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US official quits over support for Israel, university alumni refuse donations

The photo by independent news program website Democracy Now! announces the resignation of US State Department official Annelle Sheline.

A human rights official has resigned from the US State Department over the situation in Gaza, saying the administration of President Joe Biden is flouting the American law by continuing to arm Israel. 

Annelle Sheline, a Middle East analyst who promoted human rights on behalf of the US government, announced her resignation in an interview with the Washington Post on Wednesday. 

Sheline, 38, said her work was challenged by the complexities of the conflict in Gaza and its numerous moral, legal, security, and diplomatic consequences for the United States.

She explained her efforts to voice concerns through dissent cables and in staff meetings, but ultimately determined it was futile "as long as the US persists in supplying Israel with an uninterrupted flow of arms."

“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,” Sheline also said in an op-ed for CNN.

“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.”

Sheline said the State Department has ample evidence of Israel violating international law in Gaza and that the Biden administration is therefore breaching its own domestic laws by continuing to fund Israel.

“My colleagues and I watched in horror as this administration delivered thousands of precision-guided munitions, bombs, small arms and other lethal aid to Israel.”

Sheline’s resignation followed another State Department official, Josh Paul, a director in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, who resigned in October 2023.

"So proud of my former colleague Dr. Annelle Sheline for being the third US official to publicly resign over the absolute disaster that is the Biden Administration's continuing support for Israel's war crimes, bombings, and starvation of innocent civilians in Gaza,” Paul said in a post in response to the news.

Separately, Tariq Habash, a Palestinian American, resigned from his political appointment in January at the US Department of Education.

State Department officials opposed to US support for Israel have penned dissent cables accusing Israel of committing "war crimes" and Biden of "spreading misinformation" on the war.

Biden’s position on the war has also sparked a backlash among staffers to Democratic lawmakers in Congress.

In February, Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old US Air Force serviceman, self-immolated outside Israel's embassy in Washington DC in protest against the Biden administration's Gaza policy. He later died of his injuries.

Alumni refuse to donate to university over Palestine policy

in a separate development, hundreds of alumni from the prestigious New York University (NYU) in New York City withheld more than $3 million worth of potential contributions from the institution's largest fundraising day on Wednesday.

NYU Alumni for Palestine, the group that mobilized to deter alumni from donating to the university, said that the stifling of pro-Palestinian voices and its refusal to condemn Israel's killing of Palestinians in Gaza had compelled them to take action against their alma mater.

The group has documented retaliatory actions against an estimated 100 students as well as 25 staff and faculty over the past six months because of their comments or mobilizing for Palestine.

The actions include protracted investigations, verbal and written warnings, threats to scholarships and financial awards, withdrawals of scholarships and financial awards, suspensions, expulsions, as well as termination of employment.

In January, two professors were suspended for their public comments on the Israeli campaign in Gaza.

For decades, American universities have been at the frontline of efforts to censor and stifle activism over Palestine.

Universities have also been incubators for smear tactics and intimidation targeting Palestinian voices in particular, as directed by the Israel lobby.

Several American universities continue to hold investments in weapons companies servicing Israel. 

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