They experience ‘a bone-deep sense of betrayal.’ They want Biden defeated in 2024.

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DEARBORN, Michigan – When Mohammad Enayah was sleeping, his cell phone began to ping, which alerted him to the message that had been sent from Gaza. It was two in the morning.

The phrase “I hate to tell you this news” was written by his cousin.

Thirty-seven members of his extended family had been slain in an Israeli air strike that had been carried out on a Palestinian refugee camp. Enayah turned to the list of casualties and read the first name, which was the cousin of his father. After some more scrolling, he set the phone down and walked away. He was unable to continue reading. By the time he eventually made it through the list of individuals who had passed away, it would have been a week that had passed.

Enayah would soon find out that the Israelis had slain 52 additional members of his family in Gaza, 48 of whom had been killed in a previous strike on another refugee camp. 52 of these individuals were killed in Gaza. Aunts and uncles have died out. Cousins have left. Grandnephews and nephews have passed away. 89 members of his family have passed away.

The staggering death toll, which currently stands at 28,000 Palestinians, as well as the devastation that Israel is inflicting on Gaza as a result of its war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas are a source of profound personal pain and grief for Enayah and thousands of other Arab Americans in southeastern Michigan. This is the reason why so many of them are pledging to see that President Joe Biden is defeated in November.

Since the beginning of the war, Arab Americans have been outraged by Vice President Biden’s unrestrained support for Israel. Since the moment that Hamas carried out an unexpected strike across the border on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of 1,200 Israelis and sparked the most recent conflict, Vice President Biden has openly expressed his allegiance with Israel and has contributed some of the weapons that Israel has utilized in its onslaught against Hamas.

Even while he has referred to the deaths of Palestinians as a tragedy and criticized Israel’s response as being “over the top,” he has further enraged Arab Americans by refusing to comply with their requests that he call for an immediate cease-fire and by raising concerns about the number of Palestinians who have been killed.

The comment that Biden made that was “over the top” was particularly offensive to Amer Zahr, who is a Palestinian American attorney who lives in Dearborn.”Five dead children is an unacceptable number; perhaps twenty or even one hundred,” he stated. However, the genocide of 12,000 children is being funded by the United States and is being led by him.

Not only are a significant number of Michigan’s Arab Americans, some of whom still have family and friends living in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, pledging to vote against Biden in the state’s Democratic primary election on February 27 and in the general election in November, but they are also actively campaigning against him.

Meetings with third-party candidates like Jill Stein and Cornel West are being held by the “Abandon Biden” movement in Michigan, which is a component of a wider nationwide campaign. One further project, which the organizers are calling “Listen to Michigan,” is pushing Democrats in the state of Michigan to vote “uncommitted” in the primary election. The goal of this initiative is to convey to Vice President Biden that his actions in Israel are unacceptable.

Michigan is a swing state that was won by Vice President Joe Biden in 2020 by a margin of only 154,000 votes against Donald Trump. Arab Americans constitute a prominent voting constituency in Michigan. The White House and the campaign of Vice President Joe Biden are aware of the significance of the state and are frantically searching for methods to reassure the community in the face of an escalating public backlash. A meeting with the campaign manager for Vice President Joe Biden was offered to Arab American leaders in January, but they declined the opportunity since the tension was so high.

Abbas Alawieh, an activist from Dearborn who is participating in the “Listen to Michigan” movement, stated that Biden “has lost the people.” Not a nebulous feeling of betrayal is what people experience. People experience a profound sense of betrayal, one that goes all the way down to their bones.

An adviser to the Biden campaign stated that the team is aware of the pain and fury that Arab Americans are experiencing and that they anticipate the “uncommitted” movement to have a respectable showing in the primary election that will take place on February 27. According to the adviser, the campaign is making efforts to be more responsive to the concerns of Arab Americans. Despite this, the campaign is still optimistic about its chances in Michigan this fall. This is due to the fact that the state has a large coalition of supporters, including union workers and Black voters, who will play a significant role in the election.

An Arab American enclave in the shadow of downtown Detroit

The commercial strip that runs through the middle of Dearborn is comprised of four lanes and is lined with specialty boutiques and shops that cater to the Arab American community in the city.

A wide variety of establishments, including hookah bars, Shawarma restaurants, Middle Eastern bookstores and pharmacies, halal meat markets, and pastry shops, may be found anywhere along Warren Avenue. A significant number of the storefronts include Arabic-language signage.

