Gaza Protesters Rally Outside White House Correspondents Dinner Amid Biden’s Jabs At Trump

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The war in Gaza sparked significant protests outside a high-profile event attended by President Joe Biden, journalists, politicians, and celebrities on Saturday. However, the situation in Gaza was largely absent from the discussions inside the event, with Biden using the occasion of the annual White House correspondents’ dinner to deliver a mix of jokes and serious warnings about his Republican opponent, Donald Trump’s, efforts to return to the U.S. presidency.

Traditionally an evening of light-hearted banter and political satire, this year’s White House correspondents’ dinner highlighted the challenges of addressing both the impending presidential election and global conflicts like the one in the Middle East.

Biden began his address with humorous remarks aimed at Trump, playfully referring to him as “sleepy Don.” Despite their similar ages, Biden humorously noted their differences, including Vice President Kamala Harris’s endorsement of him, contrasting with former Vice President Mike Pence’s reluctance to endorse Trump for reelection.

However, Biden quickly shifted to a more serious tone, emphasizing the stakes of the upcoming election and warning against the potential consequences of another Trump administration.

Trump himself did not attend the dinner, nor did he attend during his presidency. However, his past experience as a target of ridicule at the event has been linked to his decision to run for president in 2016.

In his approximately 10-minute speech, Biden did not address the ongoing conflict in Gaza or the humanitarian crisis it has caused. The only mention of the situation came from Kelly O’Donnell, president of the correspondents’ association, who briefly acknowledged the journalists killed in the conflict.

Outside the event, protesters gathered to express their outrage over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and criticized Biden’s support for Israel’s military campaign. Some protesters lay motionless on the ground next to mock flak vests with “press” insignia, while others chanted slogans and waved Palestinian flags.

The Biden administration’s backing of Israel’s military offensive has drawn criticism, with protests occurring on college campuses and calls for divestment from Israel. Counterprotests in support of Israel have also taken place.

Biden’s motorcade took a different route than usual to avoid the demonstrators, with law enforcement implementing additional security measures to ensure the safety of attendees.

Despite the somber backdrop, the event still attracted nearly 3,000 guests, including celebrities like Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Scarlett Johansson, Jon Hamm, and Chris Pines.

Both Biden and comedian Colin Jost, who followed him, made jokes about the age of the presidential candidates, adding a lighthearted touch to the evening.

Meanwhile, protest organizers aimed to draw attention to the high number of Palestinian journalists killed during the conflict in Gaza. They criticized the White House Correspondents’ Association for not addressing the issue.

A preliminary investigation by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that nearly 100 journalists have been killed covering the war in Gaza, though Israel has defended its actions, stating that it targets militants.

Sandra Tamari, executive director of the Adalah Justice Project, called it “shameful” for the media to socialize with Biden while Palestinians in Gaza suffer. The Adalah Justice Project also launched an email campaign targeting media executives attending the dinner, urging them to take action to protect journalists in Gaza.

“How can you still go when your colleagues in Gaza asked you not to?” a demonstrator asked guests heading in. “You are complicit.”