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Biden faces backlash from Michigan voters over Gaza war

President Joe Biden is facing a growing challenge in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary, as some progressive and Arab-American groups are urging voters to choose “uncommitted” instead of supporting his re-election bid. The campaign, which started earlier this month, is a sign of dissatisfaction with Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which killed more than 200 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.

Why some voters are “uncommitted”

The organizers of the “uncommitted” campaign say they want to send a message to Biden that he needs to do more to protect the human rights of Palestinians and end the U.S. military aid to Israel. They also hope to influence the Democratic Party’s platform and policies on foreign affairs.

One of the leaders of the campaign is Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, who represents a city with a large Arab-American population. He said that voting “uncommitted” is a way to express solidarity with the people of Gaza and demand accountability from the U.S. government.

“A vote uncommitted is a vote for humanity. It is a vote for peace. It is a vote for justice,” Hammoud said in a statement.

The campaign has gained the support of several prominent figures, including U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American who represents parts of Detroit and Dearborn, and former U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, a Jewish progressive who has been critical of Israel’s actions. Tlaib, who visited Gaza in 2016, said that she was moved by the stories of the victims and survivors of the war.

Biden faces backlash from Michigan voters over Gaza war

“If you want us to be louder, then come here and vote uncommitted,” Tlaib said in a video outside an early voting site on Saturday. “This is the way you can raise our voices. Don’t make us even more invisible. Right now, we feel completely neglected and just unseen by our government.”

How Biden’s campaign is responding

Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, is focusing on the general election and preparing for a possible rematch with former President Donald Trump, who narrowly lost Michigan in 2020. Biden’s campaign has been touting his achievements in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and restoring America’s leadership in the world.

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign, said in Flint on Monday that while the campaign wants as many votes as possible, it is not worried about the “uncommitted” movement.

“We’re focused on the endgame,” Landrieu said. “We’re focused on making sure that we win Michigan again, that we win the presidency again, and that we continue to move this country forward.”

Landrieu also defended Biden’s record on Israel and Palestine, saying that the president has been a longtime supporter of a two-state solution and a peaceful resolution of the conflict. He said that Biden was instrumental in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas last month, and that he has pledged to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza and rebuild its infrastructure.

“The president has been very clear that he supports the security of Israel and the dignity of the Palestinian people,” Landrieu said. “He has been working very hard to make sure that both sides can live in peace and prosperity.”

What the experts say

Political analysts say that the “uncommitted” campaign is unlikely to have a significant impact on the outcome of the primary, as Biden is expected to win the nomination easily. However, they say that it could reflect a deeper rift within the Democratic Party over its stance on Israel and Palestine, and that it could affect the enthusiasm and turnout of some voters in the general election.

“It’s a symbolic gesture, but it’s also a signal of discontent,” said Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University. “It shows that there is a segment of the Democratic base that is not satisfied with Biden’s foreign policy, and that could have implications for his ability to mobilize them in November.”

Grossmann said that the “uncommitted” campaign is part of a broader trend of progressive activism and criticism of the Democratic establishment, especially on issues related to social justice and human rights. He said that while Biden has tried to balance the demands of different factions within his party, he has not been able to please everyone.

“Biden has been trying to walk a fine line between being a pragmatic leader and a progressive champion,” Grossmann said. “But he has also faced some backlash from both sides, and that could create some challenges for his coalition.”


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