Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Judging from the recent events in Israel and Gaza — and the failure of American political leadership to stop a Palestinian genocide funded by the U.S. taxpayers — it appears Biden and the Democrats are working as hard as they can to lose the 2024 election.
The president needs young people, including Black Gen Zers and millennials to win reelection. These voters — who get much of their news and information from TikTok and are more supportive of Palestinian rights than older generations — are witnessing the massacre of Palestinian babies and children on social media, live streamed and unfiltered. And the Biden administration can’t seem to understand why that would be a problem.
Today, Black people are showing up and speaking out. At a recent event at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander were in conversation with Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi on the issue of Palestine. Coates visited Israel and the Palestinian territories and reflected on the visible signs of segregation, with separate roads, sidewalks and license plates for Jews and Palestinians.
“As I saw communities that I can only describe as segregated. I said this is Chicago, it’s Baltimore, it’s Philadelphia … and what I felt was a tremendous weight. I felt the obvious thing that I think all of us feel that our tax dollars are effectively subsidizing apartheid, subsidizing a segregationist order, a Jim Crow regime,” Coates said. “How could I not know that the only democracy in the Middle East, as it bills itself, is segregated? How did I not know that? And what I came to … was that Israel is a democracy, the only democracy in the Middle East in the exact same way that America is the oldest democracy in the world,” he added.
Bernice King clapped back at Amy Schumer and others who misappropriated the message of her father, Martin Luther King Jr. and his support for Israel, insisting that the civil rights leader would call for an end to the bombing.
Former NFL star Michael Bennett spoke out on the conflict in Gaza with an opinion piece in The Nation. “We cannot in good conscience fund the bombing of Palestinian civilians, including children, for they are all people, all humans,” Bennett said, noting that bombing hospitals will not create safety, and urging Biden to demand a ceasefire.
And thousands of activists, scholars, artists, students and organizations (including myself) signed the Black for Palestine statement in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Black voters are the base of Democratic Party support, and if there is a serious divide between Black people and the policies of the Biden administration, Biden is in trouble and must listen to those who are positioned to withhold their votes.
It is no surprise that Arab-American support for Biden has tanked in only a few weeks, prompting the administration to announce an Islamophobia taskforce. And a few recent polls showing Biden trailing Trump in key swing states and nationally certainly do not make things any better for the president.
“Michigan should not be in play for Republicans/ Biden put it into play with his actions /Because he’s done a horrific thing” tweeted activist Bree Newsome on X. “So get the relatives together & figure out how to have your Uncle Joe bow out gracefully because he is absolutely the greatest danger right now.”
Polls may not mean everything, but when you are the incumbent president with sagging popularity, you have to worry about your political future. And to make it worse, his stance on Israel is becoming a self-inflicted wound.
Despite broad support among Democrats, Republicans and independents for a ceasefire and an end to the bombing, Biden decided to double down on supporting the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who faces corruption charges and calls to resign. Biden, the most powerful leader in the world, has decided he is powerless while caping for extremist genocidal settlers who tell us in the open air that they plan to wipe out the Palestinians.
Israeli officials have called Palestinians “human animals,” have said that there are no innocent Palestinian civilians and have suggested that using a nuclear bomb on Gaza is on the table. Israeli doctors, including pediatricians have signed letters calling for more bombing of hospitals in Gaza. This whole thing is giving Greenwood Tulsa vibes, and it is clear that the Israeli government and military are preparing for a day without Palestinians. And Israel is enabled by a U.S. government that gives $3.8 billion in military assistance each year and wants to give $14 billion more.
And while Black people are always told to mind their business and keep quiet about foreign affairs that supposedly don’t concern them — the way they told Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to shut up about the Vietnam War and stick to civil rights — we should know and we should care.
After all, Black people are from that part of the world, and there are Black Palestinians and Black Israelis who face racial discrimination and police violence. There are Afro-Palestinian activists such as the late Fatima Bernawi, the first Palestinian woman to be arrested by the Israeli Occupation Forces, who died last year.
There is a long history of Black-Palestinian solidarity, from Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter. When Ferguson, Mo., was the scene of protests following the murder of Michael Brown, Palestinians advised Black Lives Matter protesters on how to deal with police tear gas — the same tear gas produced in Pennsylvania and used against Palestinian protesters in the West Bank. Let’s not forget that cops over here and police over there share notes, with American police training in Israel and learning firsthand how to stomp on a racialized and criminalized population.
In the midst of the hell that America is helping to create, this time is different. President Biden and the Democratic Party pledge their blind support for the Israeli government as the bombing of civilian areas and massacre of children is on full display. We all have access to the scenes of babies’ bodies piling up on our smartphones and know this must end. Biden’s base of voters is demanding an end to this. Yet, rather than go after the white supremacist domestic terrorists that are the greatest threat to America, Democrats are criminalizing young voters, especially Black and brown students for exercising free speech for the Palestinian cause. What a winning strategy for 2024.
Whatever it is that is on display in Washington, it is not leadership. However, it is corruption by elected officials who do not respond to the voters who put them in office, but do respond to lobbyists who wine and dine and pay them, and send them on free trips to Israel.
The ground is shifting, and Biden thinks we’re back after 9/11, when white nations were able to roll over people in the Global South with impunity. Wars may seem like a good election strategy, but not this time. Now, Biden is playing LBJ, and Gaza is his Vietnam. He is messing it all up, and the young people see him.
David A. Love is a journalist and commentator who writes investigative stories and op-eds on a variety of issues, including politics, social justice, human rights, race, criminal justice and inequality. Love is also an instructor at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, where he trains students in a social justice journalism lab. In addition to his journalism career, Love has worked as an advocate and leader in the nonprofit sector, served as a legislative aide, and as a law clerk to two federal judges. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He also completed the Joint Programme in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. His portfolio website is davidalove.com.
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