I’m a life-long Democrat, but Biden lost my vote because of Gaza

I’m a life-long Democrat, but Biden lost my vote because of Gaza

A ripped Palestinian flag flutters in the occupied West Bank village of Khallet al-Daba, on October 26, 2023, after it was attacked by Israeli settlers.

Biden Faces Backlash From Party's Left Wing on Israel - The New York Times

I used to see myself as part of the future of the Democratic Party, but I just got back from Palestine, and I will now work to ensure it never wins again. The willingness of this party leadership, President Biden, elected officials and candidates to allow a genocide to occur, live-streamed in real time, has forever driven me away.


Democrats Dumping Biden Over Gaza: Don't Blame Us If Trump Wins

The Democratic Party was my political home for 33 years, and the narrative of my life has been shaped around figures in the party. I grew up in the largest college town in New Hampshire, so our first-in-the-nation primary made national politics my backyard. Family lore is that Bill Clinton kissed me at a rally as a baby. I was the head of my high school’s Democratic Club, where we canvassed and phone-banked for then-State Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan. I met then-Sen. Barack Obama at a rally on Epiphany Sunday in a hallway of a high school and quoted him on my yearbook page after he won the election.

Biden’s Israel trip displays ‘performative’ approach to Gaza war: analysts

When I moved to Washington, it was a thrill to go on a date with someone and hear them mentioned the next week on a popular liberal political podcast. In the wake of the 2016 election, I attended webinars by Run for Something, and started to seriously chart out a course to return to New Hampshire and run for local office as a Democrat.

This is the life I wanted, I thought. This is where I am meant to drive change, and these are the people I should be doing it around. I now work around the people who had been my political heroes. I saw them as the answer and wanted to be them. Their children, spouses, chiefs of staff and senior advisors became my colleagues, partners and friends.

And I now plan to work for their political defeat. The last five months of civilian carnage in Gaza have revealed that the Democratic Party is choosing to remain planted on a bloody, inhumane and immoral side of history. Its failure to respond to the desperate calls of its members — particularly those who would represent its future in American politics — has shown me that this is no longer my political home, nor a label I will attach to myself.

I am forever changed by the haunting images of children’s lifeless bodies on filthy hospital floors and the stories of people picking the human remains of their loved ones off the ground to have something to bury. I will never forgive the failures in my education — academic, spiritual, political and my own lethargy — to get to clear eyes on this issue. I will never forgive the Democratic Party and this president for failing to act.

Opinion | Why Arab Americans don't want to vote for Biden in 2024 - The Washington Post

And I know I’m not alone. A New York Times/Siena College poll in December found that 72 percent of voters between 18-29 disapprove of Biden’s handling of the conflict. In the Michigan primary, over 100,000 voters opted to vote “uncommitted” rather than supporting Biden, far surpassing organizers’ hopes. The launch last month of Biden’s TikTok account was swamped with a deluge of pro-Palestinian comments, and campaign rallies have been derailed by protesters demanding answers for the president’s failure to intervene in the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

I recently returned from Palestine with a solidarity delegation of the Presbyterian Church. I watched a Palestinian farmer in Bethlehem stand feet from the swinging bucket of an excavator as his land was illegally seized and torn apart. I stood in the rubble with activist Fakhri Abu Diab of what used to be his family home in Silwan, East Jerusalem. I sat at a checkpoint in Nablus for hours simply because the Israeli soldiers manning the gate wanted to make it hard for Palestinians to move through their own land. I ate dinner with a father and daughter whose family is stuck in northern Gaza, seeking refuge in churches, and who were on the phone with their beloved music teacher when she was shot in the leg trying to return to her home and left to bleed out and die alone on the street.

Opinion | To Earn Back My Vote, Biden Must Stop Supporting Genocide in Gaza | Common Dreams

In mid-October, I took down the giant framed Shepard Fairey “Hope” poster hanging in my home office, which I’d saved from a 2008 Obama field office wall. I could not stand to be met in my line of sight with a reminder of this party that betrayed me, that has sold out the Palestinian people and its own future leaders.

I decided in November, and am surer than ever in March: Unless the Democratic Party and its leaders call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and a lasting end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, I will not vote for Biden or any Democrat. Maybe ever again.

Emma West Rasmus is a member of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA).


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