Dearborn Then, Dearborn Again

With President Biden making an appearance in Dearborn, Michigan this past Sunday to give a speech at the 69th annual Detroit Branch NAACP Fight for Freedom dinner, he was greeted with multiple marches and chants asking him to leave the city due to his lack of an explicit call for a ceasefire in the Middle East. While the protests featured the usual jukebox greatest hits calling him “Genocide Joe” and “From the River to the Sea”, this is not the first time that the spotlight has been on the small Michigan city with a population of just under 110,000 people. This Midwest city is the home to roughly 40,000 Muslim Americans, many of whom have become vocally dissatisfied over the United States’ support of Israel in the ongoing war in Gaza, as lukewarm as it has been turning over the past few weeks notwithstanding. What this city does have for it is the potential to either have their residents stay home on Election Day this November which could lead to a potential nightmare scenario for the Democratic Party in handing the state to the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

What makes the focus on Dearborn uniquely interesting is that this is not the first time that the city has been a spotlight on Anti-Semitic sentiment in the United States. The city first vaulted itself into the spotlight of anti-Semitism when Henry Ford, the namesake of the Ford Motor Company took over the publishing of the Dearborn Independent in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s where he coopted the local newspaper outlet to spout vicious conspiracy theories against Jews in the United States and around the world. It was this newspaper that also reintroduced the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion into the public’s consciousness and the newspaper’s publications were so popular in Nazi Germany that they published a collection of articles in a four-volume set titled the International Jew and subsequently served as the inspiration for Mein Kampf. Furthermore, Adolf Hitler’s enthusiasm for the writing of the Dearborn Independent were evidenced by the very fact that he issued the Golden Eagle to Henry Ford in honor of the auto magnate’s 75th birthday.

Now as we fast forward a little more than 100 years later, the city of Dearborn is continuing these anti-Semitic traditions as seen in early April when they celebrated Al-Quds Day, a day created by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 which encourages the widespread protesting and advocating for terrorism specifically aimed at Israel and the Zionist movement. The protest, which took place outside the Henry Ford Centennial Library, featured a wide array of signs calling not only for the Death of Israel but Death to America as well, in addition to speeches praising Hamas and encouraging attendees to return to the practice of a true Islam that encourages armed struggle against all those deemed the enemies of Allah. Similar protests took place the same weekend in New York City and various other cities around the United States all with the same goals and chants.

As the situation continues to develop and the protests against Israel shift to becoming more vocally against the White House’s policies, it will be interesting to continue to watch how President Biden attempts to maintain his mixed messaging regarding the conflict, on the one hand attempting to placate the radical fringes of his party’s voting base while avoiding a total abandonment of the United States’ most critical ally in the Middle East region in addition to sending a signal that he intends to revoke his support of selling crucial military supplies to Israel, a move that will all but lock the Democratic Party entirely out of courting the Jewish voting blocs this Fall.

About the Author
Josh Leichter, living in New York, is a writer whose interests span history, politics, and the rich tapestry of Jewish life.
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