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Nevada Muslim leaders call to abandon Biden over Israel-Hamas response

Updated December 19, 2023 - 6:43 pm

Las Vegas resident Imam Abdul Al Aziz Eddebbarh voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, but he does not plan to do the same in 2024.

Eddebbarh and other Nevada Muslim leaders gathered Monday in Las Vegas, pledging to abandon Biden over his stance of the Israel-Hamas war, and to actively campaign against him and other politicians in 2024 who have refused to call for a cease-fire.

“We want to make it clear that we firmly oppose and do not endorse violence, discrimination or any unlawful activities,” Eddebbarh said outside of the U.S. District Court. “We gather here, not just as individual(s), but as a force united by a fierce dedication to justice, humanity and peace.”

Monday’s gathering of about 10 people followed the national launch of the #AbandonBiden campaign in early December, when Muslim leaders met at the Swing State National Muslim Conference held in Dearborn, Michigan, to kickstart the national campaign in response to Biden’s handling of the conflict.

In Las Vegas, Muslim leaders part of the #AbandonBiden Nevada Coalition underscored the number of Palestinian children who have been killed since Israel responded to the unprecedented Oct. 7 attack — the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust — by Hamas that killed 1,200 Israeli people with its own declaration of war.

As of Dec. 9, two months after the initial attack, at least 17,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza Health Ministry figures published by Reuters. Biden has questioned the validity of the death toll numbers published by Hamas, the militant group that has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

“President Biden’s neglect to champion peace and the protection of life has led to unspeakable suffering amongst innocent Palestinians,” said Nadia Harrara, a UNLV student.

Aid agencies are warning of a worsening humanitarian crisis. Last week, the United Nations General Assembly demanded an immediate cease-fire, the release of all hostages and surety of humanitarian aid access. Human Rights Watch, an international nongovernmental organization that researches human rights, accused the Israeli government of using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.

In late November a weeklong, temporary cease-fire was called that allowed for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, the release of 105 hostages Hamas had taken Oct. 7 and the release of 240 Palestinian from Israeli prisons. Shortly after that truce expired, the war resumed in full force, according to Al Jazeera.

Israel’s government faces renewed calls for a cease-fire from some of its closest European allies after a series of shootings, including the mistaken killing of three Israeli hostages, fueled global concerns about their conduct, according to The Associated Press.

A spokesperson for Biden’s campaign declined to comment, but Biden said last week that Israel is losing support over its “indiscriminate” bombing of Gaza. He has supported Israel’s right to defend itself, while also urging Israel to limit civilian casualties. Biden administration officials also said last week they want Israel to end its large-scale ground and air campaign in the Gaza Strip and instead be more targeted in its war against Hamas, according to the New York Times.

Calls for action

The group of Muslim leaders present in Las Vegas called for their representatives to take several actions to resolve the crisis, including demanding a cease-fire; ending the occupation of Palestine; investigating Israel’s actions under the Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act; and repealing House Resolutions 888 and 894, which they say “support Israel’s unfettered military reactions and unjustly equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism,” said Nicholas Klein, a leader in the Muslim community.

H.R. 888 reaffirms the state of Israel’s right to exist, and H.R. 894 condemns and denounces the rise of antisemitism.

The Muslim leaders also called on Nevada officials to reassess the state’s anti-BDS laws that oppose boycotts of Israel. BDS stands for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

“We call for a reconsideration of this law to ensure our democratic principles remain uncompromised by foreign influence,” Klein said.

When asked if he plans to vote for someone else instead of Biden, Eddebbarh said he hasn’t decided yet.

“Right now, we’re concerned about accountability,” he said. “Biden has to be punished for what he did, and we hope that will serve as a lesson to the rest of the politicians.”

‘A force for change’

In addition to campaigning against Biden, Eddebbarh said he will campaign against other politicians, including Sen. Jacky Rosen, who faces re-election in 2024. Rosen, the only Jewish woman serving in the Senate, has taken a strong advocacy position for Israel, pushing for funding its military action and calling for the United Nations to designate Hamas a terrorist organization.

Rosen’s campaign declined to comment, but she previously advocated for protecting innocent people and providing humanitarian aid.

“The Muslim-American vote matters,” said Mahir Hussein, a Las Vegas resident. “We’re not just numbers in American politics. We are a force for change. This is a collective effort, where we’ve come together to amplify our shared voice and declare that we won’t accept leadership that falls short of democratic ideals.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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