Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hugs U.S. President Joe Biden

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hugs U.S. President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport on October 18, 2023.

(Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Progressive Leaders Warn Biden's Support for Gaza 'Slaughter' Risks Millions of Young Votes

"Every day Biden chooses to fund genocide, he loses support," said Sunrise Movement.

The leaders of youth-led progressive groups on Tuesday published an open letter warning U.S. President Joe Biden that his administration's staunch support for Israel's war on Gaza—which many experts say may be genocidal—could cost him millions of young votes in next year's presidential election.

"We mobilized the record youth turnout in 2020 that pushed your ticket over the finish line in key swing states. Many of us worked to provide the critical source of support for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections that prevented the Red Wave. We have been preparing to mobilize the youth vote again as you face your reelection," wrote the campaigners—who include leaders of groups like March for Our Lives, Gen Z for Change, and Sunrise Movement.

"We share your conviction that the 2024 election will be one of the most important in American history," the letter states. "We write to you to issue a very stark and unmistakable warning: You and your administration's stance on Gaza risks millions of young voters staying home or voting third party next year. We are pleading with you to use every tool available to you to broker a cease-fire, now, and to revive the peace process."

"As we write this, over 1,400 Israelis, 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza, and 100 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been killed," the signers noted. "We came of age during two decades of endless war that cost thousands of American lives and millions of lives around the world. We know that the longer you allow the siege of Gaza to continue, the greater the risk of this spiraling into a broader regional conflict, potentially pulling U.S. troops into combat or occupation. This would be both a moral and political disaster."

The letter continues:

Young people are a cornerstone of a winning Democratic coalition, and the vast majority of young people in this country are rightfully horrified by the atrocities committed with our tax dollars, with your support, and our nation's military backing. We did not spend hours upon hours knocking doors and making calls to turn out the vote so that you could support indiscriminate slaughter of civilians and violations of international law.

Asserting that "there is no way for a Democratic presidential nominee to win without significant youth voter enthusiasm and mobilization," the campaigners cited a recent Quinnipiac poll showing that nearly two-thirds of voters under age 35 oppose sending more U.S. military aid to Israel, while only about 1 in 5 respondents approve of Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

"The same poll found your favorability rating among voters under 35 has fallen to just 25%," the letter notes. "While young people are particularly opposed to handing the Israeli military a blank check, 80% of Democrats and 66% of all likely voters support a cease-fire."

A majority of Democratic voters or those without party affiliation oppose U.S. military aid to Israel, according to an October 19 CBS/YouGov poll. Meanwhile, polling published by Gallup last week revealed that Biden's approval rating among Democrats has fallen by double digits since last month, sinking to the lowest level of his presidency—with a particularly sharp drop among young Democrats.

Even before Israel's current assault on Gaza, polling showed that, for the first time since tracking began, Democratic voters sympathized more with Palestinians than with Israelis.

Biden—a self-described "Zionist" who early in the war declared his "rock-solid and unwavering" support for Israel—requested more than $14 billion in additional U.S. military aid for Israel atop the nearly $4 billion already given to the key Middle East ally annually. Last week, the Republican-led House of Representatives approved Biden's request.

Meanwhile, Biden has been accused of genocide denial for casting aspersions on Gaza casualty reports from Palestinian agencies his own administration has recently cited as reliable. The president also opposes a cease-fire in favor of a more nebulous "humanitarian pause."

Progressive leaders including U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)—a co-sponsor of Rep. Cori Bush's (D-Mo.) resolution urging the president to push Israel for an immediate cease-fire—say Biden is supporting genocide, while many youth protesting the war have taken to calling him "Genocide Joe."

The letter also points out that polling shows Biden's support has "cratered" among Muslim, Arab, and young voters in the key battleground state of Michigan, which he won by just 150,000 votes in 2020.

In an opinion piece published Monday by Common Dreams, author and activist Jeff Cohen wrote:

As civilians in Gaza are being massacred day after day, Biden's one-sided "I stand with Israel" policy is losing him countless young activists and racial justice organizers who mobilized for him against [then-President Donald] Trump in 2020. In Michigan and other swing states, Arab and Muslim activists who detest Trump have said they won't vote for Biden, let alone mobilize for him.

"You cannot win this election by only telling our generation that you are the lesser of two evils," the letter to Biden stresses. "For the sake of Palestinians, Israelis, morality, humanity, your own political future, and American democracy itself: we urge you to do everything in your power to stop the current cycle of violence and move from the path of war towards the path of peace and justice."

"Call for a cease-fire and a safe return for all hostages. Stand up for humanity on the international stage. Do not continue to enable war crimes through word, deed, or dollars," the signers implored. "We believe you are failing to hear us on this issue, and we are deeply concerned about the potential consequences."

"The decisions you have made thus far surrounding Gaza have made it harder for us to convince our communities to organize and get out the vote in 2024. We urge you to reverse course as quickly as possible, the letter concludes. "Stand on the right side of history. Your legacy hangs in the balance."

It's not just Gaza. Many young voters feel disappointed or even betrayed by Biden, who broke or failed to deliver upon 2020 campaign promises on key issues including gun control, student debt relief, and climate action.

Referencing Biden's approval of the Willow Project, a massive oil drilling venture in Alaska, Michele Weindling, political director at Sunrise Movement and a signatory to the open letter, toldRolling Stone that the president's support for Israel's war in Gaza "is like Willow times one million."

"The decisions you have made thus far surrounding Gaza have made it harder for us to convince our communities to organize and get out the vote in 2024."

Usamah Andrabi, communications director for the progressive group Justice Democrats, told Rolling Stone that "I think the gamble Joe Biden is making is that young people, like so many voters, don't care about foreign policy."

However, he noted that "we have lived through two decades of failed, endless wars. Failed foreign policy decisions by our government. And young people are activated about this."

"They have always been at the center of the pro-peace movement in this country," Andrabi added. "And it is shameful for the president to think that, come a year from now, they'll forget what he greenlit in Gaza, which is genocide."

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