The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa Democratic Party call for resignation of UI student org leaders after Israel-Hamas war statement

The Iowa Democrats called for the resignation of the vice president, treasurer, and secretary of University Democrats at Iowa, which is a student organization at the University of Iowa.
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The Iowa Democratic Party requested the resignations of three student representatives who lead the University Democrats at Iowa student organization on Wednesday after they drafted and signed a letter in support of Palestine and posted the letter to social media. 

The University Democrats at Iowa and University of Iowa student representatives who signed the statement supporting Palestine include Vice President Kiana Shevling-Major, Secretary Olivia Martin, and Treasurer Matthew Charles

“We shamelessly and fully support Palestine,” the statement, obtained by The Daily Iowan read. “The ongoing violence against millions of innocent people is egregious and the perpetuation of it by the United States of America and other western states is even more so… We will protest, advocate, and fight for the human rights of all, for the human rights of Palestine.”

The University Democrats at Iowa then signed off stating, “May every Palestinian live long and free, from the river to the sea.”

The statement “From the river to sea, Palestine will be free” has  been known associated with both genocide and Palestinian solidarity. It is in reference to the Jordan River, which acts as a border for Israel to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea which lines the cost the western border of Israel. 

According to the Guardian, the phrase is interpreted by people who are pro-Israel calling for the genocide of Israelis, but people who are pro-Palestine say it is instead referring to a state in which Palestinians can be free. It also has been associated with Hamas, the militant group that ravaged southern Israel on Oct. 7 killing 1,400 Israelis. 

Shevling-Major said she used the phrase “from the river to the sea” in reference to her support for Palestinians, “who are currently being held hostage in their own land, from the river of Jordan to the sea of the Mediterranean.” 

She said the statement was not intended to infer the genocide of the Israeli people, but rather to advocate for the freedom of Palestinians. 

According to Shevling-Major, the statement was met with backlash from social media users, as well as the request to retract the statement by the Johnson County Democrats and multiple Iowa State Representatives.

The University Democrats at Iowa later corrected its statement by ending it with the statement “May every Palestinian live long and free.”

The corrected post was also removed less than an hour after it was posted. 

Shevling-Major said the University Democrats at Iowa took the statement down from their social media within an hour of it being posted due to multiple Iowa State Representatives reaching out and asking them to take it down. 

“I refuse to apologize for supporting Palestine,” Shevling-Major said in a written statement to The Daily Iowan. “I refuse to stop calling out oppression when I see it. I refuse to be silenced, and I will continue to use my platform to advocate for the human rights of those being denied them, wherever they may be.” 

The Iowa Democratic Party condemned the University Democrats at Iowa’s statement via its social media channels and in a news release.

“The Iowa Democratic Party was recently made aware of a statement made by the University Democrats at Iowa, which included problematic anti-semitic slogans including ‘from the river to the sea Palestine will be free,’” Iowa Democrats chair Rita Hart said in a statement. “Let’s be very clear. That is a call for Jewish genocide and we wholly condemn that offensive language.”

The party said in the statement that it stands with Palestinians and Israelis and do not condone terrorism. The Iowa Democratic Party officially called for the resignation of the student representatives who signed the letter. 

State Board of Regents President Mike Richards released a statement on Wednesday evening on X, formerly known as Twitter, in support of Israel. 

“The Board of Regents fully supports the people and State of Israel, and are steadfast in our solidarity with them,” Richards said in the post. “We condemn all acts of terrorism.”

The war started on Oct. 7 after Hamas militants broke through Israel’s border walls and unleashed an attack on Southern Israel killing 1,400 people. According to the Associated Press, roughly 8,938 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed since the start of the war.

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About the Contributor
Natalie Miller
Natalie Miller, Politics Reporter
Natalie Miller is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her position as a Politics Reporter, Natalie was a News Reporter focusing on Higher Education.