Support in halls of Congress for Israeli ground invasion is waning

For every pro-Israeli statement, decision or speech in Washington there is also a backlash -with some factions railing against the government's 'neglect of the Palestinians'

While US President Joe Biden and White House officials continue to express unprecedented support for Israel in its war with Hamas, other voices have been heard in recent days in the corridors of the Capitol. The resignation on Friday of an official in the US State Department because of the "blind support on one side" and the increased aid package to Israel do not come from nowhere.
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote a letter to his employees in which he acknowledges the mental toll the war is taking on them. In it, condems the expressions of hatred against American Arabs, Muslims and Jews, but also insists that the administration's approach to the crisis is balanced.
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בלינקן בתום הפגישה עם נתניהו. "ביידן יגיע לישראל"
בלינקן בתום הפגישה עם נתניהו. "ביידן יגיע לישראל"
In a letter to his staff US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledges the toll the war is taking on them
"I know that for many of you, this time is not only challenging professionally, but personally," he wrote. “Some of our colleagues in the region, especially among our locally employed staff, have been directly affected by the violence, including by losing loved ones and friends. Even here in the US, there were ripples of fear and bigotry. … While we fully support Israel’s right to defend itself, how it does so matters. That means acting in a way that respects the rule of law and international humanitarian standards, and taking every possible precaution to protect civilian life.”
This choice of words represents a change in the attitude of the White House officials, in contrast to the first days of the fighting. These days, the administration is making sure to devote a significant part of its attention on the subject to the demand that Israel avoid harming civilians, a more open recognition of the suffering of the Palestinians, and the promise to send millions of dollars in aid to Gaza. This change does not come just like that. The initial approach of the Biden administration angered many in the Capitol, as well as State Department officials working under Blinken - Jews and Muslims alike- who felt that the administration's bellicosity would lead to "terrible" policy results and "more long-term violence in the Middle East."
Many considered quitting, but Blinken, aware of the rumblings, addressed them directly in his letter: "Let us also be sure to sustain and expand the space for debate and dissent that makes our policies and our institution better.” And indeed, some senior officials in the ministry are now working on submitting an official audit document to him. At the same time, a letter is circulating around the Capitol that has already been signed by more than 400 Jewish and Muslim government officials, criticizing Biden for neglecting the Palestinians.
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בית הנבחרים הסנאט סנאט בניין הקפיטול קפיטול ארה"ב דיון על הדחת טראמפ הדחה
בית הנבחרים הסנאט סנאט בניין הקפיטול קפיטול ארה"ב דיון על הדחת טראמפ הדחה
US Capitol building
(Photo: AP)
"Millions of souls hang in the balance," they write. "Our families, histories, and faith traditions are deeply rooted in Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine. As the children of survivors of slavery, the Holocaust, colonialism, war and oppression, we feel compelled to raise our voices at this moment."
“We join members of Congress and the international community’s denunciation of the horrific war crimes Hamas has committed,” the letter continued. “At the same time, we mourn for the Palestinian civilians who are enduring catastrophic suffering at the hands of the Israeli government."
"As Muslims and Jews, we are tired of reliving the generational fear of genocide and ethnic cleansing. We are tired of leaders pushing us to blame each other, exploiting our pain and our history to set political agendas and justify violence. Only once this immediate bleeding ends, can we direct our efforts to put an end to the status quo of occupation and violence and find paths to sustainable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians," the letter also reads.
The staffers signed the letter anonymously "out of concern for our personal safety, the risk of violence and the impact on our professional credibility on Capitol Hill."
These words also echo in the Senate, where 30 senators wrote to Blinken to express support for the administration's steps to eradicate Hamas so far, but also to urge him to work toward a cease-fire because "a solution will not be achieved by military means." "Maintaining Israel's security does not contradict basic humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza," they write.
"The United States should continue its strong support for Israel, while we also do our part to help the United Nations help innocent civilians as they flee the violence," the letter also said. Last week, a similar letter sent to Biden and Blinken by 55 progressive members of the House of Representatives called for an immediate end to the siege of Gaza.
Meanwhile, on the surface at least, the United States continues its offensive line against elements hostile to Israel. Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed a statement expressing support for Israel and condemning Hamas. Some 97 senators voted in favor. The remaining three were not present at the hearing in Washington.
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פגישת בנימין נתניהו וג'ו ביידן במלחמת חרבות ברזל
פגישת בנימין נתניהו וג'ו ביידן במלחמת חרבות ברזל
US President Joe Biden has offered fulll-throated support for Israel
( Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash 90 )
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives also overwhelmingly approved a series of pro-Israeli bills: from sanctions on international supporters of Hamas and Palestinian terrorist organizations, to opposition to a nuclear Iran "by all necessary means" and support for Israel's "freedom of action" to stop Tehran's nuclear armament, calling to build a strategy to prevent the use of Western technology in Iranian drones, the imposition of sanctions on China and other countries involved in the Iranian oil trade, a bill requiring annual reports on antisemitic and anti-Israel content in US-backed Palestinian school curricula, and a call for the European Union to fully define Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, went above and beyond and wrote a letter over the weekend to Biden and Blinken in which he demands that the US officially state that Hamas' attack on Israel constitutes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Israel and the Jewish people.
The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee of the Senate sent a letter to the major technology companies with the surprising demand that they preserve the materials uploaded about the "atrocities of Hamas." In the letter, sent to the heads of Meta, Google, X and TikTok, the members of the committee, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, demand that no video or photo of the attack - even the most horrific - be deleted.
"Although steps must be taken to curb Hamas' attempts to weaponize social media for its purposes, there is no doubt that social media platforms have already played a critical role in exposing the international community to the genocidal atrocities committed against Israel," the senators write.
"Ordinarily a policy restricting the distribution of disturbing content might make sense, but in this case videos and images uploaded by soldiers, law enforcement agencies, civilians, journalists and those with real-time access to terrorist operations must be preserved to assist in the prosecution of war crimes, intelligence gathering, media reporting and the historical record. The role of social media in documenting war crimes is relatively new but of significant consequence. Companies have a responsibility not to permanently delete any of this content, but to preserve it in such a way that the public record and historical record can accurately document the horrific atrocities being committed," according to the senators.
For every pro-Israeli law, statement, decision and speech there is also a backlash, and it is getting louder and louder every day in the corridors of the administration. Biden is walking a tightrope, even before Israel starts its ground war in Gaza.
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