Progressive Dissatisfaction with Biden's Approach to Israel-Gaza Crisis

Cordell Cox, a Michigan resident who has consistently supported Democratic candidates in presidential races, is considering sitting out the next election. While he may still vote for President Biden if he becomes the Democratic nominee, Cox does not plan to actively encourage others to vote and is concerned that some of his friends may choose to vote for a third-party candidate or not vote at all. Cox and like-minded individuals are dissatisfied with Biden's handling of the violence in Israel and Gaza. As the White House proposes sending $14 billion in aid to Israel, Cox and his friends express their belief that the US should prioritize domestic issues such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and homelessness instead of providing financial support and weapons to other countries. This sentiment reflects a growing pro-Palestinian sentiment among progressives, particularly younger ones, which could strain the fragile alliance Biden has cultivated with the left over the past three years. Despite initial skepticism, Biden's policies and rhetoric on climate change, student loans, and labor activism have won over many liberals, leading several prominent progressive leaders to pledge their support for Biden's re-election last summer. However, recent criticism from former congressional Democratic staffers regarding Biden's refusal to call for a cease-fire in Gaza has caused tension. Demonstrators demanding a cease-fire were arrested at the White House and the Capitol, leading to resignations from a State Department official and a staff member for Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). Additionally, a Muslim administration official was booed by the crowd at the funeral of a Palestinian American boy who was killed in what authorities believe was a hate crime. Former President Barack Obama released a statement defending those on the left who are concerned about the plight of Palestinians, emphasizing that it is possible to support Palestinian rights and criticize Israeli government policies without being anti-Semitic. The growing divide over Israel becomes particularly apparent as the conflict takes center stage in Biden's public appearances. This debate could complicate Biden's re-election campaign, especially as younger Democrats express hesitations or anxieties about his candidacy. While the war may fade into the background by the time Americans vote in the upcoming election, progressive voters and young activists have stated that they will not forget Biden's strong support for Israel. Arab and Muslim groups have also expressed anger over US backing for Israel's airstrikes in Gaza, which Palestinian officials claim have resulted in approximately 5,800 deaths. A Democratic aide, who signed a letter supporting a cease-fire but spoke anonymously out of fear of backlash, emphasized that it is possible to want Israel's safety, condemn Hamas' actions, and oppose the killing of Palestinian civilians without moral conflict. However, the current dynamic on Capitol Hill has created a situation where these positions are seen as conflicting, forcing individuals to choose sides. Josiah Wampfler, a former worker for Sen. Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign, reluctantly voted for Biden in the general election. While initially satisfied with Biden's foreign policy, Wampfler was disappointed by the president's response to the Israel-Gaza violence, which he described as "atrocious."

Wampfler stated that he would likely still vote for Biden in the upcoming election, especially if Trump becomes the Republican nominee. However, he acknowledged that others who share his viewpoint may not. He finds it unacceptable to witness the blatant destruction happening currently and to see his president fully supporting it. Initially, Biden condemned the Hamas attacks as "sheer evil" and emphasized Israel's right to defend itself against the militant group. He has since stressed the importance of Israel abiding by international law, advised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to succumb to anger, and consistently advocated for humanitarian aid to be provided to Gaza. During an address in the Oval Office on Thursday, Biden highlighted the humanity of innocent Palestinians who desire peace and opportunities, drawing a distinction between them and Hamas. When asked about dissent, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre affirmed that Biden supports Americans' right to peacefully protest if they believe the administration is falling short. She made this statement on Monday. Ammar Moussa, a spokesperson for Biden's campaign, asserted that the president has been unwavering in his opposition to Islamophobia. Moussa also sought to contrast Biden's approach to issues affecting Muslim and Palestinian communities with that of Trump, who is currently leading in polls for the Republican presidential nomination. As president, Trump implemented a travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries. Recently, he proposed immigration restrictions for Hamas sympathizers and critics of Israel. Trump has pledged that if reelected, he would expand the travel ban and reject refugees from Gaza. Moussa stated in a press release, "As MAGA Republicans continue to run on an openly [Islamophobic] platform — including renewed support for Donald Trump’s Muslim ban — the stakes of next year’s election could not be more consequential. President Biden continues to work closely and proudly with leaders in the Muslim and Palestinian communities in America, to listen to them, stand up for them, and fight back against hate." However, some activists argue that Biden and other Democratic leaders are making a political miscalculation by assuming that young liberals will support them regardless of their stance on Israel. Usamah Andrabi, a spokesperson for Justice Democrats, an organization dedicated to electing liberals to Congress, expressed his belief that Democratic leadership is taking the support of these voters for granted. He believes they are failing to listen to the demands of these voters. Polling on Israel and the U.S. response to the current crisis reveals a significant generational divide. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released this month, approximately half of voters aged 18 to 34 disapprove of the United States sending weapons to Israel. In contrast, 59 percent of voters aged 35 to 49 approve, with even stronger support among older age groups. These figures partly reflect a shift in attitudes towards Israel, particularly within the Democratic Party. Many Democrats from Biden's generation witnessed Israel's early days as a vulnerable and left-leaning country established in the aftermath of the Holocaust. They view it as an essential haven for Jews. Biden himself stated during his recent trip to Israel, "I think without Israel, there’s not a Jew in the world who’s secure." On the other hand, younger Democrats perceive Israel as a powerful nation that has imposed severe restrictions on the lives of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Solidarity with Palestinians has become more visible within the party. This is evident in the 400 congressional staff members who anonymously signed a letter urging their bosses to advocate for a change in the U.S.'s approach to the conflict. The signatories requested that lawmakers demand a shift in U.S. policy towards Israel, placing greater emphasis on promoting peace, justice, and equality for both Israelis and Palestinians.

طلحة عبد الكريم
By : طلحة عبد الكريم
مدير و محرر مدونة الموقع التقني.