WASHINGTON — US federal employees across nearly two dozen agencies plan to walk off the job Tuesday to protest the Biden administration’s handling of the Gaza war, according to organizers of the dissent effort who spoke to Al-Monitor.

The group — calling itself Feds United for Peace — consists of dozens of government employees who will be observing a “Day of Mourning” to mark 100 days of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. The organizers, who are choosing to remain anonymous, say they expect “easily hundreds” of others to join in their walkout after securing commitments from individuals at 22 federal agencies.

According to a list obtained by Al-Monitor, those include the Executive Office of the President, the National Security Agency, the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs as well as US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Naval Research Laboratory.

Others expected to join in the protest work for agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Park Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

The planned walkout reflects mounting anger among US officials over the Biden administration’s refusal to call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, where health officials in the Hamas-run territory say more than 23,000 people have died in three months, most of them civilians. The United Nations estimates that more than 85% of the population — some 1.9 million Palestinians — have been displaced.

One of the walkout organizers told Al-Monitor their initiative “grew out of a collective desire to do what we could to influence the Biden administration’s policy on this issue.”

“What you're seeing with this effort is something very unusual, and that is for dissent to be manifested via a physical act,” they said.

Internal disagreements over the administration’s policy burst into public view as the US began surging weapons and ammunition to Israel for use in its battle against Hamas, whose militants killed 1,200 Israelis and took some 240 others hostage on Oct. 7.

A number of letters criticizing the administration’s policy have been drafted anonymously through the State Department’s private “dissent channel,” which was established during the Vietnam War. Staffers from President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign also penned an open letter warning that his policy on Gaza could cost him voters.

Two US officials, including one working in the State Department bureau that oversees arms transfers, have publicly resigned in protest. Josh Paul, who served as the director of congressional and public affairs for the department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, cited the administration’s “blind support for one side” as being among his reasons for leaving.

One of the walkout organizers said that rather than quit, they felt “a moral obligation and a patriotic duty” to influence change from inside. They blamed the White House for policy decisions they lament, including the obstruction of cease-fire resolutions at the United Nations and weapons sales to Israel that have bypassed Congress. “I don't think that the block is inside the State Department. It is fair to say that it's definitely in the White House."

Asked if they tried to address their concerns internally, they said, “Unequivocally, the answer is yes.”

“It’s one thing to write letters from within, but when policy discussions and dissent cables yield no shift in policy — and in some views, a double down on that policy — then people feel they have no other option because they’re not being heard,” the organizer said.

Biden administration officials have tried to address the internal frustrations. As first reported by Al-Monitor, Secretary of State Antony Blinken participated in “listening sessions” with Arab American, Muslim and Jewish staffers.

Other senior State Department and White House officials have since held similar meetings with staff members, and Blinken has sent two department-wide emails to update concerned staffers after his trips to the Middle East.

State employees have also held sessions — which one attendee described as being often "frank and emotional" — with an in-house mental health professional.

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US government employees plan walkout over Biden’s Gaza policies

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13.01.2024

WASHINGTON — US federal employees across nearly two dozen agencies plan to walk off the job Tuesday to protest the Biden administration’s handling of the Gaza war, according to organizers of the dissent effort who spoke to Al-Monitor.

The group — calling itself Feds United for Peace — consists of dozens of government employees who will be observing a “Day of Mourning” to mark 100 days of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. The organizers, who are choosing to remain anonymous, say they expect “easily hundreds” of others to join in their walkout after securing commitments from individuals at 22 federal agencies.

According to a list obtained by Al-Monitor, those include the Executive Office of the President, the National Security Agency, the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs as well as US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Naval Research Laboratory.

Others expected to join in the protest work for agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Park Service, the Federal Aviation........

© Al Monitor


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