US government workers, from the State Department to NASA, have circulated open letters demanding that President Joe Biden seek a cease-fire in Israel’s war against Hamas. Congressional staffers took to microphones outside the Capitol and condemned what they said were lawmakers’ silencing at the expense of Palestinian civilians.
As the death toll in Gaza mounts, Biden and Congress face unusual public challenges from within over their support for Israel’s offensive. Hundreds of administration and Capitol Hill employees signed open letters, spoke to reporters and held vigils, all in an effort to shift US policy toward more urgent action to curb the Palestinian toll. .
“Most of our bosses on Capitol Hill don’t listen to the people they represent,” a congressional staffer said at a protest this month. Wearing medical masks covering their faces, approximately 100 Congress workers laid flowers in front of the site to honor the civilians who died in the conflict.
Objections coming from federal employees about US military and other support for Israel’s campaign in Gaza are partly a result of changes taking place more broadly throughout American society. As the United States has become more diverse, so has the federal workforce, including many officials of Muslim and Arab descent. And polls show that public opinion is shifting towards US ally Israel, with many people expressing dissatisfaction with the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After weeks of seeing images of bloodied children and fleeing families in Gaza, many Americans, including those in Biden’s Democratic Party, disagreed with his support for Israel’s military campaign. A poll conducted by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in early November found that 40% of the American public said Israel’s response to Gaza went too far. The battle rocked university campuses and sparked nationwide protests.
All executive branch and congressional protest organizers spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, citing professional fear and other repercussions.