A group of Arab American leaders and activists gathered at the Hanini Outreach and Community Center, Dearborn, Michigan on October 16 to discuss the best way to respond to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
Those Arab American activists who attended the meeting shared their outrage at what they see as President Joe Biden’s lopsidedly pro-Israel approach to the current war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the Gaza Strip. They want Biden to pressure Israel for a cease-fire and end what they see as Israel’s reckless disregard for Palestinian civilians, as well as recognize that the best way to end Palestinian violence toward Israel would be to address Palestinians’ legitimate grievances. All agreed that under almost any circumstance, they would not vote Biden and would encourage other Arab Americans to do so.
“You take my vote, you take my money and then you spit on me?” The Sunday Review quoted Osama siblani as one of the attendees. He is publisher of The Arab American News. “They are racist, and they are dealing with our people like trash. And we are going to teach them a lesson come November. We’re not going to vote for them.”
Hussein Dabajeh – a senior advisor to Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun as well as the head of his own consulting firm – is leading the creation of a political committee which will act as the central force in pushing for the boycott of Democratic candidates failing to speak out for Palestinians rights and against Israeli bombardment. Dabajeh told The Sunday Review, who attended the meeting on Oct. 16, that donors were lining up to fund the effort.
The prospect of swing-state Michigan’s sizable Arab and Muslim population sitting out the 2024 Biden faces the biggest domestic political challenge after his embrace for Israel, following the murder of 1,400 Israelis during an unprecedented Hamas terror attack on Oct. 7, which prompted him to support Israel. But it’s just one of many facing the president and his campaign as they work to navigate the politics of the issue, which have been altered both by the increasing liberalism of young voters and the simple fact that the Arab and Muslim populations in the United States continue to grow.
Biden, an Israel supporter for many years who identifies as a Zionist, who was welcomed like family by the Israeli right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to Israel last Wednesday, hugged him physically.
But the meeting on Oct. 16, in Dearborn, reveals a more complex reality for Biden at home, particularly with Democratic base voters. The deaths of more than 5,000 GazansThe deaths of tens of thousands children during Israeli airstrikes is a heavy burden for these voters. In addition, there are indications that a broader American public is now more sympathetic to Palestine.
“People are not asking him to use the term ‘war crimes’People are asking him to say the word ‘restraint.’”
– Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland
Polling on the conflict is highly sensitive to question wording, though a CNN/SSRS poll released last week found that 96% of Americans were sympathetic to the Israeli people while 87% said they were sympathetic to the Palestinians. The same poll found that 50% of Americans said the Israeli response to the attack was fully justified, with 20% more saying it was partially justified. (Other polls have found larger gaps between how sympathetic Americans are to Israelis and Palestinians, and polls are essentially unanimous in finding more Americans sympathize with Israelis rather than the Palestinians.)
Democrats and young people are the clear drivers of increased sympathy for Palestinians. A full 91% of people ages 18 to 34 have sympathy for the Palestinians, and only 57% of 18- to 34-year-olds said the Israeli government’The response of the spokesman was partially or fully justified. CNN poll.
In the same poll, 99% of Democrats expressed sympathy for Palestinians and 49% said they did not. “a lot” It is a feeling of sympathy. Just 38% of Democrats said that the Israeli response is fully justified. 30% called it partially justified.
“[Biden’s] one-sided approach does not correspond to where Democrats are in general,” Shibley Telhami said, a political professor and specialist in public opinion at the University of Maryland.
“People are not asking him to use the term ‘war crimes’; people are asking him to use the word ‘restraint,’” Telhami added. “There is a real problem in the appearance that he is not valuing the lives of civilian casualties.”
Among other complaints, Telhami expressed outrage at Israel’s decision to cut off water, electricity, food, and fuel from Gaza, and at the inability of U.S. citizens trapped in Gaza to gain safe passage out through Egypt.
The White House has responded to critics by noting Biden’s success in brokering the deal that led to the admission of 20 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza through Egypt ― over Republican objections ― and his repeated his opposition to Islamophobia and the conflation of Hamas with Palestinian civilians. The Biden administration also leaned on Israel Delay its ground invasion in Gaza so that more time can be given to negotiate the release of hostages, to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza and to devise plans to protect civilians.
White House officials also highlight their investment in outreach and communication to progressive Arab American, Muslim and Arab American critics inside the administration. Anita Dunn, senior adviser at the White House and Jeff Zients, chief of staff have met twice with Arab American and Muslim White House employees to listen to their frustrations.
“They put in a lot of time with administration officials at all levels to listen to their concerns and their feelings about what’s happening,” “Said a White House Official, who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely.” “They’ve done that with Jewish American appointees. They’ve done that with Arab and Muslim American appointees.”
“People can be at once disappointed or disagree with certain policies but should understand that the reality is that this administration has to make difficult decisions, and standing by allies should probably not be one of them,” Official added
The Biden administration dispatched Dilawar Syed, the deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration and the highest-ranking Muslim official in the Biden administration, to speak on Biden’s behalf at a vigil in Illinois for Wadea al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian American killed by his landlord in what police say was a fit of Islamophobic rage.
