United States President Joe Biden maintains a deep and lasting relationship with the state of Israel, both in personal and political terms. However, the Israeli government’s current policies and internal divisions within his own party are testing his long-held views.

The resignation of Tariq Habash, a Biden appointee at the Department of Education, highlighted internal tensions within the party. Habash, a Palestinian-American, expressed his disappointment with the president’s lack of flexibility on Israel, contrasting with his past willingness to evolve on other policy issues. He said he could no longer work in a government where he felt his own humanity was undervalued.

American foreign policy decisions and actions rarely have an impact on the outcome of presidential elections, much less congressional elections. This time, however, Biden’s choices could increase or decrease his chances of re-election.

With the 2024 elections looking ahead, Biden may face a political price for his stance on Israel. While he expressed optimism that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could eventually accept a two-state solution, his resistance to that idea could leave Biden in a delicate position, especially given growing expectations from segments of the Democratic base for significant change. in the United States’ approach to the conflict in the Middle East.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected calls for a Palestinian state, including during his recent comments. Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to push for a regional economic integration agreement that includes a path to a two-state solution.

The most evident signs of the attempt to detach from support for the genocide are expressed in Biden’s criticism of Netanyahu’s stance, especially in the threat to attack Rafah, in southern Gaza. His frequent criticisms of the Israeli government’s lack of attention to US demands, however, conflict with the shipments of resources for the war, presented to the American Congress, as well as the vetoes of a ceasefire requested by all members of the UN Security Council.

Wave of global condemnation

Since the beginning of its existence, Israel has faced challenges and criticism from the international community. Today, almost 70 years after David Ben-Gurion’s famous statement ridiculing the United Nations (UN), the country finds itself once again amid a wave of condemnation for its military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The operation, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 29,000 Palestinians, including women and children, left much of the territory in ruins and sparked outrage around the world. International organizations such as the UN and dozens of countries have spoken out against Israel’s actions, leading the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into a position of isolation.

However, the support of the United States, Israel’s traditional ally, has been a crucial element in this scenario. The Biden administration, although it has shown some disagreement with Israeli actions, still maintains a solid alliance with the country. Recently, the US invoked its UN Security Council veto to block a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, for the third time during the conflict.

Despite international and domestic pressure, President Biden has resisted significant changes to his policy toward Israel. This has drawn criticism from progressives in the Democratic Party, youth and Arab-American voters, who express discontent with continued US support for Israel.

However, Israel’s situation is increasingly challenging. The country is currently facing a rare break with Washington, with the Biden administration circulating a draft resolution at the UN to warn the Israeli Army against a ground offensive in Rafah, near Egypt, where more than 1 million Palestinian refugees are sheltering. Additionally, the resolution would call for a temporary ceasefire.

This change in US stance poses a significant challenge to Israel, which has historically benefited from American protection in international forums. However, growing global condemnation, including actions at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, signals increasing isolation for Israel.

Even in the face of these pressures, the Israeli government does not completely ignore international organizations. Facing accusations of genocide and other human rights violations, Israel sent a high-level legal team to defend itself before the International Court of Justice.

Uncommitted vote

As Michigan’s primary elections approach, a central question emerges for Democrats: Will President Biden’s stance on Israel and Gaza have a lasting impact on his popularity and the 2024 election?

On Tuesday, a group of protesters gathered on the University of Michigan campus, expressing their outrage at Biden’s stance on voting “noncommittally” in the state’s Democratic primary elections. This protest reflects growing dissatisfaction within the Democratic Party regarding Biden’s support for Israel during the conflict in Gaza.

Months of criticism and protests have culminated in Michigan’s primary election, where Biden’s liberal detractors are urging Democrats to express their disapproval by voting “non-committal” against him. The fear among the president’s allies is that this wave of discontent could have significant repercussions on the general elections, especially if Biden does not review his position on the conflict.

Michigan has become a testing ground for this discontent, with a unique mix of voters: a large and politically active Arab-American population, progressive students on college campuses, and the option of a protest vote. These factors raise the stakes for Biden in a state that might otherwise have been less contested.

