Politics

Interior Dept staffer becomes first Jewish Biden appointee to publicly resign over war in Gaza

WASHINGTON — (AP) — An Interior Department staffer on Wednesday became the first Jewish political appointee to publicly resign in protest of U.S. support for Israel's war in Gaza.

Lily Greenberg Call, a special assistant to the chief of staff in the Interior Department, accused President Joe Biden of using Jews to justify U.S. policy in the conflict.

Call had worked for the presidential campaigns of both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and was a longtime activist and advocate for Israel in Washington and elsewhere before joining the government.

She is at least the fifth mid- or senior-level administration staffer to make public their resignation in protest of the Biden administration's military and diplomatic support of the now seven-month Israeli war against Hamas. She is the second political appointee to do so, after an Education Department official of Palestinian heritage resigned in January.

Her resignation letter described her excitement at joining an administration that she believed shared much of her vision for the country. “However, I can no longer in good conscience continue to represent this administration,” she wrote.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Call pointed to comments by Biden, including at a White House Hanukkah event where he said “Were there no Israel, there wouldn’t be a Jew in the world who was safe” and at an event at Washington's Holocaust Memorial last week in which he said the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks that triggered the war were driven by an “ancient desire to wipe out the Jewish people.”

“He is making Jews the face of the American war machine. And that is so deeply wrong,” she said, noting that ancestors of hers were killed by “state-sponsored violence.”

The Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7 killed about 1,200 people in Israel. Israel's military campaign against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians.

The Biden administration has pointed to its repeated calls to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government for more precise targeting of Hamas so as to spare more civilians. It recently paused a shipment of bombs to Israel, saying it wanted to prevent Israeli forces from dropping them on the crowded southern Gaza city of Rafah.

“I think the president has to know that there are people in his administration who think this is disastrous,” Call said of the war overall and U.S. support for it. “Not just for Palestinians, for Israelis, for Jews, for Americans, for his election prospects.”

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