Biden Staffers: Quit Your Jobs

Graphic by Liana Mendoza/Graphics Center

We’ve all had bad bosses who make us want to quit. But those bosses typically aren’t the leader of the free world. President Joe Biden’s staff works every day to carry out his policies, but when those policies lead to death and suffering, his staffers are culpable as well.

The time for harm reduction is over. We keep hearing about dissent of staff in the Biden administration, but if people working within the Biden administration object to the president’s policies, they need to stop helping him carry them out.

Biden’s handling of the Israeli aggressions in Gaza have been a disaster. Under his watch, the United States is now being accused of complicity in crimes against humanity and genocide. 

Both the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, based in Oakland, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) agreed that it is “plausible” that Israel is committing a genocide. 

The South African legal team is preparing to take the U.S. to the ICJ for selling arms to Israel and cutting aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, following in the footsteps of Nicaragua’s case against Germany. The federal Northern California district court even put the Biden administration on notice on Jan. 31 that their support for Israel is likely breaking international and domestic law.

At this point, if the administration gets convicted of these crimes, they have nothing to blame but the President’s passivity. He has the unique power to stop the genocide in Gaza, yet chooses not to use the leverage he has. 

After the Apr. 1 Israeli Defense Forces’ targeted killing of six foreign aid workers from the World Central Kitchen in Gaza, Biden reportedly placed a simple phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and like magic, more aid corridors opened up. Of course, anything that gets food into the hands of the Palestinians in Gaza is crucial, but one has to wonder why that phone call only happened now, rather than months ago, during the initial stages of the man-made famine. Is there a reason Biden seems less moved by the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians than he does at the six foreigners’?

Apparently, yes. Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official who specialized in Arab-Israeli negotiations, recently gave an interview to the New Yorker where he said what we’ve all been thinking. “Do I think that Joe Biden has the same depth of feeling and empathy for the Palestinians of Gaza as he does for the Israelis? No, he doesn’t, nor does he convey it.”

Well, there it is, the crux of the Biden problem. It explains why any attempt to get Biden to reconsider his position on the slaughter is doomed for failure — you can’t fix a lack of empathy. 

Nonetheless, every month or so, a leak will give the public a glimpse into the internal “turmoil” of the Biden administration. The private conflict in the State Department is being described as worse than during the Iraq war, as reported by the Independent. The president has reportedly received several memos of internal dissent from officials and staffers. 

In November, more than a thousand U.S. Agency for International Development employees signed a letter accusing the U.S. of being complicit in violations of international law, and hundreds of U.S. officials signed a letter sent on Nov. 14, 2023, objecting to Biden’s Israel policy. In December, administration staffers made the rare move of publicly protesting their boss when they held a vigil for those killed in the slaughter in Gaza, calling for a cease-fire. By the next month, federal staffers escalated to a walkout. A group of Biden campaign employees wrote another letter, public this time, to Biden, asking for, among other things, a permanent cease-fire and an end to unconditional aid to Israel. Their efforts have so far proved fruitless.

Some people working under Biden have taken their dissent further. In October, senior State Department Official Josh Paul, who spent more than a decade supervising arms transfers, publicly resigned. In a letter published on LinkedIn, Paul said the administration’s “blind support” for Israel ran counter to his morals.

In January, Tariq Habash, a Palestinian-American appointee in the Education Department, quit his job because he believed Biden was aiding in the collective punishment of Palestinians. Most recently, Annelle Sheline, a State Department official who worked on democracy in the Middle East, resigned on Mar. 29 because she believed the U.S. was enabling a genocide. 

We need more resignations. If executive branch staffers and officials are morally opposed to the president’s actions, they need to stop clocking in every day to help him. If the president won’t listen to his employees, he can see how he likes the White House without them. Biden staffers quitting may ruin their career prospects, but history will look favorably on their commitment to principles. No resume entry is worth being complicit in genocide. 

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor: Jordan Premmer, Opinion Editor: Chisom Okorafor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *