Maxwell Frost abandoned Palestine on his way to Democratic primary victory – Mondoweiss

Posted By on August 27, 2022

The left wing of the Democratic Party was delighted by the victory of Maxwell Alejandro Frost in Floridas Tenth Districts primary Tuesday night. And why shouldnt they be? At 25, Frost will be the first Generation Z Member of Congress, and his views on a wide range of issues are very much in step with the most progressive parts of the party.

Except for Palestine.

The Orlando activist supports Medicare for All, including expanding coverage to vision care, hearing, dental, mental health, and even substance abuse. Frost takes a strong stance on gun violence, including banning assault weapons, launching community-based anti-violence programs, and more. He has extremely progressive stances on the criminal justice system, climate change, housing, transit, and more. He seems to be a progressive in every way imaginable.

Except for Palestine.

The conservative publication Jewish Insider describes Frost as both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. But Frosts position paper on the issuenotably, his only such in-depth stance on any foreign policy issueportrays a very different stance. In fact, it could easily have been written by AIPAC, an idea which, given Frosts entirely too cozy relationship with prominent AIPAC shill, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) may not be far from the truth.

Frosts position paper is a standard take on Democratic support for Israel. It supports unconditionaland, implicitly, unmonitoredmilitary aid to Israel, calls BDS problematic and anti-peace, demonizes Iran, praises the Abraham Accords, and so on. Frosts paper supports a two-state solution in theory, but opposes any pressures on Israel to get there, just as Democratic allies of AIPAC do.

Frosts paper reflects those views in more subtle ways as well. The small section on Palestinian rights is qualified on every level. Heres how it starts: Our commitmnent (sic) to Israeli security must run parallel to our commitment to ensuring the dignity and humanity of the Palestinian people. While I advocate strongly for continued aid to Israel, I will do the same for robust US assistance that benefits the Palestinian people and is in compliance with Taylor Force Act. The entirety of Palestinian rights is dependent on Israeli security, even to the extent of noting that aid must comply with the Taylor Force Act, which essentially bars aid to Palestine until it stops supporting families of those in Israeli prison for violence against Israelis. In practice, Frosts paper supports emergency humanitarian aid to Palestinians and little else. His bottom line of, basic human rights and dignity for Palestinians does not speak to Palestinian national or civil rights.

Frost even runs out the tired line that, Its important to note that peace can only be achieved through bilateral talks between the two parties negotiating in good faith with the goal of long-lasting, sustained peace. This, of course, is the very point the U.S. and Israel use to ban Palestine from seeking help, support, and accountability from other countries and international institutions.

When Frost advocates for aid to UNRWA and other humanitarian agencies, he says, this aid serves an important role because of the disastrous conditions in Gaza and to a lesser extent the West Bank. Unemployment is staggeringly high, there is serious food and water insecurity, schools are deeply underserved, and there are grave electricity shortages.

In Frosts paper, these conditions just happened. No one caused them. There is no occupation a word he never uses let alone a siege on Gaza and repeated, high-level violence causing all of this. There is no hint that any Israeli action is even slightly to blame.

This is particularly distressing in Frosts case because he is crafting an image epitomized by his statement that he represents a generation that has a natural sense of seeing the world through the eyes of the most vulnerable.

Except, apparently, for Palestine.

Making the matter even more distressing, Frost had, early in his campaign, worked very closely with Palestine advocates in Florida.

Rasha Mubarak, an organizer in Florida and President of Unbought Power, a political consulting firm, told Mondoweiss, Basically, Maxwell Frost was a friend who approached me about running for office. And I said I will help in all of my different capacities, and all I ask is that he continue to support Palestine liberation. He signed a Palestinian feminist collective pledge. He was part of our Palestine organizing network. He was part of organizing at Florida Palestine Network.

