800 American and European officials protested the war in Gaza
More than 800 US, British and EU officials have signed an unprecedented public letter protesting their governments' support for Israel in the Gaza war. Several leaders of the Palestinian American community refused to attend a roundtable meeting with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to protest President Joe Biden's administration's support for the Israeli offensive.
Officials who participated in the preparation of this transatlantic message between the Allies said that they first voiced their criticism through internal channels, but that their governments ignored them.
“The current policies of our governments weaken their moral standing and undermine their ability to protect freedom, justice and human rights worldwide,” the letter said. Humanitarian law, war crimes and even ethnic cleansing or genocide.” Because of the bloody and destructive Israeli military operation that began on October 7 last year after Hamas attacks on Israeli settlements and kibbutzim.
An official who worked at the US State Department for more than two decades and helped organize the letter said the names of more than 800 signatories were not included in the document because of fears of retaliation.
About 80 of the signatories work for various US agencies, but the largest group is at the State Department, one of the organizers revealed. Most of the signatories are from EU institutions, followed by the Netherlands and the United States.
Another person said national-level officials from eight other NATO member states, except Sweden and Switzerland, approved the letter. Most of them work in the foreign ministries of those countries.
Josh Paul, a former State Department official who oversaw arms transfers before resigning last October to protest President Joe Biden's administration's support for the Israeli military campaign, said “the political decision-making is for Western governments and institutions.” Unprecedented tensions with the expertise and duty of non-political civil servants, “unilateral support for Israeli atrocities in Gaza and indifference to Palestinian humanity is a moral failure and a political failure.”
A number of US officials issued similar letters protesting the Biden administration's unconditional support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in the Gaza war. Last November, more than 500 employees from about 40 government agencies sent a letter to President Biden criticizing his war-related policies. More than a thousand employees of the US Agency for International Development also issued a similar open letter. Dozens of State Department officials sent at least three internal protest cables to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
Protests in Europe
In the 27-nation European Union, a joint diplomatic body known as the European External Action Service and humanitarian aid and development agencies, hundreds of officials signed two separate letters expressing their opposition to the bloc's war policy. Despite the support of the majority of EU countries for Israel, Ireland, Spain and Belgium, European partners called for pressure on the ceasefire and attention to the suffering of the people of Gaza.
Berber van der Woude, a former Dutch ambassador who resigned in protest of his government's support for Israel, said he wanted to speak on behalf of working civil servants who signed the letter anonymously because they feared retaliation for dissent. He said: “Being a government employee does not absolve you of your responsibility to think constantly,” and “when the government issues harmful decisions or actions, it is our responsibility to prevent them.” It's not that simple: just shut up and do what you're told. “We get paid to think.”
Message to Blinken
In addition, many Palestinian Americans refused to attend a roundtable meeting with Secretary Blinken on Thursday to discuss the situation in Gaza. The Middle East Understanding Institute, a non-governmental, non-profit organization, quoted several people who rejected Blinken's call: “We don't know what Secretary Blinken or President Biden would need to hear or see to end them. They are complicit in this genocide. They added that Biden and Blinken “show us every day who values their lives (…) We will not participate in this debate, which will only serve as a box-ticking exercise.” “Our families, our community and all Palestinians are better off,” the signatories wrote. “We, our community and countless others across the United States and around the world, including nearly 8 million workers and American unions representing at least 47 American cities, have one thing to ask of this administration: Demand a permanent ceasefire to save the Palestinians.” .They considered the meeting with Blinken “humiliating, at this point.”
Dr. Tariq Haddad, who was invited to the roundtable, wrote a letter to Blinken saying he wanted to go to the meeting first. But “I have decided after much soul-searching that I cannot in good conscience meet with you knowing that the policies of this administration are responsible for the death and suffering of over 80 members of my family, including dozens of children. Hundreds of children.” He asked: “How can you meet for three minutes with someone who you hold responsible for not only killing your child, but for killing over 80 members of your family?” He said: “My family is living on cattle feed, Secretary Blinken, because of your policies.”