November 13, 2016 at 12:49 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Palestinian human rights activist ‘terrified’ by Trump rhetoric

Donald Trump, gay news, Washington Blade

A Palestinian human rights activist on Nov. 12, 2016, sharply criticized President-elect Trump over his anti-Muslim rhetoric. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — A Palestinian human rights activist on Saturday suggested President-elect Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric fuels extremism.

“It’s not helpful,” Ziman CEO Samer Makhlouf told the Washington Blade at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Makhlouf made the comment during a meeting with more than two dozen people from the U.S. who were in the West Bank with A Wider Bridge, which describes itself as an “LGBTQ advocacy group building connections between the Israeli and North American LGBTQ communities.” The group arrived in Jerusalem two days after Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton sent shockwaves throughout the world.

Trump in the wake of the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., reiterated his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S. He also said he would suspend immigration from countries with a “proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe and our allies.”

Trump in August said his administration would require potential immigrants to the U.S. to pass an “ideological test” that would include questions about LGBT rights. The president-elect told reporters that immigration is among his top three priorities once he takes office in January.

“I feel terrified (by) this kind of speech that is really polarizing the society in America,” Makhlouf told the Blade. “It’s also affecting everyone worldwide, especially in this part of the world.”

Makhlouf added Trump’s rhetoric also makes the prospect of a peace agreement between the Israelis and “even further.”

“We want someone to be helpful, and not to be making our problems more difficult,” said Makhlouf.

WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, reported Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Trump on his election and expressed his “wishes that just and comprehensive peace will prevail in the region and entire world during his administration.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video statement described Trump as “a great friend of Israel.”

Reuters reported that Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, chair of the right-wing Bayit Yehudi party who supports the expansion of settlements on the West Bank, said Trump’s election means the “era of a Palestinian state is over.”

Trump’s election an ‘opportunity’ for Netanyahu

Many Israelis with whom the Blade has met and spoken in recent days expressed shock over Trump’s election.

“Our hearts are full of pain and mourning,” said Noa Sattath, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, a group that promotes religious pluralism and gender equality, on Friday during a meeting in Jerusalem.

Leon Wiener Dou of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a Jerusalem-based pluralist think tank, told the Blade on Friday the “entire world is in a state of shock right now” over Trump’s election. He added the majority of Israelis are in what he described as “political vertigo.”

“Most people had no idea this was coming,” said Dou.

The platform that the Republican Party adopted in July opposes “any measures” against Israel “intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms.” It also rejects “the false notion that Israel is an occupier” and describes the campaign in support of a boycott, economic divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians as “anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy” the country.

Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week that he will achieve “the ultimate deal” between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He also supports the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump last week invited Netanyahu to meet with him in the U.S. as soon as possible.

Dou told the Blade that Netanyahu views Trump’s election as “an opportunity” because the U.S. will no longer pressure his government to make any concessions to the Palestinians. He also noted the Israeli government sharply criticized the deal the U.S. and five other countries reached with Iran over its nuclear program in 2015.

Trump also opposes the agreement.

Another Shalom Hartman Institute staffer told the Blade that most Israelis feel Trump “is good for Israel because he’s said more positive things than anyone else.”

“They’re not thinking about if it’s good for America, is it good globally,” she said. “They’re thinking if its good or bad for Israel, which is a very narrow vision in my eyes.”

Tom Canning, a Jerusalem-based LGBT rights advocate, told the Blade on Friday that Israel’s “own populist and divisive political leaders” are now “speaking with a new tone of legitimacy for the direction they are leading us.” Canning also expressed concern over the impact that a Trump presidency could have on LGBT rights in the U.S.

“Initially it raised fear and worry about the direction the world is heading and concern for my LGBT and minority friends in America,” he said.

Editor’s note: Michael K. Lavers is currently in Israel with A Wider Bridge. He will be reporting from the country through Nov. 22.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

13 Comments
  • it’s all talk. but Obama foreign policies emboldened radical Isla mists and radicals within the Palestinian population making any compromise an impossibility, the change of administration will create new opportunities for peace the question is Netanyahu going to seize on it ? Is the Palestinian leadership which is in great need for new leadership going to finally be willing to seat on the table and make concessions for peace ? all too early to tell

  • He’s probably afraid because Trump will be our best bet to stop Muslims from slaughtering gays in the U.S. and elsewhere.

