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Inside Biden’s Broken Relationship With Muslim and Arab American Leaders

Seven months into Israel’s war in Gaza, Muslim and Arab American leaders say their channels of communication with President Biden’s White House have largely broken down, leaving the administration without a politically valuable chorus of support for his significant shift on the conflict this week.

Mr. Biden’s announcement that he had paused a shipment of 3,500 bombs to Israel and would not help with a ground invasion of Rafah was a sea change in U.S. policy that Arab American and Muslim leaders have demanded for months. But those who desired it the most have long ago written off the administration as complicit in a war that Gaza officials say has killed more than 34,000 people, arguing it was, essentially, too little, too late.

“The president’s announcement is extremely overdue and horribly insufficient,” said Abbas Alawieh, one of the leaders of a protest-vote movement against Mr. Biden that began in Michigan this year. “He needs to come out against this war. Period. That would be significant.”

Mr. Biden’s White House aides engaged in considerable outreach at the outset of the Democratic primary season, when the movement to cast protest votes in early states emerged as a surprising political headache. A cadre of high-level aides traveled to Dearborn, Mich., and Chicago to demonstrate their interest in listening, but Arab American leaders told them that without a momentous shift in U.S. policy — such as support for a permanent cease-fire — there was no need to keep talking.

By and large, prominent Muslim and Arab Americans have now concluded that they are irrevocably at odds with the Biden administration over its foreign policy, according to interviews with more than a dozen peopleinvolved in the talks. And many of them say they are tired of hearing that they should vote for Mr. Biden simply because former President Donald J. Trump would be worse.

“I have told them frankly: ‘Don’t waste your time anymore unless you have something substantial. This is a waste of time,’” Osama Siblani, the publisher of The Arab American News, an influential newspaper in Dearborn, said of White House officials.

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