Dearborn, Michigan – Beaming like a lottery winner, Abdualrahman Hamad extended his arm for a selfie with a group of nearly 20 organisers who had volunteered four hours of a recent Saturday afternoon to staff a phone bank.

In the conference room of a Michigan restaurant chain, he shared the photo with his relatives living in Gaza, then sat down in front of his laptop to begin making calls.

“Hi, this is Abdualrahman from the Michigan uncommitted campaign. We’re calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Are you a Michigan voter?”

Hamad is a 38-year-old ophthalmologist from the nearby city of Troy. Four months ago, he began volunteering for multiple local efforts to demand an end to Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and blockade of Gaza.

Local organisers across Dearborn and the larger Metro Detroit area have for years worked to increase voter turnout in Arab and Muslim communities, but this presidential election season is different.

Abdualrahman Hamad, 38, participates in a phone-banking event urging Michigan voters to vote ‘uncommitted’ [Malak Silmi/Al Jazeera]

As the Palestinian death toll approaches 30,000, many Arab-American voters feel a renewed sense of urgency to louden their demands for the administration of United States President Joe Biden to stop Israel’s siege of Gaza. And nowhere is that truer than here, in this suburb on Detroit’s western border, which is home to the largest per capita Muslim population in the US.

Of all the casualties that can be attributed to the events of October 7 – when Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel killing an estimated 1,139 people – and Israel’s subsequent invasion of Gaza, at least one birth can be added to the list: that of the twin nascent grassroots political movements Abandon Biden and Listen to Michigan. They are calling on voters in this critical swing state to refrain from casting a ballot in tomorrow’s primary for an incumbent Democratic administration that has so far ignored calls for a ceasefire.

On the penultimate weekend before the Michigan primary, nearly 1,000 voters pledged to vote “uncommitted”, Mona Mawari, a local pharmacist and community organiser, told Al Jazeera. Mawari trains the phone bank volunteers for Listen to Michigan.

“An uncommitted vote is our strongest tool at the moment to achieve a permanent ceasefire,” Mawari told Al Jazeera. “Michigan is the first swing state to have a primary and if we deliver a sizeable uncommitted vote. It’s a powerful statement to Biden that says we’re not considering voting for you until you call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.”

Listen to Michigan cannot deny the nomination to Biden who is running virtually unopposed for the party’s endorsement. But a strong showing on Tuesday could signal a wave of abstentions by liberal and left-leaning Democratic voters in November’s general election, not because they favour the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump – who polls show will likely challenge Biden in November – but because they simply cannot accept the White House’s inertia while Israel slaughters Palestinian civilians by the tens of thousands.

Listen to Michigan hopes at least 10,000 residents vote ‘uncommitted’ in the primary [Malak Silmi/Al Jazeera]

Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, Representative Debbie Dingell said she was concerned about voter turnout and indifference heading into what is shaping up to be a difficult reelection campaign for Biden.

“I’ve lived in Dearborn for many years with my husband and there are two campaigns,” she said. “One is an abandon Biden campaign, but the other, the major campaign that has made over a hundred thousand calls, we’ll see how many people vote on Tuesday, are trying to make sure the president hears them.”

Acknowledging Biden’s failure to meet with the Arab-American community on a recent visit to Michigan, Dingell said:

“This community is pretty angry right now.”

‘Absolute red line’

Hamad, the ophthalmologist, said he voted early and has already filled in the uncommitted option on his Democratic ballot. He has relatives who have been displaced and killed in Gaza, and others who are still there.

He said he has felt hopeless so many times in the last few months but busies himself with activities like phone banking, urging the Troy City Council to pass a ceasefire resolution and joining the Abandon Biden campaign to help stop Israeli attacks against Palestinians in Gaza.

“When a president or an elected official in America or anywhere else in the world supports genocide, that is an absolute red line,” Hamad said. “If Biden can’t see the humanity and the children of Gaza that are being killed, he really doesn’t have the morality or the compass to make any moral decisions for any of us here.”

He spoke to Al Jazeera as more than 1.5 million Palestinians – many of them already displaced – braced for an Israeli ground operation in the southernmost city of Rafah on the Egyptian border.

The looming attack has prompted the harshest rebuke yet from some Western countries and even Biden has warned Netanyahu not to proceed, according to the White House. Nevertheless, US officials have remained mum on whether the operation would constitute an elusive “red line” for Washington which has remained resolute in its support for Israel.

Last week, the US again vetoed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for an immediate – and enduring – ceasefire.

On February 17, House Representative Rashida Tlaib, who is Palestinian and represents Dearborn in Congress, became the most prominent voice to join the “uncommitted” movement, saying it was “important to create a voting bloc, something that is a bullhorn, to say, ‘Enough is enough’.”

Many volunteers at the Listen to Michigan phone banking event are Arab or Dearborn natives but several are from outside Dearborn and Dearborn Heights and represent leftist political groups like the Democratic Socialists of America.

Julia Koumbassa, 45, is an early childhood professional who lives in Ypsilanti and has been involved with the Listen to Michigan campaign since it started earlier this month. She said she supported Palestinian rights but it was not until October that she joined efforts to advocate for their lives.

“I’ve been a Democrat forever, I knew they were problematic in many ways, but it’s so apparent now,” said Koumbassa. “People who we thought were for justice, are really just funded by Israel.”

Koumbassa, who is white, said she worries about the safety of her African-American Muslim husband and children.

She pointed out the irony of Israel training law enforcement officers from the US and the increasing brutalisation of African Americans by police across the country as well as how hate crimes against Muslims in the US have increased in the last few months.

“Anybody with a brain and an ounce of humanity can see that what’s happening is wrong,” she said.