One ripple effect of the Israel-Gaza war is the warp-speed unraveling of relations between President Biden and some of his most loyal voters: Muslims and Arab Americans.
This week at the White House encapsulated the strains, beginning with a listening session for frustrated administration personnel from those communities and ending with a controversial meeting between the president and five Muslim figures picked by the White House who had faced enormous pressure from activists to decline in protest.
The open disdain toward Biden from many in a reliably Democratic bloc is among the many signs the conflict is quickly remaking U.S. domestic politics, with public fury over a Hamas attack that killed 1,400 Israelis colliding with the horror of entire families in the Gaza Strip being wiped out in Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
The events of the week were described in detail in interviews with several Arab American and Muslim advocates inside and outside the administration, nearly all of them speaking on the condition of anonymity to candidly describe their dealings with the White House.
One organizer said community concerns could be boiled down to a critical question: “Are we dealing with warmongers or are we dealing with peacemakers? Who are we dealing with?”
For many Muslims and Arab Americans, the answer came Wednesday when Biden cast doubt on the number of Palestinian casualties because the figures come from health officials who report to Hamas, which controls the territory. Historically, such figures have been accurate, according to Middle East researchers. On Thursday, Hamas released names, national ID numbers and other information for the 6,747 people included in the Gaza Health Ministry’s tally. The group said 281 bodies had not yet been identified, bringing the total to 7,028. [Continue reading…]