Biden shrinks Ramadan event after Muslim leaders refuse to go in protest of Gaza war

WASHINGTON — President Biden was expected to host a small, private meeting with a group of Muslim Americans Tuesday evening to recognize the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — with the gathering dramatically scaled back due to backlash against his support for Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Activists have for months held large anti-Biden rallies and interrupted his public remarks — calling him “Genocide Joe” — and some polling shows that the president is at risk of a large-scale electoral abandonment by both Muslims and Arab-Americans as he seeks re-election in November.

Fewer than a dozen guests are expected after several invitees declined the opportunity to participate in the intimate Iftar meal with Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, CNN reported Monday.

The Biden administration's Office of the Director of National Intelligence circulated a DEI newsletter that focused on “the importance of words.”
The White House has been coy on the precise plans, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre deflecting Monday when asked. REUTERS

National Public Radio reported late Monday that the planned dinner had been scrapped and replaced by a meeting with Biden due to the possibility that even more guests would decline after they cited concern about dining with the US president amid reported widespread hunger among Gaza’s more than 2 million people.

Visitors will include Muslim-American community leaders and doctors who recently worked in Gaza, NPR reported.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Tuesday that there still may be a “scaled-down Iftar dinner” after the meeting.

The White House has been coy on the precise plans, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre deflecting Monday when asked.

“I just don’t have anything to share on an upcoming event at this time. I just don’t have anything to share,” Jean-Pierre said when pressed by a reporter.

Last year, about 350 guests packed into the White House East Room for a Ramadan celebration hosted by Biden.

The president staunchly defended Israel early on in the Gaza conflict and visited the country on Oct. 18 in a show of support after Hamas terrorists murdered about 2,000 Israelis and kidnapped about 250 others in a stunning surprise attack on Oct. 7.

Hamas still holds an estimated 134 hostages, including at least six US citizens.

The terrorist group refused to accept a US-proposed six-week cease-fire deal that would have released all remaining hostages in Gaza in exchange for Israel releasing roughly 700 Palestinian inmates, including about 100 convicted of killing Israelis.

Hamas instead insisted that Israel release all of the estimated 9,000 Palestinians held for anti-Israel activities.

Biden has become increasingly critical of Israel in public remarks about the need to prevent civilian casualties amid sustained backlash from crucial Democratic voting blocs, including younger voters.

The administration did not block a United Nations Security Council resolution last week demanding an
“immediate cease-fire” without condemnation of Hamas — outraging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who canceled an in-person delegation of Israeli officials to Washington.

The Israeli officials who were supposed to visit DC instead held a two-hour virtual meeting Monday with senior Biden aides, including Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has quietly approved billions of dollars in arms transfers over the past month.

The latest shipments include 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, the Washington Post reported — on top of State Department approval of a $2.5 billion transfer of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines.

The Biden administration also reportedly is preparing to approve the sale of 50 F-15 fighter jets to Israel for $18 billion.

Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip has been reduced significantly in the conflict, but the group still holds Rafah along the border with Egypt.

Most of the territory’s residents are believed to have fled there.

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