Biden aides traveling to Dearborn Thursday for crucial meeting with Arab American leaders

An intense lobbying campaign against President Joe Biden by American Muslims in Dearborn and around Michigan over his administration's handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict has escalated enough that senior White House officials will travel to the state Thursday.

The goal of sending senior aides to meet with Arab Americans is to assuage concerns and discuss policy with locals over the catastrophic destruction that's taken place in the volatile region where tens of thousands have been killed.

Some are encouraged by the opportunity to meet with policy officials. But without a call for a cease fire from the executive branch in Israel and the Gaza Strip, others don't see any reason to meet with the delegation.

"What is there to speak about? Conversations about aid are irrelevant when you're bombing my people," said Imam Imran Salha. "There is no new information for us to meet about. Why should we waste time? Call for a cease fire and then we can talk."

Salha is among those who have hammered the Biden administration over its involvement in the conflict. His discontent is shared by many others in the community, who have since joined a pledge to check "uncommitted" on ballots in the upcoming Presidential Primary election later in February. 

"We must hold our president accountable and ensure that we, the American taxpayers, are no longer forced to be accomplices in a genocide that is backed and funded by the United States government," read a news release

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud is among the leaders in metro Detroit that has endorsed the pledge. Writing on social media, he said he was joining several other elected leaders in vowing to cast an "uncommitted" vote on the February ballot.

Hammoud was among those invited to meet with Biden's campaign manager when a trip to the state was announced in late January. He rejected the offer, saying "this is not a moment for electoral politics."

According to the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the attempt at outreach was offensive. It looked like the administration was treating the group as a votes, not as people with concerns, Dawud Walid said.

"Genocide takes precedent over the southern border. Genocide takes precedent over inflation rates," said Walid.

Michigan State Rep. Alabas Farhat will also be at the meeting, the Associated Press reports. He plans on making it clear of the bubbling frustrations that a cease-fire hasn't been called for. He added there also needs to be the release of hostages held by Hamas and prisoners held in Israel.

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 14: A protestor in support of Palestinians holds up a depiction of the Maqam Ibrahim in a march in support of Palestinians on October 14, 2023 in Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn is home to one of the largest populations of A

Administration officials making the trip to Michigan include Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer and Steven Benjamin, who directs the Office of Public Engagement, a White House official told AP.

The meeting offers a crucial opportunity for leaders to make inroads with the community ahead of another pivotal election season. There are concerns from Democrats that voters sitting out the presidential election could cost Biden the election in Michigan. 

In a statement sent ot FOX 2 on Wednesday, the Dearborn mayor said he will engage in conversation about policy change with the senior policy delegation, "centering on the lived experiences of the people of Gaza and amplifying the demands of the Dearborn community."