Biden’s detractors ultimately want policy concessions rather than rhetorical gestures. Telhami described the U.S.-brokered human aid as a “bandage” Gaza’s civilians are treated as victims of natural disasters while the real causes of their suffering remain unaddressed: Israel’s relentless air attacks, which Israel claims are only aimed at Hamas militants and the Israeli siege on the coastal enclave.
Alexis Zeidan, a Palestinian American activist in Dearborn who was present at the Oct. 16 meeting, grades Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war as “less than an F.”
“When it comes to the Arab culture, people love us, but when it comes time to stand up for the Arab culture, people fail us,” Zeidan said. “We’re not talking about policies that are impacting the way our roads are built; we’re talking about policies that have led to the death of a number of our brothers either back home or here.”
Michigan is likely to suffer the greatest electoral impact from the loss of voters who supported Biden in large numbers in 2020. Michigan has the largest percentage of Arab American citizens in the United States. The state has more than 310,000 people Middle Eastern or North African descent, of various faiths and more. 240,000 Muslims The ethnic diversity of Michigan residents is diverse. Detroit is home to the majority of Michigan residents that fit either category.
These Michiganders, who are broadly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, played a critical role in boosting Biden’s margins in Michigan. In the majority Arab neighborhoods on the East side of Dearborn Biden received 81% of the vote to Donald Trump’s 17% in 2020. Biden won Michigan by about 150,000 votesBut polling shows that a tighter race In the state of 2024.
“As a survivor of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, I know the kind of hate that the modern-day Republican Party is fueling in our country, so this is a particularly difficult moment for me as a Democrat.”
Abbas Alawieh is the former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Cori Busch (D-Mo.).
“Even if I am the vote that will decide whether Biden is president or not, I will not vote for Biden ― even if that means Trump becomes president again,” Adam Abusalah is a Palestinian American from Dearborn, who attended the meeting. “We feel like he has betrayed us.”
“Time and time again, we are told to choose the lesser of two evils, the lesser of two evils,” added Abusalah, who was a fellow on Biden’s 2020 campaign and served as communications director to Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Mich.). “But now more than ever, it’s clear that the lesser of two evils doesn’t work.”
Siblani Abusalah Zeidan said that Biden cannot redeem himself before the presidential election.
“Not only are you seen as a failed leader, you are now seen as a murderer,” Zeidan said. “And I don’t think there’s any reduction from that. People’s lives matter.”
Dabajeh offers only one unlikely circumstance in which Biden could win back his vote: the immediate recognition of a Palestinian state along Israel’s pre-1967 border.
Abbas Alawieh is a former chief-of-staff to Cori Bush, a left-wing Rep. (D-Mo.). Biden is not ready to dismiss him just yet, even though he recently returned to Dearborn.
“As a survivor of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, I know the kind of hate that the modern-day Republican Party is fueling in our country, so this is a particularly difficult moment for me as a Democrat,” Alawieh called for a truce between Israel and Hamas. “My support is conditional on whether federal and statewide elected officials decide to take a different route, a route that embraces peace, a route that embraces saving lives, as it relates to Middle East policy.”
Though Muslims have grasped the most political power in Michigan, their growing population ― there were just 2.4 million Muslims in the United States in 2007, compared with nearly 3.45 million in 2017, according to the Pew Research Center ― means they have increased political power in multiple other states, including Minnesota, Virginia and New Jersey.
According to a study, Americans who know a Muslim are more likely to have favourable views of Muslims in general. According to a study, Americans who have met a Muslim tend to be more positive about Muslims in general. study released by Pew March is a month of celebration.
“To know Arab and Muslim Americans and to see them in their full humanity helps people understand that our call for a cease-fire is not a political position – it is an urgent plea to keep us and to keep our families here, and in Israel-Palestine and in Lebanon, alive,” Alawieh said.
Biden is taking a risk in trying to appease voters who would like to see a more balanced approach from him to Israel. Jewish Americans who have a pro-Israel bias have long held a powerful position in Democratic circles. They do this through their activism, voting patterns and financial support.
In states including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona, pro-Israel voters ― Jewish and non-Jewish alike ― could play a decisive role in the outcome of the presidential election, according to Mark Mellman, a pollster who runs Democratic Majority for Israel, a group that has spent millions of dollars defeating strident Israel critics in competitive Democratic primaries. And in New York, where Democrats hope to claw back four House seats that Republicans flipped in 2022, pro-Israel Jewish voters could be a key part of Democrats’ plan to retake the House, Mellman says
“There’s been a whole series of polls that all say the same thing: The American people generally and Democrats specifically are very much on Israel’s side in this conflict,” Mellman said.
Mellman was sceptical that Muslim and Arab American activist would stick to their anti Biden pledge, if they had to choose between Trump or Biden, as Trump renewed on Monday his vow to reinstate a ban against Muslims entering the United States.
“As an analyst, it’s hard for me to believe that when you actually get to the presidential election more than a year from now and you have Joe Biden, who has protected and advocated for civil rights, civil liberties for Arab Americans, against the guy who is a racist Islamophobe and instituted a Muslim ban, for God’s sakes, it’s just hard to imagine that people are going to go for the Muslim ban guy,” He added.