White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to Canadian poet Rupi Kaur declining a Diwali event invitation to Kamala Harris, stating that the White House respects her opinion.
Kaur’s rejection: Last week, Kaur rejected the Biden administration’s invitation, citing its support for Israel during the Gaza bombardment as the reason for her decision.
“I decline any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment of a trapped civilian population—50% of whom are children,” Kaur wrote, announcing her decision on X.
Instead, the 31-year-old poet called out the U.S. government for “funding the bombardment of Gaza” and continuing “to justify this genocide against Palestinians.” Kaur called on the South Asian community to hold the administration accountable and demand a humanitarian ceasefire by signing petitions, attending protests, boycotting and calling representatives to say “stop the genocide.”
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“As a Sikh woman, I will not allow my likeness to be used in whitewashing this administration's actions…As a community, we cannot remain silent or agreeable just to get a seat at the table. It comes at too high a cost to human life…We must be brave. We must not be tokenized by their photo-ops,” Kaur wrote in a statement shared on X.
I received an invite from the Biden administration for a Diwali event being held by the VP on nov 8. I decline any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment of a trapped civilian population—50% of whom are children. pic.twitter.com/J3V5om89Se
— rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) November 6, 2023
Jean-Pierre’s response: During a recent press briefing, Jean-Pierre told reporters that the White House “respects” Kaur’s decision to decline the Diwali invitation.
“Everybody has their own opinion. We respect folks’ opinion and that is her opinion,” Jean-Pierre said.
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Kaur’s statement: However, Kaur found Jean-Pierre’s response “saddening.” In a lengthy statement posted on X, she expressed disappointment with the White House’s reply, emphasizing her stance against collective punishment and the need for compassion for both Palestinian and Israeli lives.
“‘Everyone has their opinion.. and that is her opinion’ is a disingenuousness, gaslighting response to ‘Your government is helping to enable a Genocide with American tax dollars and we are asking you to stop,’” Kaur wrote.
"Yesterday, when President Biden was asked, 'What are the prospects of a Gaza ceasefire?' He replied, 'None. No possibility.' Shame that this administration does not have compassion for both Palestinian and Israeli lives lost. The children of all communities are worth our love and compassion. Collective punishment is a war crime, it is inhumane and cannot be a solution."
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Kaur added that there is a need to “keep applying pressure.” “Let us sign petitions. Keep posting. Boycott. Call our reps and demand—Stop the Genocide,” she concluded.
Countless national & global news outlets have reached out to me for comment. This is my response:
We demanded accountability and it is saddening that the best the White House could come up with is, “Everyone has their opinion, we respect folks’ opinion, and that is her opinion.” pic.twitter.com/1sIQPjGXLx
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— rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) November 10, 2023
Latest update on the Israel-Gaza conflict: President Biden recently declared that Israel agreed to implement a daily four-hour humanitarian pause in combat operations. However, conflicting reports indicate that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied such an agreement.
Around 80,000 individuals have reportedly evacuated northern Gaza as Israeli forces intensified their offensive against Hamas militants on Thursday last week. As of the latest update from the Palestinian Health Ministry, the death toll among Palestinians in Gaza has reached 10,818, including 4,412 children and 2,198 women.