How Biden’s White House Gathering for Ramadan Unraveled Over Gaza

When the White House invited Muslim community leaders for a dinner this week celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, the responses started coming in fast: Decline. Decline. Decline.

Many of the invitees, distressed over President Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza, said they would not attend an iftar meal with the president on Tuesday evening while so many Palestinians were under siege.

“How can we talk to you about famine and starvation over bread and steak?” said Dr. Thaer Ahmad, a Palestinian American doctor who was in Gaza in January.

The moment epitomized just how problematic the war in Gaza has become for Mr. Biden, who is increasingly critical of Israel but still resisting calls from within his party to set conditions on weapons sales to the country.

The White House pivoted quickly as it became clear that the Ramadan event would be controversial, holding a pared-down meal just for staff members and a separate meeting for Muslim community leaders like Dr. Ahmad.

The meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, was attended by Mr. Biden; Vice President Kamala Harris; Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser; and other senior officials. Three doctors who had recently treated patients in Gaza were among those who spoke to the president.

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