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Okay. Salaam-alaikum, everyone. My name is Mona Mawri, and I think it's so inspiring that we have people from so many different professions and paths of life and ethnicities joining us here today to do the phone banking. We really want to send a strong message using our voting power to let Biden know that we strongly reject his aiding and abetting and funding of the genocide and war in Gaza.


From the New York Times, I'm Sabrina Tavernousi, and this is The Daily.


This is Abd Al-Rahman Hamad.


I'm calling from Michigan. Hi, this is Ian with the Michigan Uncommitted campaign, and we want to ceasefire in Gaza now.


Is this Hussain?


In the past few weeks, activists in Michigan began calling voters in the state, asking them to protest President Biden's support for Israel by not voting for him in the Democratic primary.


Are you planning to vote in the Democratic primary? Because we are asking folks to vote uncommitted.


Michigan has one of the largest Arab-American populations in the country, and the activists are trying to turn its anger over Gaza into a political force.


Biden is not listening to us, so this is the right time to give him a message before the general election, okay?


One that could be decisive in this critical swing state, where winning in November will likely be a matter of the slimmest of margins. You are going to be voting on committed. Okay, amazing.


I'm so happy we are on the same page. Free Palestine. That's right.


Great. Could you ask three of your friends to do that as well? Yeah.


Today, my colleague Jennifer Medina on how Israel's war in Gaza is changing politics in Michigan. It's Tuesday, February 27th. So, Jenny, the Democratic primary in Michigan is today, and it's an election that typically wouldn't matter very much, right? I mean, Joe Biden, of course, is the incumbent, and he's already pretty much sealed the deal to be the nominee. So why are you covering it?


Yes, it's true that a primary with an incumbent president is typically pretty unimportant, and there's normally a low turnout. Even in this primary, Joe Biden is absolutely expected to win. And so there's a little surprise most of the time. But this year we have this whole new wild factor, and that's the war in Gaza. And the war has created enormous anger in a state like Michigan, where there are tens of thousands of voters potentially looking for a way to voice their anger in the primary election.


So enormous anger at the war in Gaza in a state like Michigan. So tell me about that. What is it about Michigan?


Michigan is this interesting state. First of all, it's been a swing state for a very long time. But also in the context of the war in Gaza, it's really interesting because of the demographics. Michigan has one of the largest Arab-American populations in the country. We're talking something in the ballpark of 200,000 Arab Americans. That's a group of people who have been angry with US policy toward Israel for decades. But because of the war in Gaza, it's something totally different. It's bringing anger to the fore like never before.


Yeah, and it's not just Arab Americans who are angry.


Right. It's become a central issue for Democrats on the left. As the war in Gaza has raged on and the death toll has risen, we've seen more and more people speak out against Biden for supporting Israel, and they've begun to threaten to withhold their vote for him because of that support. We've seen this coalition led by Arab American voters in Detroit begin to concentrate their anger on the Michigan primary. They're asking a few different things. Some organizers are telling voters that they should check an uncommitted box on the primary ballot, essentially saying none of the above. Other people urge voters to write in free Palestine or free Gaza. There's lots of different ways they could protest, but there's a group that really coalesces around this idea of uncommitted. The bottom line for them is they want to send a message to Biden saying, If he doesn't change policy, he will have a real problem on his hands for the election in November.


Right. Okay, so speaking of November, let's play this out here. Let's say nothing changes after the primary. What happens if these same voters don't support Biden in the general election in November?


I think there's no question it would be a huge problem for Biden. Arab Americans are a group of voters that have largely supported Democrats in the past, and it's pretty unlikely that a majority of them would move to Trump. But more realistically, it's definitely possible that they just sit out the election or vote for a third-party candidate. In a state like Michigan, that would be a huge deal with huge consequences. Biden won in 2020 with only roughly 150,000 votes. In 2016, Clinton lost by just 11,000 votes. If even a portion of Arab-American voters decide not to vote for Biden, it could have huge consequences for the state and even the country.


Wow, so huge stakes.


Yes. The question really becomes, how big is this movement and how deep does that anger run? There it is. I know. Oh, it's right next to a picture shop. I went to Detroit, along with producers Assa Chetravadi and Claire Tennis-Getter, to really understand how this strategy was resonating in the Arab-American community. Were those rank-and-file voters really rallying around this effort, this urge to register their anger by voting against Biden at the ballot box. We are outside the Islamic Center of Detroit, where they are about to start noon prayers. We started with going to a mosque for Friday prayers. This is just outside of Dearborn in Detroit, and there are hundreds of people gathered there for noon Friday prayers. Latifa? Sherry. Hi. Nice to meet you. How are you? We met up with a woman, Latifa Jamal.


