In a closed-door meeting with Arab American and Muslim leaders in Michigan last week, a senior aide of the Biden administration, Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer, candidly acknowledged communication failures and “missteps” in conveying US policy regarding the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza.
A recording obtained by CBS News captured Finer expressing regret over the administration’s inadequate public acknowledgment of the value of Palestinian lives amidst the crisis.
The audio recording, verified by a National Security Council official, revealed Finer acknowledging a prevailing belief among many in the Arab American community that President Biden lacks empathy for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. This admission underscores concerns over the administration’s approach to the conflict.
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, responding to Finer’s remarks on “Face the Nation With Margaret Brennan,” indicated plans for changes within the administration. He cited recent statements by President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, signaling a shift towards a more respectful approach towards civilian life in the conflict.
During the closed-door meeting, Finer expressed regret over specific instances of the administration’s response, including the failure to publicly condemn remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant advocating for a complete siege of Gaza. He also addressed a statement by the president on the 100th day of the conflict, which omitted mention of Palestinian civilian casualties, acknowledging it as a significant oversight.
The meeting with community leaders marked the first visit by Biden administration officials to Michigan since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, highlighting efforts to engage with Arab and Muslim voters. Michigan, a critical swing state with a significant Arab American population, has drawn increased attention from the administration in recent weeks.
Despite continued support for the Netanyahu government, the Biden administration aims to push for meaningful steps towards a two-state solution, acknowledging the need for hope and a path to peace for the Palestinian people. The administration’s reassessment of its approach coincides with growing public concern over Israel’s actions in Gaza and highlights the challenges of balancing domestic and international interests in the region.