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For Biden, It’s Michigan Or Israel

Michelle Goldberg, the millennial pixie, conveys a threat from a Michigan activist named Layla Elabed. It’s Israel or us, Genocide Joe. Pick one.

As infuriated as she is by Joe Biden’s stalwart support for Israel, Layla Elabed has not ruled out voting for him in November. A progressive Palestinian American community organizer in Dearborn, Mich., a majority Arab American city near Detroit, she doesn’t want to see Donald Trump back in office.

“Donald Trump has never been a friend to our community,” she told me as we sat in an airy, modern Yemeni coffee shop. But to win her back, she said, “the very bare minimum” Biden needs to do is to completely overhaul America’s relationship with Israel, demanding a permanent cease-fire and ending American military aid to Israel, at least as long as its war in Gaza drags on.

Elabed is one of the activists pushing the Listen To Michigan campaign, where progressive voters are told to send Biden a message by voting “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary. As it happens, she’s also the younger sister of Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, one of the leaders of the Hamas caucus in Congress.

What they demand of Biden in exchange for their vote is simple. Abandon Israel and reward the terrorists.

“We’re looking at unprecedented times where we are watching a genocide unfold in front of our eyes,” said Elabed. Biden’s backing of Israel may be predictable, given both his own avowed Zionism and the political influence of Israel’s American champions, but to her and others like her, it’s become intolerable.

It’s an article of faith on the left that what is happening in Gaza is a genocide, so much so that nobody bothers to either acknowledge the meaning of genocide or offer any explanation of why their claim is correct. Arguing the point is a fool’s errand, as there are neither facts nor logic that alter religious fervor, While it may be that of two million Gazans, thus far about 29,000 have died according to the Hamas Ministry of Health and Truth, even if some unmentioned share of the dead are Hamas soldiers.

If Israel wanted to commit genocide, it has the capacity to kill far , far more. It hasn’t. And, to note the obvious, it didn’t send in bombs, tanks and soldiers on a whim one morning when Bibi got it into his head that today would be a good day for genocide. On October 6th, Gazans went about their daily lives without fear of death. On October 7th, something changed.

The irony of the pixie’s “political and moral” analysis is that she never mentions Hamas. Not once. It’s as if Hamas never did anything on October 7th. It’s as if Hamas didn’t knowingly bring this down on the heads of their fellow Gazans, their martyrs, their shields. She calls Biden an “avowed Zionist,” a word that has become as much of a curse as racist or transphobe, because Biden has taken the position that Israel has a right to exist. Israel is not the party here required to lay down its arms and let terrorists rape, behead, burn, murder and kidnap at will. And if Israel doesn’t eradicate Hamas, it will happen again and again. Hamas says so. Biden knows it.

And Biden knows that these progressive dreamers do not, or at least won’t admit. That the terrorism won’t end until Israel is destroyed and every Israeli, Jew or arab, is dead or gone. But it won’t end their either, because this is a war against western values, our values, and these emboldened terrorists will then use terrorism that has garnered them adoration from progressives as the accepted weapon to eradicate the heathens and heretics of the west. Like the pixie. Like the progressives. Like those on the victimhood pedestal.

These voters have heard Biden criticize Israel’s “indiscriminate” and “over the top” bombardment of Palestinian civilians and infrastructure, but they don’t see his administration taking meaningful steps to restrain it. Given the intensity of pro-Israel sentiment in some corners of the Democratic Party, breaking with Israel has long been seen as politically risky. The “uncommitted” margin in Michigan next week will be an imperfect but useful gauge of the degree to which cleaving to Israel has become risky as well.

Biden has tried the thread the needle since the start of his term of office, trying to mollify the authoritarian left and throwing them gifts like forgiving student loans, eradicating any distinction between sex and gender, and eliminating due process for male students accused of sexual assault. He hoped to buy peace from the left side of the schism in the Democratic party between liberals and left wing ideological zealots. It hasn’t worked. It was never going to work, as each new issue put Biden back into the intolerant left’s crosshairs. Nothing he does for them will be good enough. There is no mollifying the children. They demand purity and nothing less will do.

The “uncommitted” margin in Michigan will indeed be a test of Biden. Will he forsake what he knows to be the right thing, the only thing, to do or will he capitulate to the arab and progressive voters? There is nothing Biden can say to make these unduly passionate activists grasp the folly of their ways. If they don’t realize that the alternative to Biden is Trump, and there is no disputing that compelling argument, then there can be no reasoning with them.

But as long as his efforts don’t directly address the catastrophic suffering in Gaza, they’re not going to mollify activists. And while it appears obvious that Trump would be worse on the issues pro-Palestinian activists care about, their desperation to exert leverage on Biden seems, at least for the moment, to override fear of Trump’s return.

Then again, it’s not as if the Times’ millennial pixie sees a problem here.

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