HomePoliticsAfter the success in Michigan, the Biden voting protest movement is moving...

After the success in Michigan, the Biden voting protest movement is moving to Georgia

A protest movement in Georgia — a swing state that President Biden narrowly won in 2020 — is trying to pressure the incumbent over his support for Israel ahead of the March 12 Democratic primaries.

On Monday, a group of multifaith and multiracial groups called the Listen to Georgia Coalition launched the Leave It Blank campaign, urging voters to submit a blank ballot next Tuesday. This action follows a similar grassroots effort – Listen to Michigan – in which more than 100,000 voters marked their ballots as “not captured” last month.

Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza, where more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the past five months, has been a major point of contention for Democratic voters. According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, a majority of Democrats favor a presidential candidate who does not support military aid to Israel.

The Listen to Georgia Coalition consists of about 300 people from groups like the Georgia Muslim Action Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace Action and Arab Americans 4Ward and highlights growing dissatisfaction among voters who helped Biden win the state by 11,800 votes in 2020. About 57,000 Arab Americans live in Georgia, and coalition participants hope their efforts will generate 1,200 blank votes, matching the number of votes needed for a 10% margin of victory for Biden.

At a news conference at the Georgia Statehouse on Tuesday, the group said it hoped the effort would serve as a wake-up call for the Democratic party and President Biden, who it said risks losing the 2024 presidential election if he doesn’t . demand a ceasefire in Gaza.

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“The people of Georgia do not want our tax dollars spent abroad to finance a genocide,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, civil rights attorney and board member of Cair Action – a new political arm of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – at the conference. . “We want our tax dollars spent here at home so people in our state can be helped.”

Related: ‘Biden must be pro-peace’: Michigan’s anti-war campaign has a large number of votes

Organizers in Georgia worked closely with the founders of Listen to Michigan to ensure a similar message across campaigns and learn effective outreach strategies. Michigan activists emphasized the need for phone banking, which the Jewish Voice for Peace Action and Muslim American groups started in Georgia this week. The group also plans to spread the word through social media.

A similar effort was launched last month in Minnesota, where about 19% of voters cast an open ballot on Tuesday. Activists from Washington, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Colorado also organized protest voting campaigns, and the nation’s largest socialist group, the Democratic Socialists of America, recently endorsed the national movement.

Ghada Elnajjar, a Palestinian-American organizer and coalition member, campaigned for Biden in the 2020 election but said at the conference that she felt “betrayed by [the president’s] policy on Gaza”.

More than 75 members of Elnajjar’s family have been killed since October, she said, and many of her relatives are now homeless after their homes were destroyed. “For me, this is painful and deeply personal and I cannot in good conscience support a president who will miserably and repeatedly supply bombs to Israel that kill my family members and innocent others every day,” she said.

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But Elnajjar and other coalition members are adamant that they do not support Donald Trump’s candidacy. If elected in the fall, the former president has pledged to reinstate his first-term travel ban on several Muslim countries and ban the entry of refugees from Gaza.

Trump told Fox on Tuesday that Israel must “solve the problem” in Gaza. He said little else about the war, but did praise that “no president has done more for Israel” than him. During his presidency, he had a particularly close relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu and supported much of Israel’s wish list, from defunding the UN agency for Palestinian refugees to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

“We are terrified of another Trump presidency and what it could do to all our communities,” said Clara Green, organizer of Jewish Voice for Peace Action. “But when Democrats are pursuing the very same policies that have resulted in more than 30,000 dead Gazans, and when they refuse to listen to the overwhelming majority of the American public who want an immediate and lasting ceasefire, we have no choice than the very system that so many of us helped build.”

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When a reporter at the Tuesday conference asked whether this form of protest could have a negative impact on President Biden during the November general election, Cair Action’s Mitchell said: “If Democratic leaders are concerned about the impact this could have on President Biden’s chances in 2024, They should tell him that.”

Biden’s senior advisers met with Muslim and Arab American leaders last month at a hotel in Dearborn, Michigan, where deputy national security adviser Jon Finer admitted he had made “missteps in responding to this crisis since October 7.” Some meeting participants said officials were apologetic and responsive to their concerns. And last weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris sharply rebuked Israel over the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, saying: “The people of Gaza are starving… The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses.”

Hear from Georgia participants who say their campaign will discuss future steps closer to the general election.

For Elnajjar, it is not too late for Biden to change his approach to the war in Gaza and win the support of Georgian voters. She hopes the effort will prompt him to call for a ceasefire and aid disbursement in Gaza.

“Michigan has set the path forward,” Elnajjar said, “and all the attention is now on us.”

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