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Biden in Michigan as anger over Gaza grows

Updated: 2024-02-03 07:23

Demonstrators march during a visit by US President Joe Biden in Warren, Michigan, on Thursday, calling for an end to the conflict in Gaza. PAUL SANCYA/AP

HARPER WOODS, Michigan — US President Joe Biden campaigned on Thursday in the crucial swing state of Michigan, where growing anger among the public at his pro-Israel policies threatens to cut into already tight margins of support.

Biden was welcomed to the Midwestern state in part by pro-Palestinian protesters accusing him of supporting a "genocide" in Gaza, with a demonstration taking place near his meeting with members of the United Auto Workers union, whose leadership recently endorsed him.

As the Israeli military keeps pounding Hamas in Gaza, Biden is finding himself confronted regularly at public events by protesters and hecklers demanding a cease-fire.

The Democrat began his Michigan visit by chatting with diners in a restaurant popular with African Americans — another demographic whose support he needs as he seeks reelection and the defeat of his likely challenger Donald Trump.

However, he risks losing the votes of the state's sizable community of Muslims and people of Arab heritage this November. That could be a problem in an election decided by tiny margins.

Michigan is one of a handful of swing states that could go either way in November, playing a decisive role in the electoral math during a close election.

In an illustration of the tensions, Biden's campaign manager went last week to Dearborn, home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States, only to be snubbed by the Detroit suburb's mayor.

Dearborn city's mayor, Abdullah Hammoud, had earlier written on X that he refused to meet with Biden's campaign manager.

Biden did not meet with any representatives of the Arab-American community while in the state, though senior administration officials will soon visit Michigan to do so, the White House said.

The president has asked Congress for billions of dollars in additional military aid to Israel and his government has vetoed multiple United Nations Security Council calls for a cease-fire in the conflict.

Before leaving Washington for Thursday's trip, Biden announced sanctions against four hard-line Israeli settlers accused of attacking Palestinians in the West Bank.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the order on Thursday, saying in a statement that the "absolute majority" of West Bank settlers are "law-abiding citizens".

Agencies via Xinhua


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