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Friday, May 24, 2024

Biden administration faces pushback from Arab-Americans

The US president and his top diplomat have encountered voter anger over Washington’s support for Israel in the Hamas war

Muslim-American voters have balked at the latest outreach efforts by Joe Biden’s administration, making it clear that the US president’s support for the Israeli war effort in the Gaza Strip may imperil his reelection bid.

At stake are several so-called “swing states” with large Muslim populations that helped propel Biden to an electoral victory in the 2020 presidential race. Even small shifts in support from Arab-Americans in such hotly contested states as Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona could swing the 2024 election against the Democrat incumbent, who already faces an “abandon Biden” movement in Michigan.

Read more: Biden says he has decided how to respond to Jordan attack

Widespread voter anger was evidenced on Thursday, when Biden’s motorcade reportedly had to be re-routed during a campaign stop in Michigan because Arab-Americans held a demonstration to voice their anger over the heavy civilian casualties in Gaza. “Genocide Joe has got to go,” protestors chanted while waving Palestinian flags.

Back in Washington, many of the Palestinian-Americans invited to a meeting to discuss the Israel-Hamas war with Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to attend. “We do not know what more Secretary Blinken or President Biden need to hear or see to compel them to end their complicity in this genocide,” some of the invited guests said in a statement, explaining their decision to snub Blinken.

Read more: Political pressure builds on Biden to strike Iran after US deaths

Pro-Palestinian protestors have also camped outside Blinken’s home in recent days to press for a change in policy. Dr. Tariq Haddad, a Virginia cardiologist who declined to attend Thursday’s meeting at the US State Department, told Blinken in a letter that he could not face him after the administration’s policies led to the deaths of 80 of his family members in Gaza.

“The more I thought about this meeting, the more I could not emotionally bring myself to look you in the eyes, Secretary Blinken, knowing you and President Biden have knowingly contributed to the suffering and murder of so many of my family, the homelessness and dispossession of 2 million Gazans, and the famine that has befallen my remaining family members,” Haddad wrote.

More than 27,000 Gazans have been killed since the war began in October, according to local health authorities, and the UN has reported that 570,000 people in the besieged Palestinian enclave are starving. Hamas fighters triggered the conflict with surprise attacks against Israeli villages, killing more than 1,100 people and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza.

The Biden administration has approved two emergency arms sales to Israel, bypassing congressional authority, and has rejected calls for a ceasefire. At the same time, Biden and Blinken have urged Israeli leaders to minimize civilian casualties and allow more humanitarian aid trucks to enter Gaza.

Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed that only 34% of US voters approve of Biden’s handling of the Gaza crisis. An earlier poll by CBS News found that the president’s support for Israel was alienating at least one-third of Democrat voters.