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Most Black Americans Want a More Active U.S. Role in Ending the War in Gaza and Protecting Palestinian Lives

A survey of Black Americans shows a majority want the United States to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

Published on April 25, 2024

As the Israel-Hamas war reaches its seventh month, the American public and the international community have intensified their calls for a ceasefire. Israel’s military operations in response to Hamas’s attack have resulted in the deaths of more than 30,000 Palestinians and a mounting humanitarian crisis in which many of Gaza’s residents are now facing food shortages. Black American activists, intellectuals, and religious leaders are paying attention, and news reports have highlighted the displeasure some prominent figures in the Black community have expressed toward U.S. President Joe Biden’s Gaza policy. Even before the humanitarian conflict in Gaza compounded, African American religious leaders, responding to pressure from young parishioners, began to pressure Biden to call for a ceasefire. In February, leaders in the influential African Methodist Episcopal Church—one of Black America’s oldest religious and civic institutions—called for an end to all financial aid to Israel.

A Carnegie survey conducted at the end of October 2023, a few weeks into the conflict, revealed that while there was substantial Black American support for Israel, a plurality of Black Americans supported greater restraint toward Palestinian civilians. Our latest poll, conducted between March 14 and March 18, 2024, showed that American involvement in ending the conflict and protecting Palestinian lives was a popular position among many Black Americans, even more so than in early October.


  • A majority of Black Americans (68 percent) would have liked to see the United States call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, with a plurality (46 percent) strongly supporting the idea.
  • Three in five Black Americans (59 percent) believed U.S. military aid to Israel should be conditioned to ensure that Israel uses American weapons for legitimate self-defense and in a way that is consistent with human rights standards.
  • Importantly, a majority of Black Americans (66 percent) reported that their feelings toward Biden had not changed since Hamas’s October 7, 2023, attack on Israel. However, those under thirty years old and Black independents were more likely to report feeling worse about Biden since October 7.
  • While two in five (42 percent) Black respondents reported not feeling connected to the plight of either Israelis or Palestinians, the number of Black Americans reporting feeling connected to Palestinians grew a great deal (45 percent, up from 32 percent in our October 2023 survey).

Most Black Americans Believed the United States Should Call for a Permanent Ceasefire in Gaza

As Black faith and congressional leaders call for a ceasefire, there is also widespread support for a ceasefire among the larger Black community, judging from our polling. A majority (68 percent) of Black Americans in our survey favored a U.S. call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza (see figure 1). A plurality (46 percent) of respondents strongly supported the United States calling for an immediate ceasefire, while 22 percent somewhat supported the idea. Other polls have found generational gaps in opinion on the conflict, but in our poll respondents over thirty (at 70 percent) and under thirty (at 67 percent) both supported the United States calling for an immediate ceasefire. There was also no major statistical difference between support for a U.S. ceasefire push among Black Democrats (at 72 percent), Black Republicans (at 69 percent), and Black independents (at 71 percent).1

These findings represent a slight change from October. Our previous survey posed a question about the United States pushing for some form of ceasefire (albeit worded slightly differently). A plurality of respondents favored a U.S. push for some form of ceasefire (43 percent), with 28 percent believing that the United States should call for an immediate ceasefire. While an equal share of Black people reported a sense of ambivalence toward the issue in both surveys, the share of those strongly in favor of the United States calling for an immediate ceasefire nearly doubled since late October.

News reports about the human toll the war in Gaza has had on Palestinians have resulted in a general shift in American opinion on the conflict. Furthermore, our survey suggests that the activism of Black faith leaders has also played a critical role in increasing support from many in the Black community for the United States calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. In our poll, we asked respondents if the calls from Black faith leaders for a ceasefire made them more likely to support such a move. A third (32 percent) reported that the calls had made them “much more likely” to support the move. This finding speaks to the enduring role of the Black church in both domestic and international social justice movements (although the survey did not determine how many respondents were aware of the call by faith leaders at the time of the survey). This suggests that as Biden makes his rounds to Black religious institutions, Gaza will be on the minds of many clergy and their parishioners.

Most Black Americans Agreed That U.S. Aid to Israel Should Be Conditional

Amid a growing humanitarian toll from Israel’s military operations in Gaza, as well as recent news coverage of the pipeline of U.S. weapons to Israel, a majority of respondents (59 percent) felt that U.S. military assistance to Israel should be conditioned to ensure that Israel is using American weapons for legitimate self-defense purposes and in a way that is consistent with human rights standards (see figure 2). This finding tracks with similar February 2024 polling conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that revealed that a majority (53 percent) of Americans favored placing restrictions on U.S. weapons to Israel to ensure that they are not being used against Palestinian civilians. Furthermore, Black Democrats (63 percent) and Black Americans under thirty (64 percent) were the most supportive of conditioning aid to Israel. Even among those over thirty (57 percent) and among Black independents (56 percent) and Republicans (62 percent), support for conditioning aid was substantial.

