‘Zionists not welcome’: Palestinians reject Biden’s Bethlehem visit

Mondoweiss – by Yumna Patel

Signs reading “This is Apartheid,” “Justice for Shireen Abu Akleh,” and “our exiled sons must return to their motherland” greeted US President Joe Biden as his motorcade passed along the main road of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank on Friday. 

Biden arrived in the city to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the last stop in his four day trip to Israel, during which he renewed firm US support for Israel, and expressed his own pride in being a Zionist.

Despite heavy restrictions on movement, and a wider ban on protests and photography on the main roads of the city enforced by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinians took to the streets in Bethlehem to express their discontentment with Biden’s visit.

At least two separate protests took place in the city, including near the Aida Refugee Camp, where Palestinians chanted “America is a terrorist state,” and held signs saying “Zionists not welcome,” along with photos of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. 

The protesters released balloons into the air carrying photos of Abu Akleh, along with a large banner that read: “Biden, you’re a part of Israel’s Apartheid,” and “‘Zionist’ Biden ‘shares values’ with Apartheid Israel.”

“We wanted to send a message to Biden that he, and America’s imperialist foreign policy, is not welcome in Palestine and our city,” Muhannad Abu Srour, a resident of Aida Camp, told Mondoweiss.

“Our message to the American president was that for more than 70 years, we have been under occupation, forcible displacement, and ethnic cleansing, and nothing has changed. Our land is still occupied, and there is still no just solution for the Palestinian people,” Abu Srour said.

Lora Abu Aita, a resident of Bethlehem, said that the current political situation in Palestine is a “disaster,” and that the American president isn’t welcome.

“Today his visit means a lot for the Palestinians, in a negative way,” she said. “I do not believe he is coming here to actually give justice for the Palestinians.”

Aseel al-Bajeh, 27, an activist in Ramallah said “the protests on the street in Bethlehem today show us that there is frustration among Palestinians, that they want to lead and decide their own future as they want.”

“[Our future] should not be mediated according to peace negotiations or according to any compromise from our end on our rights, freedom, and liberation,” she said.

‘An Insult to Palestinians’

A main feature of the protests, and of the reactions of Palestinians to Biden’s visit, had to do with Biden being a self-declared Zionist, which he made earlier in the week upon landing in Israel, and earlier in his career as a politician.

“All his visit does is legitimize the Zionist state,” Abu Aita said. “Biden is never welcome here, so long as he is a proud Zionist, and so long as he helps the Zionist state to violate the basic human rights of Palestinians.”

Pics and the rest is here: https://mondoweiss.net/2022/07/zionists-not-welcome-palestinians-reject-bidens-bethlehem-visit/?ml_recipient=60789320971191392

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