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New York Times
17 Feb 2024
Maya King

NextImg:Prominent Black Church Leaders Call for End of U.S. Aid to Israel

Leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the country’s oldest and most prominent Black Christian denominations, called this week for the United States to end its financial aid to Israel, saying the monthslong military campaign in Gaza amounted to “mass genocide.”

The statement was issued by the church’s Council of Bishops, its executive branch, and signed by four senior bishops, including the council president, Bishop Stafford J. N. Wicker.

Black churches and other faith groups have pushed for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war for months in advertisements, open letters and social media campaigns. Black faith leaders across denominations have amplified their calls as the number of dead rises. More than 28,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to health officials there, many of them women and children.

But the A.M.E. council’s statement goes further than a cease-fire demand, insisting that the United States immediately stop its financial support of Israel. It came as Israeli forces pushed into southern Gaza and prepared for a ground assault on Rafah, where more than a million displaced Palestinians are trapped.

The latest war between Israel and Hamas erupted on Oct. 7, after a Hamas attack on Israel killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. The conflict has been a point of tension between President Biden, who has stood by Israel during the war, and African Americans, many of whom have taken up the Palestinian cause.

Several Black clergy members said the war could weaken an already fraught relationship between Mr. Biden and Black voters, Democrats’ most loyal voting bloc. The Black church is viewed as crucial to helping marshal support for Mr. Biden.

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