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Biden Staffers Hold Historic Vigil Outside White House Calling for Ceasefire

It’s the latest display of internal outrage over the administration’s unconditional support for the Israeli military.

Former State Department official and activist Josh Paul, who resigned over Israel's ongoing bombardment of Gaza, speaks during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire, in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., on December 13, 2023.

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.”

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.”

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.