Politics

Biden's Israel-Gaza policy prompts warning from Democratic donors

A group of more than 100 Democratic donors and activists Monday sent a letter to President Biden's campaign warning that progressive anger over Israel's war in Gaza “increases the chances of a Trump victory.”

The signed letter is the latest sign of Democrats' dissatisfaction with Mr. Biden's alignment with the Israeli government as he wages the war that began when Hamas militants killed 1,200 people in Israel on October 7.

Since then, more than 30,000 Palestinians have died at the hands of Israel, according to Gaza health authorities. Anger over the plight of the Palestinians has roiled Democratic politics, with Mr Biden trailed by protesters outside several of his public events calling for a ceasefire in the conflict and an end to aid American military to Israel.

Signatories to the letter include a handful of donors who gave six-figure sums to Mr. Biden's 2020 and 2024 presidential campaigns, although a preponderance of donors who signed the letter gave smaller sums to candidates and causes more progressive than Mr. Biden, according to reports from the Federal Election Commission.

Among these are Paul Egerman, a financial co-president for Senator Elizabeth Warren's 2020 presidential campaign; David and Elizabeth Steinglass, who between them gave $1.4 million to Democratic candidates and causes in 2020, including $100,000 to Mr. Biden’s campaign committees; Caroline Gabel, an environmentalist who gave $315,000 to Democrats and $51,000 to Mr. Biden’s campaign committees this election cycle; And George Kruppwho gave $1.2 million to Democrats in 2020 and donated more than $600,000 to them during the 2024 election cycle.

(Read the letter to President Biden.)

Mr. Steinglass declined to comment. Mr. Egerman and Ms. Gabel did not respond to messages. Mr. Krupp, in an interview arranged by Mr. Biden's campaign, said that while he was upset by Mr. Biden's stance on Israel, he still planned to co-host a fundraiser for the president in September in Boston.

“I would like to see the president take a stronger stance on humanitarian aid,” Mr. Krupp said. “If it can prevent further civilian casualties, that would also be a wish for me.”

Mr. Krupp said he was personally unsure about the letter's conclusion that the war in Gaza is harming Mr. Biden politically. The letter deplores Mr. Biden's support for Israel's war effort and its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Unfortunately, President Biden has provided what appears to be unconditional support for the Israeli operation,” it reads. “The Biden administration provided weaponry, including 2,000-pound bombs, which were used to level entire civilian neighborhoods, causing enormous casualties, with a high ratio of women to children. President Biden asked Netanyahu to minimize civilian casualties, but did not threaten any consequences as Netanyahu continued to ignore him.

The letter goes on to argue that the war is alienating progressive voters from Mr. Biden and his fellow Democrats and warns that if it does not end, it could lead to the president losing the November election to former President Donald J. Trump.

“As donors and activists, we have spent significant time and money helping to increase turnout among potential Biden voters, particularly among young voters and voters of color,” the letter said. “Many of these voters are now wondering whether the Democratic Party shares their values. If they stay home or vote for a third-party candidate, there is a very real risk that President Biden will be defeated in November. The re-election of Donald Trump would be a disaster for our country and an even greater disaster for Israel/Palestine, and we fear that the war in Gaza will increase the chances of that happening. Due to the disillusionment of a key part of the Democratic coalition, the war in Gaza increases the chances of a Trump victory.”

About 10 percent of Democratic primary voters voted for “uncommitted” in states where that was an option. The “unengaged” movement has become a proxy for Democrats disillusioned with Mr. Biden’s policies toward Israel after starting with a group of Arab American activists from Michigan who sought to exert public pressure on Mr. Biden end U.S. support for Israel's war effort.

On Tuesday, Michigan activists who launched the “unpledged” effort in their state announced they would seek to organize a national effort to recruit antiwar delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August.

The Biden campaign on Tuesday shrugged off the financial impact of the letter.

“The president shares the goal of ending violence and establishing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” said campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt. “He works tirelessly towards this goal.”

Among those who circulated the letter and recruited signatories was Liam Connell, a wealthy retiree from suburban Chicago. Mr. Connell said he did not want to elaborate on the letter, which was sent to Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden's campaign manager.

“The letter speaks for itself and I do not wish to be a spokesperson and editorialize,” Mr. Connell said. “I asked others to do the same. The letter was intended to be a private communication and was not intended to be released to the press or made public.

Mr. Biden's campaign has so far raised far more money than Mr. Trump's. Independent groups have pledged more than a billion dollars to help elect Mr. Biden and his Democratic allies this fall — a sum that dwarfs the public pledges of Republicans supporting Mr. Trump.

Taylor Robinson And Kitty Bennett contributed to this report.

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