Over 500 Democratic Staffers Tell Biden to ‘Hold Israel Accountable’ for ‘Killing Palestinian Civilians’

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Smoke billows following an Israeli airstrike on Jala Tower, which housed offices of Al-Jazeera TV and Associated Press as well as residential apartments, in Gaza City, on May 15, 2021. — Xinhua/IANS

In an open letter, the ‘proud alumni’ of his presidential campaign express their deep concern over Israel’s continued use of ‘US-funded military equipment to kill civilians, target journalists, and violently suppress protests’

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — More than 500 staffers of the Joe Biden Presidential campaign have demanded from the President of the United States of America to “unequivocally condemn Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians” and hold Israel “accountable for its actions and lay the groundwork for justice and lasting peace”.

In an open letter, the ‘proud alumni’ of his campaign have made a passionate appeal to him to end the sufferings of the people of West Bank and Gaza. They have also reminded Biden of his own tweet of last month in which he had said that “no responsible American president can remain silent when basic human rights are violated”.

The signatories to the letter have expressed their deep concern over Israel’s continued use of “US-funded military equipment to kill civilians, target journalists, and violently suppress protests in Israel, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.”

Following is the text of the letter:

Dear President Biden,

We write to you as proud alumni of your campaign. Each of us worked tirelessly in your headquarters and in states across the country to ensure your victory. We were motivated by the unprecedented progressive platform of your campaign that believed in the dignity of every human being, and the existential need to defeat Trumpism and its contrary values. We commend your efforts to broker a ceasefire. Yet, we also cannot unsee the horrific violence that unfolded in recent weeks in Israel/Palestine, and we implore you to continue using the power of your office to hold Israel accountable for its actions and lay the groundwork for justice and lasting peace.

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. We remain horrified by the images of Palestinian civilians in Gaza killed or made homeless by Israeli airstrikes. We are outraged by Israel’s efforts to forcibly and illegally expel Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. We are shocked by Israel’s destruction of a building housing international news organizations. We remain horrified by reports of Hamas rockets killing Israeli civilians.

While Israelis had to spend nights hiding in bomb shelters, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had nowhere to hide. It is critical to acknowledge this power imbalance — that Israel’s highly-advanced military occupies the West Bank and East Jerusalem and blockades the Gaza Strip, creating an uninhabitable open-air prison. While we should never reduce the loss of human life to numbers, Palestinians have suffered hundreds of casualties, demonstrative of Israel’s power over Palestinians and its penchant for disproportionate responses. Israel’s protracted refusal to consider a ceasefire also put Israelis in harm’s way, prolonging the violence of Hamas’s barrage of rockets and Israel’s air strikes — a cycle that is bound to repeat itself as long as we allow the status quo to stand, where Palestinians have no freedom and Israel controls their lives in perpetuity.

As you tweeted last month, “No responsible American president can remain silent when basic human rights are violated.” We could not agree more. That is why we ask you to unequivocally condemn Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians. We thank you for your work to end the most recent round of violence between Israel and Hamas. To ensure a lasting ceasefire and a future of peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians, we ask that you work to end the underlying conditions of occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion that led to this exceptionally destructive period in a 73-year history of dispossession and ethnic cleansing. The resulting status quo is one that international and Israeli human rights organizations agree meets the definition of the crime of apartheid under international law. Finally, we are deeply concerned that Israel continues to use US-funded military equipment to kill civilians, target journalists, and violently suppress protests in Israel, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.

We appreciate your recent work to broker a temporary peace, and we also acknowledge that a temporary peace is not a suitable long-term resolution. We are firm in our belief that it is time for your administration to take concrete steps to end the occupation in pursuit of justice, peace, and self-determination for Palestinians. To that end, we call on you to take the following actions:

Demand that the Israeli government:

  • Allow a humanitarian corridor in Gaza to allow for the evacuation of the injured, as well as for the supply of life-saving medicines;
  • Take action to protect Palestinians in Israel subject to ongoing violent attacks by Israeli mobs that operate with the protection of Israeli police;
  • Lift the blockade of Gaza, which has made it an uninhabitable open-air prison;
  • End the forced expulsions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and from all Palestinian homes across the territories;
  • End settlement expansion in the West Bank.

And,

  • Join our international allies in calling for an end to Israeli violations of international law, or at minimum, stop obstructing efforts by the United Nations to do so;
  • Ensure US aid no longer funds the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children, theft and demolition of Palestinian homes and property, and annexation of Palestinian land;
  • Investigate whether Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza violates the Leahy Law, prohibiting US military aid from funding foreign military units implicated in the commission of gross violations of human rights;
  • End federal tax breaks for donations to settler organizations that actively fund the ongoing dispossession and expulsion of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and other cities by revoking their 501(c)3 status;
  • Support Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

We joined your campaign to pursue a vision of a nation that believes that every person’s life and fundamental rights are valued. We remain committed to that vision and implore you to take action to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis are able to live in peace and security. Returning to the status quo is untenable, as it deprives Palestinians of peace, security, and self-determination.

Sincerely,

(More than 500 signatories)

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