Over a hundred current and former White House staffers signed a letter backing the Biden administration’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war, as Biden’s support for Israel has divided Democrats.
The letter, first reported by The New York Times, has 127 signatures, fewer than a similar letter earlier this month from former White House and campaign staff criticizing Biden’s policy. That letter gained more than 500 signatures.
The letter celebrates Biden’s “moral clarity, courageous leadership, and staunch support of Israel,” in addition to endorsing his planned $14.3 billion support package for the country and Biden’s refusal to support a cease-fire in the conflict.
Notable signatories include Undersecretary for Defense Colin Kahl, former Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Obama economics advisor Lawrence Summers and Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.) and Haley Stevens (D-Mich.).
The war in Gaza began early last month after Hamas militants carried out a brutal surprise attack on Israeli border communities, killing 1,200 people. Israeli air strikes and a ground campaign since have killed over 11,100 Palestinians, including over 4,600 children.
Signatories of the supporting letter argued theirs should carry more weight, as the names of the signers are disclosed. Dissent letters featuring over 2,000 in total signatures from Biden staff, the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development did not list names in order to avoid career reprisal.
The large number of civilian deaths, especially of children, has divided Democrats over whether the U.S. should continue to assist the Israeli military. Over a dozen House Progressives signed onto a resolution demanding that Biden back a cease-fire in the conflict last month, which he has so far refused to consider.
The letter from former staffers and campaigners criticizing Biden’s Israel response noted “unwavering support” for combating Hamas, but said that the U.S. must push back on the Israeli military’s aggressive campaign against civilians in Gaza.
“If you fail to act swiftly, your legacy will be complicity in the face of genocide,” the letter read.
A similar dissent letter from State Department staffers last month showed further signs of division inside the Biden administration.
Former State Department staffer Josh Paul told The Hill early this month that concerns inside the department are both over the high number of civilian casualties, but also over beliefs that backing Israel so strongly could weaken the U.S. relationship with other Middle Eastern countries.
State Department staff have also sent at least three internal diplomatic cables to the White House urging calls for a cease-fire. They are signed but have not been released to the public.
Hundreds more Democratic congressional staff have signed open letters in dissent of Biden administration policy and walked out on the job this month in protest.
Since both previous dissent letters, the Biden administration lobbied for — and the Israeli government agreed to — brief “humanitarian pauses” in fighting in order to assist civilians in Gaza. However, the Biden administration has pushed the Israeli government for longer pauses in recent days.