Arab American leaders met with top Biden administration officials in Dearborn on Thursday to share their discontent with U.S. foreign policy regarding the Israel-Hamas war.
Abraham Aiyash, majority floor leader of the state House of Representatives, was among those at the meeting. He says community representatives and leaders made it clear that they were upset with the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, including the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
“There needs to be a change,” Aiyash said. “We are a constituency that is organized, that is significant in broader American politics and that we need to make sure the U.S. leads with moral clarity on this issue.”
He says that includes demanding an end to unrestricted unconditional military aid to Israel in the Israel-Hamas war, ensuring a permanent ceasefire in Palestine, and reinstating UNRWA aid.
Aiyash hopes the concerns are directly relayed to Biden, otherwise he says he doesn’t plan on meeting with them again.
“This is not an Arab and Muslim issue,” Aiyash said. “Over 60% of American support a ceasefire. Over 80% of Democrats support a ceasefire. This is something a majority of Americans believe should be done.”
Over 27,00 Palestinians have been killed in the war in Gaza, which began in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israelis. Nearly 1,200 Israelis died in that attack. Biden’s reluctance to call for a ceasefire has drawn fierce backlash from Arab Americans.
Michigan holds the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the nation and more than 310,000 residents are of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry, according to the Associated Press. Nearly half of Dearborn’s roughly 110,000 residents claim Arab ancestry.
Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud also joined the meeting with Biden’s senior advisors on Thursday to share the concerns of his community about the conflict in Gaza.
“When foreign policy decisions directly impact the well-being of Dearborn residents, it is irresponsible to walk away from difficult policy conversations that can lead to saving the lives of innocent men, women, and children,” Hammoud said in a statement released after the meeting. “As citizens of the United States of America and representatives of the city of Dearborn, we have done our duty; now it is incumbent upon the president to do the same.”
Use the media player above for the full interview with Abraham Aiyash, majority floor leader of the state House of Representatives.