Western Officials Warn of War-Crimes Complicity

The “Transatlantic Civil Servants’ Statement on Gaza” signals mounting dissent inside Western governments over support for Israel’s war on Gaza as famine and disease spread across the enclave.

The White House, Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 2023. (Diane Krauthamer, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

More than 800 government officials in the United States and Europe released a letter Friday criticizing their countries’ leaders for providing unconditional military and diplomatic support to Israel as it inflicts disaster on Gaza’s population.  

[The 800-plus figure is ascribed to an organizer of the letter who is quoted anonymously, for fear of reprisal, in a report in The New York Times.

The authors of the letter, who remain anonymous, wrote that their attempts to voice concerns internally about their governments’ support for Israel’s assault on Gaza “were overruled by political and ideological considerations.”

“We are obliged to do everything in our power on behalf of our countries and ourselves to not be complicit in one of the worst human catastrophes of this century,” the letter reads. “We are obliged to warn the publics of our countries, whom we serve, and to act in concert with transnational colleagues.”

“Israel has shown no boundaries in its military operations in Gaza, which has resulted in tens of thousands of preventable civilian deaths,” the letter continues.

“There is a plausible risk that our governments’ policies are contributing to grave violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes, and even ethnic cleansing or genocide.”

The letter was coordinated by government officials in The Netherlands, the U.S., and European Union bodies and endorsed by civil servants in 10 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Josh Paul, a former U.S. State Department official who resigned in October over the Biden administration’s decision to continue arming Israel as it pummeled Gaza, called the new letter “a remarkable statement from hundreds of individuals who have devoted their lives to building a better world.”

“One-sided support for Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, and a blindness to Palestinian humanity, is both a moral failure, and, for the harm it does to Western interests around the globe, a policy failure,” Paul told HuffPost.

“At a time where our politicians seem to have forgotten them,” Paul added, the letter “is a much-needed reminder of the core values that bind the transatlantic relationship, and a proof that they endure.”

Paul told The New York Times that he knew the organizers of the letter, which marks the latest sign of mounting dissent inside Western governments over their support for Israel’s war on Gaza as famine and disease spread across the enclave.

United Nations experts warned earlier this week that Gazans are “enduring apocalyptic humanitarian conditions, destruction, mass killing, wounding, and irreparable trauma.”

Berber van der Woude, a former Dutch diplomat who resigned in 2022 over her government’s support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, also spoke out in support of the new letter from U.S. and European civil servants. Rights groups have accused the Dutch government of complicity in Israeli war crimes, pointing to the export of military supplies.

“Being a civil servant doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility to keep on thinking,” van der Woude told the Times on Friday. “When the system produces perverse decisions or actions, we have a responsibility to stop it. It’s not as simple as ‘shut up and do what you’re told’; we’re also paid to think.”

The unnamed officials implored their governments to stop telling the public that “there is a strategic and defensible rationale behind the Israeli operation and that supporting it is in our countries’ interests.”

Israel claims it is targeting Hamas, but one human rights monitor estimates that upwards of 90 percent of those killed by Israeli forces in Gaza were civilians.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that U.S. and Israeli officials believe that up to 80 percent of Hamas’ tunnels are still intact after nearly four months of incessant bombing, which has killed more than 27,000 Gazans.

To end the bloodshed, the civil servants demanded that their governments “use all leverage available — including a halt to military support — to secure a lasting cease-fire and full humanitarian access in Gaza and a safe release of all hostages.”

They also urged world leaders to “develop a strategy for lasting peace that includes a secure Palestinian state and guarantees for Israel’s security, so that an attack like 7 October and an offensive on Gaza never happen again.” 

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

28 comments for “Western Officials Warn of War-Crimes Complicity

  1. Rozy Riveter
    February 5, 2024 at 11:33

    Biden’s and Blinkin’s official representative to the Middle East, the Assistant Sec with responsibility for the region, is calling human beings as “creatures” in sessions with the Iraqi puppet government. The context is as in “get these creatures under control.” This is how official American diplomats refer to human beings, as ‘creatures’.

    BTW, those ‘creatures’ are the people who defeated ISIS.

    Remember the time when ISIS was driving across the desert in their fleet of new, white Toyota pickups? The official Iraqi Army, with Americans having invested $millions in it, turned out to be corrupt and threw down its arms and ran. America sent a token force of a few thousand advisers, and did a couple of bomb raids a day. ISIS took Mosul and was marching on Baghdad. So, who stopped ISIS? It obviously was not either of these. The people who stopped ISIS, protected Baghdad, then counterattacked and defeated ISIS and liberated cities like Mosul and drove ISIS back into the American Zone of Syria …. were the popular militias, mostly from the Shiite community, and which got aid from Iran.

