Blacks and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Over time, blacks have become more sympathetic to Palestinians, but they won't express their views loudly -- despite President Obama's plunge into the Middle East conflict.

Courtesy of Life
Courtesy of Life

Think of Andrew Young’s loss of his United Nations ambassadorship after it became public that he had met with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization — ironically, to head off a confrontation at the U.N.

Think of former Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s checkered political career, defined and thwarted mainly by her willingness to embrace the Palestinian cause.

Those incidents may explain why so few black voices are heard on the Middle East today. It’s been wrenching to see President Obama left swaying in the wind for saying in public speeches what other presidents have long said behind closed doors: Israel needs to move toward a peace that includes Palestinians living in their own “nonmilitarized” state.

“For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region,” the president said last week. “For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could be blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost to the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security and prosperity and empowerment to ordinary people.

“For over two years, my administration has worked with the parties and the international community to end this conflict, building on decades of work by previous administrations. Yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward now.”