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There is no question how I will vote in a contest between President Joe Biden and the toxic prior President. Biden wins every time. But I’m just me, I’m not the pollsters, the young’uns, the rural votes, and the disaffected. Listing Biden’s accomplishments and comparing them to those of others might be instructive if people paid attention to facts. Too many voters are motivated by feelings, and they aren’t feeling good about their own economic circumstances, the uncertainty of recession, about our international involvement, especially in Ukraine, and even about his age and his health.
Now, for a month Israel has been brutally bombing Gaza, bombing hospitals, refugee camps, schools and more. They say it is retaliation for the brutal Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, which no one condones, and most have repudiated in strong terms. But an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind, and in their bloodlust to retaliate against Hamas, Israel has slaughtered nearly ten thousand innocent Palestinians, including thousands of children.
They have denied the Gazan population the mere basics, like drinking water, electricity, fuel and health care, reducing doctors to performing surgery in the dark and without anesthesia. They have denied requests for a ceasefire or even a humanitarian break, leaving as many as two million people stuck in Gaza without border openings. Whatever inhumanity Hamas perpetrated on October 7, Israel has increased it exponentially.
Saturday was a balmy pleasant day in my D.C. neighborhood. A friend and I were walking toward a local restaurant when we encountered a group of young people who had just come from the Palestinian March to the White House. There were six or seven of them, diverse, a couple of Black folks, a white guy, and two women wearing the keffiyeh, the checkered black and white scarf that Yasser Arafat wore, a symbol of Palestinian solidarity. Another carried the Palestinian flag, the black, white, green stripes with a red triangle at the left. I asked them how the march went, and they were exuberant.
But one woman, then another, then another said harshly, I will never vote for Joe Biden. I voted for him before, and I won’t do it again. What about the alternative, I asked? Would you rather have the Republican alternative? One young woman lowered her head and her voice. “I don’t care,” she said. “Biden has betrayed us.”
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) has said much the same thing, accusing President Biden of supporting the genocide of Palestinians. The first Palestinian to serve in Congress, Tlaib’s principled outspokenness has attracted the ire of her colleagues. Republicans have attempted to censure her for her pro-Palestinian comments. Meanwhile, Palestinians are dying, and our nation’s rabid support of Israel seems to sideline concerns about innocent Palestinian civilians who have been victims of the extreme Israeli response to the Hamas provocation.
President Biden is walking on a tightrope, and his balancing act isn’t working well, especially for young Palestinians and other young people of color. He must, and he has, condemned the Hamas attack. But many think he has bent too far backward to mollify Israel while minimizing Palestinian civilian losses. Given who he is, and how he is, he has, perhaps, done his best. But his best is not enough for those who cringe at Israel’s aggression, which did not start with the response to the Hamas October 7 attack.
Between 2008 and September 2023, more than 6400 Palestinians were killed by Israelis. You can push people so hard for so long before they respond.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while necessarily singing from the Biden hymnbook, offers a measured attempt to broker a peace, a ceasefire, a time out. His very careful comments are a credit to the Biden-Harris administration, but they aren’t enough to quell the anger that many young people feel about the administration’s failure to call for a ceasefire. How many Palestinians must die in hospitals, refugee camps, and in their homes to satisfy Netanyahu’s bloodthirsty quest for revenge?
President Biden beware. Many young people don’t care about all the good you’ve done, it doesn’t matter when you turn your back on people who are being decimated by the bloodthirsty despot Netanyahu. In the midst of a cordial impromptu sidewalk conversation, I saw an angry determination in the eyes of the young people, who’d driven from New York to participate in the protest on November 4. I will never vote for Biden, one of them said, with an edge to her voice missing from our prior cordial conversation. President Biden, what will you do about that? You need these young people to win in 2024. Don’t ignore them.
Dr. Julianne Malveaux is an economist and author. You can reach her through juliannemalveaux.com.