In a striking display of solidarity with the people of Gaza amidst the ongoing conflict, workers from over two dozen U.S. government agencies have announced plans for a “Day of Fasting” set for Thursday. This initiative, organized by Feds United for Peace, is aimed at highlighting the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and fostering dialogue around sustainable solutions.
Feds United for Peace, known for its “Day of Mourning” earlier this month to commemorate 100 days of the war, stated that the hunger strike is a gesture to raise awareness about the effects of the relentless Israeli assault, supported by the Biden administration, on Gaza’s civilian population. A representative from the group underscored the use of starvation as a weapon of war, citing Israel’s intentional restrictions on food entering Gaza.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency reports a looming catastrophe, with half a million people in Gaza facing extreme hunger. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has noted that Gazans constitute 80% of those facing famine or catastrophic hunger globally. “Fasting one day will not save them,” acknowledged Feds United for Peace. The group urges actions that go beyond fasting, such as discussions, wearing Palestinian symbols, or engaging in charitable acts, to maintain momentum in raising awareness.
Participants in the Day of Fasting are encouraged to observe the fast in various ways, from dawn until dusk fasting to engaging in charitable acts. Feds United for Peace emphasizes the significance of public solidarity through actions like wearing black or displaying Palestinian symbols, aiming to foster a broader understanding and remembrance of the crisis.
The initiative has not gone without criticism. Far-right House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has expressed strong opposition, suggesting that participants “deserve to be fired” and has called for disciplinary action against those involved. The fear of employer retaliation looms large, particularly after Biden administration staffers and White House interns have faced backlash for their public condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza.
The collective action by Feds United for Peace is part of a larger wave of dissent within the U.S. government. Over 100 foreign service officials have voiced their dissent through the State Department’s official channel, criticizing the U.S.’s support for Israel’s war efforts. This internal opposition is unprecedented, with Van Jackson, a political scientist, noting, “No presidential administration the past 40 years has been denounced by its own staff like this.”
Despite the clear message from various government employees, the Biden administration’s stance on Israel remains unchanged. Inside sources suggest that Biden himself is the key decision-maker on this policy, seemingly unmoved by the growing dissent. State Department sessions have reportedly become platforms for frank discussions, indicating a rising level of discomfort among government employees.
As the Day of Fasting approaches, the actions of Feds United for Peace and other dissenting government employees highlight a significant moment of internal challenge to U.S. foreign policy. “The president is aware, and his entire senior team is aware. I just think that they’re in a bubble,” remarked a Biden official affiliated with Staffers for Ceasefire.