Bahbah: Arab Americans Want to Punish Biden for His Support of Israel’s War on Gaza
By: Bishara A. Bahbah / Arab America Featured Columnist
The mood among Arab and Muslim Americans and their allies is bent on punishing President Joe Biden for his one-sided and naked support of Israel in its war on Gaza by refraining from voting to reelect him in the upcoming presidential elections in 2024.
- Refused to call upon Israel to accept a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas fighters despite the mind-boggling casualties and destruction caused by Israel’s war in Gaza.
- Provided political cover for Israel by vetoing UN Security Council resolutions demanding an immediate ceasefire.
- Rushed to Israel munitions and military equipment to allow to continue its military operations in Gaza. He stated, “We’re surging additional assistance, including ammunition and interceptors, to replenish Iron Dome. We are going to make sure that Israel does not run out of these critical assets to defend its cities and its citizens.”
- Sent the U.S. fleet to provide Israel with protection from any external attacks, especially from the Houthis in Yemen.
- Failed to compel Israel to allow the opening of the Gaza border with Egypt to let all the needed amount of humanitarian aid enter Gaza. It is a farce to believe that Biden could not force Israel to allow the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Biden is the one world leader who can influence Israel’s government.
Biden’s unconditional support for Israel’s military attack on Gaza has resulted, as of December 11, in the death of more than 18,400 Palestinian civilians and the wounding of over 50,000 people. According to UN estimates, up to 85 percent of the 2.3 million people in Gaza – one of the most densely populated areas in the world – have already been displaced from their homes and are now crammed in an even smaller area near the border with Egypt.
It comes as no surprise that President Biden’s reelection prospects could be tied to how Democrats – in particular progressives, Young Democrats, Independents, and African Americans – and Arab and Muslim Americans view his performance during and after the Israel-Hamas that erupted on October 7th. ”
A Gallup poll conducted in February of this year confirmed that for the first time, more Democrats sympathize with Palestinians (49%) than sympathize with Israelis (38%). The 49% is more than double the 23% who sympathized with Palestinians in 2004.
Based on an analysis by The Washington Post, “Biden’s handling of the war threatens to diminish the enthusiasm for him among young voters ahead of the 2024 elections.” Generation Z and millennial voters – those born from 1997 to 2012 and 1981 to 1996, respectively – have typically supported Democratic candidates, and young people were vital to flipping swing states such as Michigan and securing Biden’s win in 2020. If we combine those voters with Arab- and Muslim-American voters and progressives, independents, and Black Lives Matter, Biden could handily lose his election bid in 2024.
A poll from the Arab American Institute published in early November surveyed 500 Arab Americans revealed that 17% said they would not support Biden in 2024, down from 59% who supported Biden in 2020. Another survey from Democratic pollster Research Partners found “just 16% of Arab and Muslim Democrats in the key swing state of Michigan would vote for Biden if the 2024 election were held today.” If this exodus of support for Biden persists, it would threaten Biden’s chances in crucial swing states where he won by slim margins.
Only 34 percent of all American voters approved of how Biden is handling the Israel-Hamas war, versus 56% who said they disapprove. An NBC News poll found that 59 percent of independent voters – whose numbers now exceed those of registered Democrats – disapproved of Biden’s handling of the conflict.
A recent poll showed that public support for Biden vs. Trump runs at 44 vs. 42% — within the margin of error. We all know that delegate numbers matter more than overall votes. If Biden lost only two swing states in 2020, he could have lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. The same could happen in 2024 if a crucial base of Democrats abandons Biden because of his staunch pro-Israel stance during Israel’s current war on Gaza.
In a recent meeting with Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) at the Palestinian-American Community Center in Phoenix, Tlaib implored the attendees not to abandon the Democratic party. She noted that she understood the anger in the community over Biden’s support of Israel and recognized that voters want to punish Biden in the upcoming presidential election. However, she appealed to the attendees to, at the very least, vote down the ballot to support Democrats in Congress and at the state levels.
Here is what Biden needs to do if he wants to win over these disgruntled voters:
- Secure an immediate ceasefire in the genocidal attacks by Israel on Palestinians in Gaza.
- Ensure that Israel does not occupy Gaza and force it to leave Gaza immediately.
- Hold an international peace conference that calls for creating a two-state solution.
- Any peace agreement would have to be monitored and its terms implemented within a defined timetable, unlike the Oslo Agreements, which were to be completed by 1999 but still needed to be implemented.
- Convene an international donor conference for the rebuilding of Gaza and many areas of the West Bank. The United States, Germany, and Britain have a unique responsibility to help the Palestinians because their past actions have harmed Palestinians and their quest for an independent state.
The community’s anger over Biden’s actions is so deep that even with the implementation of the steps outlined above, Biden might not get the full support from these two communities. This is critical in swing states like Michigan, which Biden carried in 2020 with a mere 150,000 votes and where more than 210,000 Arab Americans and another 240,000 Muslim Americans live. Without Arab or Muslim support in Michigan, the likelihood of Biden carrying the state in 2024 is slim.
The dilemma for Arab and Muslim Americans and their supporters is that if Biden loses in 2024, then Trump will win, and we are all aware of how anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian Trump was during his presidency. The choice in 2024 will be between two potential presidential candidates intensely disliked by those communities.
Unfortunately for Biden, his hands are bloodied with tens of thousands who have been killed and wounded in Gaza due to his support of Israel and his continual refusal to call for a long-lasting humanitarian ceasefire. The bottom line is that Biden will almost certainly be punished at the polls in 2024.
About the Author: Dr. Bishara Bahbah is a senior fellow and distinguished columnist at ArabAmerica.com. He taught at Harvard University, where he served as the associate director of its Middle East Institute. He was the past vice president of the U.S. Palestine Council and negotiator in the Middle East peace talks.
Check out Arab America’s blog here!