Gala dinner with US President Biden overshadowed by protests against the Gaza war

The traditional gala dinner with the press and US President Joe Biden took place in Washington under strict security precautions and overshadowed by pro-Palestinian protests. In his speech, Biden sharply attacked his challenger, former President Donald Trump. “The 2024 election is in full swing and yes, age is an issue,” said Biden on Saturday evening (local time) at the Hilton Hotel in Washington. “I'm a grown man running against a six-year-old,” he added, referring to Trump.

Guests included numerous celebrities, including actors Chris Pine, Molly Ringwald and Scarlett Johansson. Their arrival was accompanied by demonstrators shouting “Shame on you!” shouted.

Biden has been persecuted for months by pro-Palestinian demonstrators who have sharply criticized US support for Israel. The president is repeatedly greeted with cries of “genocide” and calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The press gala is traditionally an opportunity to poke fun at the US president. However, comedian Colin Jost, known for his appearance on Saturday Night Live, took Biden's side in his performance: “I would like to point out that it is after 10 p.m. and Sleepy Joe is still awake, while Donald Trump has been up for the past week spent every morning falling asleep in court,” Jost joked, referring to the ex-president's appearances at the hush money trial in New York last week.

Jost also pointed out that his recently deceased grandfather voted for Biden “because you are a decent man.” “My grandfather voted for decency and decency is the reason we are all here tonight,” Jost said.

During the gala dinner, a huge Palestinian flag was unfurled outside from a window on an upper floor of the hotel. More than two dozen Palestinian journalists wrote an open letter this week calling on their US colleagues to boycott the dinner.

The group Code Pink had announced that it wanted to “stop” the event to protest “the Biden administration's complicity in the Israeli military's targeted killing of Palestinian journalists.” She said her action would be “non-violent” but gave no details.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 97 journalists, including 92 Palestinians, have been killed since the war in Gaza began on October 7. At least 16 others were injured.

The war was triggered by the brutal attack on Israel by the radical Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas, in which, according to Israeli figures, around 1,170 people were killed. In response, Israel has since taken massive military action in the Gaza Strip.

The annual Correspondents' Dinner has been organized by the influential White House Correspondents' Association since 1920. Journalists and representatives of the White House come together, and the president's participation also has a long tradition. Last year 2,600 guests took part.