The US president seeking re-election will likely struggle to win a key state because of his support for Israel.
US President Joe Biden’s visit to Michigan has exposed a growing divide within the key Arab-American community in the key state ahead of November’s general election.
Biden spoke with members of the United Auto Workers union Thursday after they endorsed his re-election bid, but the president’s motorcade had to use Warren’s side streets to avoid some two hundred protesters before arriving at destination.
Crowds of Arab-Americans gathered to show their anger against Biden’s unwavering support for Israel even as its war on Gaza has killed more than 27,000 people, mostly women and children, amid international calls for a ceasefire.
Protesters in the electoral battleground state chanted “Genocide Joe must go” and waved Palestinian flags, a week after the World Court. order Israel wants to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.
“Michigan has a large Arab American and Muslim population that voted overwhelmingly for Biden in the last election,” said Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Warren. “If he loses even half the vote, it’s unlikely he can win Michigan – and without Michigan, he has a very narrow path to winning a second term,” he said. she adds.
At the protest, the anger and disappointment was palpable, with several demonstrators saying the US president was “lost to us forever.”
“Nothing will ever make me vote for a genocidal president,” a protester identified as Hawraa told Al Jazeera. “Not just me, but everyone. My entire Arab community will never vote for this man.
Salma Hamamy, an activist with Students for Justice in Palestine, said Biden had “completely abandoned” the Palestinian and Arab communities, as well as “the concept of humanity.”
“Just like he abandoned us, we will abandon him on Election Day,” the protester said, citing Biden’s continued support for Israel.
Arab Americans will no longer choose between the “lesser of two evils,” between Democratic and Republican candidates, in the next election, she continued. “We will vote for the people who deserve our vote.”
‘Without looking back’
Along with Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Michigan was part of the so-called blue wall of states that Biden managed to bring back to the Democrats during his 2020 election.
Michigan has become increasingly Democratic in recent years, with the party now controlling all levels of state government for the first time in four decades. Biden is seeking the critical 15 electoral votes the battleground state can deliver.
But Israel’s war against Gaza has compromised its chances.
“There is real anger within the (Arab American) community,” James Zogby, president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, told Al Jazeera.
“Imagine a situation where a sitting president comes to town and people try to arrange a meeting with him before he arrives, and the community says, ‘We don’t want to meet with him,’ and they reject it, and ultimately the White House needs to abandon its plan,” Zogby said, predicting that a defeat in Michigan would mean a Biden defeat in November.
Democratic strategists are hoping the potential of another Donald Trump presidency will be enough to change the community’s minds — but Khalid Turaani, who helped launch the Abandon Biden movement, said that won’t work.
“Because Joe Biden is president, we don’t think the Israelis are bombing a little less. So when we have Trump, I don’t believe they will bomb a little more just because Trump is president,” he told Al Jazeera.
“We need a ceasefire.”