Arab American community leaders have postponed meeting with Harris amid concerns, sources say

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Arab American community leaders have postponed meeting with Harris amid concerns, sources say

Vice President Kamala Harris’ plan to meet with members of the Arab American community was abruptly postponed this week after the leaders decided not to move forward, according to two sources familiar with the situation, the latest sign of the obstacles they face. The administration has to do it. Make inroads with the community.

Protesters demanding a ceasefire in Gaza have irked President Joe Biden and Vice President Harris at events nationwide, underscoring a persistent reality as the president shifts into general election mode: Democrats over Biden’s support for Israel Deeply divided as it wages war with Hamas. , and this issue threatens to break the alliance.

Earlier in the week, the vice president’s office held a virtual meeting with about a dozen participants from the Arab American community — including activists and representative organizations — to discuss topics including the crisis in Gaza, before a listening session with Harris in White. were also included. The House was scheduled for Monday, a source said.

The next day, those participants closed the Monday session, Citing concerns including potential backlash from colleagues and not wanting to speak for entire communities. Sources said talks are ongoing about a possible rescheduling.

The now-postponed meeting, which was not previously reported, is part of a concerted effort by the administration to listen to members of the Arab American community, including a call by leaders and activists in Michigan last week to meet with the White House. The meeting held after putting pressure is also included. officers.

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A White House official told CNN that the vice president “looks forward to continuing conversations with leaders of the Muslim, Arab and Palestinian communities, including phone calls and meetings.”

“The Vice President is committed to listening to and engaging with members of these communities, and we look forward to meeting these leaders in the future,” the official said. He said Harris spoke to people who have left Gaza, Is of. Contributing to humanitarian response and others.

Community members invited to Monday’s session said they wanted to keep the lines of communication open with the White House, but the episode was another reminder of the challenges the administration faces.

It also comes as Harris faces protesters on her reproductive freedom tour, including a group refusing to participate over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Access Reproductive Justice, a California-based nonprofit focused on abortion access, decided not to attend Harris’ San Jose stop.

“We feel strongly that the plight of the Palestinian people is a reproductive justice issue and one that has been largely ignored by the Biden-Harris administration,” Jessica Pinkney Gill, executive director of Access RJ, told CNN.

Gill stressed that the group is in touch with the Vice President’s office despite the decision not to attend the event.

He said, “For us, joining the program was to support policies that we may not fully support, while continuing to negotiate with the administration was to push for policy change.”

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Harris’ staff, at the vice president’s direction, has given protesters at her events the opportunity to speak directly to senior White House officials to share their concerns, sources told CNN.

Harris was interrupted during remarks in San Jose in January as she participated in a moderated discussion about abortion rights with actress Sophia Bush. A protester can be heard calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

And this week, Harris was interrupted by a protestor during a speech in Savannah, Georgia. Minutes after his speech, a protester shouted, “You should be ashamed” and “You are committing genocide,” referring to the violence taking place in Gaza.

Harris responded, saying, “We know that in a healthy democracy we value the freedom of all people to be heard, but right now we’re talking about… the women of America as a result of the Dobbs decision. And what happened to the people?” Referring to the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

A member of Harris’ team spoke to a protester in Georgia, a White House official said.

A recent CNN poll found that 34% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the war between Israel and Hamas. Nearly half of Democrats – 51% – say they approve of his handling of the Israel-Hamas war; Among Democrats under 45, it drops to just 35%.

This week, senior administration officials met with members of the Arab American and Muslim communities in the battleground state of Michigan.

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Asked about that meeting, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We want to hear directly from them,” adding that it was important for community leaders to “be able to talk directly to officials at the White House.” ” is important.

The Michigan meeting came after Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, traveled to the state to meet with local community leaders, including members of the Arab American and Muslim communities.

A meeting, which was expected to include about a dozen Arab American, Muslim and Palestinian leaders and activists, was canceled last month after invitees declined to attend. At the time, some expressed disappointment that the Biden team had sent a campaign official instead of White House officials.

“The President’s refusal to change course or even publicly acknowledge his mistakes is a serious insult to the people in Michigan, especially Michigan Democrats,” said Abbas Alawieh, spokesperson for “Listen to Michigan.” Said on Friday. Listen to Michigan is a new campaign urging Democrats to vote “uncommitted” in the state’s Feb. 27 presidential primary to demand Biden support the ceasefire.

Alaweh said, “And the hypocrisy of telling us privately that the administration has made mistakes while failing to hold (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu publicly accountable is a blatant display of the moral bankruptcy that has a political impact in Michigan.” There will be consequences.”

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