By Constantine Martin
In an unprecedented move, the most popular newspaper in the Palestinian territories endorsed a Jewish candidate in a U.S. election.
In April, Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, which typically covers the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership, fully endorsed Jewish candidate Jerome Segal in his election campaign to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate.
In an editorial explaining its endorsement, Al-Quds highlighted Segal’s efforts over the years to foster peace between Israel and Palestine, with those two nations’ long and complicated history as the main reason behind its endorsement.
“Dr. Segal is an ardent and dedicated supporter of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. He opposes occupation and illegal settlements. He supports legitimate international resolutions on the Palestinian issue,” the editorial said. “He is also committed to finding a just, stable and lasting peace in the region based on international resolutions and legitimacy.”
Segal was one of the first American Jews to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat in Tunisia in the 1980s, and made headlines in Israel and the United States when he wrote an op-ed for a Palestinian newspaper, which ended up being influential in the PLO drafting its Palestinian declaration of independence. He also carried out considerable research in the 1990s with Palestinian pollster Nader Said focused on finding a solution to the final status of Jerusalem.
“[Segal] has fought for the Palestinians more than any Israeli or American leader ever has. He’s very much in favor of the two-state solution,” said Executive Director of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies Paul Scham, a professor at this university. “I think [the endorsement] is interesting, but not terribly important nor will affect [the campaign].”
Segal has also criticised the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most influential pro-Israel lobby group in the U.S., for its neglect of Palestine. In a recent interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, he called out AIPAC for allegedly ignoring the Palestinians and settlements at its annual policy conference.
“I know AIPAC in terms of policy, I’ve never seen it as a culture,” he said in the interview. “It’s amazing. The Palestinians don’t get mentioned, the settlements don’t get mentioned. It’s like they’re discovering Israel, but Israel of the 1950s.”
Segal is running against incumbent Senator Ben Cardin, who is also Jewish, and others in Maryland’s Democratic party primary election, which will take place on June 26. If Segal wins the primary, he will become the Democratic Party’s candidate in the general election this November.
In its editorial, Al-Quds also said it will be closely covering the Democratic party primary election in Maryland. It will do so not only because its results are of importance to Palestinians, but because “they provide a window for American democracy” and “may hold vital lessons for us, in our quest to establish our democracy in an independent Palestine,” the editorial said.
“Any newspaper can endorse whoever they want. But my opinion would be that any foreign group shouldn’t be telling Americans how to vote because they’re not citizens, they’re not the ones involved in [U.S.] day-to-day life,” said Avi Schneider, a junior marketing major and the Terps for Israel President. “I don’t think there is any difference between it being a Jewish candidate or a regular candidate.”
Segal is a research scholar and professor of philosophy at this university and has contributed to Al-Quds over 30 times, according to his website. He is also the president of the Jewish Peace Lobby.
Students for Justice in Palestine at this university declined to comment on the endorsement of Segal. SJP supports Palestinians’ fight for human rights under international law through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and community education, said Moran Stern, a doctoral candidate in government and politics at this university and a graduate fellow in advanced Israel studies.