Dozens of Biden administration staffers held a vigil outside the White House late Wednesday calling for a lasting cease-fire in Gaza as the Palestinian territory’s healthcare system collapsed and the U.S.-armed Israeli military bombed the entirety of the besieged strip.
The staffers donned masks and sunglasses to conceal their identities, likely out of fear of retaliation from an administration that has been accused of cracking down on dissent against President Joe Biden’s support for Israel’s assault on Gaza.
Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned in October over the administration’s weapons transfers to Israel, also took part in the demonstration and delivered remarks on behalf of the staffers.
“We were horrified by the brutal October 7 attacks on Israeli civilians, and have been horrified by the disproportionate response by the Israeli government, which has indiscriminately killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza and displaced over a million more,” said Paul. “We have seen refugee camps, hospitals, schools, and entire neighborhoods bombed. We have seen dead men, women, and children pulled from the rubble in their pajamas. We have seen harassment, humiliation, and degradation of many kinds. This is unacceptable.”
“The American people and respected institutions like the United Nations are pleading for a cease-fire, but this administration has yet to listen,” Paul added. “We demand President Biden and members of the cabinet to speak up: Call for a permanent cease-fire, a release of all hostages, and an immediate de-escalation now.”
They are now reading out loud the names of Palestinians killed since December 1, when the humanitarian pause collapsed, as staffers leave red roses by the candles. One volunteer tells me it is 33-pages of names. pic.twitter.com/Gku2pS5ljh— Hümeyra Pamuk (@humeyra_pamuk) December 13, 2023
Yonah Lieberman, co-founder of the Jewish American advocacy group IfNotNow, applauded the Biden staffers for holding the protest, noting that “every single one of these people is risking their jobs and, possibly, their careers because they know the stakes of this moment.”
Political analyst Mitchell Plitnick called the demonstration “historic.”
This is unprecedented as far as I know. It is, in fact, historic. Biden staffers organized a vigil outside the #WhiteHouse calling on their boss to call for a ceasefire.— Mitchell Plitnick 🔥🕎 (@MJPlitnick) December 14, 2023
And to the staffers, thank you so much! pic.twitter.com/652mq8yz96
The vigil was the latest display of growing internal outrage over the Biden administration’s unconditional support for the Israeli military, which has used U.S. weaponry to commit atrocities in the Gaza Strip. The demonstration came days after the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, drawing international condemnation.
Earlier this month, more than 40 White House interns sent a letter condemning Israel’s “genocidal response” to the October 7 attack and imploring Biden to support a permanent cease-fire.
In November, as CNN reported Wednesday, “more than 700 staffers and political appointees signed a letter calling on the president to support a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.”
“The letter was signed by staffers who work in more than 30 departments and agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, FBI, and NASA,” the outlet noted.
It takes longer to read this sentence than it does to support our work.
We don’t have much time left to raise the $15,000 needed to meet Truthout‘s basic publishing costs this month. Will you take a few seconds to donate and give us a much-needed boost?
We know you are deeply committed to the issues that matter, and you count on us to bring you trustworthy reporting and comprehensive analysis on the real issues facing our country and the world. And as a nonprofit newsroom supported by reader donations, we’re counting on you too. If you believe in the importance of an independent, free media, please make a tax-deductible donation today!