More than 40 anonymous White House interns issued a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday demanding that the administration call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and support a political solution to end “Israeli apartheid.”
“We, the undersigned fall 2023 White House and executive office of the president interns, will no longer remain silent on the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people,” the letter opens. “We are Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, black, Asian, Latine, white and queer. We heed the voices of the American people and call on the administration to demand a permanent ceasefire.” (Some use “Latine” to refer to people of Hispanic descent without specifying gender.)
The letter goes on to say that the interns “will never forget how the pleas of the American people have been heard and thus far, ignored.”
It calls for a permanent ceasefire; the release of all hostages, “including Palestinian political prisoners”; a diplomatic solution “that will put an end to the illegal occupation and the Israeli apartheid”; and a “free Palestine.”
Tevi Troy, who was deputy secretary of health and human services under former President George W. Bush and has written several histories of U.S. presidential administrations, told JNS that he could not imagine such a letter being written under previous presidents.
“It would be inconceivable for an intern in the George W. Bush White House to issue any kind of statement objecting to White House policy, and this holds for any White House I’ve ever studied,” Troy said. “Interns are the most disposable employees in the White House and typically do everything they can to make sure they keep their positions.”
Based on official White House images of previous White House intern classes, 40 signatories would indicate that about 20% of White House interns signed the letter.
Democratic Majority for Israel, a group that advocates for pro-Israel policies within the Democratic party, posted on social media that the anonymous intern letter was disqualifying.
“Hate to say it, but interns who think they have the right to usurp the president’s role as policymaker are not wise enough to be interning anywhere, let alone in the White House,” the group said.
‘Answering their calls every day’
The White House interns join other groups of junior staffers across Washington who have spoken out against Biden administration policy and called for a ceasefire in Gaza.
In November, 554 congressional aides anonymously “signed” an open letter asking their bosses to demand a ceasefire. Many of those same congressional staffers then joined a demonstration outside the Capitol. All wore masks, and some wore hoods and sunglasses to conceal their identities.
“Our constituents are pleading for a ceasefire,” one of the unelected staff demonstrators said. “We are the staffers answering their calls every day.”
“Most of our bosses on Capitol Hill are not listening to the people they represent,” said another.
Current and former staffers for Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as 400 current Biden administration staffers, have likewise signed letters calling for a ceasefire.