Palestinians rejoice at Trump’s loss, some take jibes at Riyadh
RAMALLAH – Many Palestinians expressed jubilation at the election of US presidential candidate Joe Biden, who they believe will be more favourable to their interests than incumbent President Donald Trump.
On social media platforms, Palestinians gloated that Trump had lost the race, with some taking jibes at Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries over the implications a Biden presidency could have on their countries.
In doing so, they did not bring up the pro-Israel record of Biden, who once described himself as a “strict Zionist in support of Israel,” instead focusing on the former vice-president’s at times critical statements on Saudi Arabia.
One sarcastic tweet by a Palestinian Twitter user said that during the Biden era, the United States “will strip Saudi Arabia of Mount Uhud and the Kaaba.”
The Palestinians’ attacks on Riyadh and its Gulf allies curiously put their views in line with elements of radical Islamist groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. While many understand why Palestinians would be happy with Trump’s defeat, the reasons for their attacks on Saudi Arabia remain unclear.
Saudi writer Hail al-Mashous responded to the online criticism as ill-conceived.
“It is foolish to say, ‘I hope so-and-so wins to crush such-and-such state.’ Elections are made of promises … and what follows them are interests … only!” Mashouh said.
“Joe Biden described Erdogan as a ‘tyrant’ and promised to support the Turkish opposition to topple him … But … did you know that the Muslim Brother were waiting for Biden’ victory with eagerness to gloat at Saudi Arabia, hoping it will be subjugated? If they reconsider history, they would find that the kingdom’s relationship with the US has not changed since its foundation until today, and that the kingdom only derives its power from inside.”
Some Twitter users likened the fury of online reactions to social media campaigns following Trump’s election in 2016.
“In 2016, they [Islamists] rejoiced at Trump’s victory over Hillary because they believed it would harm Saudi Arabia. In 2020, the same people are rejoicing at Biden’s victory over Trump, believing it would harm Saudi Arabia. They did not understand the lesson nor their real weight… Saudi Arabia is a pioneering and leading country that has its weight. It is an economic and military power and not a marginal or small country,” wrote user @fdeet_alnssr.
Saudi Arabia did not immediately congratulate the Democratic nominee on his victory.
The Saudi Press Agency reported that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz waited 24 hours after US media had called the election in Biden’s favour before sending telegrams congratulating US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.
Critics linked the belated messages to a video clip in which Biden appeared to threaten Saudi Arabia over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
One Saudi national who spoke on condition of anonymity said that “every time a new president arrives at the White House, intruders come out to re-publish statements of the new president in which he attacks Saudi Arabia. Their aim is to intimidate the Saudis.”
Palestinian sociologist Bilal al-Sabbah showed some comments by Palestinians on a local news website where a picture of Biden and his family was published.
“These are the comments of some Palestinians that I regret to relay, but I will because I believe there is need to understand the hidden facets of the Palestinian identity crisis… Our crisis is moral, and our culture has unfortunately been based on it,” he tweeted.
Sabbah said, “Following up on Palestinian comments on social media could play a key role in revealing the thinking mechanism in Palestinian society.”
Some Saudis believe numerous Palestinians are being used as “pawns” by Riyadh’s antagonists.
In recent years, Saudis have accused influential Palestinians, including politicians, media figures and others, of turning into agents of countries that are hostile to the kingdom and are now fighting proxy wars that impact the Palestinian cause.
Commenting on Palestinians’ online attacks against the kingdom, Saudi writer Turki al-Hamad previously wrote, “I do not find a single tangible reason for all of this … an unnatural wave of hatred against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries without a convincing reason … a phenomenon that deserves to be studied.”
He added, “I am not an advocate of hatred against anyone, especially when it comes an Arab brother, but with these behaviours unfortunately push us not to sympathise with them [Palestinians].”
Some Twitter users criticised the ongoing debate as lacking a serious understanding of Saudi-Palestinian history and current affairs.
Many warned that some Facebook and Twitter users are rushing to exchange insults and accusations that could negatively impact Saudi-Palestinian relations.
Some of them wrote that there are hired agents trying to stir up trouble and initiate a hateful, nationalistic campaign that tears people apart.
Palestinian Facebook user Zahi Alawi asked, “Why are the Palestinians happy with Biden’s victory? He was in the Obama’s administration but what did he do? Settlement continued, Jerusalem was gradually lost, Palestinian homes were destroyed, and Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize!”
Twitter user @Sultan_Alhamer commented on the online campaign by saying: “Some of our Arab brothers and agents of Iran are happy with Biden’s victory and the defeat of Trump, gloating at Gulf countries, believing that we were pleased by Trump’s presidency and hoping for it to continue. Now, here is Biden, who admitted to being a Zionist, so tell us how he will resolve the Palestinian issue.”
Some Saudi influencers have advised the public not to be drawn into such disputes.
Other influential figures, however, have called on the Palestinians to take advantage of Biden’s election to revive their national cause.
“For the Palestinian issue to have been present in the election statements of both Biden and Trump is a great thing. Now, the first thing to do is to invest this with Arab countries that have made Palestine a global issue, notably Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Unfortunately, some Palestinians do not get politics as they are only familiar with narratives of Marx, Lenin and Che Guevara,” Sabbah wrote.