Washington, D.C. – More than 500 former campaign staffers who helped elect Joe Biden in 2020 have called on the US president to work toward a ceasefire in Gaza and end the violence that has left more than 10,800 Palestinians dead.
The letter, released Thursday, adds to growing calls from sources close to the Biden administration to push for an end to the war.
“As President of the United States, you have significant influence at this dangerous moment,” said the letter, which was first reported by Vox.
“They must call for a ceasefire, hostage exchange and de-escalation and take concrete steps to address the conditions of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing that underlie the terrible violence we are now witnessing.”
As the Biden administration and Congress continue to steadfastly support Israel, staff, grassroots organizations and activists have expressed increasing opposition to the war.
The American Postal Workers Union, which represents U.S. Postal Service employees, also supported calls for a ceasefire on Thursday.
“We call on our government, which is the Israeli government’s main foreign benefactor, to use all its power to protect innocent lives and contribute to peace in the region, and not to use our tax dollars for further war,” the union said said in a statement.
“We join calls for an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages and urgently needed massive humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. The cries of humanity demand nothing less.”
The two statements follow earlier efforts within the government to push for an end to hostilities.
Last week, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officials distributed a letter calling for an immediate ceasefire, and as of Wednesday it had collected more than 1,000 signatures.
Hundreds of members of Congress also staged a walkout Wednesday to demand an end to the war.
Thursday’s letter from people who worked on Biden’s campaign highlighted the rising death toll in Gaza and the mass displacement of residents in the territory’s northern reaches, and noted that scientists have raised alarms about the risk of genocide in the conflict have.
The Democratic staffers also said they were “appalled by Hamas’ devastating attack on Israeli civilians on October 7.”
United Nations organizations and human rights groups have also called for a ceasefire, with UN chief Antonio Guterres warning that Gaza is becoming a “graveyard for children.”
But early Thursday, Biden ruled out a definitive end to the conflict. When reporters asked about the possibility of a ceasefire in Gaza, the US president said: “None, no possibility.”
Biden has expressed unconditional support for Israel since the war in Gaza began on October 7 and called for more than $14 billion in additional aid for the country, angering progressive Americans, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.
Last month, the US president sparked outrage among Palestinian rights advocates when he expressed doubts about the death toll in Gaza, saying he had “no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”
Human rights experts and fact-checkers defended the figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza based on hospital and morgue records. They said the Health Ministry’s figures in previous conflicts were consistent with the findings of independent researchers.
A senior State Department official also said Wednesday that the actual Palestinian death toll could be even higher than the official figures.
“In this time of conflict and wartime conditions, it is very difficult for any of us to estimate the number of casualties,” Barbara Leaf, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, told lawmakers. “We think they are quite frankly very high – and it could be that they are even higher than stated.”
The Ministry of Health also stated that current statistics do not take into account people lying under the rubble or buried without registration.
“His legacy will be genocide”
When Biden ran for president, his supporters often portrayed him as a “decent” man who wanted to restore unity in the United States after Donald Trump’s presidency.
Biden has suffered personal grief in his life, as he lost his wife and young daughter in a car accident in 1972 and his son Beau, a politician and Army veteran, died of cancer in 2015.
In the statement from campaign officials, the US president accused him of appearing to downplay – if not dismiss – the number of civilian casualties in Gaza.
“Mr President, you have spoken at length about the unbearable pain and grief of losing a child,” the letter said. “We were shocked and saddened when you had to justify the deaths of Palestinian children as the ‘price of war’.”
Biden made the remark while questioning the Palestinian death toll during an appearance before reporters at the White House on October 25. “I am sure that innocent people were killed and that is the price of the war,” he said.
As the US president faces pressure from his own base, his approval ratings among Democrats are falling. He also sees a huge decline in support in Arab communities.
A recent New York Times poll showed Biden losing to Trump — the likely Republican nominee in the 2024 race — in five key swing states: Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Heba Mohammad, a Palestinian-American staffer who worked for the Biden campaign in another swing state, Wisconsin, warned that the carnage in Gaza could become what people remember him for.
“President Biden has the ability and responsibility to save lives and alleviate human suffering,” she said in a statement accompanying the letter. “If he doesn’t act quickly, his legacy will be genocide.”
Source : www.aljazeera.com