Posted on February 13, 2024

Biden Advisers Apologize to Arab Americans Over Gaza War Response

Niraj Warikoo et al., USA Today, February 12, 2024

Senior advisers to President Joe Biden admitted “mistakes” and apologized privately to Arab Americans in Michigan for the way the administration has handled the war in Gaza and for how it has talked publicly about Palestinians during the deadly conflict with Israel.

Biden on Thursday dispatched several of his top aides to Dearborn, the U.S. city with the highest percentage of Arab Americans, for a series of private meetings with politicians, community advocates and faith leaders for discussions about the war in Gaza.

Abbas Alawieh, a Dearborn activist who attended one of the meetings, said the officials admitted “mistakes and missteps” in the administration’s response to the conflict.

But Alawieh, who is one of the leaders of a campaign encouraging Michigan residents to vote “uncommitted” in next week’s Democratic primary instead of casting their votes for Biden, said the administration’s mea culpa rang hollow.

{snip} “The hypocrisy of telling us privately that the administration has made mistakes while continuing to fail to hold (Benjamin) Netanyahu accountable publicly – it’s a blatant display of moral bankruptcy that will have political consequences here in Michigan.”

Ali Dagher, a Dearborn attorney who also attended one of the meetings, said Deputy National Security Adviser Jonathan Finer apologized for how the Biden administration at times has talked about Palestinians.

“Jon Finer specifically apologized for the language being used,” Dagher said. “He apologized for the administration’s failure to stop the dehumanizing of Palestinians. He apologized for … how the president has talked about the Palestinians.”

The meetings came as Biden is facing mounting anger from Arab Americans, a key voting bloc in the swing state of Michigan, heading into this year’s presidential election. Arab, Muslim and progressive groups are demanding that Biden call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and have put him on notice that he will no longer get their vote.

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, who has been hammering the Biden administration for months on the war, declined a meeting last month with Biden’s campaign manager, saying the administration should be sending policy makers to Dearborn, not campaign officials.


After the meeting with Hammoud, Biden officials held a meeting with Palestinian Americans; a meeting with other elected officials that included Michigan Majority Floor Leader State Rep. Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Circuit Judge Mariam Bazzi, among others. A fourth meeting was held in the late afternoon with community and faith leaders that included Dagher, Osama Siblani, publisher of the Dearborn-based Arab American News, and two leaders in Detroit’s African American Muslim community.


“Our community is rightfully angry and will not accept future engagements or dialogues with this administration unless and until an immediate cease-fire is implemented,” Siblani said he told the officials.