Biden's Party Fails to Rebuild Bridges with Michigan Arabs

By Gamal Khattab February 11, 2024 1638


A Missed Opportunity

Last week, President Joe Biden visited Michigan but did not meet with any Arab or Muslim leaders in the state. Now, a delegation of senior aides from the White House has also failed to bridge the gap between the Biden administration and the Arab and Muslim community in Michigan.

This is a problem for the White House because they are worried about losing support from this community in the upcoming presidential elections in November.

The White House Delegation

The White House delegation, led by John Finer, Deputy National Security Advisor, included Samantha Power, Director of the US Agency for International Development, and Steve Benjamin, Director of the Office of Public Engagement. They met with Arab and Muslim Americans in Michigan for nearly two hours, hoping to mend relations after President Biden's handling of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

A History of Disappointment

This meeting came after representatives of Michigan Arabs refused to meet with Biden's campaign manager in the past. They felt that the Biden administration was only interested in securing their votes, rather than listening to their concerns. Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud expressed his frustration on social media, saying that the meeting was a political discussion with senior advisors, not just campaign staff.

Biden's Position

During the meeting, the White House delegation tried to explain President Biden's position on the Israeli aggression. They acknowledged that mistakes were made, including not acknowledging the large number of Palestinian deaths early on. However, they focused on Biden's efforts to reach a temporary agreement to stop the fighting and balance support for Israel with humanitarian concerns in Gaza. They did not offer an apology or promise a permanent ceasefire, which is what Arab and Muslim American leaders wanted to hear.

Michigan Jews' Concerns

The meeting with Arab and Muslim leaders in Michigan sparked anger among Michigan Jews and organizations supporting Israel. They were worried that the Biden administration would respond to pressure from Arab voters. Some Jewish websites criticized the participation of Osama Siblani, a local political activist and newspaper publisher, who has expressed support for organizations classified as terrorist by the United States. They urged caution in giving legitimacy to such a divisive figure.

Disappointing Results

After the meetings, Abed Ayoub, Executive Director of the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, summarized the opinions as follows: no one expects any changes in Biden's policy towards Gaza, some felt the meetings should not have taken place, and there are serious questions about the White House's understanding of the Arab and Muslim community. Some participants even regretted attending the meetings after hearing the responses from White House officials. This has led to a campaign in Michigan to reject Biden by voting "not committed to voting" in the upcoming primary elections.

At the same time, a number of Democratic Party leaders are betting on the assumption that the majority of Arab and Muslim voters will end up voting for Biden again, because they realize that voting for the potential Republican candidate, Donald Trump, will be a great service to Israel.

Source: Al Jazeera