Palestinian journalists urge boycott of White House correspondents’ dinner

by Admin
Palestinian journalists urge boycott of White House correspondents' dinner

Security was tight Saturday at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner where President Joe Biden will make what is a traditionally lighthearted address amid protests and boycott calls over the conflict in Gaza.

A long list of VIP guests, including journalists and celebrities from Chris Pine to Molly Ringwald, arrived in black-tie attire as demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and shouting slogans such as “You have blood on your hands” rallied near the entrance to the Washington Hilton hotel.

At the banquet, in keeping with longstanding tradition, interrupted during the Donald Trump years, Biden will sit on the dais keeping a steady smile on his face as a guest comedian rips into him.

The event comes as Biden’s has been shadowed for months by protesters angry over U.S. support for the Israeli military offensive in Gaza. He has been met by shouts of “Genocide Joe” and noisy calls for an immediate cease-fire.

More than two dozen Palestinian journalists this week issued an open letter urging their American colleagues to boycott the dinner.

“You have a unique responsibility to speak truth to power and uphold journalistic integrity,” the letter said. “It is unacceptable to stay silent out of fear or professional concern while journalists in Gaza continue to be detained, tortured and killed for doing our jobs.”

According to the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists, at least 97 journalists — including 92 Palestinians — have been killed since war erupted on October 7 with Hamas’s invasion of southern Israel. At least 16 others have been wounded.

The group Code Pink, part of an anti-war coalition planning demonstrations, said it intended to “shut down” the dinner to protest “the complicity of the Biden administration in the targeting and killing of Palestinian journalists by the Israeli military.”

It said its action would be “nonviolent” but offered no details.

The gala dinner and a surrounding series of society events are taking place as the Gaza protest movement has been spreading to colleges across the country, and as police crackdowns on some campuses have led to hundreds of arrests.

This year’s comedian will be Colin Jost, a longtime writer and actor with NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

The 81-year-old Biden will follow with his own speech, sure to include some self-mockery, some ribbing of the press and, no doubt, some sharp-elbowed jabs at Trump, his presumptive opponent in November’s presidential election.

The annual dinner has been organized since 1920 by the influential White House Correspondents’ Association, which honors top reporters and awards journalism scholarships.

Last year, 2,600 people attended.

The association declined an AFP request to comment on the boycott call and the planned demonstration.

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