Palestinian-American Doctor Protests, Leaves Biden Meeting



Dr. Thaer Ahmad, a Palestinian American doctor, walked out of a meeting with President Biden as a form of protest against the US administration’s continued support for Israel amidst the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict. Ahmad had previously traveled to Gaza and recounted his experience of the humanitarian crisis in the region. The doctor’s departure emphasized the heightened tensions and anger within Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim American communities over the conflict.

Palestinian American Doctor Leaves Meeting with Biden Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict

A Palestinian American doctor, Dr. Thaer Ahmad, left a meeting with President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening, showing growing tensions and concerns from Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim American communities over the Israel-Hamas war.

Dr. Ahmad, an emergency physician from Chicago, travelled to Gaza earlier this year. The meeting he unexpectedly left included Vice President Kamala Harris, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, other administration officials, and a small group of Muslim community leaders.

This meeting highlighted the most intimate moment of protest against Biden’s position since Israel’s campaign in Gaza began following a Hamas attack on October 7. It signifies the political issue Biden faces, including Arab and Muslim Americans and progressive voters, as his administration continues to support Israel’s war in the Palestinian enclave.

As the Gaza conflict intensifies, relations with the Muslim American community have strained. The planned iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast was transformed into a meeting due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Biden “made it clear that he mourns the loss of every innocent life in this conflict,” expressing commitment “to continue working towards securing an immediate ceasefire as part of a deal to free hostages and significantly increase humanitarian aid into Gaza,” an official said.

Dr. Ahmad, who visited Gaza as part of a delegation of doctors from the NGO MedGlobal, voiced his concerns against a potential Israeli offensive in Rafah. He cited the massive numbers of displaced, suffering, and dying people he witnessed.

Before leaving, he handed Biden a letter from an orphaned girl, Hadeel, from Rafah. The letter pleaded with Biden to stop Israel’s expansion into Rafah without a concrete plan to protect civilian lives.

Dr. Ahmad emphasized that it was crucial to attend the meeting, though he reiterated it was not appropriate to discuss death and famine over a meal. Multiple guests declined the invitation.

Dr. Ahmad plans to return to Gaza soon. He expressed his intention to challenge the claim that Hamas uses hospitals, shelters, and schools as bases and command centers.

Later Tuesday night, Ahmad again urged the Biden administration to adopt a more assertive stance on protection for aid workers and civilians in Gaza. He pleaded that it “can’t just be rhetoric; it can’t just be the president saying he’s very sorry.”

Dr. Nahreen Ahmed, an ICU physician who also attended the meeting, stated that her colleague Ahmad made a “heartfelt plea” before leaving the meeting. Ahmed emphasized that it was crucial to humanize the suffering she has personally witnessed in Gaza, where she also plans to return in the coming weeks.

A White House official said on Tuesday that Biden would host a meeting with Muslim community leaders discussion issues of importance to the community. It replaced the planned iftar dinner originally scheduled for the evening.

This year, Ramadan coincided with an intense campaign in Gaza against Hamas. The Gaza health ministry reports more than 32,000 people have been killed. Biden has called for an immediate ceasefire, but has not yet demanded it be permanent or halted arms provisions to Israel.

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