resistance maintains a “joint operations room that brings together all the resistance factions across the political spectrum into a unified command under the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas” in Gaza. These factions have united in a guerrilla war, successfully targeting Israeli occupation forces. In contrast, Tel Aviv is raining down U.S.-made bombs on civilians, the great majority of them women and children. Seeing discretion as the better part of valor, the IDF fighters are reluctant to attempt a hostage rescue by fighting their way through the Resistance’s well-defended 310 miles of tunnels.

Palestinians, going through one of the most brutal assaults in modern history, are proud of their resistance fighters. They’re fighting one of the world’s most advanced militaries, using their home-made weapons and the munitions they have gathered from among unexploded Israeli ordinance through the many years of bombardment they’ve endured. And those of us who are anti-genocide are proud of them too.

Liberal, cowardly politicians and their mouthpieces parading the halls of Congress and echoing the words of the colonizers and occupiers, or pretending otherwise, can label those of us who decide to not vote for Biden as “antisemitic,” but they cannot colonize our dissent. There are many of us out there, in the heart of these great United States, to the north, south, east and west of Kansas, who stand with the majority of people in the world, who stand with Palestine.

President Biden could stop this genocidal madness with just one phone call to Tel Aviv, cutting off military aid, and compelling them to let the thousands of aid trucks into Gaza that are stuck at the Raffah crossing with Egypt. It’s not a question of whether he can make that call or not, it’s that he should.

Whatever we Americans do or don’t do in November, make no mistake: Palestine will not be defeated, nor will Hamas. The question is, “Which side are you on?”

Priti Gulati Cox is an interdisciplinary artist, and a local coordinator for the peace and justice organization CODEPINK. She lives in Salina, Kansas, and can be reached at p.g@cox.net. Please click here to see more of her work.