Don't vote for Biden.


Who was handing out flyers, urging people to abandon Biden.


Not to vote for Biden? Who are going to vote? No Biden. Okay.


And the level of frustration- I'm not voting for that. And dismay- No, no, no. And betrayal- For what?


Biden? A kid, no.


Was just clearly evident.


That's not to vote for Biden?


Yeah, I know. I'm in the group. Oh, in the group? And of the roughly 50 or so people we heard from- Biden? Yeah. I love Biden. Only one person said that he was sticking with Biden. Wow. I love Biden.


I know. After what he was doing in Geza. I'm sorry about it.


This is the way. Did you vote for him in 2020? I did vote for him in 2020. Almost everyone we heard from outside the mosque said they voted for Biden in 2020. But now said they weren't so sure. Is there anything he could do to gain back your vote? So when we asked people what Biden could do to win back their vote. Of course. Stop this massacre. Many said ceasefire at a minimum.


I don't think so. Unless he goes send the army and create a Palestinian state and reimburse every Palestinian.


But many said they wanted more. We know how Biden has reacted in the situation now. We can't think about what ifs. For me, at least, I can't sit by and stand that. I need to get him out.


So, Jennie, I guess listening to you talk to people, it feels a little tricky to me because the US, obviously, is an important and powerful ally of Israel, but it is a separate country from Israel. I guess I'm wondering how the people you were talking to process that. I mean, Biden is fundamentally not the boss of Netanyahu. The US doesn't have the power to actually stop the war and stop the bombing.


I think for many of these voters, it's not all that complicated. They see this through the lens of US support for Israel, not just support of the war now, but also decades of policy of billions of dollars of aid going toward Israel. That aid is mostly unconditional. Even though in recent weeks, you've seen Biden shift his rhetoric a little bit. He spoke from the White House calling Israel's reaction over the top. These voters see that rhetoric as basically empty, and they see nothing short of a fundamental policy shift as enough.


What has the Biden administration been in the face of this criticism? I mean, has Biden responded?


I think his administration has tried. They've sent White House officials and foreign policy officials to do listening sessions where they apologize and express regret for some of the past actions, basically saying they should have done more to indicate that they value Palestinian lives. Then just this weekend, Democrat Roqana, a congressman from California, went and tried to step in unofficially for the Biden campaign and try to reassure voters. But I don't know that any of that has done much reassuring at all because the level of anger that they have just goes beyond wanting to be heard. They don't think listening is enough, and they want to see action.


Okay, so it's clear from your reporting that a lot of people are very upset with Biden. But I guess that raises the question about the alternative, about Trump. I mean, this is the President who brought the country the Muslim ban, as we remember from the early days of his term. It's also the guy who broke with years of American tradition on where the US embassy in Israel should be based. I mean, he moved it to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The question in my mind is, do you think at the end of the day, Jenny, when all of these voters are staring at their options, that they'll ultimately just hold their nose and vote for Biden?


There's really two groups of people. There's the people who are voting and focused on today on voting uncommitted and registering a threat and are leaving open the possibility of going back to Biden come November. But then there's a whole other group of people, and it's a large group of people, who are already saying, Forget it, I'm done. I'm definitely not going to vote for Biden in November. They understand the stakes, they understand the consequences, and still, they've made up their mind.


We'll Be right back. So, Jenny, you said that you talked to Democratic voters in Michigan who said that they were not going to vote for Biden, really, no matter what, despite the prospect of Trump. How did they talk about that?


So I went to speak with a longtime Democrat and Palestinian-American activist who lives in the suburbs of Detroit. Hi. Hello. Her name is Terria Ahuel. She is 67 years old, and She lives with her husband, Bob Morris, and their dog, J. V.


J. V. Thank you. That's been brilliant.


Almost from the moment you walk in their home, it becomes clear that being a Democrat is a central part of her identity.


This is Obama's book.


It's clear from the books that she has on her coffee table.


My husband with President Kennedy and his father.


