How Democrats are alienating their base by blasting a Gaza war ceasefire

Inexplicable. That is how advocates are describing the actions of some Democratic officials who seem to be not only alienating but actively antagonising members of their own party over differing views on the war in Gaza.

Many prominent Democrats, including United States President Joe Biden, have voiced “unwavering” support for Israel’s military offensive in the Palestinian enclave. But that stance has fractured the Democratic base, with polls showing that a majority of Americans support a ceasefire.

That schism was prominently on display in November, when activists held a ceasefire protest outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC. Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman responded by calling the demonstrators “pro-terrorist”.

“Apparently, these pro-#Hamas demonstrators want #Republicans to prevail in the next Congressional election,” he wrote in a social media post.

He also accused the activists of attempting to break into the building — an allegation refuted by the protest organisers and journalists who were at the scene. The protesters had sought to block an entrance to the headquarters where a reception was unfolding, and police responded by evacuating lawmakers and forcibly dispersing the activists.

But advocates say Sherman’s reaction was one of many instances where Democratic politicians have smeared their constituents over the Gaza war, signalling a disconnect with the party’s base.

‘Major political error’

Beth Miller, the political director at Jewish Voice for Peace Action, an advocacy group, called Democrats’ attacks on ceasefire activists “pathetic” and “shocking”.

She noted that public opinion polls show most Americans — and an overwhelming majority of Democrats — back an end to hostilities in Gaza.

A Reuters/Ipsos survey released last month indicated 68 percent of respondents believed Israel should call a ceasefire and negotiate an end to the war. That number rose to 77 percent among Democrats alone.

“For these members of Congress to not only dismiss it, but to actively attack those people, I think it means that they’re also not reading the political winds of how people will be voting and what they will be demanding in the coming cycle,” Miller said.

The rift between Democratic policy and public opinion has translated into dwindling approval ratings. In October, the Arab American Institute, a think tank, found Arab American support for Biden had dropped 42 percent, reaching an all-time low.

That downward trend was reflected in the wider public as well. A recent NBC poll showed that 70 percent of voters under 34 disapproved of President Joe Biden’s handling of the war.Usamah Andrabi, communications director at Justice Democrats, a progressive group, said the Democratic Party is showing itself to be “out of step” with its base as well as the broader electorate.

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