US presidential candidate Jill Stein says Biden's Gaza policies could cost him election

'People have really had enough of Biden's policy in the Middle East,' Green Party candidate tells The National

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US President Joe Biden is almost certain to lose in Michigan in November as Arab American and younger voters punish him for his unfettered support of Israel since October 7, a result that could spell disaster for his chances of staying in the White House, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has predicted.

The physician, who previously ran for president in 2012 and 2016, also discussed her arrest at a pro-Palestinian protest last month and said American police have grown increasingly “militarised and violent”.

Michigan has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the US and about 200,000 registered Arab American voters. Mr Biden beat his Republican rival Donald Trump by about 154,000 votes in the Midwestern state in 2020, so the collapse in Arab American support augurs poorly for the President as he seeks a second term.

Mr Biden is also polling behind Mr Trump in five of the six swing states he must win on November 5.

“He certainly will have lost the Arab American vote. … Michigan is one of those swing states, I think he's almost certain to lose [there],” Ms Stein told The National.

“Americans do not like either of their choices, for certain. And in particular, they find Biden's approach to foreign policy in particular in the Middle East, and especially around the genocide in Gaza, absolutely unacceptable and abhorrent.”

Dr Stein, 73, is considered a long-shot candidate at best in the presidential election but her presence – and that of other third-party candidates – on ballots across the country may affect results in swing states where margins of victories are often decided by just a few thousand votes.

She has been aggressively courting the Arab American vote in Michigan and elsewhere and pointed to a recent poll that showed her outperforming any candidate among Arab Americans, including Mr Biden and Mr Trump.

“It's not just the Arab American community, it's really quite across the board that people have really had enough of Biden's policy in the Middle East,” Dr Stein said in an interview from New York, where her campaign is pushing to get on to the November ballot.

For a Green Party candidate, Dr Stein's campaign is unusual in that it has focused more on foreign policy than it has on the climate crisis and other environmental issues.

After Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Mr Trump, despite winning the popular vote, some Democrats accused Dr Stein of siphoning crucial support and enabling a Republican presidency that saw Mr Trump pull out of the Paris climate accords and push for more oil drilling.

The effect of Dr Stein's candidacy in that race, where she received a little more than 1 per cent of the national vote, is still a matter for debate.

Political pundits see third-party votes as typically hurting Democrats more than Republicans, and this year two other candidates are running – Robert F Kennedy Jr and Cornel West.

Dr Stein said it matters little whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House and said she wants to highlight the shortcomings of the “failed two-party system”.

Both parties are sponsored by “the war machine” and take money from the Jewish lobbying group Aipac, Dr Stein said. She has proposed cutting military spending by up to 75 per cent and wants to establish a foreign policy based on “diplomacy, international law and human rights”.

She also wants to stop US funding for Ukraine in a conflict she considers a “proxy war” between America and Russia.

Trump could be even friendlier to Israel

Mr Biden, a self-described Zionist, has given Israel almost unconditional support since it launched its war in Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas-led October 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people.

More than 36,000 people in Gaza have been killed.

Mr Biden paused one shipment of heavy bombs over fears Israel would use these indiscriminately in an assault on Rafah. He also has pushed for the delivery of more aid, including through the construction of a temporary pier.

Republicans have reacted furiously to any restriction on how Israel conducts itself in Gaza and a second Trump term could see him give Israel even freer rein to destroy what's left of the Palestinian enclave.

Mr Trump has oscillated between criticism of Israel and support, but son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was his adviser on the Middle East, and David Friedman, his former ambassador to Israel, have both embraced Israel's right-wing ideas of expelling Palestinians from Gaza.

Mr Kushner, calling the war “a little bit of an unfortunate situation”, said Gaza’s beachfront properties could be “very valuable”.

But for Dr Stein, fear of how Mr Trump might handle Gaza is no reason to support Mr Biden.

“Trump often speaks in a way that's more frightening. But if you look at the votes, it's actually the Democrats who are more unified in a much more aggressive foreign policy,” she said.

“What people know, and this is what I hear from Arab Americans in particular, is that they know that Joe Biden has been absolutely genocidal and is murdering their families. You know, in my view, one has to hold all politicians accountable.”

In April, Dr Stein was one of about 80 people arrested at a pro-Palestinian encampment at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.

She said she was charged with assaulting a police officer during an incident in which a policeman lifted her leg in what she said was an attempt to knock her over. She is scheduled for a court appearance in early June.

“It was really staggering to see how militarised and violent US police forces have become, and this is not an isolated incident,” Dr Stein said.

“We're seeing this happening in most of the campuses that are being broken up, where the administrations are ruthlessly calling in militarised police forces”.

As Washington seeks to crack down on campus anti-Gaza war protests, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that expands the definition of anti-Semitism to include criticism of Israel and Zionism.

Dr Stein, who is Jewish and grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust of the Second World War, described the “horrible” legislation as anti-Semitic because it attempts to stifle criticism of Zionism or of the war in Gaza.

“I find it rather anti-Semitic to tell you the truth, because that amounts to saying that protesting genocide is being anti-Semitic, which implies that it's OK with Jews for genocide to be conducted”, she said.

Civilians ordered to flee eastern Rafah as Israel begins invasion – in pictures

Updated: May 28, 2024, 3:49 PM