Publisher of leading Arab American newspaper ‘shows Biden’s campaign manager the door’
CHICAGO: The national manager of US President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign was “shown the door” on Friday following a meeting in Michigan that lasted an hour and 45 minutes with the publisher of one of the most influential Arab newspapers in America.
Osama Siblani, the publisher of Arab American News, said Julie Chavez Rodriguez and other members of the Biden campaign team were seeking to “repair the damage” caused by the president’s one-sided support of Israel’s indiscriminate campaign of bombing and carnage in Gaza.
After attacks by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 Israelis, the Israeli government launched a military operation that has so far killed more than 27,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, women and children, according to figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry, and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.
“Yes, they came in today, led by Biden’s national campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez,” said Siblani, whose newspaper holds tremendous sway over the large Arab, Muslim and progressive Democratic voting base in Michigan.
“She wanted to talk about how to restore Arab and Muslim support for Biden and I showed them the door.
“She said she wanted to listen. It was her first visit to Michigan. I told them we feel betrayed. He (Biden) took our votes and betrayed us and gave us the finger. And that is not going to happen again in 2024. We will not vote for him.”
Rodriguez was accompanied during the meeting at Siblani’s office in the city of Dearborn by Rep. Debbie Dingell and Ed Duggan, the son of Mike Duggan, the mayor of Detroit and Biden’s campaign manager in Detroit.
Siblani said he was “polite but forceful” in conveying the “utter anger and disappointment and betrayal” felt by Arab and Muslim voters about Biden’s policies, not only in Michigan but across America.
“This is how Arabs and Muslims feel across the country,” he said. “This is a generation that is determined to make a difference in the election. We are not alone. We have Americans from all aspects of life who are with us, even Jewish Americans.
“This is bigger than the Arab community. This is formidable. We are not going to let it go. We are going to punish him and we are going defeat him in the election. This is national. I said everything is not fine and dandy. Everything is not fine and good. He has to be better than Jesus and he can’t be.”
The Arab community does not believe Biden is leading American foreign policy, Siblani said, as he highlighted the fallout from flawed policies on Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
He laid the blame at the feet of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, accusing him of being “extreme in his support and defense of Israel” but “muted in his response” to the escalating Israeli violence and carnage in Gaza.
“Blinken is running the show,” said Siblani. “He’s the one who is driving this policy and carnage of Gaza. He has not stopped it. He has stood with Israel, defended Israel and not held them accountable.”
Siblani said opinions among Arab and Muslim communities across the country are consistent and determined, and they “don’t care” who might benefit if Biden loses the presidential election in November.
“The Arab and Muslim community is not going to change about this,” he added. “They feel bad, very bad. We have a generation of American Muslims and Arab Americans who feel they need to punish Joe Biden and that is what we are going to do at the election.
“It doesn’t matter who benefits from this or which candidate might win. Who else is not our problem. We voted for (Biden) in 2020. We got him elected. We’re not going to do that again.”
Arab and Muslim leaders across America has rallied behind an “Abandon Biden” campaign amid anger over his perceived failure to stand up for justice and accountability in the Israeli war on Gaza.
Siblani predicted the effects of this national campaign, and the simmering anger among Arabs and Muslims about what they view as Biden’s failures and Blinken’s policies, will be felt by Democrats “up and down the election ballot.”
He added: “We are not going to vote for anyone that Biden supports.”
Biden won the 2020 presidential election with 306 electoral college votes compared with the 232 that went to Donald Trump. A certain number of electoral college votes are assigned to each state based on its population, and they normally go to the candidate that wins the popular public vote. If Biden was to loses 37 or more of the electoral college votes he received four years ago, he would lose the election.
Michigan, where Biden won the popular vote in 2020 by a relatively narrow margin of 154,188 votes, has 16 electoral college votes up for grabs.
If he was to lose Michigan in November, and either two or three, depending on the number of electoral college votes, of the other swing states he won in 2020, he would lose the 2024 election, said Siblani, adding that the Arab and Muslim votes in these states are strong.
Biden won four swing states by small margins: Arizona (which has 11 electoral college votes) by 10,457 votes; Wisconsin (10 electoral college votes) by 20,682 votes; Georgia (16 electoral college votes) by 11,779 votes; and Nevada (six electoral college votes) by 33,596 votes.
In addition, Minnesota, which Biden won by 233,012 votes, and has 10 electoral college votes, has a significantly large Arab and Muslim population.