Arab-American voters could sway the US Presidential Election 2024

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Americans, Arab-American, American life

As the 2024 presidential election approaches, a unique opportunity has emerged for Arab Americans to exert significant influence on the outcome. Historically, Arab-American voters have struggled to make a noticeable impact on national elections. However, the narrow margins in several swing states during the 2020 election, coupled with the sizable Arab American populations in those states, have elevated their potential to sway the result in November.

This newfound political clout, however, is tempered by rising antagonism due to America’s unwavering support for Israel, a factor that continues to shape the political landscape.

The United States’ political priority towards Israel is deeply entrenched. This allegiance is not merely a matter of foreign policy but a result of a long-term, well-orchestrated effort by pro-Israel supporters to cultivate sympathy and support across various spheres of American life, including mainstream media, Hollywood, literature, and politics. The effectiveness of these efforts is evident in the substantial influence pro-Israel groups wield in Washington.

Pro-Israeli organizations, notably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), have mastered the art of political engagement. They mobilize substantial financial resources, donate generously to political campaigns, and maintain a unified stance on their core issue – support for Israel. This strategic engagement has ensured that Israel remains a bipartisan priority in American politics. In contrast, Arab Americans, despite their financial resources, have not matched this level of political involvement. Their contributions to political campaigns are comparatively meager, and their voices are scattered, lacking the unity and focus seen in pro-Israel advocacy.

The disparity in political influence between pro-Israel groups and Arab Americans extends beyond financial contributions. It also encompasses the realm of professional communications and perception management. Many pro-Israel advocates have pursued careers in journalism and media, sectors that play a crucial role in shaping public opinion and political discourse. Their success in these fields amplifies their influence, making it difficult for Arab American perspectives to gain comparable traction.

Arab Americans, on the other hand, have traditionally favored careers in medicine, engineering, and business. While these professions are prestigious and contribute significantly to society, they do not wield the same immediate impact on public opinion and political narratives as careers in journalism and media. This divergence in career paths further diminishes the Arab American voice in the political arena.

In American politics, financial backing is a critical factor in a candidate’s success. AIPAC’s substantial financial contributions to candidates who support its policies have cemented its influence. For instance, ahead of the upcoming election, all 224 AIPAC-backed candidates – 90 Democrats and 134 Republicans—secured their primary victories, defeating progressive challengers who advocated for Palestinian rights. This success underscores the formidable influence of pro-Israel funding in shaping the political landscape.

In stark contrast, there is no equivalent Arab American lobby with comparable financial clout. While there are influential Arab American voices, they lack the unified financial and organizational strength that pro-Israel groups possess. This imbalance in campaign funding further skews the political playing field in favor of pro-Israel policies.

As the election looms, it is essential to examine the candidates and their positions on Middle Eastern issues. President Joe Biden has consistently aligned himself with pro-Israel policies, proudly declaring himself a Zionist. Despite needing the Arab American vote, Biden’s unwavering support for Israel suggests that he takes this constituency for granted. The pro-Israel lobby’s significant role in Democratic politics ensures that Biden’s policies remain heavily influenced by their priorities.

Former President Donald Trump presents a more complex picture. Though lacking a traditional political background, Trump has connections with several Arab and Palestinian individuals from his time in the celebrity world. However, during his presidency, the lack of organized Arab American political support pushed him further into the pro-Israel camp. Trump’s need to secure the influential pro-Israel vote ultimately shaped his Middle Eastern policies.

Third-party candidates, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Jill Stein, offer alternative perspectives but are unlikely to secure a significant share of the vote. Kennedy has shifted rightward on Middle Eastern issues, recognizing the political challenges surrounding Gaza. Stein, while both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian, struggles to distinguish between the actions of the Israeli government and the broader Israeli state.

In the face of these political dynamics, many Arab Americans have rallied behind movements such as “#AbandonBiden” and “Arabs for Trump”. These movements reflect a growing disillusionment with Biden’s policies and a desire to explore alternatives. The decision to abandon Biden could potentially aid Trump’s reelection, offering Arab-Americans a new opportunity to engage with his administration constructively, should he win.

While Trump’s reelection may pose short-term challenges for Arab-Americans, it also presents an opportunity to build a more effective lobbying strategy.

Engaging with a Trump administration, rather than opposing it outright, could yield better results for Arab American interests. However, the emotional and often divided nature of Arab American political engagement makes the outcome uncertain.

The 2024 presidential election represents a pivotal moment for Arab American voters. Their ability to influence the outcome in key swing states gives them unprecedented political leverage. However, overcoming the entrenched pro-Israel influence in American politics remains a formidable challenge. For Arab Americans to maximize their impact, they must enhance their political engagement, unify their voices, and strategically leverage their votes. The road ahead is fraught with obstacles, but the potential to shape the future of American politics is within their grasp.

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