It's clear from the walls of photos that she and Bob have, which is just a who's who in democratic politics, stretching back decades, really.


As you see President Bill Clinton at the time.


You call it a wall of politicians, but they're all Democrats. Democrats.


We don't have really...


We always vote for the best person. They just happen to be Democrats. And we sat down in their dining room.


Thierry, can you just start by telling us a little about your childhood, what life was like, where you were?


So I grew up in Ramallah, which is west of Jerusalem.


And Thierry told us about growing up in Ramallah in the West Bank, and she said it was basically a calm, happy childhood until she was about 10 years old.


That's what I call introduction to hell.


In 1967, the Arab-Israeli War broke out, and Terry's family and neighbors sheltered together in her house.


We ended up with 30 people in our basement, and it's a very small basement. And all of a sudden, the bomb starts. The scream starts, and all of a sudden, and it just went like, boom, boom, boom. And then the radio. And then people start praying.


They were crowded together in that basement as tanks rolled in.


There's no way to destroy describe the horror that you see, the crying, the smell, the fear.


After the war, Terry's parents grew really anxious about her and her sister's safety. So eventually, they were sent to live with her uncle in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. When she gets there, she got a job in a local restaurant. She eventually graduates from high school. Then after just a few years, she falls into politics, basically by accident. A Democrat asks her if she wants to volunteer for a candidate running for the State House, and almost immediately, she just loves it.


I stuffed an envelope like my life depended on it. I will come in and they say, You want to come in at five o'clock in the morning and lick stamps. I would come in at five o'clock in the morning and lick stamps.


That's people's lives. A sucker board.


At this point, Terry throws herself headfirst into politics. She's volunteering on local elections, and she's also getting involved with national democratic politics.


I was one of the first people that pushed for Bill Clinton, worked on his campaign. I was working my regular job and working basically after 5:00 till whenever, 11:00, 12:00, whatever, to get Bill Clinton elected.


What's she trying to accomplish with these campaigns?


I think it's two things. On the local level, she recognizes the immediacy of government in action to create real change in her own backyard. Then I think with some of these more national campaigns, she's really hoping to push for change for Palestinians and influence the Democratic Party's foreign policy.


I'm a believer that you cannot just stand on the outside and scream, Why don't you work within the system? Within the system, things will change.


Then, like many Democrats, she's really shocked when Trump wins and enters office.




Tell me you got that.


I look at Trump and I tremble with fear.


She's horrified the day he gets elected.


The day he got elected. I really could not- She's shocked by the Muslim ban. I was just petrified that my nephew, whose name is Muhammad, is going to be injured because of all the hate that is directed at them.


She's horrified by the decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


Just when you think he cannot get any lower, he gets lower.


So when 2020 comes around, after Biden becomes the Democratic nominee, Thierry spends a lot of time and effort calling up friends and family members and acquaintances, trying to convince them to show up and vote for Biden in the presidential election.


And then I just said, Let's work and start convincing all the people people that were in opposition.


So what was that pitch? Give me the pitch that you gave to people at that time.


It's either Biden or Trump. And Trump hates Muslim, hates Europe, hate everybody. If you're not white, you're not going to be a person that is going to be represented. So it was not that Biden is equality. It's there is a bad and terrible We don't want the terrible.


It's not that she's this huge Biden supporter, but when Biden becomes the Democratic nominee, she supports him. When he announces he's going to run again in 2024, she still supports him.


But then October seventh happens.


Right. For Terry, she immediately thinks back to her experience in 1967 and anticipates what she thinks will be an aggressive Israeli response.


Immediately after I knew, Because I lived through what Israel does when the Palestinian perpetrates violence. I knew there was going to be hell to be paid.


And, Jenny, does Terry talk about the role of Hamas in this war? I mean, the fact that Hamas perpetrated this violent attack on Israel on October seventh.


Thierry kept talking about how she really thinks of herself as a pacifist. And so I asked her about this. Does any part of you put blame on Hamas?


Yes, because they used violence. So yes. But to me, the question that I would ask, should the Palestinian Indigenous people of that land, do they have the right to defend themselves?


And she said quite clearly that she disagrees with the use of violence, but it's also clear that she feels quite conflicted and really sees Palestinians as in an impossible position.


If you are the desperate person in Gaza who have no options, what would you do?


And then as the weeks and the war dragged on and Israel continued its bombardment, she really became very angry with her own country, with Biden's response to the war.


