Biden official Tariq Habash quits over president's Israel policy

 January 6, 2024

Tariq Habash, a top official in Biden's education department, resigned over President Joe Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

In a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Habash expressed concerns about the administration turning a "blind eye to the atrocities committed against innocent Palestinian lives."

The details

Habash, a Palestinian-American, stated that he cannot represent an administration that does not value all human life equally and criticized the administration for not leveraging its influence to address collective punishment tactics in Gaza.

The resignation adds to the growing pushback against Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict, with some members of his administration, allies, and campaign volunteers expressing dissatisfaction.

While Biden has committed to supporting Israel during the conflict, calls for a ceasefire have intensified, with members of Biden's re-election campaign and the State Department urging him to take action.

The controversy

Despite the backlash, Biden announced $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank and Vice President Kamala Harris reportedly encouraged him to show more public sympathy to Gaza and the Palestinians.

Habash is at least the second official, and the first known official of Palestinian origin, to resign from the administration in protest of President Joe Biden’s actions regarding the Israel-Hamas war.

Josh Paul, a State Department veteran, stepped down in October over the administration's accelerated arms transfers to Israel. Habash, who had participated in meetings with senior White House officials to address staffers' concerns on the U.S. role in the war, described these sessions as briefings from higher-ups rather than opportunities for staffers to be heard.

White House silent

The White House referred questions about Habash to the Department of Education, and a department spokesperson wished him the best in his future endeavors.

The Biden administration has defended Israel's air and ground campaign in Gaza as rightful self-defense against Hamas, emphasizing their repeated urging for Israel to modify its approach to reduce civilian casualties.

The conflict has resulted in significant casualties, with attacks by Hamas on October 7 killing over 1,200 people in Israel. Gaza health authorities claim over 22,000 deaths in the war, though these numbers are verified and are likely inaccurate.

The debate continues to show staffers in the Biden administration who oppose American support for Israel during a time when support is needed most, leading to growing controversy as the president seeks to build support for his reelection campaign.

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