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Amid Arab-American anger over Gaza, Biden visits Michigan


Harper Woods, US: US President Joe Biden campaigned Thursday in Michigan, a critical swing state where growing Arab-American resentment of his pro-Israel policies threatens to erode his already slim margins of support.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators greeted Biden in the Midwestern state, accusing him of backing a "genocide" in Gaza, and held a demonstration near his meeting with members of the United Auto Workers union, whose leadership endorsed him recently.

As the Israeli military continues to pound Hamas in Gaza in retaliation for the group's October 7 strikes, and the civilian casualty toll continues to rise, Biden is frequently challenged at public events by demonstrators and hecklers demanding a ceasefire.

The Democrat began his Michigan tour by conversing with diners at a restaurant popular with African Americans, another demographic whose support he needs as he looks at reelection and defeating his likely opponent, Donald Trump.

However, he fears losing the votes of the state's sizable Muslim and Arab population in November. That could be problematic in an election with razor-thin margins.

Michigan is one of a handful of swing states that might go either way in November, playing a crucial role in the electoral math in a close election.

Biden only barely defeated Trump in 2020.

Biden's campaign manager visited Dearborn, the city with the highest number of Arab Americans in the United States, only to be turned down by the mayor of the Detroit suburb.

Apparently hoping to surprise demonstrators on Thursday, the White House did not specify which town Biden would be visiting ahead of time, simply stating that it was in the Detroit region.

Biden did not meet with any representatives of the Arab-American community while in the state, but top administration officials will visit Michigan to do so soon, the White House said.

The president has asked Congress for billions of dollars in additional military aid to Israel, and numerous calls for a ceasefire by the UN Security Council have been vetoed by his administration which has left the Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent feeling betrayed by their traditional political home the Democratic Party.

They accuse the 81-year-old of sacrificing civilians in Gaza, which is experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis, in order to help Israel.

According to the White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden was “heartbroken by the suffering of innocent Palestinians.”

Biden authorised sanctions against four hardline Israeli settlers accused of attacking Palestinians in the West Bank before leaving Washington for his trip on Thursday.

Biden said the situation there was “a serious threat to the peace, security and stability.”

“The situation in the West Bank — in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction — has reached intolerable levels,” Biden said in his order announcing the sanctions.

The current conflict in Gaza began with Hamas' October 7 strike on Israel, which killed around 1,140 people, the majority of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official numbers.

Following the bloodiest attack in Israel's history, the IDF began a brutal offensive in Gaza, killing at least 26,900 people, the majority of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory.

On Wednesday, a group of Dearborn organisations demanded an urgent ceasefire in Gaza.

Abdullah Hammoud, the city's mayor, had previously stated on X, formerly Twitter, that he declined to meet with Biden's campaign manager.

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TAGS:IsraelGazaJoe Biden
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