Protesters stand outside the White House with a sign saying, "Ceasefire now!"

Leaders from Friends Committee on National Legislation, MoveOn, Oxfam America, and Amnesty International USA hold up signs calling for a cease-fire in Gaza at the White House in Washington, D.C. on November 29, 2023.

(Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for MoveOn)

What We Want From Biden As We Prepare to March on Washington for Gaza

We plan to call upon the president to take three steps: Secure a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, stop unconditionally funding the Israeli government, and hold Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers accountable.

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of people plan to march to the White House in what may be the largest U.S. demonstration for Palestinian human rights of the past three months.

Like the Americans who protested Lyndon Johnson over the Vietnam War and George W. Bush over the invasion of Iraq, we are marching because we cannot sit quietly here in America while our government enables an unjust war overseas.

We plan to call upon President Joe Biden to take three steps: Secure a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, stop unconditionally funding the Israeli government, and hold Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers accountable for the war crimes they have committed with American taxpayer dollars.

We must say to Biden what was said to LBJ, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush years ago: Stop this war.

It has been nearly 100 days since Netanyahu's far-right government started wantonly and deliberately attacking civilians in Gaza—civilians who had nothing to do with the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. The Israeli bombing campaign, which Biden reportedly admits in private is "indiscriminate," has killed over 22,000 Palestinians, including at least 10,000 children and over 100 journalists.

The Israeli bombing has also reduced much of Gaza to uninhabitable rubble, displaced a large portion of its population, and created a humanitarian crisis. People across Gaza face starvation and live without access to running water, electricity, or gas.

None of this was accidental, and none of it should have come as a surprise to President Biden.

In the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks, Israeli officials made it clear that they intended to respond with a scorched-earth policy in Gaza.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, a supposed moderate, declared, "It is an entire nation out there that is responsible. It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not being aware, not involved. It's absolutely not true."

The Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that the government was justified in cutting off water, electricity, and other basic necessities to all Palestinians because Israel is fighting "human animals."

Netanyahu justified the mass bombing of Gaza by referencing an ancient biblical verse about the mass slaughter of an entire city from animals to infants.

Despite such threats and clear evidence that the Israeli government has spent three months acting on them, Biden has not condemned them, conditioned U.S. support for the Netanyahu government, allowed U.N. cease-fire resolutions to take effect, or even privately demanded a cease-fire.

Just as Biden reportedly stopped Netanyahu's indiscriminate bombing of Gaza in 2021 by picking up the phone and telling him that "we're out of runway," he must do so again.

In stubbornly refusing to change course, Biden has ignored the majority of his own party who support a cease-fire, harmed our nation's moral standing on the global stage, tarnished his own presidential legacy, contributed to a rise in anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Palestinian racism, and enabled horrific violence unseen since the bombings of Aleppo and Grozny.

We must to say Biden what was said to LBJ, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush years ago: Stop this war.

If the president will not listen to the wails of Palestinian mothers grieving over their mangled children in besieged hospitals or to the pleas of journalists facing the threat of assassination or to the cries of children trapped under the rubble of their homes, we must ensure that he hears the voices of the American people in Washington, D.C.

That's why, on January 13, hundreds of thousands of Americans from all faiths, backgrounds, and political orientations plan to come together in our nation's capital to demand the following three things:

1. An immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza

The Biden administration has the ability to exert extreme pressure on the Israeli government to agree to an immediate and permanent cease-fire. As an Israeli official admitted, the government could not fight this war without resupply from the United States.

Just as Biden reportedly stopped Netanyahu's indiscriminate bombing of Gaza in 2021 by picking up the phone and telling him that "we're out of runway," he must do so again.

Securing a cease-fire that results in an end to the violence and the release of hostages in Gaza and political prisoners in Israeli jails should also set the stage for broader negotiations to pursue a just and lasting peace by ending the occupation.

2. Ending the unconditional U.S. funding of Israel's genocide against Gaza and the occupation of Palestine

The United States has provided 10,000 tons of arms and weaponry to the Israeli government since the start of its genocidal campaign. Biden has bypassed Congress multiple times to send billions of dollars in weapons to the Netanyahu government.

As long as Israel believes it will face no financial or diplomatic consequences for slaughtering Palestinians and scuttling the remaining hopes of a Palestinian state, it will not change course.

3. Hold Israel accountable for war crimes committed against the Palestinian people and its continuous violations of international law

Whenever the Israeli government's war on the people of Gaza comes to an end, our nation and international bodies cannot simply return to business as usual as if nothing happened. The Israeli officials responsible for these atrocities must be held accountable for their crimes and, at the very least, treated as international pariahs.

To that end, the Biden administration must not interfere with efforts by the International Court of Justice or other global bodies to hold the Israeli government or officials accountable for their crimes. The administration must refuse to welcome Netanyahu or other members of the current government to the White House and impose sanctions on those responsible.

Fulfilling these three demands is both a moral necessity and also in the interests of the United States.

The violence in Gaza threatens to drag our nation into another Middle Eastern forever war—American naval forces have already engaged Houthi forces in the Red Sea while the Israeli government is exchanging fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Netanyahu appears to be intent on prolonging and even escalating the violence to preserve his political power and delay a reckoning over his government's failures on Oct. 7.

For the sake of the innocent who are being slaughtered by the hundreds every day, for the sake of the innocents in danger of being slaughtered, for the interests of our nation, we urge the Biden administration to fulfill the demands laid out here.

Time is running out to not only save innocents in Gaza, but also—as President Biden would say—to save the soul of our nation.

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