It is too soon to know for sure whether President Biden will now decide to substantially alter his Middle East policy of general support for Israel’s war aims in Gaza in the light of the unexpectedly large, so-called, “uncommitted” vote in the Michigan Democratic Party primary election last week. The uncommitted campaign was started in Michigan, where there is the largest Arab-Muslim population in the United States, a little more than a month ago to protest President Biden’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas. It has now spread to Minnesota.

The New York Times reported that organizers of the protest said they hoped to get as much as 10,000 to 15,000 votes – probably a lowball figure chosen for its shock potential should a larger number materialize.


In the event though, there were more than 100,000 uncommitted votes which constituted 13% of the total vote in a state that Mr. Biden must win in November and which is home to 300,000 Arab and Muslim Americans. The Times also questions how he can even campaign there without facing serious demonstrations.

On the other hand, the Times of Israel cited several analysts who opined before the primary that a total of 10% to 15% of uncommitted votes would be noteworthy but unlikely to cause a serious change in the Biden approach. But anything above 15% would require some minor adjustments. And anything above 20% would require major shifts in the U.S. stance on the Gaza war.

In fact, Mr. Biden still won 81% of the Democratic vote as compared to Mr. Trump’s 68% of the Republican vote.

However, while it may still be too early to tell whether the uncommitted will eventually trigger dramatic change in the Biden policy, it is clear that it continues to be slowly blunted in drip-drip fashion. As we have noted here, despite keeping the supply of American weapons flowing to Israel since Oct. 7 and his continuing declarations of full support for Israel’s vow to neutralize Hamas, President Biden also soon became a vocal critic of its efforts to accomplish it.

Thus, although he never outrightly charged Israel with targeting civilians – and members of his administration confirmed Israel’s unparalleled concern for the safety of civilians in war – he also said that their efforts were “over the top,” they engaged in “indiscriminate bombing” and that the levels at which they are providing food to Gazans was wholly inadequate. He went on to insist that they take precautions in accordance with international law.

More recently, President Biden has strongly urged Israel not to invade Rafah, because many Gazans have sought refuge there. Except that, of course, Rafah is where Hamas’s top leaders and remaining military are holed up.

The Wall Street Journal also recently reported that the U.S. is now, all of a sudden, investigating several Israeli airstrikes in Gaza last October that resulted in the deaths of several Gazan civilians and the possible use by Israel of white phosphorous in Lebanon. Both are apparently part of a probe by the State Department into whether Israel misused American-supplied bombs and materiel.

Also, while the U.S. ordinarily shields Israel from adverse UN action and has twice vetoed Security Council resolutions opposed by Israel since Oct. 7, it also subsequently abstained on two occasions allowing the Council to adopt resolutions calling for increased aid to Gaza and “humanitarian” pauses in the fighting despite Israel’s opposition, effectively taking the issue out of Israel’s hands.

Nonetheless, just last week the U.S. blocked a Security Council statement proposed by Algeria that would have blamed Israel for that deadly Gaza aid convoy incident. Israel denied it was responsible and President Biden said that no determination could be made because no evidence had been presented. Further, the President noted that Israel had committed to a full investigation.

Yet Vice President Kamala Harris called out Israel over food shortages in Gaza, calling it a “humanitarian catastrophe.” According to the New York Times, “her tone echoed a sharper and more urgent tone coming from the White House as its frustration with Israel grows.”

Time will tell whether and to what extent President Biden will try to accommodate Arab American in the run up to the November.

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