Voter split deepens with worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza
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The mounting disappointment and fury over the Biden administration’s one-sided support for Israel may add more uncertainty to the 2024 US election, with US President Joe Biden’s support among Arab Americans reportedly plummeting to an all-time low. Analysts said that the Palestine-Israel conflict has accelerated the split in the US and also highlighted its crippled and falling strategy and credibility in the Middle East.
A series of polls from the New York Times released on Sunday showed Biden trailing former President Donald Trump in five of six battleground states among registered voters.
Moreover, in recent days, the Arab American Institute think tank released a study showing a staggering 42 percent drop in support among Arab American communities since 2020. Respondents also overwhelmingly said they had a negative attitude toward Biden, with his approval rating tumbling to 29 percent, according to media reports.
Though Arab Americans and other Muslims make up a small part of the electorate in the US, their population is growing, and these voters can be a critical voting bloc in tight elections, particularly in a few swing states, for example, Arizona where Biden had been a slight favorite to win the state in 2020, Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.
If more Muslims in crucial swing states make the decision to vote against Biden, the outcome of the 2024 election will not be what Biden wants to see. However, since the election is still a while off and the Palestine-Israel conflict might not last that long, it is still unclear how much the war will affect the outcome of the election, said Diao.
The majority of Muslim Americans, who are unhappy with the Biden administration’s backing of Israel, may decide not to vote for either candidate because of Trump’s strong support for Israel, said Yuan Zheng, deputy director and a senior fellow of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Yuan also noted that how the Palestine-Israel war will affect the US presidential election remains unclear given the great influence of Jewish groups in politics, finance and other sectors in the US. But one thing is certain – the divide in US society is further deepening, posing a greater challenge to future governance.
Although the Biden administration has subtly changed its tone from throwing firm support behind Israel to urging protection of civilians, criticism toward Biden for refusing to call for a cease-fire has grown. On November 4, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took to streets across the US and accused Biden of enabling “genocide” against Palestinians.
For Biden, the current urgent issue is to stabilize the situation as soon as possible, and this is why he is pushing for a “humanitarian pause” to appease Americans who are showing sympathy for Palestinians and the boiling anti-US sentiment in the Arab world, analysts said, noting that Biden wants to show that he is capable of managing the whole situation, while the reality tells the opposite.
The past week witnessed an embarrassing moment for the US as Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued one of the Biden administration’s strongest warnings to Israel in a blunt call to pause military operations in Gaza to allow for the immediate and increased delivery of aid during his visit to Israel, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would be “going full steam ahead.”
The US is losing ground in the Middle East. While there is a bipartisan consensus to support Israel, Diao pointed out that there are differences between the Democratic and Republican parties toward the country. The Netanyahu administration will not submit to the US as it is aware of this division and is using it to gain leverage in dealings with the US.
On the heels of Blinken’s visit, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Burns arrived in Israel on Sunday, the latest in the Biden administration’s push to engage with key parties to bring about a humanitarian pause while Israel continued its ground offensive in Gaza, with the death toll there approaching 10,000, according to media reports.
Analysts noted that the Biden administration’s predicament in the Palestine-Israel war highlighted US’ failure in its Middle East strategy, and with a worsening humanitarian crisis unfolding before the eyes of the international community, the US’ credibility as well as the values it touts are futher shattered, the analysts said.