By Sharon Zhang / Truthout
More than 400 Biden administration employees across dozens of federal agencies have signed a letter calling for an immediate de-escalation of Israel’s siege on Gaza and demanding that President Joe Biden support growing calls for a ceasefire.
The letter, first reported on on Tuesday, includes signatures from employees across more than 30 federal agencies and departments, according to reporters from NBCand The New York Times who viewed the document. The group calls for an end to Israel’s violence and blockade that are causing a massive humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
“We represent a coalition of Biden-Harris Administration political appointees and civil servants, positioned across the domestic and foreign policy spheres, working in federal agencies, departments, independent agencies, and the White House,” reads the first line of the letter.
“We call on President Biden to urgently demand a ceasefire; and to call for de-escalation of the current conflict by securing the immediate release of the Israeli hostages and arbitrarily detained Palestinians; the restoration of water, fuel, electricity and other basic services; and the passage of adequate humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip,” the letter continues.
The letter was first circulated two weeks ago by two political appointees leading the effort. The signatories are anonymous, but the appointees told reporters that employees include both senior and low-level workers, with the majority being political appointees. The employees work in several countries and for a wide variety of agencies, including the Executive Office of the President, as well as the departments of Defense, Interior, and Justice.
The letter also notes that most Americans are against Israel’s genocide in Gaza and support ceasefire calls.
“The overwhelming majority of Americans support a cease-fire,” the letter states. “Furthermore, Americans do not want the U.S. military to be drawn into another costly and senseless war in the Middle East.” It links to a Data for Progress poll from October finding that 66 percent of Americans, including 80 percent of Democrats, say they “strongly” or “somewhat” support calls for a ceasefire.
This is one of a growing number of letters and memos from current and former congressional staff and federal employees calling for the Biden administration to change course on its dogged support of Israel’s bloody siege, bombardment and invasion of Gaza that has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians so far.
These efforts include a letter signed by over 500 alumni of Biden’s presidential campaign, one from over 50 employees for the Democratic National Committee, and multiple internal State Department dissent memos signed by at least 100 federal employees calling for a ceasefire and criticizing Biden for his stance on what experts say is a textbook case of genocide.
Congressional staffers have also been staging protests and vigils calling for a ceasefire. This is on top of a massive wave of global protests, including one with over 300,000 Americans in D.C. last weekend, with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of citizens calling on political leaders to put an end to Israel’s violence.
The political appointees who organized the letter that was first reported on on Tuesday say that many signatories and staffers feel stifled in their jobs, unable to speak up even as they feel their own work is contributing to the massacre in Gaza. The two staffers say that they, as well as many other signatories, have friends and family across Gaza, the West Bank, and what is now Israel.
“Every day, you’re going in to work for this administration, then you’re going to look at your phone, you’re going to see the suffering that you kind of feel like you’re causing … a lot of people are no longer comfortable being silent, no longer comfortable being complacent in a way,” one of the staffers who helped organize the letter told NBC.
The other staffer leading the effort said that, if the administration continues its policies of supporting Israel, then many staffers will be pushed to a “breaking point.”
“There’s been a lot of damage done within the public service community, and I’m not sure how we are going to repair that,” the staffer told NBC. “The U.S. government has an immense amount of power to change the status quo on the ground and the refusal to acknowledge that feels like a betrayal.”
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Sharon Zhang is a news writer at Truthout covering politics, climate and labor. Before coming to Truthout, Sharon had written stories for Pacific Standard, The New Republic, and more. She has a master’s degree in environmental studies. She can be found on Twitter: @zhang_sharon.