US Muslims pledge to ditch Biden in 2024 over his stance on Israel-Gaza war

Muslims in key states launch #AbandonBiden campaign over US president’s refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in Nantucket, Mass., on Friday
A recent survey revealed a significant decline in Biden's backing among Arab Americans, dropping from a substantial majority in 2020 to just 17 percent. [File: Stephanie Scarbrough/AP Photo]

Muslim American leaders in several pivotal states pledged on Saturday to rally their communities against President Joe Biden’s bid for re-election due to his steadfast backing of Israel’s war in Gaza.

The #AbandonBiden campaign began when Minnesota Muslim Americans demanded Biden call for a ceasefire by October 31, and has spread to Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida.

“This #AbandonBiden 2024 conference is set against the backdrop of the upcoming 2024 presidential election and the decision to withdraw support for President Biden due to his unwillingness to call for a ceasefire and protect innocents in Palestine and Israel,” the group told US news outlet Axios in a statement.

Opposition from their sizable Muslim and Arab American populations could pose a challenge to the president’s Electoral College prospects in the upcoming election.

The US president and the vice president are elected by a group of “electors” who are chosen in most cases by political parties in that state.

“We don’t have two options. We have many options,” Jaylani Hussein, director of Minnesota’s Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) chapter, said at a news conference in Dearborn, Michigan, when asked about Biden alternatives.

The US politics is dominated by two parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – but independent candidates can also run for president.

Former Harvard professor and pre-eminent Black philosopher Cornel West, who is running as an independent candidate, has called for a ceasefire in Gaza and condemned Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Jill Stein, who is in the race on the Green Party platform, has also called for a ceasefire in Gaza. She was a candidate in 2016 as well as 2012.

However, the influx of private donations flowing into the US political system means that independent candidates with smaller funding have less chance of electoral success compared with candidates from the two big parties.

US and Israeli officials have rebuffed pressure for a permanent halt in fighting, with US Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday echoing Biden saying Israel has a right to defend itself.

At least 15,207 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7. In Israel, the official death toll stands at about 1,200.

According to the latest data from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Palestinian government, as of November 23, Israeli attacks have damaged more than half of Gaza’s homes.

On Friday, Israel renewed its bombardment of Gaza following a seven-day truce, targeting refugee camps and leaving remaining hospitals overwhelmed. At least 700 people have been killed in relentless Israeli bombardment in the past 24 hours.

‘Not Trump’

Muslim Americans said they did not expect former President Donald Trump to treat their community any better if re-elected, but saw denying Biden votes as their only means to shape US policy.

“We’re not supporting Trump,” he said, adding the Muslim community would decide how to interview other candidates.

It remains to be seen whether Muslim voters would turn against Biden en masse, but small shifts in support could make a difference in states Biden won by narrow margins in 2020.

A recent survey revealed a significant decline in Biden’s backing among Arab Americans, dropping from a substantial majority in 2020 to just 17 percent.

This shift could have a crucial effect in states like Michigan, where Biden secured victory by 2.8 percentage points, and Arab Americans constitute 5 percent of the vote, according to the Arab American Institute.

Among the general public, opinion polls show most Americans back an end to Israel’s war in the besieged enclave.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies