Biden met with protest and snubs on Michigan trip marked by war on Gaza

Warren, Michigan - President Joe Biden campaigned Thursday in the crucial swing state of Michigan, where growing Arab-American anger at his pro-Israel policies threatens to cut into already tight margins of support.

President Joe Biden was met with protests during his trip to Michigan, amid anger among Arab Americans over his support for Israel's war on Gaza.
President Joe Biden was met with protests during his trip to Michigan, amid anger among Arab Americans over his support for Israel's war on Gaza.  © Collage: REUTERS

Biden was welcomed to the city of Warren by pro-Palestinian protesters accusing him of supporting a genocide in Gaza, with a demonstration taking place near his meeting with members of the United Auto Workers union, whose leadership recently endorsed him.

As the Israeli military destroys Gaza in retribution for the October 7 Hamas attacks, and with the death toll now standing at a staggering 27,000, Biden is finding himself confronted regularly at public events by protesters demanding a ceasefire.

The Democrat began his Michigan visit by chatting with diners in a restaurant popular with African Americans – another demographic whose support he needs as he seeks reelection and the defeat of his likely challenger, Donald Trump.

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However, he risks losing the votes of the state's sizeable community of Muslims and people of Arab heritage this November, as well as young voters who overwhelmingly oppose Israel's actions.

Michigan is one of a handful of swing states that could go either way in November, playing a decisive role in the electoral math during a close election. Biden only beat Trump narrowly there in 2020.

Palestinian Americans have Biden on back foot

Biden and members of his administration have been snubbed by Palestinian Americans and many others who oppose unqualified support for Israel's brutal assault.
Biden and members of his administration have been snubbed by Palestinian Americans and many others who oppose unqualified support for Israel's brutal assault.  © REUTERS

Illustrating the tension, Biden's campaign manager went last week to Dearborn – home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the US – only to be snubbed by the Detroit suburb's mayor.

Palestinian American leaders also refused to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, according to the Huffington Post.

"I will not entertain conversations about elections while we watch a live-streamed genocide backed by our government," Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said.

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Apparently hoping to wrong-foot protesters on Thursday, the White House did not say ahead of time which town Biden would be visiting, only that it was in the Detroit area.

Biden didn't meet with any representatives of the Arab American community while in the state, though senior administration officials will visit Michigan to do so shortly, the White House said.

The president has asked Congress for billions of dollars in additional military aid to Israel and his government has vetoed multiple UN Security Council calls for a ceasefire in the conflict, leaving many Muslims and people of Middle Eastern heritage feeling betrayed by the Democratic Party, traditionally their political home.

They accuse the 81-year-old of sacrificing civilians in Gaza, which is facing a serious humanitarian crisis, in the name of supporting Israel.

Before leaving Washington for Thursday's trip, Biden issued an executive order sanctioning extremist Israeli settlers who terrorize Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS

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