Bend The Arc: Jewish Action Sounds The Alarm: Continued U.S. Support for the Siege of Gaza is a Threat to Millions Abroad and Democracy at Home

Bend The Arc: Jewish Action Sounds The Alarm: Continued U.S. Support for the Siege of Gaza is a Threat to Millions Abroad and Democracy at Home

June 04, 2024

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Biden,

As American Jews deeply committed to justice, equity, and collective safety, we welcome your support for a permanent ceasefire plan. Since that announcement, unfortunately, Israeli officials have made it clear that they do not support such a plan.

Time and time again, despite your calls to end this violence, you have not followed through with material action. With over one million Palestinian refugees now being forced to flee Rafah, their last guaranteed refuge, thousands of lives lost, and families of captives being fined in Israel for demanding a ceasefire, it is long past time to end U.S. support for these attacks. Now is the moment to make good on your promise to stop providing offensive weapons to the Israeli military.

We as Jews — and particularly as Jews who have built and maintained strong, decades-long partnerships with all communities targeted by the rapidly encroaching white nationalist movement — know that historically, we are most in danger when democracy is weakened, and safest when it is strengthened.

We cannot overestimate how challenging it has been to focus on our strictly domestic priorities at Bend the Arc during this time. One of Bend the Arc’s founding principles is to mobilize American Jews as we are: a multi-issue community. We care deeply about pursuing justice in the United States, for Jews and non-Jews alike. But since the horrors of October 7th, the violence in Israel-Palestine has permeated our borders to the point where it jeopardizes our collective safety. It impacts Jewish life in the U.S. and the safety of Jewish and Arab Americans. And, under the threat of an emboldened authoritarian movement at our doorstep, it threatens our shared ability to defend and build what will protect all of us — a vibrant, multifaith, multiracial democracy.

When you named the deadly rally in Charlottesville as your motivation to run for President in 2020, we knew you shared our vision. We knew you saw that day as a harbinger of an alternate, likely irreversible, and very disturbing timeline for this nation — one further cemented by the January 6th insurrection and hardened each time Trump spells out his public plan to disassemble democracy.

From our shared fights to appoint Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, to bolster our historic movement for labor unions, and to champion the Inflation Reduction Act, we know we want to continue to work together to improve this democracy. And from our shared fights to counter antisemitism and protect public education — and from your invitation to collaborate with the White House, Department of Justice, and the Department of Education — we know we want to continue to work together to defend this democracy.

So today, as the Israeli government continues to ignore your red lines, has publicly vowed to continue to cross them, and has now promised at least seven more months of attacks, we, as American Jews, are sounding an alarm:

U.S. support for continued violence in Gaza is putting American safety and U.S. democracy in danger. For the sake of the lives of all people in the region, and the safety and futures of all of us in the United States, we urge you to make good on your own promise to cease sending offensive munitions to Israel. We urge you to end the ongoing violence, and reach a resolution that brings all captive loved ones home to their families, ends mass atrocities, prevents world war, and begins to achieve self-determination for all Israelis and Palestinians.

The status quo does not address our immediate safety. We’ve learned from history and the last eight months that explosions of global violence dramatically increase violence at home. Antisemitism, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry, racism, and xenophobia continue to surge. In these moments, leaders scramble for false solutions to quickly provide illusions of safety, ultimately increasing criminalization and decreasing the liberties required to keep democracy healthy.

The status quo does not address our future safety. Your victory this November is the single most powerful tool we have to obstruct an irreversible timeline towards the end of U.S. democracy and our continuing work to build a society that serves everybody — from protecting voting rights, to enshrining the right to abortion, to creating just pathways for immigration. Your success as a candidate is tied inextricably to the people’s faith in your ability to keep us safe. As the violence overseas continues to intertwine itself across all of our domestic work, it too is now tied to your success and all of our safety.

Since October, the majority of your voters among American Jewish Democrats and the vast majority of American Democrats have called for an end to this. The continuation of violence will continue to increase the heart-wrenching death toll, increase the number of calls for a ceasefire, and decrease your poll numbers — straight through the election. We’ve seen uncommitted movements nearly overtake your previous margin of victory in key regions and, in some cities, win. We’re seeing your base of young voters and progressives increasingly losing faith. Across our community, we’re seeing too many unaffiliated Jews — the second largest group of American Jews — go unheard. And across our partnerships with non-Jewish communities, we hear stories of alienation and isolation. Not acting on your own red lines, combined with the Israeli government’s promise to continue to violate them, will further erode your viability as a candidate in a race where every vote will matter.

At Bend the Arc, we fight for the joyful future we deserve: an American society free from white supremacy, antisemitism, and racism. One where Black liberation is realized and where we are all safe and thriving, no matter what we look like or where we come from. Our vision shines brightest against the ominous backdrop of white nationalism’s threat.

Your candidacy can also reintroduce that contrast and end a status quo that threatens to mirror the opposition. In doing so, we pray that you can regain the faith of voters and that we can work together to reintroduce the bright vision of the future required to inspire Americans in November.


Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Photo: Gage Skidmore