Iowa Democratic Party demands resignation of University of Iowa Democratic student leaders over statement that included call for genocide of Jews

November 3, 2023
Ben Marquis

Over the past few weeks, there has been a disturbing display of openly anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric on college campuses across the nation as predominately left-leaning students and Democrat-aligned organizations have proclaimed their support for Palestinians and, by extension, the Hamas terrorists who rule them in Gaza.

That includes the University Democrats at Iowa, a student-led organization at the University of Iowa, which issued a genocidal antisemitic statement that has resulted in the Iowa Democratic Party demanding the resignations of that group's leaders, the Washington Examiner reported.

Those student leaders, however, appear to be unrepentant about the antisemitic sentiment they displayed as they have attempted to explain away and reinterpret an explicitly genocidal and anti-Israel phrase that they deliberately used in their pro-Palestinian statement.

State party demands resignation of antisemitic student leaders

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Iowa Democratic Party said that it "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.'"

"Let's be very clear. That is a call for Jewish genocide and we wholly condemn that offensive language," the statement from party Chairwoman Rita Hart continued. "The Iowa Democratic Party stands with the innocent civilians, Israeli and Palestinian, that have had their lives ruined by the terrorist group Hamas."

"The Iowa Democratic Party has requested the resignations of the student representatives who signed the letter," the statement added.

The origin and meaning of the call for Jewish genocide

According to the Guardian, the phrase "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," as well as other similar iterations, originated in the 1960s among Israel's Arab enemies in the Middle East and has been broadly understood for decades to represent a call for the complete destruction of the Jewish state and the genocidal slaughter or expulsion of all Jews from the region.

It references the borders of Israel, including the Jordan River to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, clearly calling for that strip of land to be entirely governed and populated by a free state of Palestine, and in fact, is even included in Hamas' own charter and constitution.

However, some on the pro-Palestinian side have sought to downplay the genocidal intent and origin of the phrase and instead disingenuously reinterpret it as nothing more than a peaceful call for freedom and self-governance for the Palestinian people.

The initial statement that sparked controversy

The Daily Iowan reported that the Iowa Democratic Party's demand for the resignations of the Democratic student leaders at the University of Iowa who signed the pro-Palestinian letter that included the genocidal antisemitic phrase would include Vice President Kiana Shevling-Major, Secretary Olivia Martin, and Treasurer Matthew Charles.

"We shamelessly and fully support Palestine," the controversial statement said. "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 original statement concluded, "May every Palestinian live long and free, from the river to the sea," but was later altered amid immediate pushback on social media to simply state, "May every Palestinian live long and free," before ultimately being taken down altogether following continued criticism.

Unrepentant and now with support from fellow Democratic college students

Despite that initial drawback under fire, it doesn't appear that the Democratic student leaders will abide by the request of their party and step down, at least not when considering the defiant statement issued in response by VP Shevling-Major, who said, "I refuse to apologize for supporting Palestine. 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."

Nor is she alone in that defiance against the state Democratic Party, as her fellow students across the state at the Iowa State University College Democrats organization, which similarly adopted an anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian stance, according to the Examiner, has now formally disaffiliated itself from the state party organization in response to the calls for resignations of the University of Iowa Democratic student leaders.

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