Some Arab American leaders signaled clear discontent with what they heard from Biden administration officials in Michigan Thursday after meetings meant to address a key constituency’s frustration with US policy around the Israel-Hamas war.
Administration officials met with the Michigan leaders in an attempt to quell uproar from key parts of the president’s coalition over his support for Israel in its war against Hamas and his continued reticence to publicly call for a ceasefire.
In statements after the meeting, which lasted about two hours, some of those involved vented their frustration with what they heard. A spokesperson for one group said it was “met with yet another failure from the Biden administration to call for an immediate ceasefire that saves lives.”
“We asked how Biden can demand our votes when he provides unconditional weapons funding to an Israeli government that pursues a policy of collective punishment against Palestinians,” Listen to Michigan spokesperson Abbas Alawieh said in a statement.“Biden’s funding of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s extreme, far-right government makes a mockery of his claim to fight against the bigotry and authoritarianism of Trump and the MAGA movement.”
The growing discontent with Biden’s Israel policy has led to more than 30 Michigan officials pledging to vote “uncommitted” in their state’s Democratic presidential primary on February 27 as part of the Listen to Michigan campaign. Michigan, which Biden narrowly won in his 2020 matchup against then-President Donald Trump, will be a crucial battleground again this November.
The Muslim American vote could be especially critical. At least 146,620 of the 200,000 Muslim American voters in Michigan cast a ballot in the 2020 election cycle, according to an analysis by Emgage, an organization aimed at boosting the Muslim American vote.
Nearly 28,000 people have been killed during Israeli military operations in Gaza as of Thursday, the territory’s Health Ministry reported, and more than 67,317 have been injured since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
The meeting was attended by some of Biden’s most trusted advisers and policymakers, as well as Michigan leaders including Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and deputy Wayne County executive Assad Turfe. Arab American leaders spurned a previous meeting that had been scheduled with Biden campaign officials, not with administration policymakers.
Turfe said in a statement that any further meetings would be “conditional upon real action.”
“The developments in Gaza will serve as the benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness of the administration’s actions,” Turfe said. “The Biden administration must act swiftly and decisively to end this violence, honoring the principles of justice and human rights.”
Hammoud said on X that the group remains “uncompromising in our values and our demands,” including a call for a permanent ceasefire and the end of unrestricted military support for Israel by the United States.
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