- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
President Joe Biden speaks at Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, Minnesota, on Nov. 1.
More than 50 Democratic National Committee employees have signed an open letter to their leadership, calling on them to urge President Joe Biden to seek a cease-fire in Israel’s escalating war against Hamas.
The letter’s signers, who chose to remain anonymous, work at the primary organizing body for the Democratic Party, which is handling the bulk of Biden’s fundraising and the coordinated campaign for his reelection.
The document, which was shared exclusively with HuffPost, underscores how frustrated many Democrats — as well as administration officials, including career diplomats — have become with Biden’s reluctance to demand Israeli restraint in the country’s now month-long offensive against Hamas, the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group.
“As strategic partners to the administration... we feel it is the DNC’s moral obligation to urge President Biden to publicly call for a ceasefire,” the 51 employees wrote in a letter they shared with their leadership Friday morning. That figure represents 15% of the committee’s 300 staffers, a DNC spokesperson told HuffPost.
In a message addressed to DNC executive director Sam Cornale and chair Jaime Harrison, the employees wrote they were “shocked and heartbroken by the unfathomable loss of life in the brutal attack on Israeli civilians” last month, and that they are grieving “for the thousands of Palestinian civilians who have lost their lives during the Israeli government’s military response.”
“With the number of civilian deaths growing rapidly each day, we must be clear: the Israeli government’s unrelenting military bombardment and blockading of vital supplies entering Gaza must end,” the letter reads.
Hundreds of congressional personnel have also signed a separate letter asking lawmakers to demand a cease-fire amid the costly fighting. And as HuffPost reported on Thursday, staff members at the State Department have submitted at least two formal expressions of dissent through a specially designed “dissent channel” urging the U.S. to do more to end the war.
A group of staff alumni of Biden’s presidential campaign also sent a letter to Biden calling for him to back a cease-fire.
In a statement to HuffPost, Harrison defended Biden and the administration’s handling of the war.
“The President continues to display unparalleled leadership and moral clarity throughout this conflict as he works tirelessly with world leaders to pursue a path to safety, justice, and peace,” Harrison wrote. “Israel has a right to defend itself from terrorism and the continued threat posed by Hamas. President Biden has been unequivocal that there is no room for Islamophobia, antisemitism or hate, and has been a strong advocate for both humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza as well as protecting civilian lives.”
“The DNCs hundreds of staff and alumni reflect diverse viewpoints from all corners of the Democratic coalition,” Harrison wrote. “During challenging moments — for our team, our nation, and our world — we embrace our core principles as Democrats by respecting one another’s viewpoints even when we disagree.”
On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a vicious surprise attack on targets in Israel that killed at least 1,400 people, the majority of them civilians. The group also took more than 200 hostages during the assault.
Israel has since engaged in a U.S.-backed aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza that has prompted an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the region, which has some 2 million civilian residents. The bombing campaign, and an Israeli siege of the dense coastal enclave, have killed more than 9,000 Palestinians, including several thousand children; forced the displacement of some 800,000 residents; and led to severe shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel and medicine.
“While we cannot bring back those whose lives have already been tragically cut short, acting for peace today can ensure thousands more Palestinians, many of them children, can go on to live the rich and fulfilling lives we all want for our own family members and children,” the DNC employees wrote in their letter.
The scale of the civilian casualties has sparked deep discontent among administration officials, particularly those focused on national security. In recent days, Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have shifted from their earlier position of emphasizing support for Israel to endorsing a “humanitarian pause” to allow more aid into Gaza, and to facilitate the exit of some hostages and third-party nationals, including trapped U.S. citizens. Israel has previously paused its bombing to allow hostage releases, they have noted. But the U.S. has not endorsed suggestions of a cease-fire.
With the number of civilian deaths growing rapidly each day, we must be clear: the Israeli government’s unrelenting military bombardment and blockading of vital supplies entering Gaza must end.A letter from 51 Democratic National Committee employees to DNC leadership
Many aid groups and activist organizations say a humanitarian pause, or even a series of them, would be insufficient given the scale of the suffering — and they worry it would only allow Israel to be more aggressive in its actions in Gaza afterward. But the extended pause in fighting represented by a cease-fire or a cessation of hostilities would likely allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Gazans to return to their homes, and would enable outside observers to go in and begin work to support them and assess how to bring the strip back from what United Nations experts on Thursday called “a catastrophic tipping point.”
Some U.S. officials privately say that Israel is committing war crimes with U.S.-provided weapons, and many are concerned that the ongoing Israeli campaign will lead to blowback for American interests globally.
The Biden administration’s choices are likely critical to the possibility of a cease-fire that prevents further loss of life. The U.S. is Israel’s chief military and diplomatic backer, and officials and experts say it has unparalleled leverage over the country’s decisions. Additionally, Washington has close ties with countries that have influence over Hamas, notably Qatar and Egypt.
On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told the U.S. he will continue Israel’s operation “with full force.”
Like many internal expressions of anger with Biden’s response to the situation, the letter to the DNC acknowledges Biden’s outreach to affected individuals and his work so far to help civilians, but suggests that these efforts are insufficient without actual policy changes.
“We appreciate the DNC’s commitment to combating anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and anti-Palestinian sentiment,” the letter says. “We are also grateful for the role the Biden Administration has played in securing the delivery of some humanitarian aid into Gaza, as well as for its diplomatic efforts to facilitate the release of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas.”
The White House referred HuffPost to the DNC for comment on the letter.
A DNC employee told HuffPost that a “significant number of us are profoundly heartbroken and desperately want our leaders to do what they can to help end the violence.”
“I think a lot of us feel it’s increasingly hard to focus on our work when we know there are more levers to pull,” this person added.
Another DNC employee told HuffPost: “It’s hard to watch scenes of children being killed and grievously injured while we’re safe here, and knowing that we work so closely with an administration that could have the power to change the situation.”