    • Oh, missy please! Enough with your scare tactics One attack on a gay nightclub does not make Muslims public enemy number 1 to GLBT Americans. A gay bar was also bombed by Eric Rudolph, a Christian conservative activists. Why do you ignore that?!

      • It most certainly does make them public enemy number 1 to gay Americans. They make up a small percentage of the U.S. population, yet STILL have attempted the mass murder of gays three times (through bombing in NYC; arson in Seattle at Neighbors; and..finally…firearm in Orlando) with only the third being successful. Imagine if their numbers in the U.S. doubled ?? And…shall we talk about what they’ve done in the UK now…. missy?

        • We have to live with the public policy and laws that Christian conservatives like Mike Pence will attempt to put in place to deny GLBT Americans their rights by pulling the religion card. That is a greater concern that impacts people’s lives everyday in employment, housing and even their relationships.

          Even if Trump kept all these people out, and those born here don’t get radicalized and commit such crimes, we still have to cope with the harm the Christian conservative hoards plan to inflict upon us. I don’t need to be a made a second class citizen, criminalized or classified as having a disorder. Been through that, don’t need it again! No thanks Madame! That’s the greater threat! Stick that in your swish!

          • I disagree. The spread of Islam is the bigger problem. The majority of Christians (or atheists, or Hindus, or Jews, or Buddhists or Pagans…) don’t agree with THEIR extremists. But even moderate Muslims go along with their extremists. That’s why they execute and imprison for homosexuality in all Muslim-majority countries. And even when Muslims haven’t reached the majority yet. In the UK there are enough of them now where 52 percent admit they want to see homosexuality made illegal. And they welcome this guy with open arms (and gays are too cowardly to ever protest this guy, or any Muslim, which is another reason the time of gay equality, or even existence, is probably limited). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hamza-sodagar-us-muslim-preacher-who-advocated-beheading-of-gay-men-allowed-to-lecture-in-the-uk-a7348886.html This is another reason Trump was the better bet for the gay future. He called out this type of homophobia. Again, this imam calls for gays to be beheaded and killed in several other different ways, and they still send their kids to be taught by him!!! Where do people think this is leading ?

          • Some European countries like the Netherlands are having immigrants see videos of acceptance of homosexuality before allowing citizenship.
            I’m not disputing the issues in Europe. But a lot is tied to racism and islamophobia among say the French for example. Unemployment is very high among that population despite so many having been born and raised in France. That breeds resentment.

            You’re talking about lawless terrorism not public policy and rule of law. Beheading falls under cruel and unusual punishment that the US Constitution forbids. A national hate crime law imposes additional penalties for hate crimes.

            So you are not being realistic. Even when gays were fired from their jobs and imprisoned for Sodomy in the 20th century, they were not subject to capital punishment.

            Once upon a time here, you could not be out without going to prison, losing your job and having your name published in the newspaper. Public shaming and being forced into mental institutions was once common. That is what Christian extremists want to bring us back to. I grew up in the tail end of that and know what it was like. Religious Freedom laws and FADA would take us back there. That is a bigger threat! Such laws only encourage more hate crimes not less!

          • I disagree on a lot of that, but….okay.

          • I’ve read up on the issue that Arabs are having in France. Much like African Americans feel they have here when they riot in the streets. I’m not saying they are justified or that I support them. But you need to put the whole thing into perspective.

          • BTW : Which Christian preachers are calling for the death penalty for gays ? I’m not challenging you, I just want to know who they are.

          • Look up pastors Steve Anderson of Arizona and Roger Jimenez of Sacramento and comments on GLBT.
            Also check out comments by Christian activist Theodore Shoebat on Trump and Peter Thiel.

            I would be more specific but the Blade censor filters won’t let me post it. Which is stupid because they reported on it.

  • Are Palestinians supporting GLBT rights in the West Bank? Compared to Israel, can you be openly gay there, have bars or march in a pride parade? Why is this a story for us?!

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