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Uncommitted Voters Sending a Clear Message to Biden About Slaughter in Gaza

Uncommitted voters, tens of thousands of students protesting in encampments, millions more protesting in the streets and in the halls of Congressare sending a powerful message to Biden that his actions are not acceptable.

Pro-Palestinian protesters face New Mexico State Police and UNM police as demonstrators occupy the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico on April 30, (Chancey Bush/Journal)

Almost 13,000 people – just under 10% of Democratic voters – across New Mexico cast their primary election votes last Tuesday for “uncommitted.” They weren’t just refusing to choose a candidate – they were sending a clear message to President Joe Biden: we won’t vote for someone who is funding, arming and protecting Israel’s slaughter in Gaza.

And they’re not the only ones. Across the United States, in primary after primary, uncommitted voters are shaping a major challenge to Biden’s reelection. From swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin, to deep blue states like Washington and Hawaii, more than 650,000 voters have chosen uncommitted — or its equivalents — rather than Biden. From at least six states, uncommitted delegates will represent voters at the Democratic convention in August.

This is unprecedented. In my almost 50 years of working for Palestinian rights, one thing we always assumed was that no one ever lost a U.S. election by being too pro-Israel — but Biden may be the first to end that record.

The president recently announced what he called an Israeli-initiated cease-fire plan, but as of Thursday the Israeli prime minister was still rejecting it. But Israel’s bombing, the drone strikes, the hunger continue, and Palestinian civilians – disproportionately women and children – continue to die.

On June 3 the World Health Organization warned that because Israel is allowing in so little aid, “children are now starving.”

Biden promised he would stop sending offensive weapons to Israel if its troops “go into Rafah,” the small enclave crammed with refugees fleeing bombing elsewhere in Gaza.

But Israeli troops have been attacking inside Rafah for weeks now, the International Court of Justice ordered that Israel “must immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah, more than 1 million displaced people have fled the bombing and assaults once again, yet the White House still claims that this is somehow not a significant attack and Washington is still providing the weapons enabling the onslaught.

Uncommitted voters, tens of thousands of students protesting in encampments across the country, millions more people protesting in the streets and in the halls of Congress, all demanding an immediate and permanent cease-fire, including massive shipments of humanitarian aid and an end to U.S. arms transfers to Israel, are sending a powerful message to Biden that his actions are not acceptable.

Their campaigns have transformed public opinion — 83% of Democrats, 70% of all voters support a permanent cease-fire, media coverage, and even the language of top administration officials. Biden and his aides now acknowledge the need for a cease-fire, but still refuse to take the action that would actually make that happen, cutting off the arms transfers enabling Israel’s war.

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And what happens to those hundreds of thousands of protesters? Despite the fact that they speak for the overwhelming majority of the country, they are often attacked with false claims of antisemitism.

There is no doubt real antisemitism is on the rise in this country. The far-right militias marching in Charlottesville in 2017 chanting “Jews will not replace us.” The 11 Jews in their Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 murdered by a white supremacist who blamed Jews for allowing immigrants to enter the U.S. and replace white people. The assaults on Jews in San Diego and elsewhere.

The threat to Jews is coming from right-wing white supremacists. That’s not surprising – the history of modern antisemitism in this country is linked to white supremacy and the rise of the Klan in the early 1900s, which carried out lynchings of Jews alongside the far greater number of African Americans.

The weaponization of antisemitism deliberately targets opponents of Israeli occupation and apartheid and supporters of Palestinian rights to undermine their campaigns, and intentionally aims to discredit the activists. It also prevents critical discussions of how to reverse the horrifying reality that our government and our tax dollars are enabling what the International Court of Justice says plausibly amounts to genocide.

So when student protesters, Palestinian campaigners, even Jewish activists are falsely accused of antisemitism, it undermines not only their work to stop the killing in Gaza, but our collective ability to fight against the real antisemites as well.

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and serves as international adviser to Jewish Voice for Peace.