The President convened a meeting with five Muslim-American leaders on the day following his controversial remarks on October 25th, which had stirred up discontent within the Islamic community. In this meeting, which was initially scheduled for half an hour but extended to over an hour, Biden pledged to "do better."
During this meeting, the leaders shared personal stories of individuals they knew who were directly impacted by the ongoing conflict. "I'm sorry. I'm disappointed in myself," Biden confessed to the group, as reported by the Washington Post.
The day prior, at a press conference, Biden had openly questioned the veracity of the casualty figures emerging from Gaza, citing Hamas' history of terrorism. "I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed," Biden stated. He added, "I'm sure innocents have been killed, and it's a price of waging war."
According to data from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 14,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including a significant number of women and children. Israel, on the other hand, has suffered more than 1,200 fatalities, primarily civilians, following a surprise attack by the terrorist group on October 7th, as reported by the Jewish state.
The Muslim-American leaders who met with Biden urged him to demonstrate greater empathy towards the Palestinians. It was reported that Biden embraced one of the participants at the conclusion of the meeting.
Biden has been under pressure from within his own administration, with a group of 20 staff members this month seeking a strategy to reduce civilian deaths in Gaza.
Several prominent Democrats have publicly criticized the President's handling of the war occurring thousands of miles away. Despite this, Biden has reiterated US support for Israel following the brutal attack on October 7th.
However, he has also increasingly advocated for a cessation of hostilities to allow humanitarian aid to reach the beleaguered Gaza Strip and for the release of hostages. "For weeks, I've been advocating to pause the fighting for two purposes: to increase the assistance getting into the Gaza civilians who need help and to facilitate [the] release of hostages," Biden stated on Sunday.
Hamas and Israel have agreed to a four-day ceasefire to facilitate a hostage-for-prisoner exchange. This truce began on Friday, with Hamas agreeing to release approximately 50 hostages in return for temporary peace and the release of several Palestinian prisoners.
Biden has increasingly urged Israel to minimize civilian casualties in its efforts to eradicate Hamas. When asked about some members of his own party wanting to impose conditions on aid to Israel, Biden responded, "Well, I think that's a worthwhile thought, but I don't think if I started off with that we'd ever gotten to where we are today."
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan did not rule out the possibility of imposing conditions on aid to Israel on Sunday. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Post.
Arab-American sentiment towards Biden appears to have significantly deteriorated since the outbreak of the war. A recent survey conducted by John Zogby Strategies revealed that only 17.4% of Arab-Americans would vote for Biden in 2024, with a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.