Advertisement

Biden’s Meeting With Muslim Community Leaders on Gaza Was Disastrous

At a small White House event Tuesday between President Joe Biden and a group of Muslim American leaders, tensions were high and morale was low.

At one point, one of the six attendees showed Biden printed photos of malnourished Palestinian children, according to NBC News. The president said that he had seen the pictures before, but that was unlikely: The attendee, a doctor, said the photos were from her own phone.

“This speaks volumes to the dismissive nature of the administration when it comes to strong-willed action towards a permanent cease-fire or, at a bare minimum, a red line on the invasion of Rafah,” Dr. Nahreen H. Ahmed told NBC News.

Another doctor — Dr. Thaer Ahmad, a physician who worked at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis earlier this year — walked out before the 90-minute gathering had concluded, later telling CNN he did so “out of respect for the Palestinian people, who are mourning, who are grieving.”


Ahmad said Biden’s opening remarks at the event did not mention Gaza, famine, or the potential invasion of Rafah. Before he left, Ahmed said he parted ways with Biden after giving him a letter from an 8-year-old girl he had treated in Khan Younis, along with her photo, Ahmad told CNN.

The event was repurposed from a general celebration marking the end of Ramadan, the holy month in Islam honored through daily fasting, to more of a listening session between the President and prominent Muslim community members. Biden has faced steep criticism from Muslim and Arab American communities for his steadfast support of Israel during the Gaza invasion, as evidenced by uncommitted votes among Democratic primary voters. Even the president’s wife, Jill Biden, has urged Biden to urgently address the situation in Gaza and “stop it now,” according to the New York Times.

Hopes for the meeting had been diminished going into the evening, as many Arab American and Muslim American leaders declined invitations due to the ongoing siege in Gaza, the New York Times reported. Only six invitees showed up, including Salima Suswell, founder of the Black Muslim Leadership Council, who told NBC News she attended “to let the president know that Black Americans and Black Muslim Americans are deeply hurting about what is happening in Gaza.”

The meeting comes days after seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, an attack that drew widespread condemnation. According to a report in HuffPost, a recent cable drafted by officials at the U.S. Agency for International Development warned of “widespread” famine in northern Gaza as humanitarian groups face “considerable challenges in providing life-saving aid and specialized services to those in need.”

More from Rolling Stone

Best of Rolling Stone