Friday, February 9, 2024

As a show of support, more than 100 former members of the Obama and Biden administrations wrote a letter to the White House praising President Biden’s “moral clarity, courageous leadership and staunch support of Israel.” The aim was to defend Mr. Biden’s policies amid internal dissent within the administration.

The letter expressed support for the president’s request for $14.3 billion in new security assistance for Israel and affirmed his opposition to a cease-fire. This move was to counter anonymous demands from hundreds of officials across the Biden administration calling for Israel to halt its military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Notable Democratic figures such as Ron Klain, Lawrence H. Summers, Colin H. Kahl, and Michèle A. Flournoy were among the signatories. The letter was also signed by 19 former ambassadors, including Joseph W. Westphal.

The total number of signatories to the letter in support of Mr. Biden was 137, which was fewer than the over 500 individuals who signed a letter sent to Mr. Biden demanding immediate cease-fire. The newer letter was delivered to Mr. Biden on Tuesday with 115 names and organizers continued to collect signatures until Friday.

The organizers of the letter supporting Mr. Biden argued that their missive should carry more weight because it publicly disclosed the names of all signatories and included former senior officials experienced in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In contrast, the earlier letter of dissent was delivered without names, although the signatories were known to the letter’s organizers. The same arrangement was used for a similar open letter to Samantha Power, the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator, which garnered over 1,000 anonymous signatures.

Critics of Israel’s military operation in Gaza argue that they feel unsafe revealing their identities, citing concerns for personal safety and job security. Dozens of State Department officials have also sent diplomatic cables to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken urging the United States to exert more pressure on Israel to limit civilian casualties and call for a cease-fire. At the same time, hundreds of congressional staffers have also signed open letters calling for the United States to restrain Israel and demand a cease-fire.

It has been highlighted that dissent within the administration has been blown out of proportion. U.S. officials point out that carrying out policies with which a person disagrees is part of working in government, and if this becomes morally intolerable, the person should resign their position.

So far, only one Biden official, Josh Paul, is known to have resigned in protest over the war in Gaza. Ms. Soifer, the chief executive of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, believes that letters and other demonstrations of dissent might create the impression that Mr. Biden’s policies are more unpopular than they really are. She cited a poll that found that half of Democrats approved of Mr. Biden’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and noted that most Democrats in Congress were aligned with his policies.

At the same time, another poll found that 77 percent of Democrats believed Israel should call a cease-fire and seek to negotiate, which contrasts with Mr. Biden’s view.

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