November 26, 2023

Ex-State Department official explains why Biden support of Israel forced him to resign

In October, now-former State Department official Josh Paul made headlines by resigning his position in protest of the Biden administration's stance on Israel amid its conflict with Hamas, and he recently spoke to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! to explain the full rationale behind his move.

At the time of his departure, Paul served as congressional and public affairs director at the State Department's Bureau of Military Affairs, as ABC reported, and his disagreement with the White House over its policies pertaining to Israel was part of growing frustration within certain factions of the federal bureaucracy.

Paul's exit from State

Soon after leaving his job at the State Department, Paul posted to LinkedIn the letter he provided to superiors outlining the factors that led him to make such a difficult choice.

In the communication, Paul wrote, “In my 11 years I have made more moral compromises than I can recall, each heavily, but each with my promise to myself in mind, and intact.”

“I am leaving today because I believe that in our current course with regard to the continued -- indeed expanded and expedited -- provision of lethal arms to Israel -- I have reached the end of that bargain,” he went on.

Paul explained, “We cannot be both against occupation, and for it. We cannot be both for freedom, and against it. And we cannot be for a better world, while contributing to one that is materially worse.”

Though the longtime official described the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel to be “a monstrosity,” Paul also opined that “the response Israel is taking, and with the American support both for that response, and for the status quo of the occupation, will only lead to more and deeper suffering for both the Israeli and Palestinian people – and is not in the long-term American interest.”

“I felt I had to resign”

Now, several weeks removed from his decision, Paul elaborated to Goodman why he felt compelled to take a stand, despite the obvious personal costs of doing so.

Specifically, Paul asserted that U.S-provided arms “should not be used to massacre civilians” and that he does not believe a military solution to the ongoing conflict is possible.

“And yet, when I tried to raise both of these concerns with State Department leadership, there was no appetite for discussion, no opportunity to look at any of the potential arms sales and raise concerns about them, simply a directive to move forward as quickly as possible,” he said. “And so, I felt I had to resign.”

Asked whether he had communicated with officials at the highest level about his concerns, Paul noted, “I have not personally spoken to Secretary [Antony] Blinken about this, nor, certainly, to President [Joe] Biden. But I know that in the time since I left, there has been increasing discussion within the State Department, but has not led to any change of policies.”

Suggesting that his objections were not met with a willingness to engage further, Paul lamented, “when you can't talk about foreign policy, when you can't debate, when you can't criticize, you don't end up with good policy.”

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