A delegation of senior Biden administration officials plan to meet with Muslim and Arab American community leaders in Michigan Thursday, one day after dozens of state officeholders announced plans to vote “uncommitted” in the state’s upcoming Democratic primary election.
The Detroit meeting comes as hostility toward President Biden grows among Muslim and Arab Americans – a sizable voting bloc in the Great Lake State – over his support for Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists.
Tom Perez, senior adviser and director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; Samantha Power, United States Agency for International Development administrator; Jon Finer, principal deputy national security adviser; Mazen Basraw, National Security Council director for partnerships and global engagement; Steve Benjamin, senior adviser to the president and director of the Office of Public Engagement; Jamie Citron, principal deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement; and Dan Koh, director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs will be among the Biden administration officials participating in the White House directed effort, according to multiple outlets.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre teased the forum last week when the 81-year-old commander-in-chief traveled to Michigan to meet with union autoworkers, telling reporters that the officials plan “to hear directly from community leaders on a range of issues that are important to them and their families, including the conflict in Israel and — and Gaza.”
About a dozen Muslim and Arab American Michigan elected officials, officeholders and community leaders rebuffed meeting with Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez last month after the planned summit elicited “outrage” in the community, with some invited attendees against Israeli military action in Gaza expressing disapproval that campaign officials were dispatched to the state rather than policymakers.
Dearborn Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud, who was one of the officials who declined to meet with the Biden campaign last month, revealed Wednesday that he has signed onto a pledge to cast an “uncommitted vote” in Michigan’s Feb. 27 Democratic presidential primary over Biden’s “destructive decision making” concerning the Israel-Hamas war.
“Under the direction of President Joe Biden, our government has failed to act to protect the lives of innocent men, women, and children,” Hammoud said in an X post. “Worse yet, President Biden and his administration have suggested that there is an exception to this rule when it comes to Palestinian lives.”
“There continues to be destructive decision making: eliminating funding for [the United Nations Relief and Works Agency], the agency responsible for the support of millions of refugees suffering from famine and starvation; and the continued support for billions in unrestricted US taxpayer dollars for Benjamin Netanyahu and his radical government’s genocidal campaign.”
The Palestinian death toll from about four months of war has reached 27,478, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count but claims most of the dead have been women and children.
“We demand a better future and we intend to make our voices heard on Feb. 27,” Hammoud said. “I encourage you to join me in taking the pledge to vote ‘Uncommitted’ in the upcoming presidential primary election.”
The pledge, organized by “multiracial and multifaith, anti-war” individuals under the banner, “Listen to Michigan,” has so far been signed by 34 state and local officials.
It calls the “ongoing tragedy in Gaza” an “affront to our shared humanity” and demands an immediate “call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza” from the Biden administration.
Biden’s support among Arab Americans has tanked in the aftermath of his support for Israel in its war against Hamas – the terror group that massacred some 1,200 people in the Jewish state and kidnapped about 240 on Oct. 7, 2023.
Only 17.4% of Arab American voters said they would vote for Biden in 2024, according to a John Zogby Strategies poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute last October.
In 2020, the same poll measured Arab American support for Biden at 59%.
The White House and the Biden campaign did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment.