DEARBORN, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Michigan Arab leaders are encouraging Democratic voters to select “uncommitted” in the state’s upcoming presidential primary as a form of protest against President Biden’s stance on Israel.
The “Listen to Michigan” campaign aims to mobilize 80% of Michigan voters who are in favor of an Israel-Hamas cease-fire. The movement criticizes Biden for not aligning with the expectations of Arab and Muslim voters who supported him in the 2020 election and they are starting their campaign by reaching out to 128,000 Arab, Muslim, Black, and Native American voters from their email list.
Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib’s sister is organizing the movement.
The campaign, led by Layla Elabed, a community organizer and sister of U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, plans a $250,000 effort involving various strategies such as direct mail, digital advertising, phone and text banking, press interviews, events, and social media outreach.
The goal is to convey dissatisfaction with Biden’s support for Israel in the Israel-Gaza conflict and encourage the president to reconsider his position.
Although Michigan is a “closed” primary, voters can choose either a Republican or Democrat ballot when voting and not be committed to vote the same way in the general election.
Looking to make an impact on the election.
The campaign argues that Biden is not currently reflecting the majority of Democrats who desire a ceasefire and an end to weapons funding for Israel.
They also emphasize the frustration of Michigan residents, particularly in the Detroit, Dearborn and Ann Arbor areas, with the perceived lack of response from President Biden regarding the Gaza crisis and ignoring their concerns. A new NBC poll released on Sunday finds that only three in 10 voters approve of how Biden is handling the Israel-Hamas war – and only 15% of voters younger than 35-years-old.
The website for the “uncommitted” campaign says, “Michigan voters are sending Biden a clear message in the February 27 Democratic primary that he can count us out. We are filling out the UNCOMMITTED bubble because we strongly reject Biden’s funding war and genocide in Gaza. Biden must earn our vote.”
Group says Biden’s pro-Israel stance doesn’t represent their community.
The website continues, “President Biden has been a successful candidate in the past by representing a broad coalition, but right now he’s not representing the vast majority of Democrats who want a ceasefire and an end to our government’s unconditional weapons funding of Israel. He’s not representing the young people who put him in office and turned out in the midterms – and are now out protesting his policies in the streets.”
The organizers believe that Michigan, being a swing state, holds electoral significance, and pro-cease-fire, anti-war voters could play a crucial role in deciding the state’s outcome, pointing to Biden’s narrow victory against former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Group threatens to withhold votes for Biden.
Listen to Michigan justifies their campaign by saying, “Despite our efforts through protests, letters, calls, and demonstrations, our pleas seem to fall on deaf ears while the tragedy in Gaza escalates. Frustrated with the lack of response, we are now turning to a more traditional method of democratic expression: our voting power.”
Elabed says, “Many of us have lost family and friends in Gaza due to bombs funded by the Biden administration. We can’t support someone who contradicts our core values of peace and human rights, so this is our way of sending a direct message in the Democratic primary to count us out – count Michigan out. We seek a clear commitment to permanent cease-fire and a reevaluation of financial aid to Israel, ensuring the United States doesn’t contribute further to the conflict or civilian casualties.”
Elabed adds, “Michigan will be decided in November by a few thousand votes. We’re aiming to show that it’s pro-cease-fire, anti-war voters who could provide the margin of victory for Biden, and he needs to listen to us.”
The campaign launch event is scheduled in Dearborn today, where discontent with Biden is evident.
Southeast Michigan is a hotbed of pro-Palestinian rallies and has been called “Jihad Capital.”
Pro-Palestinian sentiments have been expressed through various rallies, protests and actions in south east Michigan, including calls for the University of Michigan to divest from companies that invest in Israel’s current military campaign in Gaza, a protest against Biden during his recent campaign stop in Detroit and many other events and protests.
Because of the many pro-Palestinian activities in south east Michigan and videos of the events being posted on social media showing what has occurred, the Wall Street Journal had dubbed Dearborn “Jihad Capital” in an op-ed last Friday.
The writer, Steven Stalinsky, points out that the open support for Hamas is spreading and discusses what is going on in Dearborn by saying, “Thousands march in support of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran…Protesters, many with kaffiyehs covering their faces, shout ‘Intifada, intifada,’ ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ and ‘America is a terrorist state.’”
The designation of Dearborn as the Jihad Capital led to pushback from President Biden, the Democrat Party of Michigan and Governor Whitmer who all condemned the op-ed, calling it “bigoted” rhetoric.
Whitmer, a co-Chair in Biden’s reelection campaign, called the characterization of Dearborn a “total misrepresentation of an important city” and said recently after an event in Grand Rapids, “I thought that that opinion article was incredibly cruel and ignorant, and a total misrepresentation of an important city full of a lot of beautiful people who are Michiganders, and are our neighbors and our extended family.”