Protesters pack out London station demanding Gaza cease-fire

NEW YORK: Muslim Americans and some Democratic Party activists say they will work to mobilize millions of Muslim voters to withhold donations and votes toward President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection unless he takes immediate steps to secure a Gaza ceasefire.

The National Muslim Democratic Council, which includes Democratic Party leaders from hotly contested states likely to decide the election, such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, called on Biden to use his influence with Israel to broker a ceasefire.

In an open letter titled “2023 Ceasefire Ultimatum,” the Muslim leaders pledged to mobilize Muslim voters to “withhold endorsement, support, or votes for any candidate who endorses the Israeli offensive against the Palestinian people.”

“Your administration’s unconditional support, encompassing funding and armaments, has played a significant role in perpetuating the violence that is causing civilian casualties and has eroded trust in voters who previously put their faith in you,” the council wrote.

Former US Representative Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s attorney general and the first Muslim elected to Congress, and Representative Andre Carson of Indiana are the organization’s founding co-chairs.

The letter is the latest sign of growing anger and frustration in Arab and Muslim American communities about Biden’s failure to condemn Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American lawmaker from Michigan, on Monday released a 90-second video on X decrying Biden’s support of what she called “Israel’s genocidal campaign in Palestine,” adding “Don’t count on our vote in 2024.”

Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Muslim votes could be crucial for Biden in his 2024 bid for a second term, noting that Michigan’s 16 electoral votes were won by a narrow margin of just 2.6 percent in 2020.

Muslim Americans in Minnesota, where Biden plans to visit, last week issued a similar ceasefire ultimatum. They said they planned a protest when the president visits their state.

Biden’s reelection campaign had no immediate comment.

Biden hosted a meeting last Thursday with a handful of Muslim leaders, a White House official said, adding that administration officials continue to meet with Arab and Muslim community members concerned by Biden’s handling of the crisis.

Palestinian Americans and aid groups in the US are raising funds for Gaza but they have as yet limited ability to get supplies into the besieged enclave.

Aid organizations that serve civilians in Gaza say they are receiving record amounts of donations in a sign of public support for relief efforts even as a growing stock of supplies remain stalled at Egypt’s Rafah border crossing.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in donations, unlike we’ve ever seen before,” said Steve Sosebee, president of the US-based Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, which has a staff of 40 in Gaza that provide medical support. He said the fund, which usually has an annual budget of around $12 million, had raised $15 million in just 10 days.

However, with a web of political and logistical obstacles on getting aid in, much of the money and supplies intended for Gaza is in limbo.

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