Career State Department diplomat resigns in protest over Biden's support for Israel against Hamas in Gaza

 May 2, 2024

President Joe Biden has received substantial blowback and criticism from his left flank over his purportedly unwavering support for Israel amid its ongoing conflict against Hamas in Gaza because of concerns about an alleged "genocide" and humanitarian crisis for the Palestinian people.

That includes the recent resignation in protest of the Biden administration's favorable policies toward Israel by a career State Department diplomat, Hala Rharrit, who has leveled shocking accusations against her now-former employer, the Daily Mail reported.

Rharrit, formerly an Arab-language spokesperson for the department who frequently appeared in Arab media, claimed that the dissenting opinions expressed by herself and others were squashed and stifled by threats of retribution and ultimatums from superior officials.

Career diplomat resigns over policy disagreement

The Washington Post reported that Rharrit decided to end her 18-year career at the State Department last week in protest against not only the Biden administration's policies toward Israel and the Palestinians but also over the poor treatment that she and other objectors had received for speaking out internally against those policies.

She asserted that despite the existence of an internal dissent channel and an insistence that Secretary of State Antony Blinken reviews and welcomes differing policy outlooks, she and others had grown fearful of being targeted for discipline in response to their critiques of the administration's handling of the current conflict.

"I believe in the power to change things from within. I believe in the force of good through diplomacy. I still want to believe in it," Rharrit told The Post. "But at the end of the day, it was abundantly clear to me through so many conversations that I’ve had that no one within the department, perhaps only the secretary, but no career Foreign Service officer could really effect any change."

She objected to the administration's "provocative" pro-Israel "talking points"

Rharrit's problems began in October, according to The Post, when she refused to do interviews for Arab media about the situation in Gaza because of the administration's "provocative" talking points that "oftentimes completely ignored Palestinians. Early on, it was very, very heavy on 'Israel has a right to defend itself.' Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself, but there was no mention of the plight of the Palestinians."

"I, in good conscience, could not go on Arab television with those talking points. All that that would have done is have caused someone to want to throw their shoe at the TV, want to burn an American flag, or, worse, throw a rocket at our troops," she continued. "I said, 'I will not be the reason why someone hates America more.'"

The career diplomat further expressed her concern that Palestinian orphans would one day "pick up a gun and seek revenge. We’re promoting a generational cycle of revenge that is not making Israelis any safer." She also said it was "devastating" to her to know that at least some of the estimated tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths were caused by U.S.-manufactured bombs that the administration is continuing to sell to Israel.

Per The Post, Rharrit claimed that she and other dissenters became "scared" to talk with each other or even "mention Gaza at work" because "People feared retribution. 'What would this do to my career? How are people going to react?'"

"And that’s something that’s been very unusual, because throughout my 18-year career, no matter who the president was, no matter what the policy was, there were always robust internal conversations about policy, about what we’re doing right, about what we’re doing wrong," she added. "But there’s been this strange chilling effect with this conflict."

Claims she was threatened with retribution and given an ultimatum

Rharrit also spoke with NPR about her resignation in protest and similarly detailed how she had refused to conduct Arab media interviews about the conflict in Gaza "because I documented how this policy was undermining U.S. interests in the Arab world, how we were being called out for our double standard and how people across the region saw through our talking points and no longer believed us for lack of credibility. I was documenting how I was causing a backlash."

"In reaction to that, there was action taken against me, multiple actions taken against me," she explained. "I mean, I was accused of having misconduct, that it was a conduct issue, that I was refusing to do my job. I was told get back on air or curtail or resign. Curtail means cut your assignment short. Or resign -- I mean, I was given an ultimatum."

Asked what she would tell Sec. Blinken if given the chance, Rharrit replied, "Please stop the violence and unconditional military support. This is causing a generational cycle of violence," and added of the ever-elusive goal of a two-state peaceful solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Arms and bombs are not going to achieve that, only diplomacy will."

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