WASHINGTON (AP) – On social media, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre slammed demonstrators taking down images of Israeli detainees, calling it “wrong and hurtful” shortly after she dodged the subject during a news briefing.
“As a result of the Hamas terrorist attacks, communities and families are grieving,” she stated in an interview with X. “For the past month, the families of those who have been kidnapped have been in anguish. It is unethical and terrible to tear down images of their loved ones who are being held prisoner by Hamas.”
Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict last month, artists have made posters drawing attention to the 240 hostages being held in Gaza. The posters include captive images, names, and ages, as well as the word “kidnapped” in large, uppercase characters at the top. Videos of demonstrators tearing down posters have circulated on social media, attracting extensive media attention.
Jean-Pierre made the X comment after deflecting a series of questions from NBC News’ Peter Alexander, who asked during the daily White House briefing whether pulling down posters is a form of peaceful protest or something that should be denounced.
“I’m just not going to get into specifics on that particular thing,” Jean-Pierre stated after being asked again. “What I can say is that there are real but violent protests and threats taking place right now.” And senior administration officials are aware of these reports, which are profoundly troubling, and we are paying close attention to them.”
When asked if the White House thought the poster instances were “deeply concerning,” Jean-Pierre linked to reports of violent protests and threats.
“I can speak to the frequency with which we have seen threats to the Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities in the United States since October 7th; that is something I can speak to.” And, clearly, the DOJ and FBI are collaborating with law enforcement, particularly local law enforcement, on these threats. “Of course, this is deeply concerning to us,” she explained. “And so that is what we’re going to, to work on focusing on that.”
Jean-Pierre has faced criticism for her responses to other queries about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
When asked about Biden’s level of concern about the potential growth of antisemitism during an Oct. 23 news briefing, Jean-Pierre replied the White House has not seen “any credible threats.”
“I realize there have been issues regarding credible threats. “I just want to make sure that’s out there,” she explained. “But, look, Muslim and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks.”
She later changed her response on X.
“To be clear: the President and our team are very concerned about a rise in antisemitism, especially after the horrific Hamas terrorist attack in Israel,” she wrote in a blog post.
Jean-Pierre told other news organizations that she misheard the question during the briefing.