US presidential election 2024: Joe Biden’s unfailing support for Israel raises questions

US President Joe Biden (L) listens to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he joins a meeting of the Israeli war cabinet in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.  US President Joe Biden landed in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023 as Middle East anger flared after hundreds were killed when a rocket struck a hospital in war-torn Gaza, with Israel and the Palestinians quick to trade blame.  (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP US President Joe Biden (L) listens to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he joins a meeting of the Israeli war cabinet in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. US President Joe Biden landed in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023 as Middle East anger flared after hundreds were killed when a rocket struck a hospital in war-torn Gaza, with Israel and the Palestinians quick to trade blame. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP

Joe Biden (left) next to Benjamin Netanyahu (right) during the US president’s visit to Israel, October 18, 2023.

INTERNATIONAL – “We will never fail to support them. » As early as October 7, assured that US support for the Israelis was “etched in stone and unshakable”. But almost a month later, it is clear that this position could well turn against the American president in the running for a .

Joe Biden has always been a fervent defender of the Israeli cause. Throughout his very long political career, he witnessed multiple attacks against Israel that he always defended. “I am a Zionist at heart”he himself said in a speech in 1999 when he was a senator, the agency remembers.

Except that this position has no longer been unanimous for around ten years, notes Jérôme Viala-Gaudefroy, lecturer at Sciences Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye, interviewed by The Huffpost. “Despite the United States’ pro-Israel tradition, criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government is growing, particularly among young people and non-whites,” explains the specialist in American politics.

Generational divide

This is evidenced almost everywhere in the United States in recent weeks, on the campuses of major American universities. For example, in , California, hundreds of students called for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to support for Israel.

At Harvard, around thirty student organizations issued a statement designating “ the Israeli regime entirely responsible for the violence”.

Recent polls shed light on the extent of the generational divide. One by reveals that barely half (48%) of “Gen Z” (people born between 1996 and 2010) think the United States should publicly express support for Israel, compared to 63% of 50-year-olds. 60 years old, 83% of 60-80 year olds, and 86% of over 80 year olds.

Joe Biden, who will turn 81 on November 20, is criticized for his refusal to call for a ceasefire until the Hamas hostages are released. In addition to young people, this position angers the American Muslim population. The National Muslim Democratic Council, a Democratic group that defends American Muslims, has promised to mobilize voters so that they “withdraw their support, suspend their donations, and do not vote for candidates who support the Israeli offensive against the Palestinian people.” Threatening the tenant of the White House just one year from now.

Abstention could be devastating for Biden

His total support for Israel, which is intensifying strikes on the Gaza Strip, also raises questions. “(The Americans) support Israel’s right to defend itself, to exist. But they don’t want to support a war crime for the sake of another war crime. And I think the president should pay attention to that.”, warned elected Democrat Pramila Jayapal on . Joe Biden nevertheless warned Israel to “ not to be consumed by rage,” making the comparison with the attacks of September 11, 2001: “We were furious in the United States. While seeking justice and obtaining it, we have also made mistakes. »

The Democratic Party knows it, Joe Biden cannot afford to lose voters for the election of November 5, 2024 where he will probably face , who overlooks the voting intentions on the Republican side. “Muslims and Arab Americans do not represent a lot in the electorate, but their impact in a very close election can be significant”, alerts Jérôme Viala-Gaudefroy. He gives Michigan as an example. “where Joe Biden won by some 150,000 votes in 2020 and where the Muslim community numbers around 130,000 people”. The young electorate, traditionally more to the left, is just as fundamental.

“Joe Biden cannot afford to lose votes. Voters are not going to fall back on Donald Trump, but they are certainly not going to vote”continues the specialist from the United States. “Could 2, 3, 4 million voters abstain, not vote for Joe Biden because of (the Israel-Hamas war)? It’s completely possible”also says Matthew Hoh, former captain of the American Marines, in the .

Will Biden be sanctioned?

As for Donald Trump, his speech is not as clear-cut as that of his rival. The former US president said the United States was ” entirely ” with Israel during a meeting organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). But he also described the , ally of Palestinian Hamas, as ” very clever “, and did not fail to criticize Benjamin Netanyahu who “wasn’t prepared” to the attack by the group described as terrorist by the United States.

However, we should not see the Israel-Hamas war as a huge pebble in Joe Biden’s shoe. “Normally, international issues do not determine an election”, tempers Jérôme Viala-Gaudefroy, citing the exceptions of the war in Vietnam or the American hostage crisis in Iran in 1979-1980. The specialist recalls that “economy and social issues” remain the priorities.

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