Voters across the country say they will abstain from voting in the 2024 presidential election if President Joe Biden does not call for a ceasefire in Gaza amidst the State of Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. Despite public cries for a ceasefire from human rights organizations like the United Nations (UN) and Amnesty International, the Biden administration has doubled down on support for the Israeli military and refused to support a “humanitarian truce” at the UN on Oct. 26. Voters and advocates say the decision will have electoral implications for Muslim American, Jewish American, and Democratic communities across the country.
“If I had any idea of voting for Joe Biden, I certainly will not be doing so now,” said Aldair Labrada, a Cuban American voter in Miami. “Not only because his administration has proven to be against any form of ceasefire, but because he said that we cannot be sure that this many [Palestinians] have died. And honestly that’s just very saddening to me because it normalizes what is going on.”
A recent survey from Data for Progress conducted from Oct. 18 to 19 found that a majority of Americans support a ceasefire. According to the data, 80% of Democrats, 57% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans support a ceasefire and de-escalation of violence in Gaza. Throughout October and early November, thousands of pro-Palestinian liberation protesters shut down train stations in New York City and Philadelphia, closed off highways, and conducted sit-ins at senators’ offices, often leading to mass arrests. On Nov. 4, tens of thousands of people participated in the National March on Washington D.C. for Palestine, decrying Biden’s support of the occupation state; thousands more took to the streets across other U.S. cities on the same day.
“I have not made up my mind as to which way I will vote,” Labrada said. “But I can definitely say that [with] this situation and how the past couple weeks have unfolded, I am much less likely to support the Democratic Party or the Republican Party for that matter.”
On Nov. 1, Biden called on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to issue a “humanitarian pause” on the relentless warfare that has killed thousands of Palestinians, many being young children. The statement came after he was interrupted by a protester who yelled out for a ceasefire. White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that Biden’s new ambassador to Israel will be tasked with supporting a humanitarian pause for the sake of Palestinian civilians.
According to Wa’el Alzayat, the CEO of Emgage—an organization that mobilizes and educates Muslim American voters—voters are heartbroken.
“This is an unpopular war,” Alzayat said. “The longer this goes on, the more likely this will fracture the Democratic base.”
A post-election poll conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found that 69% of Muslim American voters backed Biden in 2020. In a time where polls have been very tight in key battleground states like Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the hundreds of thousands of Muslim, Arab American, and Palestinian-allied voters could make a difference.
“The concern is now that many may just abstain from voting for the top of the ticket for presidential,” Alzayat said. “That can have real consequences in terms of who wins the presidential race.”
Other potential election candidates include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the Republican party, who previously stated that the U.S. should not accept any Palestinian refugees and that all Palestinians were “antisemitic.”
Alzayat said many Muslim Americans may also favor a third-party candidate.
“I think the community will think long and hard about these choices, because even sitting out the election is a decision that may empower forces that are not any way good for America or for Muslims or Arabs or even for Palestinians,” Alzayat said. “What’s needed right now is the sooner we get to a ceasefire, the more I think everyone can assess where do we go from here.”
Alzayat also said the Biden administration needs to implement sustainable policies toward Gaza going forward to address the continued expansion of settlements, the ongoing siege of Gaza, and the lack of any credible political process.
“I think all of those areas need to be addressed by the U.S., whether through its leadership or through the amount of support it provides [the] Israeli government, and to leverage that in a better way in support of those objectives,” said Alzayat. “I think people need to see … real commitments and real steps on all of these activities, settlements, settler violence, a seizure, and a political track.”