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More Than 500 of the Staffers Who Elected Biden Demand That He Defend Palestinian Rights


Heba Mohammad poured her energy and her considerable skills into electing Joe Biden president in 2020. As the digital organizing director for the Democrat’s campaign in the critical swing state of Wisconsin, she was one of the great mass of young people who powered the Biden campaign to victory. But as the Biden administration has failed to take a firm stand in defense of Palestinian rights in recent weeks, Mohammad has grown increasingly frustrated with the man she did so much to elect. She says she felt “deep dismay watching the president’s limited response to what was happening in Gaza.”

Mohammad isn’t alone. After images of the death and devastation following Israeli air strikes on Gaza filled screens across the United States in mid-May, activists who worked to elect Biden began to communicate among themselves on how to get a message to the president and other senior Democrats about the need for a shift in US policy that focuses on achieving justice for the Palestinian people.

On Monday, more than 500 of these 2020 campaign staffers signed a letter demanding that the Biden administration abandon a status-quo approach to Israel and Palestine that “deprives Palestinians of peace, security, and self-determination.” Addressed to the president, the letter explains, “The very same values that motivated us to work countless hours to elect you demand that we speak out in the aftermath of the recent explosive violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, which is inextricable from the ongoing history of occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion.”

The letter comes at a point when Biden and his aides have faced criticism from Democratic members of Congress such as Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, and Wisconsin’s Mark Pocan for failing to focus sufficiently on the dislocation of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as Israeli air strikes that have left hundreds dead in Gaza. As in the 1960s, when many of the Democratic Party’s savviest officials and ablest activists broke with President Lyndon Johnson over the war in Vietnam, this is shaping up as a moment when dynamic young activists—and more than a few of their elders—are warning that the president and party leaders must wake up to that fact that, as Mohammad says, “from here on out, we will not allow our Democratic officials and candidates to be silent on Palestine.”

The signatures on the letter to Biden include those of 10 members of his 2020 campaign’s national headquarters staff and eight members of the Democratic National Committee staff during the race. But most of the signers worked at the states where Biden won the presidency—including the five battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Arizona, which flipped from the Republican column in 2016 to the Democratic side in 2020. Drafted by a coalition of Palestinian American, Israeli American, Jewish, and allied former staffers, the letter offers a knowing and nuanced take on the violence in the Middle East, explaining:





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