A group of Muslim and Arab-American voters and community leaders in Michigan have decided to pass on the meeting with President Joe Biden’s campaign that had been planned for Saturday. Leaders say that they’ve canceled the meeting because of the President’s apparent unwillingness to restrain Israel in its months-long attack on Gaza.
Following weeks of public statements by Arab American and Muslim activists, advocates, and voters that they would not support Biden in 2024 because he backs Israel as it lays siege on Gaza, his campaign attempted to connect with community leaders in the Detroit area, where one of the largest Arabic-speaking populations in the country is located. The campaign hoped to discuss these concerns and had scheduled a meeting between leaders and campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodriguez.
“We’re dumbfounded,” the National Executive Director of The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Abed Ayoub, told ABC News. “Why does this administration still believe that we’re just going to be willing to meet with them with no movement on their part on our demands? And they’ve been the same demands since October, and nothing’s changed.”
Biden had publicly dismissed the likelihood that Arab and Muslim Americans would not vote for him in the 2024 election if he continued to remain silent about the relentless attacks by the Israeli military on Gaza, in what some have described as an act of genocide on Palestinians (the United Nations is currently hearing a case on this now).
“The former president wants to put a ban on Arabs coming into the country,” said Biden earlier in January, referring to Trump’s 2017 directive that had banned people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. “We understand who cares about the Arab population.”
This may have once been true during the 2020 election when Biden received 70 percent of the vote in Arab and Muslim-American counties in Michigan, but polls have shown that since the Hamas attack and the Israeli response, two-thirds of Arab and Muslim-American voters would vote against the incumbent president.
Following the Hamas attack on October 7, in which 1,200 Israeli civilians were killed and approximately 240 people were taken hostage—around 132 of them remaining in captivity— Israel’s military assault on Gaza has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, including more than 10,000 children and 83 journalists. The Biden administration has declined to intervene, maintaining U.S. aid to Israel. Though recurring stories have been published about the administration’s leaked internal frustrations with Israel, it has hesitated to publicly express concern about the air strikes and military actions within Gaza—an approach that my colleague, Noah Lanard, has noted is unique by the standards of recent American presidents.
Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud who had been slated to attend the meeting, expressed his frustration with the Biden administration on X (formerly Twitter), writing, “Our immediate demand is crystal clear: the Biden Administration must call for a permanent ceasefire to a genocide it is defending and funding with our tax dollars. Dearborn residents have tirelessly protested and organized in demand of a ceasefire. As their mayor, I follow their lead.”