Feb 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden aides to meet with frustrated Arab leaders in Michigan

US President Joe Biden huges Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (L) after Biden arrived at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan on July 3, 2021. Photo by MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

US President Joe Biden hugs Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer after Biden arrived at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan in July, 2021. Photo by Mandel Ngan via Getty Images

Senior White House officials are expected to meet with Arab American leaders in Metro Detroit Thursday.

The big picture: The meeting comes as many Muslim and Arab voters have expressed betrayal over President Biden's support for Israel during the war in Gaza.

Driving the news: Senior foreign policy leaders will join local Arab American leaders in Metro Detroit to discuss concerns over the administration's handling of the Israel-Hamas war, according to two state lawmakers who will attend.

Details: Michigan House Majority Floor Leader Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) and state Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn) confirmed with Axios Wednesday afternoon they will join the meeting.

  • The group visiting includes Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director Tom Perez, principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer as well as Mazen Basrawi, the White House liaison to American Muslim communities, the Associated Press reports.

Farhat said in an interview last month that work would need to happen before he could support the president for re-election. He and three other state lawmakers joined more than 30 city and county officials in pledging to not vote for Biden in Michigan's Feb. 27 presidential primary election.

  • "There's still work to be done in trying to target communities in order for them to be enthusiastic about voting,"' Farhat told Axios last month.
  • "People are paying attention to what's happening in Gaza and when they see President Biden's apprehension to loudly call for a ceasefire, they're going to loudly stay at home on Election Day — it could cost Biden the election."

Catch up quick: Biden's campaign manager Julie Chavez came to Metro Detroit and attempted to meet with Arab leaders who rejected her invitation over the administrations handling of Israel-Hamas war — calling it "dehumanizing" to discuss electoral politics while the war is ongoing.

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