Biden Addresses Israel-Hamas Conflict in Morehouse College Commencement Speech

President Joe Biden addressed the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas during his commencement speech at Morehouse College, calling for an “immediate ceasefire to stop the fighting and bring the hostages home.” According to CNN

Biden described the situation in Gaza and Israel as “heartbreaking,” condemning Hamas’ attacks on Israel, which have resulted in the deaths of innocent people and hostage situations. He also highlighted the plight of innocent Palestinians, who have been killed, displaced, and are in desperate need of essentials like water, food, and medicine, calling it a “humanitarian crisis.”

In his speech, Biden emphasized his administration’s active efforts to negotiate a deal and increase humanitarian aid to Gaza, noting that officials are “working around the clock.”

Biden’s remarks come amid controversy at Morehouse College, where some faculty and students opposed his invitation due to his support for Israel. The announcement that Biden would deliver the commencement address had sparked outrage, leading the school’s provost to hold an open forum to address concerns. Despite this, the college stood by its decision to host Biden.

During the commencement, a student unfurled a Palestinian flag, and others turned their backs on the president, though it was unclear if Biden noticed these protests. He delivered his speech without interruption.

In anticipation of protests, the White House had sent Stephen Benjamin, director of its Office of Public Engagement, to Morehouse to discuss the conflict with students. Benjamin emphasized the importance of Biden’s words and his deep feelings about the issue. Reported by Yahoo

Biden has recently avoided addressing large crowds of young people on college campuses following protests during his January speech on abortion rights at Virginia’s George Mason University. Protests over his support for Israel have intensified, with over 1,360 student demonstrations occurring nationwide from October 7 to May 3, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Most protests have been peaceful, though some have involved property destruction and violence.

In response to campus turmoil, Biden recently denounced some protest actions, stating that while dissent is essential to democracy, it must not lead to disorder or infringe on others’ rights.

Biden’s Morehouse visit is part of a series of events acknowledging the nation’s racial history and engaging with the next generation of Black leaders. He recently met with plaintiffs of the historic Brown v. Board of Education case and delivered remarks at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Following his Morehouse speech, Biden will travel to Detroit to address an NAACP dinner. This visit marks Biden’s second trip to Morehouse during his presidency; he and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on voting rights at the college in 2022.