After attending the October 20 prayer for Gaza on the Washington Mall, my mother, a lifelong Democrat and union member, called me and said, “Son, I am done with Democrats. Biden Lets Child Murder Happen. My mother lives in Virginia, a light blue state with a Republican governor and a high concentration of Muslim, Arab and young progressive voters who are staunchly opposed to President Joe Biden’s alliance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his approaching war in Gaza.
What my mother said hit me hard because I desperately want Biden and the Democrats to win re-election and secure strong majorities in 2024. Like many progressive Democrats, I was pleasantly surprised by the president’s actions on the matter. climate, economy and student debt. My mother’s comments did not shock me, however, because they speak to the deep disappointment I personally felt with Biden’s handling of the violence in Israel and Gaza.
These things are personal – they touch on a fundamental level of identity, trust and belonging.
Over the past few weeks, I have been inundated with messages from Muslim and Arab Americans and millennial organizers who have fueled movements such as the Iraq War protests, Black Lives Matter and the Green New Deal, and who helped turn out Democratic votes in 2020 and 2022 – all echoing my mother’s sentiment: They are done with the Democratic Party.
A majority of Democrats and independents to oppose send weapons to Israel, according to an October 19 CBS/YouGov poll. The most recent Gallup poll finds that Biden’s popularity fell 11 points in October to an all-time low among Democrats. Among voters aged 35 and younger, 65% opposed military aid to Israel, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. These organizers and voters will not vote for former President Donald Trump, but they may very well not participate in the election or vote for a third-party candidate if Biden and the Democrats maintain their current course.
On October 11, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre characterized the demonstration by a handful of anti-war representatives in Congress calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to military aid to Israel as “false”, “repugnant”. » and “shameful”. It took five days for Biden to call the family of 6-year-old Wadea al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American child of refugees who was murdered in a vicious and violent hate crime. Meanwhile, Biden called the families of the Israeli hostages within two hours of their release.
Congress held a bipartisan vigil for Israeli lives lost in the war, but made no room for mourning commensurate with the nearly 2,000 Palestinian children who were killed by the Israeli government or in memory of little Wadea. White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients reportedly sent an email to his entire staff expressing solidarity with Jewish staff, but made no mention of how the state’s response Israel affected the residents of Gaza, much less Arab or Muslim Americans. In Congress, nearly 400 members signed a resolution mourning Israeli lives and reiterating an unconditional alliance with Israel, but the resolution made no mention of the thousands of Palestinians who died under Israeli bombs.
Each of these moments of neglect has helped fuel a feeling among Muslim and Arab American Democrats that the party leaders who are supposed to represent them are instead dehumanizing them. These things are personal – they touch on a fundamental level of identity, trust and belonging. Many Muslim and Arab Democrats have found comfort in the outpouring of support and attention to American Jews, even as they are also heartbroken and angry that the same attention has not been given to Arab and Muslim Americans or to the Palestinians.
Some note, of course, that Trump is even more bigoted toward this community. This is undoubtedly true.
Some note, of course, that Trump is even more bigoted toward this community. This is undoubtedly true. But Biden is the incumbent president and the Democratic Party at least claims to be the party of a multicultural and tolerant democracy.
As Arab and Muslim Americans feel dehumanized by their Democratic representatives and this level of invisibility in their ostensibly liberal and humane workplaces, when they see people who look like them, with names like theirs, being indiscriminately bombarded by US funded weapons, why should we think we have a president or party that cares about people like us?
As someone deeply invested in Democrats’ success against the MAGA movement, I worry about what Biden’s handling of Israel and Gaza will mean. Arab Americans are not a huge voting bloc, but in key states like Michigan — which helped Trump win in 2016 despite his countless insults toward Muslims, people of color, immigrants, women, disabled people, etc. – they constitute a crucial block. .
This is a real threat that Biden and his entourage must take seriously. Just ask Rep. Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, who has lived in Dearborn for 40 years and is not a strong left-wing advocate on the issue between Israel and the Palestinians. “Michigan is a competitive state and it’s purple to begin with. With these complex dynamics, it’s going to make it one of the most challenging states in the country,” Dingell said.
There is a wall that prevents so many Democratic strategists from seeing Palestinians, Arabs and Muslim Americans as real voters of the party, a wall so thick that they don’t even realize why to express, again and again, their concern only for the Israelis during this period. this time it would be a problem. The Biden administration’s occasional remarks, which live on both sides, ring hollow when it appears to make no effort to curb the Israeli government’s indiscriminate assassinations.
There is no military solution ; there is only one policy, and it only begins when the fighting stops.
There is still time to correct the situation. Biden warned the Israeli government against repeating the same mistakes our government made after 9/11. Senior officials told NBC News that Biden’s team had advised restraint and that approach had “paid off.” But it is clear that this is not enough. Biden must publicly and emphatically emphasize the need for a different approach, discouraging the continuation of the ground invasion of Gaza, insisting on a ceasefire, and reminding Netanyahu that throughout the history of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, bloodshed has never led to more bloodshed.
There is no military solution ; there is only one policy, and it only begins when the fighting stops. Perhaps Israel will be able to kill or capture 40,000 Hamas fighters in surgical strikes. But the resulting destruction and indescribable losses will undoubtedly anger Palestinian civilians, making them more likely to support Hamas, and Israel will not be any safer. One need only look at US special operations in Afghanistan over the past 15 years to see the failure of such an approach. Arab and Muslim Americans, along with millions of other Americans opposed to Israeli strategy, understand that the United States is helping to finance this war, providing missiles and bombs that level neighborhoods populated by people who look like us. .
If Biden continues to enable and enable this, he will break a fundamental trust, and no amount of talk about the greater evil in 2024 will fix it. The future of American democracy is at stake; we need young people to participate in record numbers. Giving Netanyahu a blank check to wage a war of vengeance does not help. I pray, for all of our sakes, that the Biden administration will correct its course – because our country cannot afford to foot the bill for failing to respect Palestinian lives should it come due in 2024.