Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Home News Israel-Gaza briefings: Biden treading carefully through political minefield

Israel-Gaza briefings: Biden treading carefully through political minefield

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Israel-Gaza briefings

Israel-Gaza briefings: Mr Biden is trying to balance competing constituencies in his party
Most opinion polls suggest that the American public as a whole tends to support Israel in the conflict, even while key components of Mr Biden’s Democratic coalition – young voters and people of colour – do not.

The domestic political calculations are complicated. His administration has to balance competing constituencies within the Democratic Party that could all claim they are essential to the president’s re-election cause.

Pro-Palestinian groups in the US have called for a permanent ceasefire, support for diplomatic efforts in the United Nations and the threat of an end to American military aid to Israel if it does not change course.

“People are upset, and you’ve got to give them a reason not to be upset,” says Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.

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He describes the Biden administration’s efforts so far as “ham-fisted, half-measure statements about how we were sorry we didn’t express more sympathy and we’re working behind the scenes”.

The protest vote in Michigan amounted to less than the margin by which Mr Biden beat Republican Donald Trump in the state in 2020, but is much more than the 10,704 votes Democrat Hillary Clinton lost the state to him in 2016.

“There’s no doubt that there were some folks in Michigan that wanted to send the president a message,” Mitch Landrieu, the campaign’s national co-chair, said on Thursday. “Every issue is complicated, and this is one of them that needs to be worked through.”

Abdullah Hammoud, mayor of Dearborn, speaks during an election night gathering hosted by Listen to Michigan, a group urging residents to vote uncommitted in the Democratic presidential primary, in Dearborn, Michigan,

The protest vote in Michigan was small but campaigners like Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud wanted to send Mr Biden a message.
In reality, while the pro-Palestinian groups are a vocal minority, they are still a minority, says Derry Sragow, a California-based political consultant.

“There’s a chunk of the electorate that is very much focused on Gaza, but it’s a very small,” he says.

“That’s not to say that how the president deals with Gaza is unimportant, but it is just another brushstroke on the canvas that voters are going to be looking at when they cast their vote.”

Polls show that the American public is more concerned about the economy, immigration and abortion rights.

And even in Michigan, Mr Sragow notes, there  are as many Jewish voters who are passionate about supporting Israel as there are pro-Palestinian voters. And Jewish voters continue to overwhelmingly support Democrats, with more than 70% backing him in 2020 and polls showing that majorities approve of his handling of the Gaza War.

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