campaigners hold up cease-fire now banner at white house

Campaigners hold up a "Cease-fire now" banner at the White House.

(Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for MoveOn)

1st Jewish Biden Appointee to Resign Over Gaza Quits on Nakba Day

"I can no longer in good conscience continue to represent this administration amid President Biden's disastrous, continued support for Israel's genocide in Gaza," Interior assistant Lily Greenberg Call wrote.

Lily Greenberg Call, a special assistant to the chief of staff in the Department of the Interior, became the first Jewish political appointee to resign her post in protest of U.S. President Joe Biden's support for Israel's genocide in Gaza.

Call announced her resignation on Wednesday, which is also the 76th anniversary of the Nakba—or the expulsion of the majority of Palestinians from their homes in 1948 as part of the process of creating the current state of Israel.

"Nakba and Shoah, the Hebrew word for Holocaust, mean the same thing: catastrophe," Call wrote in her letter. "I reject the premise that one people's salvation must come at another's destruction. I am committed to creating a world where this does not happen—and this cannot be done from within the Biden administration."

"What Israel is doing to people in Gaza and to Palestinians across the land is incredibly un-Jewish to me and such a disgrace to our ancestors."

In her letter, addressed to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Call said that she had worked for both Vice President Kamala Harris' presidential campaign in 2019 and Biden's in 2020 and was "thrilled" to accept a position at DOI.

"I joined the Biden administration because I believe in fighting for a better America, for a future where Americans can thrive: one with economic prosperity, a healthy planet, and equal rights for all people," she wrote.

However, that changed with Biden's financial, military, and political backing of Israel's war on Gaza.

"I can no longer in good conscience continue to represent this administration amid President Biden's disastrous, continued support for Israel's genocide in Gaza," she wrote.

Call spoke of her Jewish immigrant heritage and how her family story—moving from grandparents without college degrees to a granddaughter with a presidential appointment—represented the American dream.

"And yet, I have asked myself many times over the last eight months: What is the point of having power if you will not use it to stop crimes against humanity?" she wrote.

"President Biden has the blood of innocent people on his hands."

Call also spoke of how her Jewish faith and lifelong experience in the Jewish community informed her decision.

"What I have learned from my Jewish tradition is that every life is precious. That we are obligated to stand up for those facing violence and oppression, and to question authority in the face of injustice," she said.

In a separate interview with The Associated Press, she criticized Biden for "making Jews the face of the American war machine," adding that this was "deeply wrong."

For example, the AP wrote:

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 October 7 Hamas-led attacks that triggered the war were driven by an "ancient desire to wipe out the Jewish people."

Call's own views on Israel have altered dramatically in the last few years. As The Washington Post reported:

Greenberg Call, who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 2019, was president of Bears for Israel, an affiliate group of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and said she grew up going to student events hosted by the group. In a piece for Teen Vogue two years ago, she said she began to question AIPAC and its mission of ensuring unconditional American support for Israel as she got to know more Palestinians and after AIPAC endorsed Republican candidates who supported Donald Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

Call told the Post that it had been a struggle to make the decision she did because of her deep roots in the Jewish community, but that Jewish values were ultimately what led her to go through with it.

"What Israel is doing to people in Gaza and to Palestinians across the land is incredibly un-Jewish to me and such a disgrace to our ancestors," she said.

Call wrote in the letter that while she knew people who lost family in Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel that killed around 1,100 people and was "terrified" by rising antisemitism, she was "certain that the answer to this is not to collectively punish millions of innocent Palestinians through displacement, famine, and ethnic cleansing."

Call outlined the horrors of Israel's war on Gaza: more than 35,000 people and 15,000 children killed, attacks on hospitals, mass graves, the destruction of every university in Gaza, and the targeting of journalists.

"These are all violations of international law, none of which would be possible without American weapons, and none of which have been condemned by President Biden," she wrote.

She continued:

The president has the power to call for a lasting cease-fire, to stop sending weapons to Israel, and to condition aid. The United States has used nearly no leverage throughout the last eight months to hold Israel accountable. Quite the opposite, we have enabled and legitimized Israel's actions with vetoes of United Nations resolutions designed to hold Israel accountable. President Biden has the blood of innocent people on his hands.

Call's resignation comes one day after Biden announced another $1 billion weapons shipment to Israel, even as it continues an assault on Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah. Biden had previously called a ground offensive on Rafah a "red line" that Israel should not cross, yet critics point out that Israel's current operations in Rafah should certainly qualify.

"There's been many moments in the last eight months that I have thought about it," Call told Middle East Eye of her decision to resign, "and I think everything that has happened in the last few weeks in particular, made me feel like the time is right."

Her letter also comes days after polling indicated that around 13% of 2020 Biden voters in six key swing states would not vote for him in 2024 because of his Gaza policy.

"I think the president has to know that there are people in his administration who think this is disastrous," Call told AP. "Not just for Palestinians, for Israelis, for Jews, for Americans, for his election prospects."

Call is at least the fifth Biden official to resign over his Gaza policy and the second political appointee, according to AP. While she is the first known Jewish Biden staffer to resign, Army Maj. Harrison Mann also cited his Jewish background when announcing his resignation decision on Monday.

"As the descendant of European Jews, I was raised in a particularly unforgiving moral environment when it came to the topic of bearing responsibility for ethnic cleansing—my grandfather refused to ever purchase products manufactured in Germany—where the paramount importance of 'never again' and the inadequacy of 'just following orders' were oft repeated," he wrote.

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