Black American Opinions on Biden Were Mostly Unchanged Since October 7

Surprisingly, given the recent commentary about the growing displeasure many Black Americans feel toward Biden’s policy in Gaza, our findings revealed that Black Americans’ sentiments toward Biden had not changed much since the conflict between Israel and Hamas started on October 7. As shown in figure 3, 17 percent actually felt better about Biden, with 18 percent feeling worse and a majority (66 percent) reporting no change. These findings are largely in line with our previous survey, which revealed that while many in the community would like to see the United States push for some form of ceasefire and more restraint shown to Palestinians, Biden’s Gaza policy would not cause a vast majority of Black voters to fall out of step with Biden or the Democratic Party.

However, as in October, Black independents exhibited the largest change in their feelings about Biden—23 percent reported feeling worse about Biden since October 7, roughly twice the number of Black Democrats (13 percent) who said the same. While majorities of Black respondents across all age groups said their opinion on Biden was unchanged, those under thirty were more likely to feel worse about Biden since October 7 (19 percent, down from 21 percent in October). Moreover, those over thirty were somewhat less likely than those under thirty to report feeling worse about Biden (16 percent, up from 14 percent in October 2023). These responses suggest that domestic issues such as racial equality and economic well-being may weigh more heavily than the conflict in Gaza on the minds of many Black voters.

In what is projected to be a very close presidential election, a slackening of support among certain demographics in the Black community could affect Biden’s reelection bid, especially in key swing states. A mass exodus of Black voters from the Democratic Party into Donald Trump’s arms over the Gaza war is very unlikely, of course, but if Biden shows stronger support for a ceasefire, critical demographics of Black voters (such as the young, progressives, or those disillusioned with the Democratic Party) may respond with more vigorous support for his reelection.

Black American Connectedness to the Palestinian Plight Has Increased

In the months since Israel’s military operation in Gaza began, Black Americans’ feelings of connectedness to the plight of the Israelis declined from 19 to 13 percent. Meanwhile, 18 percent reported feeling connected to the plight of the Palestinians (see figure 4), up 9 percentage points from our October survey. And the number of respondents that felt connected to both groups sat at 27 percent, up by 4 percentage points from our previous survey. More Black Americans expressed feeling connected to Palestinians (45 percent) than to Israelis (40 percent)—a shift from our previous survey, in which respondents expressed feeling more connected to Israelis overall. A significant portion of Black respondents (42 percent) reported not feeling connected to either group, compared to 48 percent in October.

Black Americans Felt Action Should Be Taken If Israel Is Found to Have Committed Genocide in Gaza

With South Africa bringing a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) charging Israel with genocide, we asked respondents what actions the United States should take if the ICJ finds that Israel has committed genocide in Gaza. As shown in figure 5, a majority (51 percent) of respondents felt the United States should impose sanctions on Israel. This sentiment was felt strongly among those with the highest levels of formal education, with 59 percent of respondents who had a four-year degree or postgraduate education supporting sanctions in such a scenario, compared to 48 percent of those with a two-year degree or less.


Black Americans believed the United States should pressure Israel to respect international humanitarian law and protect the rights of Palestinians. While our previous survey revealed that there was sympathy for Israel among Black Americans in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 attack, the humanitarian toll of Israel’s military operation in Gaza has resulted in an increase in sympathy for the Palestinian plight and a desire for the United States to use its diplomatic and other levers to mitigate human rights violations or end the conflict altogether.

Yet even as the humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorates and as sympathy for Palestinians continues to grow, the community’s overall views of Biden have not changed much. This could be an outgrowth of the recent change in Biden’s Gaza policy (including U.S. humanitarian airdrops in Gaza and Vice President Kamala Harris’s call for a temporary ceasefire in early March) or a weighting of other issues, especially domestic issues. While military restraint against Palestinians is a favored position among many Black Americans, it remains unclear to what extent Biden’s Gaza policy will affect their voting behavior in November.


The data analyzed are from an original online survey of 600 people of African descent—including African Americans (defined as individuals with residence in the United States for multiple generations), Afro-Caribbeans, and continental Africans with residence in the United States who identify as Black or African American. The survey was designed by scholars at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and conducted by polling firm YouGov between March 14 and March 18, 2024.

YouGov recruited respondents from its proprietary panel of nearly 2 million U.S. residents. Only respondents aged eighteen and above who are Black and reside in the United States were eligible to participate in the survey. 

YouGov employs a sophisticated sample-matching procedure to ensure that the respondent pool, to the greatest extent possible, is representative of the African American community. All the analyses in this study employ sampling weights to ensure representativeness. The overall margin of error for the sample is +/- 4.14 percent. This margin of error is calculated at the 95 percent confidence interval.


1 Our March 2024 survey polled 335 Black Democrats, 67 Black Republicans, and 122 Black independents. The number of Black Republicans in our survey was not large enough for us to draw definitive conclusions about their preferences.

Carnegie does not take institutional positions on public policy issues; the views represented herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Carnegie, its staff, or its trustees.