Apr 27, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Pro-Palestinian protesters target White House Correspondents Dinner

Pro-Palestinian protestors demonstrate outside the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner at the Washington Hilton, in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2024.

Pro-Palestinian protestors demonstrate outside the White House Correspondents' Association dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 27. Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images

Protesters greeted administration officials, journalists and celebrities as they arrived at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner in D.C. on Saturday, demanding that President Biden do more to protect Palestinian lives in Gaza.

Why it matters: The Democratic Party is divided over Biden's approach to the war in Gaza, with some Arab Americans threatening to withhold their support for Biden until he puts more pressure on Israel to minimize Palestinian casualties and allow more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

  • With tensions flaring at university campuses across the country, Democrats are concerned that division over Gaza will fracture the winning coalition that Biden assembled four years ago.
  • More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Driving the news: "Why are you attending a party when people are dying," one of the protesters shouted.

Zoom out: With Biden, along with other administration officials, preparing to speak at college commencement ceremonies this spring, the White House is bracing for potential protests.

  • "He is going to do his best to meet that moment as it relates to what's going on, the pain that communities are feeling," Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters this week.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the rights of protesters on university campuses, but questioned their "silence" about Hamas.
  • "It's a hallmark of our democracy that our citizens make known their views, their concerns, their anger, at any given time, and I think that reflects the strength of the country, the strength of democracy," Blinken said, according to Reuters.

The big picture: Protests at the glitzy WHCD — or during high-profile events where the president is present — are not uncommon.

  • Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted Biden's star-studded campaign event with former Presidents Obama and Clinton in New York City last month.
  • Last year, a group of climate change activists planned a protest outside the WHCD dinner.

Zoom in: Democrats are concerned about tepid support among young voters.

  • In response, Biden has been targeting core progressive voters with his public appearance and paid TV advertising.

Go deeper: Gaza protests on campus

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