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

University Democrats at Iowa don’t plan to resign after statewide backlash

The Iowa State University College Democrats also released a statement on Thursday that the group is disaffiliating with the Iowa Democratic Party.
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University Democrats at Iowa leaders told The Daily Iowan that they don’t plan to resign following calls for their resignation by the Iowa Democratic Party after the group released a statement Wednesday night on the Israel-Hamas war. 

This comes on the second day of a back-and-forth between the University Democrats at Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party over the University of Iowa student group’s statement. 

All three representatives said, for now, they will not be satisfying the request of the Iowa Democratic Party by resigning from their positions. 

“I personally don’t plan on resigning,” said Vice President of the UI Democrats at Iowa Kiana Shevling-Major. “Not because I don’t respect what the Iowa Democratic Party has to say but because I personally think that the organization that I’m a part of is doing good work.” 

Shevling-Major said the group decided to post in support of Palestine because she felt that nobody was talking about it.

“I thought that as a political organization on campus that it was our duty to, at least, show our support, the way we knew how; and it had been about three weeks since the conflict, it was time,” Shevling-Major said.

Treasurer Matthew Charles added that the organization posts about a multitude of issues that the Iowa Democratic Party doesn’t usually address. 

Secretary Olivia Martin felt as though students were looking for them to make a statement regarding the Israel-Hamas war. 

In their original statement, the three representatives expressed their frustration with the United States and its response to the Israel-Hamas war.

“There are people dying that shouldn’t be dying,” Martin said. “I think it’s inappropriate that there are children and mothers and fathers and families that are being obliterated, and no one’s doing anything.” 

Charles said following the release of the original statement at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesday, which included the line that some find controversial, “May every Palestinian live long and free, from the river to the sea,” the UI Democrats’ representatives received calls from Iowa State Representatives over the concerns of the broad interpretations of the line. 

“From the river to the sea” has been known to be 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 coast with the western border of Israel. 

According to the Guardian, the phrase is interpreted by people who are pro-Israel as 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. 

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.

Along with the letter of support for Palestine, the University Democrats at Iowa also released a statement against hate. 

“Not only do we preach tolerance, but as an organization we emphasize education,” the statement against hate, obtained by the DI read.  “The actions of the Israeli government are not the actions of Jews, and the actions of Hamas are not the actions of Palestinians or Muslims.”

The representatives said they didn’t realize the impact the saying would have on members of the Jewish community.

Martin said she thought that with the popularity of the saying, people would recognize that the group’s intentions were “pure.” 

“We also did make a second post emphasizing that we are against antisemitism in hopes that would absolutely clear up any doubts in people’s minds, but unfortunately, people did not see that post,” Martin said. 

The organization posted a correction of their initial statement, without the line “… from the river to the sea.” Charles said they were forced to take down their correction post almost immediately after being posted to their social media due to the Iowa Democratic Party.

In a news release the Iowa Progressive Caucus said that central party officials demand they pull the statement in its entirety from their social media under the threat of cutting funding. 

The organization is frustrated with the actions of the Iowa Democratic Party, as they had not heard from representatives until after the correction statement was posted. 

“I really feel like it’s a strange escalation,” Charles said. “Probably wouldn’t even be an issue, but the fact that they accused us of supporting antisemitism, supporting genocide is why we need to defend ourselves now because our reputation is on the line.”

Iowa Progressive Caucus calls for IDP to retract statement

The Iowa Progressive Caucus called for Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart to retract her statement condemning University Democrats at Iowa in a news release Thursday. 

The caucus called for Hart to retract her statement and apologize to the University Democrats at Iowa members in a news release on Thursday. 

“We would like to unequivocally say that we stand in solidarity with the University Democrats and will protest any effort to coerce a resignation from anyone in that organization,” the statement read. 

In an email statement to the DI, Jeff Kaufmann, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, criticized the Iowa Democratic Party for the actions of their members.

“You know that the Iowa Democrats are in trouble when they have to distance themselves from their own party members raising antisemitic slogans or when they can’t condemn barbaric terrorism without facing backlash from their own base.”

Iowa State Democrats disaffiliate 

Early Thursday morning, the Iowa State University College Democrats released a statement via social media

In the statement, they announced the group would be disaffiliated with the Iowa Democratic Party. The group said the decision was based on the treatment of the University Democrats at Iowa and they questioned the need for the state party to exert control over their club.

“​​We believe in the importance of unity and solidarity among college Democratic clubs across the state, and the recent events involving the University of lowa Democrats have deeply troubled us,” the statement read. 

The University Democrats at Iowa representatives said they are not sure if they will be following in the footsteps of the Iowa State College Democrats and their decision to break away from the Iowa Democratic Party, but said that some members have called for it.

The group emphasized that their decision was based on the treatment of University Democrats at Iowa and not the individual members of the Democratic Party. 

“We want to make it clear that our decision is not a reflection on the many dedicated individuals within the IDP who work tirelessly to promote Democratic values and ideals,” the statement read. “In parting ways with the IDP, we aim to maintain our autonomy and continue working to create a positive impact within our community.” 

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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.