The “Transatlantic Civil Servants’ Statement on Gaza” signals mounting dissent inside Western governments over support for Israel’s war on Gaza as famine and disease spread across the enclave.
More than 800 government officials in the United States and Europe released a letter Friday criticizing their countries’ leaders for providing unconditional military and diplomatic support to Israel as it inflicts disaster on Gaza’s population.[The 800-plus figure is ascribed to an organizer of the letter who is quoted anonymously, for fear of reprisal, in a report in The New York Times.]
The authors of the letter, who remain anonymous, wrote that their attempts to voice concerns internally about their governments’ support for Israel’s assault on Gaza “were overruled by political and ideological considerations.”
“We are obliged to do everything in our power on behalf of our countries and ourselves to not be complicit in one of the worst human catastrophes of this century,” the letter reads. “We are obliged to warn the publics of our countries, whom we serve, and to act in concert with transnational colleagues.”
“Israel has shown no boundaries in its military operations in Gaza, which has resulted in tens of thousands of preventable civilian deaths,” the letter continues.
“There is a plausible risk that our governments’ policies are contributing to grave violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes, and even ethnic cleansing or genocide.”
The letter was coordinated by government officials in The Netherlands, the U.S., and European Union bodies and endorsed by civil servants in 10 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Josh Paul, a former U.S. State Department official who resigned in October over the Biden administration’s decision to continue arming Israel as it pummeled Gaza, called the new letter “a remarkable statement from hundreds of individuals who have devoted their lives to building a better world.”
“One-sided support for Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, and a blindness to Palestinian humanity, is both a moral failure, and, for the harm it does to Western interests around the globe, a policy failure,” Paul told HuffPost.
“At a time where our politicians seem to have forgotten them,” Paul added, the letter “is a much-needed reminder of the core values that bind the transatlantic relationship, and a proof that they endure.”
Paul told The New York Times that he knew the organizers of the letter, which marks the latest sign of mounting dissent inside Western governments over their support for Israel’s war on Gaza as famine and disease spread across the enclave.
United Nations experts warned earlier this week that Gazans are “enduring apocalyptic humanitarian conditions, destruction, mass killing, wounding, and irreparable trauma.”
Berber van der Woude, a former Dutch diplomat who resigned in 2022 over her government’s support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, also spoke out in support of the new letter from U.S. and European civil servants. Rights groups have accused the Dutch government of complicity in Israeli war crimes, pointing to the export of military supplies.
“Being a civil servant doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility to keep on thinking,” van der Woude told the Times on Friday. “When the system produces perverse decisions or actions, we have a responsibility to stop it. It’s not as simple as ‘shut up and do what you’re told’; we’re also paid to think.”
The unnamed officials implored their governments to stop telling the public that “there is a strategic and defensible rationale behind the Israeli operation and that supporting it is in our countries’ interests.”
Israel claims it is targeting Hamas, but one human rights monitor estimates that upwards of 90 percent of those killed by Israeli forces in Gaza were civilians.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that U.S. and Israeli officials believe that up to 80 percent of Hamas’ tunnels are still intact after nearly four months of incessant bombing, which has killed more than 27,000 Gazans.
To end the bloodshed, the civil servants demanded that their governments “use all leverage available — including a halt to military support — to secure a lasting cease-fire and full humanitarian access in Gaza and a safe release of all hostages.”
They also urged world leaders to “develop a strategy for lasting peace that includes a secure Palestinian state and guarantees for Israel’s security, so that an attack like 7 October and an offensive on Gaza never happen again.”