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Mr. President: Stop Arming Israel or Risk Losing the Presidency  

posted on: Apr 3, 2024

Biden and Netanyahu. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By: Bishara A. Bahbah / Arab America Featured Columnist

Over the past two weeks, President Joe Biden finally felt compelled to offer three gestures of goodwill to appease Arab Americans and their allies concerning the ongoing carnage in the Gaza Strip. Concurrently, he continued arming Israel to a massive scale never seen in 75 years, allowing it to continue its genocidal attacks on Gaza.

The president has a critical choice ahead of the November presidential elections:  He either stops arming Israel or, as Arab Americans, along with our influential supporters, we will ensure his defeat in his presidential reelection bid in November. 

Along with our allies, we have already demonstrated our ability to withhold votes, vote “uncommitted,” or vote for other candidates as a warning during the Democratic presidential primaries. We did so with impressive success, whether in Michigan, N. Carolina, Hawaii, or Virginia, to name a few states crucial to his winning the presidency. 

Mr. President: This is not a threat. It is a promise.

Biden’s Seemingly Positive Gestures Toward Arab Americans

The United States abstained on March 25 from vetoing a UN Security Council resolution demanding an “immediate ceasefire” between Gaza and Hamas without preconditioning the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. The resolution did call for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages held by Hamas. Three previous resolutions demanding an immediate ceasefire had failed because the United States vetoed those resolutions. 

Our community, however, was appalled when, immediately after the passage of the binding UN Security Council resolution, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the resolution “nonbinding.” The United States is making a mockery of UN Security Council resolutions. It uses the resolutions it favors to enforce its wishes on the world community, such as invading Iraq under false pretenses. It dismisses outright those resolutions that it allows to pass because of international pressure, in the manner Ms. Thomas Greenfield has done.

Then, on March 29, the White House issued a proclamation declaring April 2024 as Arab American Heritage Month. 

Well done, Mr. President! A proclamation void of good intentions is mere words. 

The third gesture was when President Biden acknowledged “the pain being felt” by many Arab Americans over the war in Gaza. 

Acknowledging the community’s pain without actions to alleviate that pain are hollow words of no consequence.

President Joe Biden speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Biden’s Unfettered Military Support of Israel’s Genocidal Attacks on Gaza

As the president offered these hollow gestures, he continued arming Israel so that it may continue bombing Gaza and massacring its people, along with international aid workers. Seven of these aid workers from the global charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) were deliberately killed by an Israeli missile fired from a drone in Gaza on April 2.

On March 6, the Washington Post reported that administration officials informed Congress of the 100+ foreign military sales to Israel in a classified briefing. Very little is known about those arms sale deals because the content of each sale was kept a secret. However, the Washington Post reported the military sales included precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, 2,000-pound bunker-buster bombs that could flatten an entire city block, small arms, and other lethal weapons. 

The Biden administration took advantage of a loophole in the Arms Control Act to continue arming Israel. The Act provides significant exceptions for arms sales to close allies—a limit of $25 million for “major defense equipment,” defined as big-ticket items requiring much research and development. However, the limit is $100 million for other “defense articles,” like bombs. It is not publicly known what the total value of these 100-plus military sales or transfer agreements is, nor who pays for them. 

Ari Tolany, director of the Security Assistance Monitor at the Center for International Policy, a think-tank, commented, ‘This doesn’t just seem like an attempt to avoid technical compliance with US arms export law; it’s an extremely troubling way to avoid transparency and accountability on a high-profile issue.’  

To add insult to injury, when Congress passed and the president signed the U.S. government’s new funding bill on March 29, all aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), estimated to be several hundred million dollars, was suspended until March 2025. Almost $175 million of aid earmarked for the West Bank was diverted to other countries. I cannot imagine any part of the world requires assistance more than Palestine at present.

