Survey shows Black people feel solidarity with Palestinians, reveals how they feel about Biden amid Israel-Hamas war

A recent survey shows that an increased number of Black Americans feel a sense of solidarity with the plight of Palestinians and want to see an immediate and permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released the survey on April 25, revealing that an increased number of Black Americans (45%) say they feel “connected” to Palestinians, up from 32% in an October survey after following Hamas’ unexpected Oct. 7 attack on Israel. 

“The racial discrimination, the racist oppression, the segregation, the apartheid. It all sounds very familiar because there are obvious similarities,” Edward Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told theGrio. “Not to mention the similarities between what Black people in South Africa experienced and what Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories experience.”

Mitchell, who is Black and Muslim, said that while he believes any American “with an open heart who learns about Palestine” might sympathize with Palestinians’ plight, Americans who have “experienced something similar” are “even more inclined” to do so. Criticism is aimed at “not only the Israeli government, but our government’s funding.”

For nearly seven months, advocates have called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and have been critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his administration’s military operation in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, including women and children. 

Advocates have also been critical of President Joe Biden and his administration’s continued military aid supplied to support what they believe is Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas, which is classified as a foreign terrorist group by the U.S. State Department. 

President Joe Biden is drawing criticism, including from a growing number of Black Americans, for U.S. military aid to Israel, whose fight against Hamas in Gaza has left thousands of Palestinians dead. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Though Biden has toughened his public statements about how Israel is conducting its war, his policy to support Israel, a longtime U.S. ally, has been unchanged. The Biden administration is currently working through diplomatic channels alongside other countries in the Middle East to secure a deal that would include a ceasefire and Hamas’ release of hostages.

The Carnegie Endowment survey also found that an overwhelming 68% of Black Americans want to see an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Fifty-nine percent said they want U.S. military aid to be conditioned on Israel’s meeting human rights standards.

“President Biden just signed a bill giving the Israeli government about $17 billion and additional unconditional military funding,” noted Mitchell. “He has crossed the lines of all demands the American people placed upon him, including the demands that Muslim, Black, Jewish and other Americans have placed upon him to end this violence.”

As students on dozens of college campuses participate in mass demonstrations across the country — with some forcibly removed and arrested by law enforcement — the movement for Palestinians is escalating to dramatic proportions. 

Black Americans’ sense of solidarity with Palestinians and criticism of Biden’s position on the conflict could signal trouble for his reelection campaign. Even a modest shift in support among Black voters, who were crucial to Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, could impact the outcome in November. 

“If he were to somehow reverse course radically, secure a ceasefire, apologize for what he’s done, and take other drastic steps like recognizing a Palestinian state, you know, let’s talk,” said Mitchell. “But no one expects him to do any of that.” 

Students and faculty members from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Roosevelt College and Columbia College rally and march in Chicago on April 26 to show support for the Palestinians in Gaza. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

He added, “He has dug in on his policy and the American people have made it very clear they don’t support that policy.”

But there is a silver lining for Biden in the Carnegie Endowment survey, which found that despite their concerns about the war, Black Americans’ opinions of Biden are unchanged. Seventeen percent felt better about Biden, 18% felt worse and a majority (66%) reported no change in their feelings about the president. 

When asked about the survey, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told theGrio the administration recognizes that the conflict in Gaza is “incredibly painful.” 

“We understand … that’s why White House officials, including this president, has had many conversations with communities, leaders of those communities, to talk about — to hear from them, to listen to them, and to talk about how to move forward,” she said. 

Jean-Pierre said U.S. officials are actively engaging diplomatically to reach a ceasefire, telling theGrio, “We understand how important it is.”

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