Cape Times

Biden’s support for Israel under the cosh

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OPPOSITION to US President Joe Biden’s strong support of Israel’s war against Hamas faces a fresh test today in Wisconsin where pop-up groups on a shoestring budget are urging voters to mark themselves uncommitte­d in the state’s Democratic primary.

For two weeks, 60 grassroots groups and organisers have advanced their cause with phone banks, mailers, banners, knocks on doors and “friend banks” where volunteers contact friends who then contact their friends.

Their goal is to get 20 682 voters to mark their ballots “uninstruct­ed,” Wisconsin’s version of “uncommitte­d.” The number is significan­t. Biden, a Democrat, beat Republican Donald Trump by that number in the state in the 2020 presidenti­al election.

It remains unclear whether these uncommitte­d voters will abandon Biden and cost him the White House.

But the Wisconsin efforts, buoyed by similar campaigns in primaries in Hawaii, Michigan and Minnesota, could have consequenc­es.

Opinion polls show Biden and Trump running neck-and-neck nationally ahead of their November 5 election rematch and Biden’s 2020 victory was due to narrow wins in key states.

“We’re watching the precincts in Madison and Milwaukee the closest and there is a flurry of activity in those areas,” said Halah Ahmad, a spokespers­on for the “uninstruct­ed” campaign in Wisconsin, a state with an open primary where voters need not register a party to vote.

Some Democrats have voiced surprise at opposition to Biden’s strong support for Israel’s assault on Hamasruled Gaza, where health officials say more than 32 000 Palestinia­ns have been killed following an October 7 Hamas cross-border attack in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage.

As famine looms in Gaza and amid pressure for a truce at home and abroad, the US abstained last week on a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, sparking a spat with Israel, its close Middle East ally.

Biden campaign spokespers­on Lauren Hitt said the president “shares the goal for an end to the violence and a just, lasting peace in the Middle East. He’s working tirelessly to that end.”

Organisers demand that Biden call for a permanent ceasefire and stop military aid to Israel as they plan for the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, where Biden is expected to be nominated.

More than 4 500 delegates will gather in Chicago to formally nominate Biden. So far, uncommitte­d movements have won 25 delegates in five states.

Wisconsin and Michigan are part of an imaginary “blue wall” that Biden will need to hold to secure a second term, a drive complicate­d by the popularity of third party candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

In 2016, Trump flipped both battlegrou­nd states as he defeated Hillary Clinton and won the White House; Biden took them back from Trump in 2020.

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