Every human beings' life mattered, but he diminished the tragedy of Palestinian by him going and embracing Netanyahu.


Almost immediately, she's really enraged by Biden's decision to fly to Israel very quickly to embrace Netanyahu and to offer basically unequivocal support for the war.


I kept saying he will self-correct. Somebody or the policymakers will change.


But she tries to be patient, and she has this expectation expectation that Biden is going to change his mind or withdraw some support.


And as the time went by, it got even worse.


And as it becomes more and more clear that that's not going to happen.


Everything Israel wants, they get. What does that say, that my life doesn't matter?


She really begins to think, That's it. I can't vote for him. Not in the primary January and not in November.


You want my vote. You cannot kill my people in my name. As simple as that.


How do you How do you wrestle with the fact that that decision could help Trump win?


It's a very hard decision, but it is not me who's putting Trump in place. It's the President himself. I'm not at fault that people like me are not going to vote for him. It's his policy and his action. So don't put the blame on me. Put it on him. He knows that my vote will be for him if his actions are different. And so is that me basically saying I demand more of my leaders? Yeah. Why not?


I mean, you're saying, Look, this isn't my fault. It's not because of me Biden to change. Is there anything that you think that Trump is going to do better for Palestinians?


I have zero confidence in Trump, period. There's not one idea Toyota of anything I want from Trump. I want him to go away. But I am sad for our country that we do not have viable alternatives on both It provides.


But it's the system that we have. Yes. It's the only system that we have. And it's a system that you participated in- Yes. Enthusiastically for decades.


Absolutely. So I have two bad candidates. So what is my I don't have alternatives. I am not represented. I know. I'm in a place where I am going nowhere. That's how hopeless where I stand.


Jenny, it's really striking that four years ago, Terry looked at this exact same choice and felt pretty clear that to her, Trump was a worse option than Biden. I mean, so much so that she campaigned for Biden, right? But now she looks at the two and sees them as equally bad options. That's a pretty remarkable shift, not least because these are two very different leaders when it comes to the Palestinian issue. Trump is much closer to the Netanyahu government on a whole range of things, things that she'd probably be pretty opposed to. How does she sink that in her mind?


I think for Terry, she really sees not that much difference between Biden and Trump. She sees this as subtleties that don't matter in the long run because of what's happening in Gaza.


This person hates me. This person want me killed. That's all what it is.


But Terry understands that not everybody sees it that way. That's clear even in her own conversations with her husband, Bob. It's worth noting here that Bob's family is Jewish, but he says there's really no daylight between him and Terry on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Maybe the only thing they disagree about is the role of President Biden.


And then Bob and I, we talked.


So they remembered this fight they had on the drive back home from Thanksgiving with Bob's family.


We're driving on the freeway, leaving DC, and What triggered it is something on the radio, and they said Biden and Palestine at the same time.


I think Biden was saying something about compassion.


And they say they heard someone say something about Biden.


But in the meantime, he was doing things with Gaza, and it's like I basically said to Bob, I just don't understand how horrible of a human being he is.


And Terry remembers just erupting.


He's such a hypocrite.


And I was probably saying, the Supreme Court and Trump or something else.


And I don't buy it anymore. And then he blew up.


And Bob remembers getting really emotional.


I just had a breakdown. I said, I just can't take it anymore. And I mean, when I say I had a breakdown, I'm driving the damn car, and I'm starting to cry.


And what's going through your mind, then, out.


There's nobody I love more on this Earth than Terry. But if I say anything, I'm a bad guy. And Terry understood. She felt really bad.


We're 95 % on everything, except he sees Biden via the prism of the Supreme Court. I'm looking at it from the prism of Palestine.


I mean, it sounds like you're saying you're already seeing things crumble, and you're saying this is our last chance before things crumble.


To be fair, I wanted Biden to run. I did want him to be a one-term You did? Yes. I truly thought he could be a guy who writes the ship. And in some ways, he has. Biden did get successful legislation passed in a bipartisan way. And some of his legislation is really good. But he wasn't as good as I had hoped.


But why will you stick with him?


Donald Trump. I mean, I am very concerned about our democracy. I think it is entirely possible that Democrats could win the House and the Senate and the presidency this time. And that can make a big, big difference in terms of how we can make some positive changes. And that's a hope. I guess I'm a short term pessimist and a long term optimist.


