Trump calls Biden a ‘bad Palestinian’ in US presidential debate jab

Both candidates fail to address Palestinian suffering, toll of Israel’s war on Gaza as protesters rally near venue.

Republican Donald Trump has called US President Joe Biden “a very bad Palestinian” who doesn’t want to help Israel “finish the job” against Hamas in its war on Gaza.

“He doesn’t want to do it. He’s become like a Palestinian – but they don’t like him because he’s a very bad Palestinian, he’s a weak one,” former president Trump said in the first presidential debate with Biden on Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ayah Ziyadeh, director of American Muslims for Palestine, told Al Jazeera that the “bad Palestinian” comment “was very blatantly racist”.

“Using Palestinian as a slur shows the depths of racism that exists here,” Ziyadeh said.

While foreign policy and the Middle East were referenced numerous times during the debate, as pro-Palestinian protests were held near the venue, the suffering of Palestinians and the toll of Israel’s campaign in Gaza – which has killed more than 37,700 people since October – received little mention.

Neither Biden, who is under pressure from his Democratic base over his staunch support of ally Israel, nor Trump is “fit to represent” Palestinian and Arab communities in the United States, Ziyadeh said.

“Not only are Muslim and Arab Americans deciding that they don’t want to commit to Biden or re-elect him because of his continued stance and fuelling of Israel’s genocide in Gaza. But the broader American public has also shifted and it’s become one of the biggest issues that is impacting the coming elections,” she said.

‘Lack of vision’ to end war

The debate highlighted how both Democrats and Republicans have lost their will to end the war and to support the creation of a Palestinian state, said Tamer Qarmout, a professor at the Doha Institute of Graduate Studies.

“The focus of the discussion was not on a Palestinian state per se – it was one supporting Israel and the best way to support Israel,” he told Al Jazeera.

“For both candidates, there’s a lack of real vision to end this conflict. It’s a very shallow discussion that does not have ending the conflict in the centre of it.”

Trump said Israel wanted the war to continue, and that it should. Asked whether he would support the establishment of a Palestinian state to secure peace in the region, Trump baulked. “I’d have to see.”

One candidate is “blatantly racist. Wants to deport all of us. And said that President Biden isn’t, essentially, being genocidal enough and that he should let Israel finish off its war on Gaza. And the current president has been consciously and willingly, politically and financially, backing an evident genocide in Gaza,” Ziyadeh told Al Jazeera.

“There is no lesser than two evils here,” she added. “The card we are being dealt with as voters and as Americans is frankly unfair.”

Protesters hold up signs that say, "Ceasefire now."
Pro-Palestinian protesters rally during the debate between US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, 2024 [Megan Varner/Reuters]

Truce proposal

Meanwhile, Biden falsely claimed that every party but Hamas had agreed to his ceasefire proposal and that he had secured an across-the-board agreement for his three-stage plan to end the war, including from Israel.

“Everyone from the United Nations Security Council, straight through the G7 to the Israelis and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu have endorsed the plan that I put forward,” Biden said.

“The only one who wants the war to continue is Hamas.”

He reiterated his opinion that Hamas has been “greatly weakened” by Israel, adding that the group “should be eliminated”.

Biden also noted that he was the first recent president to not have soldiers at risk overseas.

Meanwhile, Trump described Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as the “most embarrassing moment in the history of our country” and said it encouraged Russia to invade Ukraine.

Source: Al Jazeera