Anti-war protests have been frequent in the Twin Cities following Israel’s offensive strikes into the Gaza Strip, but a protest on Wednesday evening was further fueled by President Joe Biden’s presence in the state.
Biden was in Minnesota to promote the federal government's investments in rural areas, speaking first at a farm in Northfield and then later at a re-election campaign fundraiser in Minneapolis. His speech was interrupted by Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg, who demanded he call for a cease-fire. Rosenberg was escorted out of the fundraiser, after which Biden said the situation in Israel is “incredibly complicated.”
Nearby, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Hennepin County Government Center to protest Biden’s inaction. As they took over downtown streets, they called for U.S. aid to Israel to halt if the offensive continues. Chants of “Free Gaza” and “We don't want your Zionist War” could be heard throughout downtown.
“It does not matter who the bombs are being dropped on – Gaza or Ukraine,” Director of CAIR-MN Jaylani Hussein said. “It doesn't matter. But there's a lot of people who are hypocrites, hypocrites who cry for Ukrainian children but will not cry for the Palestinian children. Shame on them.”
Biden’s national approval among Arab citizens has dropped to 17% from 59%. Hussein said that Muslim communities across the country have decided to “abandon Biden.” He said that politicians who do not call for a ceasefire should expect the same.
“We believe in this moral principle, because a lot of Democrats are here, most of us in this place are probably Democrats… I stand for a democracy that is principled. I stand for a democracy that better understands the value of human life. When we have a person who rejects human life, that is not my president,” Hussein said.
Organizers of the protest on Wednesday said that they hope to see more protests over the weekend. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 9,000 Palestinians have died since Oct. 7, including 3,000 children.