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Protests expected as President Biden visits Dearborn Ford plant Tuesday

Arab Americans ‘outraged’ over president’s response to violence in Israel, Gaza

President Joe Biden waves from the top of the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden waves from the top of the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DEARBORN, Mich. – President Joe Biden is set to visit Ford Motor Company’s Rouge Center in Dearborn on Tuesday -- but not all Michiganders are welcoming him to the state with open arms.

The president is visiting Michigan on Tuesday, May 18 to tour Ford’s Rouge Center plant in Dearborn in an effort to help push his massive $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which proposes $174 billion for electric vehicles specifically. The Dearborn plant will soon be building Ford’s all-electric F-150 Lightning, after the company announced last fall that it would pour nearly $1 billion into plants like the Rouge Center to work on electric vehicles.

While Biden and U.S. automotive companies like Ford work to ramp up production of electric vehicles, they face a challenge brought on by the pandemic: a shortage of computer chips.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many automakers shut down operations as virus spread surged across the nation. Companies producing computer chips for vehicles switched gears to instead produce chips for technology that rose in demand due to the pandemic, such as laptops and monitors. When the automakers resumed operations and required those chips, manufacturers could not revert back to their old operations to meet the demand of the auto industry.

Now, automakers like Ford are expecting to produce significantly fewer vehicles due to the chip shortage -- though General Motors says it is managing the shortage and anticipates a big profit in 2021.

More: As chip shortage goes on, cars are scarce and prices are up

During his visit Tuesday, President Biden is expected to address the chip shortage issue while arguing that the U.S. is not competing when it comes to manufacturing electric vehicle batteries.

But while Biden argues that the country needs to do more to adapt to the push for electric vehicles in the transportation world, protesters are expected to argue that Biden needs to do more to condemn the violence happening between Israelis and Gazans.

Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas are now more than one week into their fourth war, with battles that have surged to their worst levels since 2014. Israelis have carried out deadly airstrike attacks, while Hamas and other Palestinian groups have fired rockets into Israel.

The violence has so far left at least 188 dead in Gaza and eight in Israel, including more than 50 children in Gaza and one child in Israel, as of Monday.

More: Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive

Individuals of the Arab diaspora, especially in the U.S., have called on the two nations, as well as other leading nations across the globe, to step up and help end the conflict -- particularly accusing Israel of using disproportionate force on Gazans, who are locked into the war-torn strip.

So far, President Biden has not criticized Israel’s part in the violence, but is instead “working tirelessly through diplomatic channels” to stop the fighting, according to United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Arab Americans in Dearborn, home to one of largest Arab populations existing outside of the Middle East, are planning to protest Biden’s response to the Israel-Gaza violence at the Dearborn Police Department on Tuesday during his visit to the city, according to the Arab American News. The organization says that the Arab American community is “outraged” over Biden’s “callousness,” saying the president has “repeatedly expressed his unwavering support for Israel, whose government is currently bombarding families in Gaza.”

“Instead of expressly condemning this murder of Palestinian civilians by Israel’s powerful military, Biden and his administration have repeatedly made statements about Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ from retaliatory rockets from Hamas,” a press release from the Arab American News reads on Tuesday. “They have refused to say that Palestinians have the same right to defend themselves.

“There has also been no real acknowledgement from the administration of the events that have led to the current situation” the statement continues. “These include Israel’s continued illegal settlement operations, crackdowns on subsequent protests against removal of Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem, and multiple sieges of the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan. All this happened before Hamas shot its first rocket.”

Biden is expected to speak at around 1:40 p.m. Tuesday. Protest organizers -- which include the Arab American News, New Generation for Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine at Wayne State University -- say their demonstration Tuesday may be extended if necessary.

Click here to watch Biden’s remarks live Tuesday.

More: Calls mount for Gaza-Israel cease-fire, greater US efforts


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