Despite only being about 2% of the population, Jews were some of the first and strongest supporters of civil rights for black people. Remember the Freedom Riders? And yet, a link has been established between the oppressed people of Gaza and the oppressed black people, enough so that the pastors of black churches have issued a threat to President Biden.
As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth month, a coalition of Black faith leaders is pressuring the Biden administration to push for a cease-fire — a campaign spurred in part by their parishioners, who are increasingly distressed by the suffering of Palestinians and critical of the president’s response to it.
More than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide have issued the demand. In sit-down meetings with White House officials, and through open letters and advertisements, ministers have made a moral case for President Biden and his administration to press Israel to stop its offensive operations in Gaza, which have killed thousands of civilians. They are also calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
It’s not exactly clear how a demand of Biden for a ceasefire would somehow involve the release of hostages held by Hamas. Perhaps they assume that Hamas really wants to release the hostages, but is only holding them to get a ceasefire, and once a ceasefire happens, they will naturally release the hostages.
Of course, after the raping, burning, beheading and murdering of October 7th, the taking of hostages was designed to provide leverage to both prevent Israel from retaliating and to obtain the release of imprisoned terrorists in Israel so they can return to murder some more. In other words, not only let Hamas get away with the October 7th massacre, but give Hamas everything it dreamed of and let it remain in control of Gaza so, as its leaders passionately proclaim, it can repeat October 7th “again and again.”
Is this what the pastors had in mind? Yes. Yes it is.
“Black clergy have seen war, militarism, poverty and racism all connected,” said Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-convener of the National African American Clergy Network, whose members lead roughly 15 million Black churchgoers. She helped coordinate recent meetings between the White House and faith leaders. “But the Israel-Gaza war, unlike Iran and Afghanistan, has evoked the kind of deep-seated angst among Black people that I have not seen since the civil rights movement.”
What gives rise to this “angst”?
That sentiment more broadly reflects a strong sense of solidarity between Black Americans and Palestinians that has shaped opinion since the war began.
“We see them as a part of us,” said the Rev. Cynthia Hale, the founder and senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga. “They are oppressed people. We are oppressed people.”
Progressives have done a remarkable job of not only vilifying Israel, some of which was deserved for its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, but of tying the plight of Palestinians to the ongoing theme of black oppression in America. Use of the word “apartheid” was not accidental, even though few have any factual grasp of the history of Israel and Palestinian relations. The sheer volume of heavily promoted falsehoods have been overwhelming, and at a time when actual knowledge or evidence takes way too much effort, simplistic accusations and lies are more than sufficient to do the trick.
Despite Biden’s amorphous calls to Israel to tread carefully, to be cognizant of the harm being done to Gazan civilians and to be circumscribed in its attacks, his failure to demand an outright ceasefire (of whom remains unclear; Of Israel, obviously, but what of Hamas? Does it dawn on anyone that it takes two to ceasefire?) will cost him the support of black churches.
Since its founding, the Black church has been considered a power center of Black political organizing. In addition to providing spiritual guidance and challenging political leaders on moral grounds, Black religious leaders have galvanized their members to exercise their hard-won voting rights, often with great success.
If this emits the odor of irony, given the evangelical support for Trump, you do not need olfactory adjustment.
Some leaders say Mr. Biden still has time to change the trajectory of the conflict abroad and, in turn, recover any love lost between his administration and Black voters.
So do as we demand or else? Are they of the view that they will be more warmly received by Trump?
But the difference between grudging and enthusiastic support could be significant. Asked whether the war in the Middle East could threaten Mr. Biden’s chances in November, the Rev. Jamal Bryant, the senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Ga., said, “I think Biden threatens his own success.”
Black people make up about 13% of the population, and not all black people vote Democratic or support Biden. Indeed, not all black people are unaware that this demand for a ceasefire, with or without the release of hostages, rewards and incentivizes terrorism in general and Hamas in particular. But they are a larger voting bloc than Jews.
While Biden may recognize that capitulation to terrorism only breeds more, and worse, terrorism, and that Israel is the only ally the United States has in the mideast with threats like Iran and Syria happy to exploit the rift, support from the black community could spell the difference between winning and losing the election. Politicians, if nothing else, want to win elections, but will Biden let the terrorists win because black pastors and progressives demand it?