Pro-Palestinian movement on campus | Joe Biden remains silent

(Washington) What does Joe Biden say about the mobilization of many American students against the war in Gaza? Nothing or almost nothing: the American president has so far avoided speaking on this subject likely to undermine his campaign.

The 81-year-old Democrat, who will face Republican Donald Trump in the November presidential election, has only spoken publicly once, briefly, about these demonstrations.

“I condemn manifestations of anti-Semitism (…). I also condemn those who do not understand what is happening to the Palestinians,” Joe Biden said on April 22 in response to a question asked by a journalist.

Since then, there has been silence from the 81-year-old Democrat, which Donald Trump did not fail to note.


Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

“A great fever has gripped the country, and he says nothing,” the 77-year-old tycoon said Wednesday during a partisan rally.

The Republican called on college presidents to “reclaim the campuses” and called protesters at Columbia University in New York “rabid maniacs and Hamas sympathizers.”

“Small percentage”

The White House spokesperson condemned on Wednesday “the small percentage of students who cause disorder” after a night of clashes and arrests on certain campuses.

“Students have the right to go to class and feel safe,” continued Karine Jean-Pierre, adding: “We must denounce anti-Semitism. »

She acknowledged that the war in Gaza was a “painful moment” and assured that Joe Biden supported the right to peaceful protest.

For Alex Keena, professor of political science at VCU University in Virginia, “the protests put Biden in a delicate position because to win in 2020, he relied a lot on young people, on Muslims and American Americans. Arab origin.

The White House is “apparently convinced that it will weather this storm and still win against Donald Trump in November. (…) This is a dangerous miscalculation,” attacks James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, an association that represents Americans of Arab origin, in a recent post.

Since the start of the conflict in Gaza, triggered by the unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israeli soil, Joe Biden has been the target of strong criticism for his unconditional support for Israel.

A poll published in mid-April by Harvard University gives him the advantage among Americans under the age of thirty: 45% of voting intentions against 37% for Donald Trump, an eight-point difference.

However, this is much less than in the same poll four years ago, in spring 2020: the Democrat had a lead of 23 points with his Republican opponent.


The American president could win back the hearts of certain young voters by November, if an agreement on a ceasefire and a release of hostages held in Gaza was reached between Hamas and the Israeli authorities.

“It would be huge,” judges Alex Keena. “This would go a long way to putting an end to certain protests or regaining some stability” on campuses.


United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken

The Americans have been pushing for a deal for weeks. The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, in Israel on Wednesday, judged that Hamas “must say yes” to the latest proposal made to it.

If the agreement fails, and the protests in universities continue, the Democrats will hold their convention under very high tension this summer.

The party must nominate Joe Biden in August in Chicago.

In 1968, it was also where a particularly chaotic Democratic convention was held, against a backdrop of demonstrations against the Vietnam War, and shortly after outgoing President Lyndon Johnson had given up running.

At the time, law student Joe Biden, already fiercely centrist, stayed away from the protest. In a book published in 2007, he describes seeing students occupying a building at his university in Syracuse (northeast), and thinking: “Look at these assholes. »


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