Biden must change course on Gaza policy, says former US congressman

Biden must change course on Gaza policy, says former US congressman

Anger over President Biden's unconditional support for Israel showed at Tuesday's Democratic primary in Michigan, where over 100,000 voted uncommitted rather than for the incumbent- Speaking to Anadolu in Dearborn, home to one of the US' largest Arab-American communities, former Congressman Andy Levin said that 'uncommitted' campaign sent a message to Biden demanding a change in policy as the presidential election approaches in November- 'I hope the message today is, it's hard to imagine winning Michigan on

By Iclal Turan

DEARBORN, Michigan (AA) - US President Joe Biden has to "change course" on his policy on Israel's war in Gaza after more than 100,000 "uncommitted" votes in the Michigan Democratic primary, a former US congressman said.

"He can't just send political advisors here. He can't just send surrogates to represent him. He can't do really smart ads or beautiful television ads. He has to actually change policy. That's our goal today," said Andy Levin, a Democrat who represented Detroit in Congress in 2019-2023.

Levin spoke to Anadolu in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb with one of the US' largest Arab-American communities, and is part of the "uncommitted" campaign, which aims to send a message to Biden demanding a change to the administration's Gaza policy ahead of the November election.

The number of uncommitted votes in Tuesday's primary achieved more than 10 times the 10,000-ballot goal set by the protest campaign's organizers, racking up 13% of the vote. About 20,000 uncommitted votes had been cast in Michigan's previous Democratic primary in 2020.

A group of Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as many progressive Democrats, urged Michigan voters to vote "uncommitted" in the primary, to protest the Biden administration's Gaza policy, demand a "permanent cease-fire" to Israel's deadly onslaught in the Palestinian enclave, and an end to the unconditional US military support to Tel Aviv.

Israel started its war on Gaza after the Oct. 7, 2023 cross-border incursion by Palestinian group Hamas. It has since killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and pushed the territory to the brink of famine.

More than 310,000 people of Middle Eastern and North African descent live in Michigan, making up roughly 3.1% of the state population, according to 2020 census data.

After the results, the Michigan movement's campaigners claimed success in their effort to "put an anti-war option on the Michigan Democratic presidential primary ballot."

"I hope the message today is, it's hard to imagine winning Michigan on November 5 if you don't change course," Levin said.

- US military support to Israel

Asked about the Biden administration's push to send more military support to Israel, Levin said it was important that the US continue to guarantee Israel's security but added that this was "not the same as saying that we give you 2,000-pound bombs and you drop them on densely populated areas."

"That's not the same as leveling people's houses and what's going on in Gaza. This is not something that the US population supports. And the thing is, it's not good for Israel," he said.

"If you want to talk about self-determination for the Jewish people, I'm Jewish, it's my people ... The only way to have a safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people is to fully realize the political and human rights of the Palestinian people," he stressed.

Noting that 57 years of occupying Palestinian territories was "not leading to any peace" but to "bloodshed," he said: "We do have to actually make peace with Palestinians, end the bloodshed and have a diplomatic solution."

"Whether it's a two-state solution or sharing one state ... It's for the Israeli and Palestinian people to decide, but it's time to decide now," he said.

- Antisemitism amid rising criticism of Israel?

Israel's relentless ground attacks and bombardment of Gaza have drawn an international outcry as casualties have continued to rise for nearly five months.

Many countries and groups, including the UN, have called for a cease-fire, while South Africa has taken Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where it is being tried for genocide.

On the rising wave of criticism against Israel and its government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Levin said conflating this with antisemitism "actually hurts the effort to fight antisemitism."

Levin said that growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, he knew what antisemitism was and had personally faced it.

"I think it's very harmful to over-broadly use the term antisemitism because it's a real problem," he said.

"And it doesn't help in the fight against antisemitism to ... claim everything as antisemitic."

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