Biden dodges angry Gaza protesters in Michigan visit

Police with riot shields hold back pro-Palestinian demonstrators who accuse President of supporting 'genocide'

Protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza demonstrate outside the Joe Biden campaign event in Warren, Michigan, on Thursday. AP
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US President Joe Biden on Thursday briefly campaigned in Michigan, where growing Arab-American anger over his support for Israel has wiped out vital support in the swing state months ahead of the election.

Mr Biden was welcomed by union officials and workers in Warren, north of Detroit, but outside police with riot shields had to hold back pro-Palestinian demonstrators who accused him of supporting a “genocide” in Gaza.

The soaring death toll in Gaza, where more than 27,000 people have been killed in Israeli strikes, and Mr Biden's refusal to call for a ceasefire have infuriated many Arab Americans – a key voting bloc in Michigan that historically leans towards Democrat.

Almost every campaign event the President goes to is interrupted by protesters shouting “Genocide Joe” or calling for a ceasefire.

Mr Biden's campaign manager went last week to Dearborn – home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the US – only to be snubbed by the Detroit suburb's mayor, Democrat Abdullah Hammoud.

Apparently hoping to outfox protesters on Thursday, the White House did not say ahead of time which town Mr Biden would visit – only that it was in the Detroit area.

Biden didn't meet any representatives of the Arab-American community while in the state, though senior administration officials will visit Michigan to do so shortly, 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 UN Security Council calls for a ceasefire in the conflict.

This has left many Muslims and people of Middle Eastern heritage feeling betrayed by the Democratic Party, traditionally their political home.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday that Mr Biden was “heart-broken by the suffering of innocent Palestinians”.

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

He said the situation there was “a serious threat to the peace, security and stability”.

Updated: February 02, 2024, 4:01 AM