At the New Yasmeen Bakery, women who wore traditional hijabs, which are head coverings worn by Muslims, went shopping for delights such as stuffed grape leaves, chocolate cookies topped with crushed pistachios, and rounds of fluffy, freshly baked pita. This took place on a particular day last week.
On the opposite side of town, a young man with a beard was seen waving a large Palestinian flag that was striped with green, white, and black. He was standing on a busy street corner outside of a retail mall.

“Are you in favor of Palestine?” he yelled at a person who was walking by.
According to the data from the 2020 census, around 310,000 people are living in Michigan who have ancestry from the Middle East or North Africa. It is not apparent how many of those individuals are registered to vote. However, depending on the number of people who vote in Michigan, Arab Americans could account for as much as five percent of the vote. Advocates for Arab Americans have been working to increase that number even further by urging people who are eligible to vote to register to vote.

The communities of Wayne County, such as Dearborn, have been the primary focus of the discussion on whether or not the Arab American vote in Michigan has the potential to sway the election this year. The highest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States may be found in Dearborn, which is located just nine miles west of the downtown area of Detroit and in the shadow of the sprawling skyscrapers that dominate the city. Middle Eastern or North African people make up fifty-five percent of the population of this region.

Arab Americans were well aware of Biden’s long history of supporting Israel; however, they voted for him in 2020 rather than Trump. According to Hani Bawardi, an associate professor of history and Arab American studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, many Arab Americans felt that Biden was their only choice because of Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and orders imposing a travel ban from countries that are predominantly Muslim.

Bawardi declared, “He was the lesser of two evils,” referring to it. On the other hand, “it was not a vote for Joe Biden that was enthusiastic.”
As a result of his response to the conflict in Gaza, virtually all of the enthusiasm that existed for Biden evaporated. The Democratic representative for the region, Rashida Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian American woman to be elected to Congress, has been a vocal critic of the administration’s response.

Tlaib is also the first woman to be elected to Congress. As a result of the intensity of the conflict in Gaza, some Arab Americans who have been working for years to create linkages to the leadership structure of the Democratic Party are now doubting their loyalty not only to Biden but also to the party itself, according to Bawardi.

According to what he said, “That will take precedence over any other concern at the moment,” and “Biden appears to be aware of that.”

Regarding the conflict in Gaza, Vice President Biden sent a group of his most senior advisors to Dearborn for a series of private talks with lawmakers, community groups, and religious leaders. The purpose of these sessions was to discuss the situation. The campaign of Vice President Joe Biden had already made an invitation to meet with community leaders; however, the Mayor of Dearborn, Abdullah Hammoud, along with other individuals, declined the offer, stating that Biden ought to be sending policymakers rather than campaign staff. After what seemed like an eternity, representatives from the White House came, and they were greeted by demonstrators who were yelling “cease-fire now” and “stop the genocide.”

Those who took part in those conversations reported that officials from the Biden administration admitted that there had been “mistakes and missteps” in the government’s approach to the war in Gaza and expressed regret for the manner in which the administration had spoken publicly about Palestinians during the battle that was so deadly. However, Alawieh, the activist from Dearborn who was present at one of the meetings, stated that it is not sufficient to simply acknowledge your errors and give your apologies.

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It is time for him to take action, but he is not doing so,” Alawieh added. “He is failing to take action.” Moreover, this is going to have repercussions on the political front.

Refusing to vote for ‘the lesser of two evils’

On top of a framed photograph of Khalid Turaani’s mother and father, the key to the old family home in Palestine, which was administered by the British, is securely stored.

Additional family remembrances, such as the badge and number that his father wore when he was a young police officer, are displayed on the wall of the living room of his home in West Bloomfield, which is located around half an hour to the northwest of Detroit. Next to them is a map of the region of Palestine that was compiled by the British archives in 1946.

Turaani pointed out a dot on the map and stated, “Here is the village where my father was born, where my parents got married, and where my oldest brother was born as well.” It was the place where all of these events took place. In fact, it is situated directly on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.

Due to the fact that his father was forced into exile when he was 23 years old, Turaani spent the first sixteen years of his life in a refugee camp in Syria, where he was born. When his parents were compelled to depart, they took the key to the old house with them for their own personal use. Specifically, he referred to it as “a symbol of their will to return,” which is a Palestinian tradition.

