Biden assures students of support for “non-violent” Middle East protest

US President Joe Biden on Sunday pledged his support to pro-Palestinian students in the US for “non-violent protest” in connection with the Gaza war. “I support peaceful, non-violent protest. Your voices should be heard and I promise you, I hear them,” Biden said on Sunday at a ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

In his speech at the former university of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, the president made it clear that he is working tirelessly for a ceasefire and lasting peace in the Middle East. “This is one of the toughest, most complicated problems in the world,” said Biden, referring to the Middle East conflict that has been going on for decades. “It's not easy at all.” He knows that this “annoys and frustrates many, including my family.” He added: “But most of all, I know that it breaks your hearts. It breaks mine too.”

The pro-Palestinian student protests that have been going on for weeks at numerous US universities have become a political problem for Biden in the election year. The 81-year-old wants to win the presidential election for the Democrats again in November against the right-wing populist Donald Trump. The young voters are immensely important to him. However, many of them criticize the US support with weapons for Israel, which is taking massive military action in the Gaza Strip after the major attack by the Islamist Hamas in October.

Biden said he was in favor of an “immediate ceasefire to end the fighting and bring the hostages back home.” He advocated for a “lasting peace” that would lead to a Palestinian state – the “only solution” to the Middle East conflict, he emphasized. Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was in Saudi Arabia and Israel over the weekend to promote a ceasefire.

Biden's speech in Atlanta is part of a series of appearances by the president, who is trying to win over young voters as well as black voters, whose support for the president is waning according to polls. Biden needs the support of black and young voters if he wants to beat Trump in the fall.