So he see things, and I see potential, he doesn't. He sees, Okay, this is our system. This is how it's always been. I'm looking at it. It's about time to really fix the system that we have. It's a system that's not working for the majority of broken. We are not represented.


But it sounds like what you're saying is the system is already broken, and the only way to fix it is to break it more.


No, I don't believe in breaking. I believe in building. The destruction is not my intention here. I cannot tell you how sad and disheartening that I have to do this, because that is the The best thing I want to do, to basically say, I know I told you the last time Biden is not the best, but he is not Trump, and please, please vote for him. And now I'm telling you, refrain, because maybe, maybe they would start seeing us as a human being deserving of a living.


Terry She really sees this election in very stark terms. It's not just about November. It's about the future of her party.


But when it comes to the future of her party, she's basically a single-issue voter, right? I mean, the Supreme Court, climate change, those things just don't matter to her as much as this other issue, the Palestinian issue. She's willing to risk all of that in this election for that issue.


Right. I think Terry would turn that right around and say that it's President Biden who is taking the risk here. From her perspective, he is the one who is willing to lose the election over his continued support for Israel.


I am conflicted to the tilt. But my My political engagement, my being in the system, is not as important to me as saving the children that are dying.


I know. Terry, thank you so much.


Thank you. Pleasure to meet you. Thank you. Pleasure to meet you. Thank you. Thank you so much, Terry. Really so much. Oh, I appreciate.


Jenny, it really seems like the fight that Terry and Bob are having, this conflict inside their marriage, is a lot like what's happening inside the Democratic Party right now. I mean, these are the battle lines, right? The question is, what does this mean for the election? How many Terry's and how many Bob's are there out there? Whose view is going to prevail? Who's going to win?


Exactly. We really don't know. The Michigan primary is really the first test of all of this. The organizers of the Uncommitted campaign say they're hoping for something like 10,000 votes, which is roughly how much Clinton lost the state by. But that's actually quite a small number because we've always seen some percentage of Uncommitted in a Michigan primary. So for this to really make an impact, for it really to worry the Biden White House, we'd probably need to see something with tens of thousands of Michigan is not the only place we're going to see this play out. There will be similar debates, I think, in Georgia, in Pennsylvania, maybe even other swing states. Really, no matter what happens, regardless of whether Terry's or the Bob's prevail in this election, the truth is, the fight in the Democratic Party is really just beginning. This is going to have a profound impact on the party. Younger voters' attitudes towards Israel is very different, and they are becoming a bigger voting force. The politics are changing, and that has the potential to really reshape America's decades-long foreign policy in the Middle East.


Jenny, thank you.


Thank you so much.


We'll be right back. Here's what else you need to know today. Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two First Amendment cases, challenging laws in Florida and Texas, which aimed to limit internet companies' ability to moderate content on their platform. Platforms. The platforms do not have a First Amendment right to apply their censorship policies in an inconsistent manner and to censor and de-platform certain users.


I welcome your questions.


Lawyers for the States defended the laws, saying that big the Internet companies and the platforms they run are essentially public forums, and therefore, should not be allowed to discriminate based on political views, for example, against conservative speech.


It interferes with editorial discretion. It compels speech. It discriminates on the basis of content, speaker, and viewpoint.


Lawyers for the tech companies that own the social media sites say that it is unconstitutional under the First Amendment to force companies to publish views against their will. The cases are likely to shape the future of speech on the internet. Rulings are likely to come this spring. And Manhattan Two of the prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to approve a gag order seeking to stop former President Donald Trump from attacking witnesses or exposing jurors' identities in a case involving hush money Trump allegedly paid to a porn star. The order would be the latest in a series of gag orders imposed on the former President. Mr. Trump's lawyers are likely to appeal. The case is scheduled to go to trial on March 25th. Today's episode was produced by Asta Chatervedi, Claire Tennis-Sketter, Jessica Cheung, Summer Tamad, with help from Sydney Harper. It was edited by Devon Taylor with help from Mark George, Rachel Quester, and Ben Calhoun. Fact-checked by Susan Lee, contains original music by Marion Lozano, Dan Powell, and Ron Nemistow, and was engineered by Alyssa Moxley. Special thanks to Maddie Messiello and Chris Wood. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Lansberg of WNDYRLE.


That's it for The Daily. I'm Sabrina Tavernisi. See you tomorrow.