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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Protest Movement Claims Victory in Michigan Democratic Primary Amid Concerns Over Biden’s Israel Policy

Amidst the unfolding drama of Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary, organizers of a protest movement opposing President Biden’s stance on Israel celebrated what they deemed a victory. In a jubilant gathering at a Lebanese restaurant in Dearborn, a hub of the state’s Arab American community, members of Listen to Michigan danced to traditional Palestinian music, declaring their cause triumphant.

Abbas Alawieh, a spokesperson for Listen to Michigan, hailed the outcome as a “resounding victory” for the pro-Palestinian, antiwar movement. Their strategy of urging voters to select the “uncommitted” option in the primary appeared successful, with the number of such votes surpassing former President Donald J. Trump’s margin of victory in Michigan in 2016.

Amidst cheers from the crowd, a rabbi led chants for “no more war” and “cease-fire now,” offering prayers for peace in Hebrew and English. By 10:30 p.m., over 34,000 votes for “uncommitted” had been tallied, raising the possibility of sending delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

President Biden’s response, while acknowledging Michiganders’ voices, notably omitted any mention of Israel or Gaza. Despite the movement’s apparent success, Biden’s allies highlighted his overall dominance in the primary, casting doubts on the significance of the protest movement’s results.

Listen to Michigan’s campaign manager, Layla Elabed, remained undeterred, emphasizing the need for Biden to heed the voices of Michiganders and advocate for a permanent cease-fire and an end to unconditional funding for Israel.

While some Arab American voters expressed skepticism about Biden’s ability to win back their support, others suggested they would reconsider if he altered his stance on Gaza. Gaby Santiago-Romero, a member of the Detroit City Council, stressed the urgency of the situation, emphasizing that Democrats risk losing support unless they demand an ultimate cease-fire.

As the festivities wound down, a group of individuals at the restaurant, all of whom had voted “uncommitted,” reflected on their choices. Dr. Hussein Abdel-Hak, a dentist and the restaurant’s proprietor, expressed hesitancy about supporting Biden, citing the need for immediate action on the Gaza issue.

While the protest movement’s impact remains to be seen, its emergence underscores the complex dynamics at play in the Democratic primary, where issues of foreign policy and international conflict intersect with domestic concerns and electoral strategy. The outcome of the primary may serve as a bellwether for broader shifts within the Democratic Party, particularly regarding its approach to Israel and the Middle East.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, Listen to Michigan galvanized support among Arab American voters, tapping into widespread frustration over Biden’s handling of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Their grassroots campaign, fueled by social media mobilization and community outreach efforts, resonated with many voters disillusioned with traditional party politics.

As Michigan’s primary results reverberate across the political landscape, they raise important questions about the Democratic Party’s stance on foreign policy and its willingness to address the concerns of diverse constituencies. For Biden and his allies, the challenge lies in navigating these tensions while maintaining party unity and electoral viability in the face of mounting criticism and dissent.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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