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Palestinian-American comedian accuses American leader Joe Biden of supporting ‘genocide’ against Palestinians

Amer Zahr, a Palestinian-American comedian, has criticized US President Joe Biden and his administration for promoting "genocide" against Palestinians and creating an environment of dehumanization. He also believes that the "uncommitted" vote movement in Michigan translated their justified moral outrage into votes.

Anadolu Agency AMERICAS
Published March 02,2024

Palestinian-American comedian Amer Zahr accused US President Joe Biden and his administration of supporting "genocide" against Palestinians and contributing to an atmosphere of dehumanization, saying the "uncommitted" vote movement in Michigan turned their "justified moral anger" into votes.

Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, activist, and adjunct professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He was born in Jordan and grew up in Philadelphia as the child of Palestinian refugees before moving to Ann Arbor at the age of 18 to attend the University of Michigan.

"He (Biden) has lied about us. He has said that he saw beheaded babies. He has said that he didn't believe the numbers coming out of Gaza," Zahr, who is also the president of the New Generation for Palestine group, told Anadolu in an exclusive interview in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb with one of the US' largest Arab-American communities.

"He has contributed to an atmosphere of dehumanization, which has led to many Palestinians being killed. The six-year-old boy was stabbed 26 times in Chicago," he added.

According to Zahr, the "uncommitted" vote campaign in the state, which aims to send a message to Biden demanding a change in the administration's Gaza policy ahead of the November election, is about "turning that justified moral anger into votes."

The number of uncommitted votes in Tuesday's primary achieved more than 10 times the 10,000-ballot goal set by the protest campaign organizers, racking up 13% of the vote. About 20,000 uncommitted votes had been cast in Michigan's previous Democratic primary in 2020.

A group of Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as many progressive Democrats, urged Michigan voters to vote "uncommitted" in the primary to protest the Biden administration's Gaza policy, demand a "permanent cease-fire" to Israel's deadly onslaught in the Palestinian enclave, and an end to the unconditional US military support for Tel Aviv.

"What we've seen as a response from the Biden campaign, and the Biden administration, has been shameful. They have supported this genocide from the beginning," he said.

"We've been asking people to go out and vote anything but Biden, and uncommitted is one option," he said.

"If that means that in November, we get President Trump, that's not our problem," he added.

Zahr said that he has seen "solidarity" about the "uncommitted" campaign and that the "coalition growing of many different groups throughout the country."

There are more than 310,000 people of Middle Eastern and North African descent living in Michigan, about 3.1% of the population of this key swing state, according to 2020 census data. A significant number of them are Palestinian-Americans.

Israel started its war on Gaza after the Oct. 7, 2023, cross-border incursion by Palestinian group Hamas. It has since killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and pushed the territory to the brink of famine.

Zahr said Palestinians always go through all kinds of emotions, including "sadness, anger, rage, depression, frustration," adding that "we feel all those things now."

"But we're never surprised. We're never surprised by how much Israel commits violence against us, and how much America supports it," he said, adding that they are in a time of "heightened emotions."

"Because we've seen our families being buried in mass graves, (and) we've seen our children blown apart. And that has had an effect on us, and we are translating that into real action," he added.

There has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian sentiment in the US, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) saying it recorded about a 180% surge in discrimination and hate complaints since the Oct. 7 attack.

"I don't know how we can get any worse," Zahr responded when asked about the rise in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment.

An inflammatory op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month called Dearborn as "America's Jihad Capital," which drew criticism from Muslim groups, some officials, and Congress members.

President Joe Biden, without explicitly mentioning the journal's op-ed or the author of the article, said on X that it was incorrect to hold "a group of individuals accountable solely based on the actions of a small number."

Zahr said after the article he looked up voter registration in Dearborn and saw 47 voters named "Jihad" in the city.

"And we have many other voters named jihad with different names. Maybe we are the jihad capital of America," he added.

"I don't know how we can get worse under Trump," he said, adding that "Under Biden, we have seen a six-year-old stabbed 26 times, because of words that Biden used."

"We have seen three boys… three young men, I should say, shot in Vermont because they wore keffiyeh and spoke Arabic. And in February, we saw a young man named Zacharia was stabbed in Texas after a rally there. How does it get worse than that? And 30,000 of our family in body bags in Gaza."