Muslim Biden political appointee resigns over Israel’s war on Gaza

After nine months of US-backed war that’s killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, Maryam Hassanein leaves the Biden administration

MEE staff

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators, in formation holding a
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally near the White House in Washington, DC, to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza, on 8 June 2024 (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Another Biden administration political appointee has resigned from their position in government, citing US complicity in Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza that has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians and rendered much of the besieged Strip into rubble and internally displaced encampments.

Maryam Hassanein, who served as a special assistant in the US Department of Interior, said in a statement released on her X account that she resigned from her post on Tuesday. She is the third Biden-appointed administration member to resign.

“As a Muslim American, I cannot continue working for an administration that ignores the voices of its diverse staff by continuing to fund and enable Israel’s genocide of Palestinians,” Hassanein said.

The resignation was first reported by HuffPost.

“After months of Israel’s brutal violence, including the murder of over 37,000 Palestinians and the intentional starvation of millions of Palestinians, the only way I know how to make my voice heard and meaningfully represent my community is to leave,” she said.

“We should not wait decades to act in the best interests of Palestinians whose struggles mirror those of indigenous peoples native to the US.”

Hassanein now joins two other political appointees who have similarly resigned from their positions in protest against US support for the war on Gaza.

The first, Palestinian American Tariq Habash, resigned in January from the Department of Education. The second was Jewish American Lily Greenberg-Call, who also served in the Department of Interior and resigned on 15 May, the day commemorating the Nakba or catastrophe – the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948 by Zionist paramilitaries which paved the way for the creation of the state of Israel.

Greenberg-Call, who said that people in her community had lost loved ones in the 7 October Hamas-led attacks, said “the answer to this is not to collectively punish millions of innocent Palestinians through displacement, famine, and ethnic cleansing”.

Biden’s Gaza policy is a ‘failure’

Israel’s war in Gaza began in October, following the 7 October attack when Palestinian fighters led by Hamas broke out of Gaza and launched an attack on southern Israel. The group killed around 1,200 people, and Israel responded with full-fledged war.

An immediate aerial bombardment campaign was launched and was later supplemented by the ground invasion of Gaza.

Israeli forces have targeted hospitals, schools, UN shelters as well as residential areas in Gaza, killing more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the latest figures from the Gaza health ministry.

Jewish staffer resigns from Biden administration over US ‘support for Israel’s genocide’

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Throughout the war, the Biden administration has backed Israel militarily through the shipment of arms, and also diplomatically through blocking measures at the UN and helping negotiate the terms of a potential ceasefire. For months, the US had said it would not back a ceasefire and fully supported Israel’s war efforts, despite much of the international community, including the United Nations, demanding a ceasefire.

So far, around a dozen Biden officials have publicly tendered their resignation, citing the Gaza war. The resignations range from the first few days of the war, when State Department official Josh Paul quit, citing US “blind support” for Israel, to nine months later when Hassanein resigned.

On Tuesday, the group of former officials penned a public letter calling for the Biden administration to adopt a new set of policies towards Palestine and Israel.

“The Administration’s policy in Gaza is a failure and a threat to US national security. America’s diplomatic cover for, and continuous flow of arms to, Israel has ensured our undeniable complicity in the killings and forced starvation of a besieged Palestinian population in Gaza,” the letter said.

“This is not only morally reprehensible and in clear violation of international humanitarian law and US laws, but it has also put a target on America’s back.”

The letter issues several demands for the administration, including stopping the continuous flow of lethal weapons to Israel, using US leverage to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, supporting the “self-determination” of the Palestinian people and also protecting the free speech rights of pro-Palestinian protests across the US.

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