Concern over Biden’s stance on Gaza extends beyond the Detroit suburbs, the heart of Michigan’s Arab diaspora, to college campuses and communities without a large Arab-American presence. The anger is evident, and Democrats fear that dissatisfaction could translate into a loss of the state to former President Trump in the general election.

Michigan Democratic leaders warn of the risks of not supporting Biden, highlighting that every vote not supporting him increases the chance of a Trump presidency. However, support for Biden is not unanimous, with voices like Representative Rashida Tlaib urging voters to oppose him in the primaries.

While Biden’s campaign highlights his achievements on domestic issues and efforts to create jobs and promote social justice, controversy over his foreign policy in Gaza continues to divide voters.

Uncertainty hangs over the outcome of the primary election, with Biden’s campaign facing the difficult task of winning over Arab-American and progressive voters while maintaining support from other key groups such as unionized workers, suburban women and black voters.

Emotional support

In 2002, during the Second Intifada, Biden was seen accompanied only by Tony Blinken in a hotel in Jerusalem emptied by constant suicide bombings. Asked why he was there in the midst of this violence, Biden said: ‘This is precisely the moment I need to be in.’ It was a message: Israel would not be isolated. I wouldn’t be alone. I would always have the United States as a friend.

Biden’s firm stance on Israel contrasts with growing distrust among a younger generation of Democratic voters, who tend to be more skeptical of the Israeli government and more supportive of Palestinians than the party’s older voters. This scenario puts Biden in a delicate position, having to deal not only with Netanyahu, but also with internal divisions within his own party, as he seeks re-election.

Michigan’s large Arab-American and Muslim-American populations proved important to Biden in 2020, helping him win the battleground and solidify his victory over Donald Trump for the presidency. About 64% of Muslims nationwide supported Biden in 2020, while 35% supported Trump.

The Make America Great Again group is loathe to expand U.S. involvement abroad and prefers to see financial resources used domestically, for example, to reinforce the southern border and stem the influx of migrants and asylum seekers.

But it’s not just the core of Trump’s base that embraces this anti-escalation stance. Given that the vast majority of Americans fear their country will be drawn into war – about 84 percent, according to a recent poll – Trump’s isolationist rhetoric has widespread appeal.

Biden’s connection with Israel dates back to his childhood, when his father discussed the Holocaust at the dinner table, a topic that left a deep mark on the president. In his frequent visits to Israel over the years, Biden has developed close ties with the country and its people. His commitment to Israel was reinforced during times of crisis, such as during the Second Intifada, when Biden claimed to be there to support the country even in difficult times.

This close relationship with Israel has shaped Biden’s policies toward the country and continues to influence his actions as president. Aaron David Miller, a former State Department diplomat, notes that no other American president has had the same level of interaction and experience with Israel as Biden.

Despite this record, Biden now faces the challenge of reconciling his personal convictions with international demands and the expectations of his own party. The commitment to Israel remains, despite significant changes in the political and humanitarian scenario surrounding the conflict in the Middle East.

After the Hamas attacks, Biden continued to support Israel’s military offensive, even in the face of growing calls for a ceasefire. Although some Democrats have expressed disagreement with Biden’s stance, the president has remained steadfast in supporting Israel, reflecting the will of the majority of the American public, which tends to support Israel in the conflict, according to polls.

However, the divide among Democrats is evident, with some calling for Biden to show more sympathy for suffering Palestinians. The president, in turn, avoided publicly criticizing Netanyahu and demonstrated reluctance to change his stance on the conflict. Democrats hope that during the vote in November, the climate in the Middle East will be very different from now.

What Biden needs to do to win the support of young Democrats and Muslim and Arab Americans is to dissociate himself and his administration from Israel’s genocidal war, its apartheid system and its occupation of Palestinian lands. Indeed, his reelection remains uncertain without a new, morally defensible direction in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Source: vermelho.org.br

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