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NAACP Calls on Biden to Indefinitely End Arms Shipments to Israel

The statement is representative of the growing gulf between Biden and groups important to his base.

President Joe Biden speaks at the NAACP Detroit Branch annual "Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner" in Detroit, Michigan, on May 19, 2024.

The NAACP is calling on President Joe Biden to “draw the red line” and immediately halt weapons shipments to Israel in a statement showing the widening gulf between Biden and groups influential to his voter base.

In a statement released this week, the NAACP, which says it is the U.S.’s largest civil rights organization, said that the “unspeakable” violence being committed against Palestinians in Gaza is unbearable and that the administration is not doing enough to prevent civilian deaths.

“As the nation’s leading civil rights organization, it is our responsibility to speak out in the face of injustice and work to hold our elected officials accountable for the promises they’ve made,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “The most recent statement from the Biden administration is useful but does not go far enough. It is one thing to call for a ceasefire, it is another to take the measures necessary to work towards liberation for all.”

The statement referred to Biden’s proposal last week for a three-phase plan that would lead to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the release of hostages from both sides and the reconstruction of Gaza. Biden and his officials have insisted that the proposal was backed by Israeli officials and opposed by Hamas leaders, but reports and statements from both sides have shown that this claim is untrue, and that Israeli officials were the ones who refused to sign on to the deal.

“The NAACP calls on President Biden to draw the red line and indefinitely end the shipment of weapons and artillery to the state of Israel and other states that supply weapons to Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” Johnson went on, appearing to blame the violence Israel is inflicting on Palestinians in part on Hamas.

“Israel must commit to an offensive strategy that is aligned with International and Humanitarian laws. Peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians can only align when the humanity and common needs of people within the region are respected,” Johnson said. The group went on to call for a ceasefire and negotiations for a two-state solution.

The statement is significant coming from a longtime ally of Biden and Democrats. The NAACP doesn’t endorse candidates, but has previously invited Biden to speak to its members in order to boost the president’s outreach to Black communities.

Now, the group is warning that Biden’s continued support of Israel’s slaughter in Gaza could harm his chances with Black voters, as Johnson says young Black Americans are particularly horrified by the gruesome images coming out of Gaza.

“It’s raising a lot of questions around why our tax dollars are being used to harm civilians,” Johnson told Reuters, which first reported the NAACP statement.

Indeed, recent polls have found that Biden has been losing support among Black voters, with many saying that his support of Israel is a major reason why. According to a poll of adults aged 18 to 40 by GenForward released Thursday, only 33 percent of young Black voters say they would vote for Biden if the election were held today — compared to the estimated 89 percent of Black voters aged 18 to 29 who voted for Biden in 2020.

This fall in support lines up with general disenchantment with the U.S.’s approach to Israel among Biden’s base. Recent polls have found that majorities of Democrats believe that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza — a reality Biden vehemently denies. An April poll found that only 18 percent of Democrats say they approve of Israel’s assault.

Other prominent groups that typically align with Democrats have also broken with Biden for his staunch support of Israel. The Center for American Progress, a liberal stalwart, has condemned the Biden administration’s fealty to Israel as it has razed Gaza in recent months.

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