New reports have indicated that President Biden is weighing an arms transfer deal estimated at a whopping $18 billion, including 25 new F-35 stealth fighters. During President Barack Obama’s last year in office, he signed a $38 billion arms sales agreement with Israel to be dispensed between 2018 and 2028 on the condition that Israel would not be permitted to ask for additional annual military aid from the United States.

Biden was serving as Obama’s vice president at the time. The two arms sales and transfer agreements mentioned above vastly exceed what Israel had agreed to with the Obama administration. 

Biden is completely reneging on limiting arms sales and arms transfer agreements signed between the United States and Israel while he was serving as vice president. 

Damage Inflicted on Gaza by Israel’s Genocidal & Vengeful Attacks

As a community, we are utterly enraged at these reports of arms sales and transfers to Israel. Hitherto, U.S. arms provided to Israel since October 2023 have been used to flatten the Gaza Strip, kill close to 33,000, and injure over 75,000 Palestinians. Those arms have been used to demolish 75 percent of Gaza’s housing units, demolish 131 mosques, attack a church in Gaza, render the vast majority of Gaza’s hospitals inoperable, demolish Gaza’s universities, and impose a food siege on Gaza, leading to a politically motivated starvation of Gaza’s population at a scale not witnessed since World War II. 

War Damage in Gaza. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Majority of Americans Now Oppose Israel’s Military Offensive in Gaza

Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and their numerous allies – young and progressive Americans, Latinos, Blacks, Asians, and Native Americans – are dismissing Biden’s cynical outreach toward our community. 

More broadly, a recent Gallup poll has revealed that a majority of Americans, 55 percent, oppose Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, a notable shift from November of last year. Thus, if a majority of Americans oppose Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, they are opposed as well to Biden’s excessive arming of Israel with U.S. taxpayers’ funds. Those funds could be better spent at home on healthcare, education, veterans, and homelessness in many urban areas. 

Here is How Arab Americans and their Allies Intend to Unseat Biden

In the United States, “swing states” are won in a presidential election by three points or less. They have played a significant role in determining who the president will be in every election cycle since 2000. Swing states have varied from one presidential cycle to another. 

Biden’s hypocritical gestures toward Arab Americans above have been intended to appease the community and its allies after Biden suffered severe backlash in the Democratic presidential elections, primarily in crucial swing states such as Michigan, where the latest polls show former President Donald J. Trump leading Biden by 46 to 44 percent. However, the percentage of “uncommitted” votes in Michigan was around 10 percent. The “uncommitted” drive was organized by Arab Americans extremely displeased with Biden’s limitless military and political support of Israel during the ongoing Gaza war. That large percentage of “uncommitted” votes, if sustained until the November presidential election, would spell Biden’s doom in at least Michigan.

Last night, in the Wisconsin Democratic Primary, 48,091 voted “instructed,” 8.3% of the vote, according to the New York Times. In 2020, Biden won Wisconsin by just 20,000 votes.

At least ten states – Michigan, Hawaii, Minnesota, N. Carolina, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Colorado, Virginia, and Alabama voted in convincing numbers during the Democratic presidential elections either as “uncommitted,” “not specified,” or to other candidates as protest votes. 

We know people always vote in these categories in presidential primaries. However, when we noticed that those percentages were almost double those in previous years, we knew our campaign to warn Biden had succeeded.

Now, in the presidential elections in November, and unless President Biden ceases all military aid to Israel, our community and its supporters intend to make good on our promise and allow the presumptive Republican candidate, Donald Trump, to win the presidency.

This would be the first time in U.S. history that a president or a presidential candidate lost his bid because he supported Israel.

About the Author: 
Dr. Bishara Bahbah is a senior fellow and distinguished columnist
 at Arab He taught at Harvard University, where he served as the associate director of its Middle East Institute. He is currently president of the Palestinian American Congress and previously a negotiator in the Middle East peace talks.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Arab America.

The reproduction of this article is permissible with proper credit to Arab America and the author.

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