Gaza war should change how Arab and Muslim Americans vote


Gaza war should change how Arab and Muslim Americans vote

Gaza war should change how Arab and Muslim Americans vote
People search for victims and survivors following an Israeli strike in the central Gaza Strip on Oct. 18 2023. (AFP)
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The Gaza War should be an eyeopener for every Arab and Muslim American and wake them up to the reality of US politics.  
Besides the fact that the violence in the Middle East is divided by a distorted sense of Western morality, in which Israeli lives matter but Arab and Muslim lives do not, the events of the last two weeks should also show Arab and Muslim Americans that neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party really care about them at all.
When he was on the campaign trail, President Joe Biden declared a “partnership” with the Arab and Muslim community, inspiring hope that things might change and that fairness, rather than politics, would define his administration’s relations with the Arab world. But the Gaza war shows that the Biden administration truly does not care about the carnage taking place in the Gaza Strip, where thousands of Palestinians have been killed, tens of thousands wounded and thousands of civilian homes and apartment buildings decimated.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken made it painfully clear how little he cares about Palestinians and Muslims when he announced in repetitious language that he had met with Arab, Muslim and European leaders, saying after every meeting: “I met today with (name of leader) to discuss the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel and the need to prevent the conflict from spreading.” The message is clear: Blinken was telling them to support Israel’s massive assault on Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and warning them not to intervene in any manner.
Blinken did not say that the Biden administration would restrain Israel from exacting wanton revenge against Palestinians who live in Gaza. Maybe Arabs and Muslims will now finally wake up from the hallucinations that made them believe that the Democratic Party would ensure fairness and denounce terrorism and violence by both sides. Clearly, when it comes to Israel and the Middle East, there is no “both sides.”
For example, when reports surfaced on Tuesday that an Israeli missile had destroyed the Al-Ahli civilian hospital in Gaza — a strike Israeli activists bragged was deliberately carried out by the Israeli military because it was being used by Hamas militants — Biden embraced Israel’s go-to excuse that the destruction was caused by an errant Palestinian missile.
Having been abandoned by Republicans many years ago, Arabs and Muslims have now been slapped in the face by the Democrats too.  
Biden is also sending massive military support to Israel and has created an environment in America today, through his administration’s rhetoric, that bullies Arabs and Muslims who try to speak out against Israel’s widespread and indiscriminate violence against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
When Palestinians and Muslims have spoken up to demand justice, universities and state agencies that receive federal funding have taken punitive action against them. That has spread to the private sector, where companies have fired or terminated the hiring of Arabs who have criticized Israel.
Instead of continuing to pretend that the Democrats are “better” than the Republicans, Arabs and Muslims in America should realize that both political parties are as bad as each other.

Having been abandoned by Republicans many years ago, Arabs and Muslims have now been slapped in the face by the Democrats too.

Ray Hanania

So, what should they do? They do have a choice. They should start to look at individual candidates regardless of their political affiliation. At least 55 representatives in the 435-member US Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have spoken out forcefully and demanded fairness, opposing Hamas’ terrorism while at the same time demanding that Israel adhere to its humanitarian responsibilities for civilians.
Arabs and Muslims should no longer vote for political parties. They should vote for individuals based on policies of fairness. Those in Wisconsin can vote for Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat, who denounced Hamas’ terrorism but also did what Biden and Blinken refused to do: denounce the Israeli assault on civilians. They can vote for another Democrat, Rep. Betty McCollum, in Minnesota, as she has been a constant voice in favor of justice and fairness. They can vote for Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who is Jewish and has expressed support for innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
There are even some Republicans who support fairness, such as presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who has taken on the holy grail of untouchable issues by suggesting that the US should not continue to support Israel with billions of dollars in aid every year, when that money could help reduce homelessness in America. Ramaswamy has also criticized the Republican Party’s subservience to foreign lobbyists and its members’ “selective moral outrage.”
The Republicans have been openly critical of any Arab country that tries to defend Palestinian rights or that challenges Israel’s actions, but there is one fact that should not be overlooked: While Republican Donald Trump was president, he did not send any massive shipments of military weapons to help Israel assault Palestinians. Biden, however, is preparing to send Israel not only additional funding, but also armaments to bolster its brutal attack on the Gaza Strip.
Additionally, while Biden has announced plans to help evacuate any American citizens fleeing Israel, he has made no such plans to help those who live in Gaza.
The bottom line is that Arabs and Muslims do have choices besides being loyal to an ungrateful Democratic Party only to spite a more hard-line Republican Party. They can vote for individuals regardless of party.
However, a friend recently told me that, if anyone really wanted to reshape the American political system, they should support former President Trump. Yes, he may have supported an immigration and travel ban on certain Muslim countries, but he now faces 91 indictments and, if he were to become president again and then be convicted, his presidency could tear down the fabric of America’s two-party system and possibly force the creation of a new dynamic.
Arabs and Muslims in America need to be smart in how they vote. They need to stop pretending that either party can ever embrace their view of fairness. They should support candidates who support fairness and justice and who define terrorism not on the basis of who commits the violence, but on the basis that violence in any form is wrong.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at
X: @RayHanania

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view