Hundreds Of Former Obama Staffers Slam White House For Not Doing Enough For Gaza

More than 250 former staffers in the Obama administration and campaign workers for the Obama-Biden ticket sent a letter to their former bosses on Tuesday demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and calling for the U.S. to end its staunch support of Israel.

More than 170 former staffers, alumni, interns and campaign directors signed their names to the letter, while about 80 signatories remained anonymous because of fear of professional retaliation.

“We are writing to you together because we see you both as our leaders with tremendous influence over the fate of Palestinians and our democratic society here in America. We implore you both to lead now before our democracy and the world backslide further into war and authoritarianism,” the letter says.

“The U.S. is a lone pariah standing on the wrong side of history,” it adds.

The letter — sent as a follow-up to a November letter ― urged former President Barack Obama to use his influence to back a cease-fire and advise current President Joe Biden to reverse course in Gaza, suspend military aid to Israel and increase sanctions, and recognize Palestine as a member state of the United Nations.

The letter comes a day after more than 100 immigrant, refugee, human rights and humanitarian organizations sent a letter demanding that Congress and Biden reinstate funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, a Palestinian aid organization.

Rumana Ahmed, who worked in the White House for six years when Obama was president, with her last role as senior adviser to the deputy national security adviser, told HuffPost that many of the signatories feel betrayed by their former bosses.

“So many of us have given our careers and spent so many years working for them,” said Ahmed, who also served on the the transition team after Biden and running mate Kamala Harris won the 2020 election.

“For all of us who have been super hopeful, and we’re still waiting and we’re still being hopeful for the administration to shift the policy, .... instead we’re being dismissed,” Ahmed said.

During his last hours in office in 2017, before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Obama quietly sent $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that Republican members of Congress had been blocking. But his former staffers say they are frustrated that Obama hasn’t done more publicly to sway Biden on his policy toward Israel.

“Speaking out against institutions of power, especially if you come from those institutions, takes a lot of courage,” said Valentina Pereda, the 2015 deputy director of Hispanic media at the White House and one of the authors of the letter.

“A lot of people are putting a lot of our personal lives or financial lives on the line to speak out on this, but what I want people to understand is that, no matter what, you have to have the courage to speak up, no matter how uncomfortable,” Pereda added.

Sarah Eckhouse, who was an Ohio field organizer in the campaigns and a staffer in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, said she felt compelled to speak out because of her years of service and for her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor who arrived in the U.S. in 1939.

“When Jews say ‘Never again,’ it cannot be only for Jews that it is never again, it must be for all people,” she said. “How could we watch this being inflicted on another population and not say something?”

“It’s very hard for me to understand how we can continue, as a government policy, to allow this when we have the ability to do something,” she added.

Last month, Biden, alongside Obama and former President Bill Clinton, hosted a $26 million New York City fundraiser for Biden’s reelection that was attended by several Hollywood celebrities.

As of Tuesday, former President Donald Trump was ahead of Biden in polls in seven battleground states. Over the last several months, voters have cast protest votes in Democratic primaries, citing Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza, which to date has killed more than 34,000 people as Israel retaliates for an Oct. 7 attack from Gaza that left about 1,200 Israelis dead and about 240 others taken hostage.

“It’s deeply concerning that President Biden is willing to risk another Trump term over his support for [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the most right-wing, extremist government in Israel’s history. The Biden campaign would rather lose to a twice-impeached, disgraced former president with 91 indictments than say no to genocide,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said in a statement to HuffPost. “It’s time for President Biden to listen to his base of voters who helped get him elected in 2020, who are demanding a permanent cease-fire.”

As the November election nears, many of Biden’s staffers have warned: Change course or lose reelection.

“Presidents Biden and Obama, we are seven months from a defining election in America’s democracy. As your former staffers, the choice should be clear. We should be your biggest advocates,” the letter says.

“And yet, it is difficult for us to feel inspired by or advocate for a presidential candidate who responds to the widespread outrage over this war with empty words while enabling it financially and militarily.”