Today: 14-04-2024

Voices from the Heartland: Muslim Americans Urge Biden to Prioritize Gaza Crisis Over Votes

WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) — In a bold move, several Muslim and Arab American groups are flexing their political muscles, issuing a stern ultimatum to President Joe Biden: act swiftly to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, or face the consequences in the 2024 election. The National Muslim Democratic Council, a coalition of Democratic Party leaders from pivotal states like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, has called on Biden to leverage his influence with Israel to broker a ceasefire by 5 p.m. ET (2100 GMT) on Tuesday.

Under the banner of an open letter titled "2023 Ceasefire Ultimatum," Muslim leaders have vowed to mobilize a formidable voting bloc, comprising "Muslim, Arab, and allied voters," to withhold support from any candidate endorsing the Israeli offensive against the Palestinian people. The council criticized the Biden administration's unwavering backing, including financial aid and weaponry, for contributing to the ongoing violence, resulting in civilian casualties and a decline in trust among voters who once supported him.

Emgage, a Muslim American civic group, revealed that nearly 1.1 million Muslims cast their votes in the 2020 election, with 64% supporting Biden and 35% favoring his Republican rival, Donald Trump, according to Associated Press exit polls. However, recent data from the Arab American Institute suggests a significant drop in support for Biden and Democrats among the estimated 3.7 million Americans with roots in Arab countries.

In response to mounting concerns, the White House has taken steps to address the grievances raised by community members and political appointees within the administration. Biden engaged with a select group of Muslim leaders last Thursday, although White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre refrained from commenting on the poll directly. She emphasized Biden's awareness of the challenges faced by American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, acknowledging their disproportionate exposure to hate-fueled attacks.

While Biden has condemned rising antisemitism and Islamophobia, Muslim leaders remain resolute: the conflict must cease, and their concerns cannot be placated with mere rhetoric. As the Biden administration navigates these turbulent waters, engagement with Arab and Muslim community members, alongside ongoing dialogue with Jewish leaders, is expected to continue in an effort to address the multifaceted concerns of these vital constituencies.

Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Minnesota, has taken a personal stance, declaring that he will not support President Biden in the 2024 election unless tangible efforts are made to halt the ongoing conflict. Speaking as an individual and not on behalf of CAIR, which is prohibited from engaging in political campaigning, Hussein emphasized his frustration with the Biden administration's perceived inaction regarding Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Local pro-Palestinian groups in Minneapolis are set to protest during Biden's visit to Minnesota, underscoring the discontent within Arab and Muslim American communities. The source of frustration lies in Biden's failure to condemn Israel's actions in the aftermath of an Oct. 7 attack by Palestinian Hamas militants, which Israel claims resulted in significant casualties and hostages.

Despite acknowledging Israel's right to defend its citizens, Biden's stance falls short for many, including Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American lawmaker from Michigan. Tlaib released a video on social media, criticizing what she termed "Israel's genocidal campaign in Palestine" and warning that support cannot be guaranteed in the 2024 elections.

As the situation unfolds, the Biden administration faces growing pressure to address concerns within these communities, with grassroots movements and individual leaders expressing their discontent with the current approach to the conflict.

In conclusion, the discontent within Muslim and Arab American communities regarding President Biden's handling of the Gaza conflict is reaching a critical juncture. The personal stance taken by Jaylani Hussein, representing the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Minnesota, underscores a broader sentiment within these communities. The scheduled protests during Biden's visit to Minnesota and Representative Rashida Tlaib's public criticism on social media further highlight the growing frustration.

The demand for concrete action to end the conflict in Gaza has become a pivotal factor, with individuals and groups expressing their dissatisfaction through both formal statements and grassroots movements. As President Biden navigates this complex landscape, the specter of potential repercussions in the 2024 elections looms, with voices like Hussein's and Tlaib's serving as indicative of a broader sentiment that demands a more decisive and proactive approach to the ongoing crisis. The administration's response to these concerns will likely shape its relationship with these communities in the coming months and influence political dynamics in the lead-up to the next election.