But since the Hamas attacks and Israel’s response in Gaza, polls show the president is losing support among Arab Americans. A survey at the end of last year showed that Biden’s support among that population fell from 59 percent to 17 percent, a decline of more than 40 percentage points since the last election.
Biden has been hounded by people protesting his support for Israel at nearly every campaign event in recent weeks. At a third stop Thursday, at the Simple Palate restaurant, he encountered several protesters waving Palestinian flags and shouting into a megaphone: “Genocide Joe” and “How many children have you killed today?”
Osama A. Siblani, editor of the Dearborn-based Arab American News, said Thursday that Biden’s standing among Arab voters was lower than ever and that sanctions would do nothing to change that.
“We’ve given up on him doing anything,” Siblani said, adding that he had been surprised by the White House’s lack of specificity about the president’s agenda in Michigan, which he said seemed like an attempt to head off potential protests.
Before Biden’s trip on Thursday, the White House and the president’s re-election campaign had provided only scant information about where he was headed.
“If the community is not going to be able to protest your visit,” Siblani said, “we will give you the answer on February 27,” referring to the date of Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary.
A Biden campaign spokeswoman disputed the idea that the campaign was being secretive, noting that Biden often appears at small events that are not announced in advance.
Protesters believe Biden has not done enough to prevent the killing of thousands of Palestinians by Israel. Gaza authorities say at least 26,000 people have been killed during Israel’s military campaign against Hamas.
The officials said the sanctions would not be imposed against American citizens living in Israel. State Department officials identified the four Israelis named in Thursday’s sanctions as David Chai Chasdai, Einan Tanjil, Shalom Zicherman and Yinon Levi.
In a news release Thursday, officials said Chasdai had “initiated and led a mutiny” that resulted in the death of a Palestinian civilian and assaulted other Palestinians. They said Mr. Tanjil had been “involved in attacking Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists by attacking them with stones and clubs.”
Zicherman “assaulted Israeli activists and their vehicles in the West Bank,” the officials said, citing video evidence. They said Levi had threatened “violence if they did not abandon their homes, burn their fields and destroy his property” in the West Bank.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement that the sanctions are designed in part to pressure Israel’s government to prevent the kind of violence its citizens use against Palestinians living in the West Bank.
“The United States has consistently opposed actions that undermine stability in the West Bank and the prospects for peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Blinken said. “Israel must do more to stop violence against civilians in the West Bank and hold those responsible accountable.”
mitch smith contributed reporting from Harrison Township, Michigan, and Zach Montague from Washington.