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President Biden Adds Battle Against Islamophobia to His Quest for Peace

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

When President Joe Biden was interrupted by a local protester who called for a “cease-fire” in the Israel-Hamas war, Biden did not disagree.

“I think we need a pause,” Biden said, as ushers escorted the protester out.

What’s the difference between a “cease-fire” and a “pause”?

Unlike a cease-fire, to which the Israelis refused to commit, Western leaders have instead been pushing for “humanitarian pauses,” a cessation of hostilities for short periods to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza region unimpeded and for civilians to seek refuge. Biden described it as time to get prisoners released.

At least Biden provided more of a direct answer to such questions than he or his aides previously offered. They’ve preferred instead to avoid telling Israelis how to carry out their military response to Hamas’ abhorrent Oct. 7 attack.

Yet the president also has faced intensifying pressure from human rights groups and activists like the woman who interrupted his speech. She was identified as Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg from Jewish Voice for Peace, a progressive anti-Zionist organization that has called for boycotts against Israel.

 

At the same time, Biden has faced intensifying pressure from human rights groups, other world leaders and even liberals in his own Democratic Party who argue that the crisis needs more remedies than Israeli bombardment.

Blowback from a wide array of people, including Arab and Muslim Americans, may help to explain Biden’s new initiative this past week — a “first-ever” national strategy to counter Islamophobia in this country.

The project is expected to take months to formalize, and officials did not specify a timeline.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre underscored the need for an anti-Islamophobia effort, citing the recent surge in hate-fueled attacks, most notably the barbaric killing of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian American Muslim, and the wounding of his mother in their home outside Chicago.

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