Why I’m resigning from the State Department

 by Annelle Sheline
Mar 28, 2024

Annelle Sheline, PhD, served for a year as a foreign affairs officer at the Office of Near Eastern Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The views expressed here are her own. Read more opinion on CNN.

Since Hamas’ attack on October 7, Israel has used American bombs in its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 32,000 people — 13,000 of them children — with countless others buried under the rubble, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Israel is credibly accused of starving the 2 million people who remain, according to the UN special rapporteur on the right to food; a group of charity leaders warns that without adequate aid, hundreds of thousands more will soon likely join the dead.

Yet Israel is still planning to invade Rafah, where the majority of people in Gaza have fled; UN officials have described the carnage that is expected to ensue as “beyond imagination.” In the West Bank, armed settlers and Israeli soldiers have killed Palestinians, including US citizens. These actions, which experts on genocide have testified meet the crime of genocide, are conducted with the diplomatic and military support of the US government.

For the past year, I worked for the office devoted to promoting human rights in the Middle East. I believe strongly in the mission and in the important work of that office. However, as a representative of a government that is directly enabling what the International Court of Justice has said could plausibly be a genocide in Gaza, such work has become almost impossible. Unable to serve an administration that enables such atrocities, I have decided to resign from my position at the Department of State.

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Whatever credibility the United States had as an advocate for human rights has almost entirely vanished since the war began. Members of civil society have refused to respond to my efforts to contact them. Our office seeks to support journalists in the Middle East; yet when asked by NGOs if the US can help when Palestinian journalists are detained or killed in Gaza, I was disappointed that my government didn’t do more to protect them. Ninety Palestinian journalists in Gaza have been killed in the last five months, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That is the most recorded in any single conflict since the CPJ started collecting data in 1992.

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