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 City protestors call for Biden to honor “red line”

The protest came almost eight months after the beginning of the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
Sahithi Shankaiahgari
Attendees gather for a three-day solidarity event at the Pentacrest in Iowa City on Friday, May 3, 2024. This demonstration was organized by the Iowa City Students for Justice in Palestine.

More than 60 Iowa City residents gathered at the University of Iowa Pentacrest on Friday afternoon to protest the continued Israeli invasion of Rafah in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. 

The protest comes as organizers prepare to host a protest outside the White House on Saturday, eight months after the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip began and weeks after the invasion of Rafah, the southernmost city on the Gaza Strip, began. 

The protest also comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to give a joint address to Congress on July 24

Since the war started, Israelis have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians in Gaza, and over 1,000 Israelis have died — most of whom were killed in the Oct. 7 act that sparked the conflict, according to Al Jazeera

Protestors criticized Biden for failing to stick to his “red line” on his support for Israel’s invasion of Gaza. Biden has told multiple media outlets that his red line, meaning the point where he reassesses his support of Israel, is a full-scale invasion of Rafah, but White House officials have said that point hasn’t been reached. 

“Biden can’t draw the red line,” Rasmus Schlutter of Iowa City Action for Palestine said. “Genocide Joe’s support of the Zionist entity’s wretched onslaught will not be forgotten — not today, not tomorrow, not come November, never.”

Protestors said that the U.S. must stop using taxpayer dollars to fund the weapons shipments to Israel. 

“If our U.S. government allows Israel to freely use our tax money to destroy human life — to destroy the environment, agriculture, hospitals, and universities  — if our government accepts violence against Palestinians, then it will fund violence against you and me,” Deema Totah with Iowa City Action for Palestine said. “We stand together to form this red line to say, ‘Enough’ —  to say we are all Palestine. And we say Palestine will be free.”

Biden paused shipments of weapons to Israel in May over concerns about a possible invasion of Rafah and continues calls for a ceasefire. However, protestors say he needs to do more such as calling for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the siege in Gaza, and ending the occupation of Palestine. 

“So we gather today to sharpen our front, to align our actions, and to understand our personal stake in this cause,” Schlutter said. “We must draw our red line across every gear and spring which drives this terrible enterprise until it shutters to a halt.” 

Protestors held signs that read “Ceasefire now” and “Can you quietly watch murder, famine in Gaza?” as they marched from the Pentacrest, around the Old Capitol Mall, and through the Pedestrian Mall in downtown Iowa City — through a crowded Iowa Arts Festival taking place in downtown Iowa City. 

Protestors are expected to speak at the June 12th Iowa Board of Regents meeting, held at the University of Iowa, to demand they divest from Israel and weapons manufacturers like Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids. 

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About the Contributor
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.