Historic and Bold: NAACP Demands Biden Halt Weapons to Israel Amid Black Voter Concerns

The NAACP has called upon President Joe Biden to “indefinitely” halt all weapons deliveries to Israel and leverage U.S. influence to end the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip. This unprecedented stance by the venerable civil rights organization serves as a stark reminder that Biden’s unwavering support for Israel could have significant repercussions among Black voters in the upcoming November election.

The NAACP’s intervention in U.S. foreign policy, particularly towards a nation with no significant Black population, marks a rare and transformative moment in the organization’s 115-year history. It underscores the growing complexity of the Democratic president’s electoral challenges, as he strives to balance support for a crucial ally abroad with growing discontent among his domestic base.

The NAACP unequivocally recognized Israel’s right to defend itself in response to the Hamas militant attacks on October 7, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 individuals and the taking of more than 250 hostages. At the same time, the organization urged Hamas to release the hostages and cease all terrorist activities. It also called upon Israel to adopt an offensive strategy that aligns with international and humanitarian laws, amidst accusations at the International Court of Justice regarding violations of the genocide convention, which Israel vehemently denies.

The civil rights group emphasized the necessity for the U.S. to exert its considerable influence over Israel to bring about a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. According to health authorities in the Hamas-controlled enclave, Israel’s military campaign has resulted in over 36,000 Palestinian deaths, widespread hunger, and the displacement of a significant portion of the population from their homes.

“The NAACP calls on President Biden to draw the red line and indefinitely end the shipment of all weapons and artillery to the state of Israel and other states that supply weapons to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. It is imperative that the violence that has claimed so many civilian lives immediately stop,” the organization declared in a statement first provided to Reuters.

This stance by the NAACP is a clear signal that Biden may face electoral consequences among Black voters on November 5 for his firm support of Israel. Historically, Black voters have been a steadfast Democratic constituency, playing a crucial role in Biden’s 2020 victory over Republican Donald Trump. However, recent polls indicate a waning enthusiasm for Biden among this key demographic.

Earlier this year, over 1,000 Black pastors called on Biden to secure a ceasefire in the escalating crisis. A March poll by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace revealed that 59% of Black Americans believe U.S. military aid to Israel should be restricted to self-defense and adhere to human rights standards.

Biden’s re-election campaign is less concerned about Black voters shifting their support to Trump than about the possibility that many may choose to abstain from voting due to a lack of enthusiasm. Campaign officials have expressed these concerns to Reuters, highlighting the importance of maintaining robust support within this demographic.

Amid mounting domestic and international pressure, Biden paused a shipment of bombs last month to prevent their use in Israel’s assault on the Gaza city of Rafah. Despite this, the U.S. remains Israel’s top military aid supplier. Biden recently announced that Israel proposed a new ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for the release of hostages, urging Hamas to accept the offer as the best path to ending the conflict. “It’s time for this war to end and for the day after to begin,” Biden stated.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson, in an interview with Reuters, emphasized the need for the U.S. to exhibit moral leadership by ceasing the supply of weapons to Israel due to the high civilian casualties. Israel asserts that it takes measures to avoid civilian casualties and blames Hamas for embedding its fighters and command centers among civilians.

Johnson highlighted that the decision to speak out was influenced by young Black Americans who were deeply affected by the harrowing images of dead Palestinian civilians circulating on social media. “It’s raising a lot of questions around why our tax dollars are being used to harm civilians,” Johnson remarked.

The Democratic Party is deeply divided over Biden’s approach to the war in Gaza and the subsequent protests on U.S. campuses. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in May revealed that 44% of Democratic registered voters disapproved of Biden’s handling of the crisis. Those who disapproved were also less likely to support Biden in the upcoming election.

The conflict has exacerbated U.S. antisemitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, issues that Johnson believes will continue to escalate as the fighting persists. Human rights advocates have reported a global rise in Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian bias, and antisemitism since October 7.

Johnson clarified that the NAACP does not attribute the increase in these biases to Biden’s support for Israel but advocates for the U.S. to more forcefully pursue peace by withholding weapons. “We believe … it’s the responsibility of this nation to chart a course to de-escalate what we are seeing so that there can be a peaceful resolution,” Johnson asserted.

This bold stance by the NAACP not only challenges the status quo but also elevates the discourse on U.S. foreign policy and its intersection with domestic political dynamics, potentially reshaping the landscape as the nation approaches a pivotal election.

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