State Department human rights staff resigns over Biden’s Gaza policy

A State Department official responsible for human rights in the Middle East resigned Protests against U.S. support for Israel’s war in Gaza on Wednesday were the latest example of dissent among government officials coming into public view.

Annelle Sheline, 38, resigned after a year as a foreign affairs official at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, nearly half of her tenure as Israel responded to the devastating Oct. 7 Hamas attack occurred during the war.

Schelling said in an interview that her focus has been on promoting human rights in the Middle East and North Africa, a work that has been transformed by Israel’s war in Gaza and the ensuing set of ethical, legal, security and diplomatic implications for the United States. Got to be complicated. Sherin said she tried to raise concerns through internal dissent cables and employee forums, but ultimately concluded it made no sense “as long as the United States continues to send a steady flow of weapons to Israel.”

“I couldn’t really do my job anymore,” Shailene said. “Trying to advocate for human rights has become impossible.”

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schelling’s departure is the most significant protest resignation in the Gaza conflict since Israel’s withdrawal Josh Paula senior State Department official involved in arms transfers to foreign governments.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Paul praised Shailene for having the courage to resign, noting that she would be leaving the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, which is tasked with advocating for “universal values, including respect for the rule of law, democratic institutions and Human Rights,” according to the State Department website.

“When bureau staff feel there is nothing they can do, it speaks volumes about the Biden administration’s disregard for the laws, policies and basic humanity of the U.S. foreign policy the bureau is designed to advance,” Paul said.

Shailene said she had not planned to resign publicly – “I didn’t think I was qualified enough” – but decided to resign publicly at the request of colleagues who told her they wanted to quit but couldn’t for financial or family reasons. .

Sherin said that even though she had the support of the State Department, “there are still a lot of people who disagree with me.”

She said that during internal hearings about the war, some Employees “stand up and say, ‘I appreciate what the U.S. government and the State Department are doing for Israel, and I really support it.'” Such comments are often met with pushback from others in the audience, she added.

During one of the meetings, Sherin recalled, she asked about the administration’s priorities — competition with China, human rights, climate change — priorities that she believed were being undermined by blank-check support for Israel.

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“My question is: Why is support for Israel seen as more important than all other priorities that are arguably very important?” she said. “I still feel like I don’t have a good answer as to why.”

Only a few officials left the government because of the war. For months, however, workers have expressed their dissatisfaction with Israeli policies in other ways.

At the State Department, officials wrote multiple cables about Gaza within the Dissent Channel, an internal protest mechanism during the Vietnam War.

USAID has hundreds of employees Agree A letter in November called on the Biden administration to use its influence to initiate a ceasefire.Other officials have be challenged Institutional leaders during public events.

In February, an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force self-immolation outside the Israeli embassy in Washington after saying he “can no longer take part in genocide.” He died from his injuries.

Dozens of officials from across the federal workforce attended A private chat group for organizing fundraisers, public demonstrations, and airing U.S. policy.

Despite dissent, Biden administration maintains military support for Israel’s operations in Gaza, authorizes transfer Thousands of bombs and other munitions As of October 7th. But the government’s tone has begun to change.

The U.S. State Department now routinely expresses concern about the bloodshed: Hamas militants have killed 1,200 people in Israel and at least 250 Palestinians since the war began, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Killed. hostage. The government has also stepped up public pressure on Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, which aid groups warn is on the verge of famine.

The U.S. government on Monday chose not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages during the remaining weeks of Ramadan, a move that angered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Top aide’s planned trip to Washington canceled.

Schelling’s bureau faces scrutiny from some members of Congress who are wary of any part of the U.S. government that might criticize Israel. President Biden selects Sarah Margon to lead bureau, quit She was nominated as assistant secretary of state last year after her confirmation vote stalled for more than 18 months. The top Republican on the committee, Sen. James E. Risch (Idaho), has expressed concern that she is not pro-Israel enough, a charge that her supporters, including prominent Jewish foreign policy professionals, have dismissed expressed concern. dispute.

Shailene took a detour to the State Department.she grew up in north carolina have written Her interest in foreign policy began after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when she was a high school sophomore. She focused her research on conflict resolution in the Middle East and later took Arabic language courses in Egypt and other countries. Her academic research on the region’s monarchies has taken her to Morocco, Jordan, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

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During this time, Schelling served as a fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank that advocates for a U.S. “foreign policy that emphasizes military restraint and diplomatic engagement,” according to its website. There, she criticized the U.S. policy of providing arms to Arab allies despite their well-documented human rights abuses. She said she had no plans to pursue a federal career but received a scholarship with the stipulation that she serve in government for a year.

Last spring, Schelling was hired by the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs division, which prepares annual country reports on human rights conditions around the world. She works primarily in North Africa, liaising with activists and civil society groups to promote democratic values ​​such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the press.

Schelling said the job was nearly impossible, as U.S. weapons continued to flow to Israel despite the war’s toll, angering partners in the region. Schelling said some activist groups have stopped talking to U.S. personnel.

“If they want to engage, what they want to talk about most is Gaza, not the fact that they are also dealing with extreme repression or threats of imprisonment,” Schelling said of civil society groups in the region. “The first point they bring up is: How did this happen?”

Shailene said she originally planned to stay at State University until Gaza war She changed her mind. Six weeks ago, she informed her supervisor that she would resign once she completed one year of service.She plans to engage in a The book is based on her academic research, although she remains Face up to the long-term costs she may pay for taking stances on politically toxic issues.

“I knew I had given up on any future in the State Department, or even in the U.S. government, and I thought that was unfortunate because I really valued the work that I did there,” Schelling said.

Sherine said that as someone with “daughters and a mortgage” she understood the financial risks of exiting, which was one of the many reasons her former colleagues chose to stay and fight for policy changes within the government.

“They really believe in the mission,” Schelling said of her State Department colleagues. “They believe in America and what this country stands for.”

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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