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Monday, June 24, 2024

Trump Ally Courts Arab and Muslim American Leaders

As President Biden’s support among Arab and Muslim Americans declines due to his backing of Israel in the war in Gaza, former President Donald J. Trump is making a concerted effort to capitalize on this discontent.

On Tuesday, Richard Grenell, a former senior official in the Trump administration, met with about 40 Arab and Muslim American leaders at an Italian restaurant near Detroit. Accompanying him was Michael Boulos, Trump’s son-in-law and a Lebanese American, though the Trump campaign stated it had not organized the meeting.

Arab and Muslim American voters, many of whom supported Biden in 2020, are now expressing frustration with his Israel policy. Grenell urged the group to leverage their political power by backing Trump, arguing that their support could help him win Michigan, a key battleground state, and demonstrate to both parties that they are a significant political force.

Participants described the meeting as lacking in specific policy details, with some attendees needing more information before committing to Trump. While some attendees were already Trump supporters, others had voted for Biden in 2020. Grenell even tried to have Trump address the group via speakerphone, but Trump called back after the meeting had ended, according to Ali Abdelaziz, who attended as a guest of Grenell.

The meeting’s details were first reported by the website NOTUS. Grenell declined to comment, and neither Michael Boulos nor his father could be reached.

However, even a small shift in support toward Trump could be significant in a tight election. Biden is facing a serious backlash from Arab and Muslim Americans over the Gaza conflict, with prominent community leaders reporting a breakdown in communication with the White House.

During the Democratic primaries, the protest movement against Biden garnered significant support in states with large Arab and Muslim populations, including Michigan and Minnesota.

Ammar Moussa, a spokesman for Biden, labeled Trump “the biggest threat to the Muslim and Arab community,” citing Trump’s previous actions and statements. At the meeting, Grenell did not promise an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza but argued that Trump would “muscle” his way to peace. He defended Trump’s travel ban as a temporary measure for “extreme vetting” and suggested economic development for Gaza.

Attendees anticipated further meetings organized by Grenell in Michigan and other swing states. Concerns about the Syrian civil war were also raised. Bishara Bahbah, who traveled from Arizona for the meeting, expressed optimism about the outreach efforts from Trump’s associates.

The Trump campaign’s attempts to court Arab and Muslim American voters reflect a strategic effort to exploit divisions and attract disaffected groups, potentially influencing the outcome in key battleground states.

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