Change Gaza policy or lose presidency— Dearborn mayor to Biden

Dearborn biden
(Photo: Twitter/X)
WASHINGTON — The Mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, Abdullah Hammoud has issued a message to US President Joe Biden, stating that if his administration continues its unwavering support for Israel, it will cost him the Arab American vote and potentially his re-election later in 2024, Khaberni reported. اضافة اعلان

Speaking to Middle East Eye in Dearborn, home to one of the largest Arab American populations in the US, Hammoud said that, for the next two weeks, he and several other dissenting voices in Michigan will be encouraging voters to select ‘uncommitted’ in the state's Democratic primary, which is slated for February 27.

Hammoud cited the ongoing US support for Israel's devastating war on Gaza, highlighting the grassroots 'Vote Uncommitted' campaign. This campaign aims to mobilize Arab and Muslim Americans in Michigan, among whom 146,000 voted for Biden in 2020, to vote ‘uncommitted’ as a form of protest.

Consequences for Biden due to Israel's war on Gaza
Last week, 30 other elected officials announced they would be voting ‘uncommitted’ in the primary in a bid to compel Biden to change course on the Middle East.

"We did this because no presidential candidate has earned our vote," Hammoud said, adding, "President Biden's administration [has] continued to make destructive policy decisions [on Gaza]. ... If he continues this course, he will be remembered for sacrificing American democracy in 2024."

While Biden has referred to Israel's conduct in Gaza as ‘over the top’, his administration has shown little sign of halting support for Israel's deadly offensive, which has killed about 28,000 Palestinians, wounded tens of thousands of others, and leveled entire areas of the Gaza Strip.

Although Biden is unlikely to face a serious challenge from Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota in the primary, there is ample polling evidence that his support for Israel is deeply unpopular.

As a result, the ‘Vote Uncommitted’ campaign has drawn criticism from many members of the Democratic Party as well as several media outlets, which have labeled it as a win for the presidential ambitions of Donald Trump.

In 2020, Biden defeated Trump in Michigan by approximately 154,000 votes. However, in 2016, the former president secured victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan by a mere 10,000 votes. Given Michigan's status as a swing state, the likelihood of Biden's re-election in November's presidential race without the backing of the Arab American vote may be close to impossible.

In an interview with CNN on February 2, Hammoud was asked if he was worried about what a Trump presidency would mean for the lives of Palestinians in Gaza. Hammoud stated that the framing of the question was strange and lamented that voters were being blamed for the potential failure of a candidate, ‘rather than the candidate’ themselves.

"We're a city that's protesting to help prevent the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And as a community, as a city, we don't believe there's a qualifier to that sentence or to that value statement.”

Concerns about hatred towards Muslims and Arabs
Hammoud spent much of this week juggling phone calls and meeting with Biden administration officials eager to regain the support of disgruntled voters. He has also been grappling with the aftermath and concerns of potential attacks after the Wall Street Journal published an opinion column labeling his city as a ‘jihad capital’ due to its large pro-Palestine demonstrations.

Immediately after the column's publication, Hammoud increased police presence in the city amid fears of possible attacks targeting members of the Arab community. Since October 7, 2023, there have been a series of deadly attacks on Palestinian Americans and individuals expressing support for the Palestinian cause.

Hammoud denounced the opinion piece as a deliberate attempt to smear a grassroots movement that was organized by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Additionally, he pointed out that Dearborn has a history of facing hate, with attacks and threats against its Muslim community over the past few decades, including a planned march by Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones outside the Islamic Center of Dearborn in 2011.

"As a father of two and someone who grew up in the post-9/11 era, I had hoped that America was better than this. But it appears that we still have a long way to go to break the cycle of hate."

In May 2021, when Hammoud was a representative for the state of Michigan, he met Biden at a Ford manufacturing plant in Dearborn, where he handed the president a letter. The situation was similar: Israel was bombing Gaza, and Dearborn's community was demanding the US to cease its support of Israel's military.

The letter to Biden called on him to commit to working towards delivering real justice to the Palestinian people. At the time, Biden's team assured Hammoud he would receive a direct response from the president. Nearly three years later, amid another Israeli war on Gaza, Hammoud stated he has yet to receive a response.

"I never got a direct response from the president back in 2021 as it pertained to the issues of Palestine. But what I can tell you, and I think what this letter demonstrates, is that for us the issue of Palestine is a 365-days-a-year issue.”

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