But on Monday, the Florida Palestine Network issued an angry statement about Frosts apparent betrayal of the group. After Palestinian and pro-Palestinian organizers and organizations assisted in building, funding, and powering his campaign, Maxwell Frost has already violated his commitment to protecting and fighting for human rights for allTo use FPNs organizing success as a stepping stool and become anti-Palestinian is disturbing and unacceptableSupporting genocide, imperialism, and settler-colonialism will never equate to a win for people conscious of human rights

Last year, Frost tweeted his support for FPNs event commemorating Nakba 73, numbering the years since the Nakba, and Israels creation. Orlando, the time is now to show solidarity with our family in Palestine. Please come out, he tweeted. Clearly, something shifted dramatically between then and now.

Mubarak, who worked closely with Frost in putting together his team of closest advisors and his campaign staff, has some ideas. We never pressured him as a Palestine network because we knew he was good on these issues. So, when he got the Ritchie Torres endorsement, I reached out and said its time for you to meet with FPN, so youre prepared on this issue. And thats when he committed to support ending military aid and said he supported BDS. I told him just dont forget the people who helped build out your campaign. He was like, of course, and was explicit about supporting the grassroots BDS movement.

Both Mubarak and FPN stated that Palestine activists were instrumental in the initial construction of Frosts campaign infrastructure and supported him powerfully during the campaign. Although there were hints that Frost was wavering in his support of Palestinian rights, activists were blindsided by the August 11 article in Jewish Insider that illustrated a strongly anti-Palestinian stance.

Torres, Mubarak said, took Frost under his wing. The two share a bond, both being Afro-Latino, and as young politicians in the Democratic machine perceived, rightly or wrongly, as staunch progressives. But Torres has emerged as radically anti-Palestinian and a reliable AIPAC counter during his time in Congress, and has been accused of abandoning his espoused values for political gain on other issues as well.

After getting Torres endorsement in March, Frosts attitude toward Palestine began to shift, Mubarak said.

Frost presents a particularly distressing dilemma for progressive Palestine advocates. His politics are not just progressive, but almost revolutionary in mainstream politics. And he is being celebrated by prominent Democrats.

Woo-hoo! @MaxwellFrostFL will be a member of Congress who fights tooth and nail for working people, and I look forward to teaming up with him, Elizabeth Warren tweeted.

Ed Markey tweeted, We need to listen to young people and let them lead. Thats when well get a Green New Deal. Honored to support @MaxwellFrostFL, and Bernie Sanders endorsed him a few days before the election.

Despite his youth, Frost has already had a solid career as an advocate with the ACLU and March for Our Lives. He seems to be the perfect progressive.

Except for Palestine.

As common as the Progressive Except for Palestine (PEP) clich is, its rarely quite as pronounced as it is with Frost. Whether his turnaround was due to being convinced by pro-Israel propaganda, by cynical political concerns, by a pragmatic worry that his agenda not be derailed by a foreign policy matter that is not his primary concern, or by Torres winning his ear, Frost will be an important person for Palestine activists to target.

He has demonstrated in the past that he knows better than the sort of biased half-truths and outright misstatements in his position paper. His campaign victory came in a solidly Democratic part of Florida, and one that clearly leans progressive. While no one can be unconcerned about potentially facing the millions of AIPAC dollars that sunk other progressive campaigns in this primary season, Mubarak, a veteran of many campaigns in the Orlando area, said she was certain that Frost could have stuck with his positions on Palestine, even supporting BDS, and still won.

More than most PEPs (Progressive Except Palestine), Frosts claim that he is the voice for the most vulnerable is belied by his stance on Palestine. Whether it is education or political pressure that is needed to bring his position on Palestine in line with the rest of his progressive views, he is a case where that effort needs to focus.

I look forward to being a strong advocate and champion to ensuring we live in a country where we dont have to fear going to church or going to school because of gun violence. We deserve the freedom to live without the fear of that violence, Frost said.

So does everyone, Maxwell. Including Palestinians.

This movement needs a newsroom that can cover all of Palestine and the global Palestinian freedom movement.

The Israeli government and its economic, cultural, and political backers here in the U.S. have made a decades-long investment in silencing and delegitimizing Palestinian voices.

Were building a powerful challenge to those mainstream norms, and proving that listening to Palestinians is essential for moving the needle.

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Maxwell Frost abandoned Palestine on his way to Democratic primary victory - Mondoweiss

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