Israel Palestinians

A man mourns during the funeral of Israeli Col. Roi Levy at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. Col. Roi Levy was killed after Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns. Israel's vaunted military and intelligence apparatus was caught completely off guard, bringing heavy battles to its streets for the first time in decades. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Black folks are divided when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians — then again, not really.

The Oct. 7 Hamas attack was reprehensible, inhumane and evil in so many ways.

There's no justification for it. Period.

People across Louisiana gasped, and some cried, when news about the attack spread. Louisianans with family and friends in the region have been frantically reaching out and searching online for updates. There are protests worldwide. There was one at New Orleans City Hall Wednesday. Monday night, dozens of people lined up along St. Bernard Avenue in New Orleans to hear about what's been happening since Hamas stunned Israel and the world with its brutal, surprise massacre, slipping through a seemingly impenetrable defense system on land, by sea and from the air to commit unspeakable acts of barbarism.

One young Louisiana student lost their best friend, killed the first weekend.

The terrorists — yes, they are terrorists — targeted unsuspecting neighborhoods and a joyful music festival. They callously butchered innocent Israeli civilians. It appears they killed Palestinians, too.

New York Israel Palestinians

Pro-Palestine demonstrators march during a protest at Columbia University, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, in New York. Hamas militants launched an unprecedented surprise attack on Saturday killing hundreds of Israeli civilians, and kidnapping others. The Israeli military is pulverizing the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with airstrikes.(AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura) ORG XMIT: NYYI123

Before the massacre, some Black folks — and other people of color — were torn about America's no-questions-asked support for Israel. That's because ... it's complicated.

A number of us have Jewish and Palestinian friends.  We also don't like being asked to choose between allies. And as a people with ancestors who were enslaved, beaten, prosecuted without good reason, called offensive names and denied opportunities, we relate to others who have been oppressed.

The initial attack was the deadliest for Israeli Jews in a single day since the Holocaust. What's happened to Palestinians is the deadliest of the last five wars in the region.

There are a host of sticky issues with Israelis and Palestinians that rub Black folks — and others — the wrong way. That includes economic and political independence, security, recognition of various ethnic groups and immigration. 

Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, although Israel exerts influence, especially economically. A great number of Palestinians call the West Bank home, but Israel has an even greater influence there.

I don't think most Palestinians support Hamas' acts of terrorism. We shouldn't judge all Palestinians by the actions of Hamas. We shouldn't condemn all Israelis for one knucklehead leader with policies that have divided Jewish people worldwide.

Think of it this way: Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen has a large following, but he doesn't represent all Christians; Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan has a large following, but he doesn’t represent all Black people.

Jewish people have a history of being oppressed. Palestinians have been oppressed, too.

Regularly accused of apartheid and genocide, the Israeli government cannot escape its role as an oppressor of Palestinian people. In many ways, the Israeli government controls the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Homes are demolished. Families are evicted. Palestinians are relocated. 

Black people have a history of oppression in this country. Only since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have we had some measure of equality, yet we continue to be attacked — violently and otherwise.

Jews have supported African Americans for a long time. They were an important part of the civil rights movement in the United States. By some counts, at least half — if not more than half — of the Freedom Riders who rode buses to integrate the South were Jewish. Wealthy Jewish benefactors were an important part of creating some Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Black support for the Palestinian movement goes back at least to the 1950s and 1960s. Jews were a part of the civil rights movement in the United States. Malcolm X, Angela Davis and the Black Panther Party fought for Black power, civil rights and social justice — then embraced Palestinian people as oppressed colleagues. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to the Holy Land, but he didn’t condemn Israel or praise Palestinians. He spoke of the trip in Biblical terms.

When the Black Lives Matter movement began, it counted Jews and Palestinians among its allies. In June 2020, after the George Floyd killing, more than 600 Jewish organizations stood tall and said, "Black Lives Matter." In 2014, Palestinians stood on the front lines in Ferguson, Missouri after the killing of Michael Brown.

It's been reported that someone connected with the Chicago Black Lives Matter chapter posted a paraglider with a Palestinian flag, seemingly in support of Hamas. That's just wrong.

The Israeli-Hamas war is gut-wrenching, but wrong is wrong and the greater good must be the goal.

Black folks have had allies, friends and supporters among Jewish and Palestinian people. We're not with Hamas but don't make us choose between allies.

We want what our allies and friends want: justice and peace.

Email Will Sutton at, or follow him on Twitter, @willsutton.