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The Biden Administration Fails Arab Americans — Again.

On May 17, 2024, representatives from five Arab American organizations met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other officials at the State Department’s headquarters in Washington D.C. to call for an end to the genocide in Gaza, and address a path to Palestinian liberation and stability in the region. Once again, the Biden administration failed them.  

“It was disappointing,” Bilal Hammoud, the executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview. “It was not worth it and going forward… there are no more discussions to be had. I think at this point it’s clear what needs to be done. The administration knows. The only way forward is through action.”

The Arab American Agenda to End Genocide

The American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, Arab America, the Arab American Institute, and the U.S. Palestinian Council drafted and endorsed the plan, “In This Moment: An Arab American Agenda,” to present to Blinken and other officials.

The agenda, which is available online, expressed “deep disappointment and anger among Arab Americans toward the callous neglect” received from the Biden administration. 

“It is too late to save the more than 30,000 Palestinians who have been killed or the 70,000 who have been wounded in Gaza,” it said. “However, it’s not too late to save those innocents who will surely perish from bombings, disease, and starvation if the Israeli assault on Gaza is allowed to continue.” 

The minimum actions demanded were an immediate ceasefire, the return of all hostages and prisoners held without charges, the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the ability to send humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and for a stop to US military assistance to Israel and the reconstruction of damaged Palestinian communities.

In a press release, the organizations emphasized their “duty to advocate for community interests and express the concerns and solutions laid out in An Arab American Agenda directly to the administration.” 

Blinken’s First Meeting with Arab Representatives

According to the organizations that drafted the plan, this was the first time Blinken met with Arab American representatives specifically. Past meetings included Arab Americans along with other constituencies. 

Upon meeting with Blinken, organization leaders took turns criticizing U.S. policies and the Biden administration’ failures with respect to Palestinian rights. 

“Despite the United States’ feeble efforts to urge Israeli restraint, the deadly war rolls on with U.S. weapons and political support and now shared intelligence, making the Israeli assault on Rafah possible,” said James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute. 

“Once again, we are calling on the Biden Administration to demand an immediate ceasefire to end the unfolding genocide, to save Palestinian lives, and salvage whatever remains of the United States’ tattered image across the Arab world,” he added.

The president of Arab America, Warren David, questioned why the U.S. is cutting aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), which is the only organization capable of easing the Palestinians’ immeasurable suffering after the UN declared a looming famine in Gaza as a result of Israel’s blockade. 

“All entry points to Gaza should be opened immediately and U.S. support to UNRWA restored so that crucial aid to Palestinians in Gaza can be delivered,” David demanded. 

Arab American Leaders Speak Out

During his interview with Breaking Points, Hammoud shared that when the Arab American leaders asked for a free and independent Palestinian state as well as a seat on the UN Security Council, U.S. officials threatened to defund the UN if such a move took place. 

According to the press release, Hanna Hanania of the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, called out the targeting and killing of Palestinian American citizens as well as the theft of their land by Israel, demanding “independent investigations and full prosecution of the perpetrators.”

“Palestinians’ freedom, equality, and prosperity are rooted in the right to self-determination. The Biden administration should support, not veto, Palestine’s endeavor to obtain full membership in the United Nations,” he said. 

Since October 7, the administration had not held a single Arab American meeting to discuss U.S. foreign policy, even though Arab Americans have been speaking out at demonstrations, calling and sending messages to U.S. officials, and using a variety of platforms to make their voices heard. 

The Biden Administration Ignores Israel’s Crimes

Just a few days after the meeting, President Biden released a statement declaring his unwavering support for Israel after the International Criminal Court requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on May 20.  

“The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous,” Biden said. “And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

Israel has killed more than 40,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 85,000 others since October 7. 

On May 27, Israeli forces bombed Rafah, which they had designated “safe,” over 60 times. The assault happened 48 hours after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its military assault on Rafah and to reopen the Rafah border crossing to enable the movement of people and humanitarian aid on May 24. 

On May 26, Israel targeted a refugee camp, razing it to the ground, and killing at least 45 people. Footage of charred and decapitated bodies, including children with heads and limbs blown off, were documented on social media. 

Netanyahu called the attack on the refugee camp “a tragic mistake” on May 27, after videos of the massacre sparked worldwide condemnation.

World Leaders React to Israeli Aggression

Ireland’s Foreign Minister Micheal Martin described the attack as “barbaric,” adding that “one cannot bomb an area like that without shocking consequences in terms of innocent children and civilians.” 

Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide called the attacks a “material breach of the decision of the highest court of the world,” and that the “compulsory order from the International Court of Justice ordering Israel to stop its attack in Rafah” is “compulsory” and “binding.”

On May 9, Biden told CNN that if Israeli forces enter Rafah, he will not be “supplying the weapons.” He stated that the red line would be an assault on population centers.

However, Biden still did not condemn Israel’s bombing of sheltering families in Rafah. Instead, in a press conference on May 29, the administration held that Israel had not crossed a red line.

In addition, a video shared across Israeli telegram channels and news outlets revealed that U.S. forces used the “humanitarian” pier to facilitate Israel’s gruesome Nuseirat refugee camp massacre on June 8, 2024 that involved both ground and air attacks. 

Other videos showed the use of a helicopter in the area of the pier. According to the Middle East Monitor, a survivor saw U.S. boots on the ground, suggesting direct American involvement in Israel’s assault on the refugee camp. 

Read TMJ’s in-depth analysis on the real motives behind the US “humanitarian” pier in Gaza. 

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  • Zahraa Abbas

    Zahraa Abbas is a Muslim American journalist who aims to dismantle euphemized and dehumanizing language targeting marginalized communities by redefining the terms and interrogating U.S. domestic and international affairs as well as mainstream media. She has a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor's in journalism and psychology from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in English, and an MFA in creative writing.

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