Turaani arrived in the United States when he was attending college, and he finally made his home in the state of Michigan. In the 2020 presidential election, he supported Bernie Sanders, but he switched his support to Joe Biden once Sanders withdrew from the campaign. Currently, he is striving to ensure that Vice President Biden does not receive a second term in office.

In addition to being a business consultant, Turaani is also one of the people who started the “Abandon Biden” movement. “Biden-Harris” was written on a sign that was displayed on his front lawn four years ago. He is a registered Democrat. On the other hand, he stated, “When it comes to the wanton killing of people and genocide, I put aside any kind of party affiliation.”

What are some of the things that Vice President Biden can do to convince Turaani to vote for him in November?

According to what he said, “If he could unbreak the hearts of the 20,000 Palestinian women who lost their children or if he could bring back those lives that he actively supported the killing of, then perhaps Joe Biden could have redeemed himself 27,000 Palestinians ago,” he said. “In my opinion, it is comparable to a serial killer who tells you that if you only forgive me, I would stop killing, but if you don’t forgive me, I will continue killing. It’s like, “No, you absolutely must stop killing every single time.”

An individual named Imran Salha, who was born and reared in the state of New Jersey, but whose family originates from a town in the West Bank, stated that he voted for Biden in the 2020 election not “because I thought he was a beacon of morality.” Simply because he was not Donald Trump, I voted for him.

In light of everything that has transpired since then, Salha has stated that he is unable to vote for Biden once more with a clear conscience.
Salha made these remarks just a few minutes after the prayer service that took place at the Islamic Center of Detroit, where he serves as the imam. “If I were to sign that ballot with President Joe Biden’s name, the ink that I would use to sign that ballot would be through the blood of innocent Palestinians who were murdered in this recent onslaught,” Salha said.

Salha, who emphasized that he was speaking as a private person and not in his capacity with the Islamic Center, stated that he is aware of the possibility that his refusal to vote for Biden could result in Trump being reinstated to the executive branch of leadership. However, he stated that “there needs to be a red line where I could show the people in power that I will not allow you to take me for granted.” He was referring to a particular point in time.

She has not yet made up her mind about who she will vote for in November, but Faten Saab, a stay-at-home mom who was one of the demonstrators outside the hotel where Biden’s advisers met with local leaders, stated that she has not yet made up her mind, but she is certain that it will not be Joe Biden.

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It is possible that she will vote for a candidate from a third party or she will abstain from voting completely; nonetheless, she stated that “we are not going to choose the lesser of two evils.”

She has lost faith in both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, according to her sister, Nadia Saab, who is a certified nurse from Dearborn. “It is just quite insulting that we have a president who can aid and abet in the killing of 30,000 people and then still expect to get our vote,” she added. “It is just as if he is trying to get our vote.”
The two sisters are adamantly opposed to the idea that there is a possibility that Trump may win the president if they voted for someone other than Biden. The statement was made by Faten Saab, who stated that it would be Joe Biden delivering the presidency to Donald Trump.

Voting for Trump and honoring the dead

When Enayah thinks about their loved ones who were slain in Gaza, tears well up in his eyes, and he wipes them away with a tissue. The most recent news from the Middle East is displayed on the television in the room next to the one where you are.

In the first few months of the Trump presidency, Enayah and his wife were able to get through it with the help of television. As a result of the devastating impact that Trump’s win in 2020 had on them, they were unable to bear to watch the news. Instead, they would tune in to late-night shows and laugh as comedians made fun of the new president.

“That’s how we managed to stay alive,” he claimed.
The news is now the primary source of motivation for him throughout the day. Each and every morning, he is the first person to switch on the television, and he continues to do so until he goes to bed at night.

In addition to being a supporter of progressive causes for many years, Enayah, who is a manager of automotive design and was born in Kuwait to a Gaza refugee, believes himself to be a liberal. These days, however, he makes sure to carry a placard that reads “Abandon Biden” in his vehicle so that he is prepared for any future demonstrations that may occur.

In the most recent presidential election, he cast his ballot for Joe Biden. But in the event that he is forced to choose between Trump and Biden in November, he will cast his vote for Trump.
Immediately after saying, “Trump all the way,” he went on to say, “I am going to be an advocate for Trump with everybody I know.”

Considering the anti-Muslim language and actions that Trump has implemented, Enayah is aware of how that may sound to the majority of people. But it seems as though he has no other option.

Making a vote for Biden would be a disgraceful act for all those who have passed away.

The Detroit Free Press’s Niraj Warikoo is the contributor to this article.

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