Biden tries to shake off 'Genocide Joe' epithet, but it could be the issue that sinks him

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Late last week, The Wall Street Journal posted an opinion piece that called out anti-Israeli sentiment coming from some imams and residents in Dearborn, Michigan, which is majority Arab American.

The Journal's headline was inflammatory, labeling the city as America's “jihad capital,” but the facts in the piece itself appear solid.

Dearborn political leaders, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other Democrats quickly condemned the Journal for publishing the op-ed and spreading “Islamophobia.”

And, no surprise, it wasn’t long before President Joe Biden weighed in on X, formerly Twitter.

"Americans know that blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong. That’s exactly what can lead to Islamophobia and anti-Arab hate, and it shouldn’t happen to the residents of Dearborn – or any American town," Biden wrote. "We must continue to condemn hate in all forms."

This incident and the reaction to it are emblematic of what’s become a real problem for Democrats ahead of the 2024 election.

Biden’s support of Israel in its war against Hamas terrorists – following Hamas’ brutal attack against Israel on Oct. 7 – has angered Arab Americans and an increasing number of sympathetic Democrats who have embraced the plight of Gazans over Israelis.

A protester shouts as President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Manassas, Va., on Jan. 23, 2024.
A protester shouts as President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Manassas, Va., on Jan. 23, 2024.

'Genocide Joe' isn't the campaign slogan Biden wants

I find it troubling for a president to critique any publication for its decisions, especially when it comes to opinion pieces. First Amendment anyone? And meddling with the decisions of news media and social media companies has proved a hallmark of the Biden administration.

If former President Donald Trump were the one criticizing editors' decisions, the reaction from the news media and Democrats would be quite different.

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Politically speaking, however, Biden has found himself in a tough spot. And I’m not sure the occasional tweet in support of Arab Americans will be enough to pull him out of this hole.

Just look at the protests that have followed the president on recent campaign stops. Last month, Biden staged what he hoped would be a major pro-abortion rights rally, yet he was interrupted by chants of “Genocide Joe.

People gather in support of Palestinians outside where President Joe Biden is speaking to members of the United Auto Workers in Warren, Mich., on Feb. 1, 2024.
People gather in support of Palestinians outside where President Joe Biden is speaking to members of the United Auto Workers in Warren, Mich., on Feb. 1, 2024.

A similar thing happened ahead of and during a recent visit to metro Detroit, where Biden met with members of the United Auto Workers. Protesters demanded a cease-fire in the ongoing war.

Days before Biden came to Michigan, Arab and Muslim leaders canceled a planned meeting with Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez because of this issue.

Biden's tanking support has to concern Democrats

A battleground state, Michigan will be key to winning the White House come November. And if Biden loses the votes of many in the Dearborn community – which widely supported him in 2020 – that could spell doom for his reelection.

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The polls continue to look bad for Biden. One last month from The Economist/YouGov found that 51% of 2020 Biden voters say Israel's war against Gaza is “too harsh.” Even worse for the president, half of these voters say Israel is committing genocide of Palestinians.

Similarly, Biden White House staffers and some federal employees are turning against the president because of his support for Israel.

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And a new NBC News poll of registered voters shows Trump dominating Biden by 5 points – his most sizable lead so far in that survey. Trump also trounces Biden on the economy and immigration by much wider margins.

Of course, it’s still early and a lot could change, especially given Trump’s numerous legal battles. Despite those unknowns, all of this must be discouraging for Democrats.

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In the midterms and other recent elections, even though the economy and the border were still top of voters’ minds, Democratic candidates smartly played the abortion issue and many won on the message of protecting those rights.

But with the Israel-Hamas war now taking center stage, that seems to trump abortion as a key motivating factor for voters.

If that remains true, Biden has a lot to worry about.

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at or on X, formerly Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden support of Israel over Gaza may wreck his 2024 election chances