“We demand our leaders speak up: Call for a cease-fire, a release of all hostages, and an immediate de-escalation now.”
More than 100 U.S. congressional staffers walked off the job Wednesday afternoon to hold a vigil for the more than 10,000 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past month and to demand their bosses listen to constituents and support an immediate Gaza cease-fire.
“We are congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, and we are no longer comfortable being silent,” one legislative employee declared.
“We were horrified by the brutal October 7th attacks on Israeli civilians, and we are horrified by the overwhelming response by the Israeli government that has killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” said another. “Our constituents are pleading for a cease-fire, and we are the staffers answering their calls every day.”
“Most of our bosses on Capitol Hill are not listening to the people they represent,” added a third. “We demand our leaders speak up: Call for a cease-fire, a release of all hostages, and an immediate deescalation now.”
The staffers then observed a moment of silence and interfaith prayer to remember “those we have lost” while the three speakers laid down flowers in honor of the more than 1,500 Israelis and 10,000 Palestinians killed during the war.
Just 18 House Democrats are sponsoring a resolution introduced last month by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) urging President Joe Biden to push Israel for an immediate cease-fire. Several others, including Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) have separately called for a cease-fire.
In the Senate, 13 lawmakers—Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)—earlier this month urged a “cessation of hostilities.”
Notably absent from the list is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has refused to call for a cease-fire, a stance that has prompted praise from the lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—which heavily contributes to the campaign coffers of pro-Israel Democrats and Republicans alike.
Biden—who has been accused of genocide denial for rejecting Palestinian casualty figures—has also resisted growing calls to back a cease-fire, instead favoring a “humanitarian pause,” while his administration prepares to send more than $14 billion in new U.S. military aid to Israel. The country already receives nearly $4 billion in annual armed assistance from Washington.
Furthermore, the U.S. used its veto power at the United Nations Security Council to block a Brazil-sponsored cease-fire resolution last month.
Recent polling has shown that two-thirds of Americans support a cease-fire, while participants in massive—and ongoing—protests across the country, including many led by Jewish Americans, are resoundingly demanding an end to the killing.
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