    It was the “Iran-backed militias” in Iraq that stopped ISIS and then defeated them. For their service, Joe Biden bombs them.

  2. BettyK
    February 5, 2024 at 11:03

    Thankfully some are still thinking (800). What I do not understand is how a people (Zionists) who were the brunt of such hatred & genocide by the Nazis display such hatred and conduct a genocide against a people (Palestinians) who had absolutely nothing to do with it. As a U.S. citizen I am horrified at my own government’s complicity in this and so much else around the world.

  3. Rosy Riverter
    February 5, 2024 at 10:50

    “War Crime Complicity”

    “Mr. President, it’s time for us to go to war and put the power of the membership behind you. I’m looking forward to it. And we’re going to do it.” — Shaun Fein, President, UAW.

    The President of the UAW volunteering his union members to fight and of course die for Genocide Joe. This union President was elected by only a very small minority of union members, in an election accused of irregularities from many of the other participants. These irregularities were of course unseen by the government ‘monitors’ from Joe Biden that were mandated by the multiple, previous court cases of corruption and anti-democracy by UAW officials.

    Fein lives much more comfortably than his workers, as he receives a 6-figure salary for his ‘services’ such as his support for a World War for the world domination by Wall Street.

  4. Cliff Sommers
    February 4, 2024 at 16:15

    Those who will not identify themselves show zero courage of their alleged convictions and are thereby easily written off as whiing PolyAnna’s.

    If they really believe in what they’re saying, then they should be busy jamming monkey wrenches into the works to jam everything up and force the evil war machine to a grinding halt. Sabotage the damned thing!

    • Philip Reed
      February 5, 2024 at 11:20

      It civil servants may be anonymous but let’s not frame this as a moral failure. After all these are likely all individuals who don’t have the luxury of just walking away from their jobs because of personal domestic obligations, family in particular.As for “ jamming up the gears of bureaucracy “, on this issue, I suspect they are covertly doing their best to do just that and this letter is just tool in that box.

  5. Charles E. Carroll, USN Ret.
    February 4, 2024 at 11:50

    Free Palestine! Bring the military home.

  6. Francis Lee
    February 4, 2024 at 10:00

    I wonder if us oldies remember the old refrain from the Vietnam war. It went something like this: ”Hey, hey, LBJ how many kids did you kill today”. Scroll forward 50 or so years and it is the same Neanderthals calling to shots only worse, if that is possible.

    There were 2 repugnant instances which shook my belief in humanity. A number of Christian women of various ages and denominations had sought shelter in a catholic church in the killing zone. One of the elderly women needed to go to the toilet – I was not aware of her religion although possibly catholic – but she was helped along by 2 members of the congregation. The IDF thought target practise would be a bit of fun. Bang went 1, Bang went 2, Bang went 3. As the knowledge of this outrage transpired even the Pope became aware of this despicable act and spoke of it.

    Second. The IDF barbarians had taken over someone’s abandoned house. These animals firstly threw the books on the shelves and made a pile on them. Next up one of the IDF animals decided to defecate in the living room – it was actually on TV. Barbarians.

    • Rozy Riveter
      February 5, 2024 at 11:02

      My faith in humanity was shaken long before that. I remember old bumper stickers saying that “Lt Calley was a Hero”. Lt. Calley is of course a starring figure in Seymour Hersh’s exposure of the atrocity of the massacre at the village of My Lai during Vietnam. My faith in humanity was shaken at an early age by seeing the ‘Christians’ around me willing to support genocide and make the low level fall guy into some sort of hero.

      I do remember that chant. With 1,000,000 dead Americans on Joe Biden’s watch, and many of them with gray hair, I’ve been chanting for some time now … “Hey, Hey Joe Bi – Den. How many Grandparents did you kill today?”

      Now of course, since Americans saw the deaths of the older and weaker members of society and thought … “well, I’ll remain silent, after all, I’m not old”, we see Genocide Joe in the true tradition of genociders expanding his genocide beyond the victims he was able to kill without any public complaint.

      Governments are like serial killers. Once they start killing, they rarely stop voluntarily.

  7. AA from MD
    February 4, 2024 at 04:25

    There can never be a safe and secure palestinian state with a zionist entity bordering it. There is no safe, secure state as long as zionist entity exists near it. Zionists are using the same old “european” trope of supremacy (they just use Judaism while most being atheists). Once you believe you are superior and can change the rules in your favor, no one is safe; even the real Jews.

    • Rozy Riveter
      February 5, 2024 at 11:11

      Both “the Chosen People” and “the Exceptional People” are very dangerous proclamations of supremacy. Be very wary of people who utter such words. Its a very short trip from claiming that you are somehow superior to everyone else, to a belief that you can beat, torture, imprison and kill everyone else.

      The Chosen People practice ‘arbitrary detention’.
      The Exceptional People have more of their citizens locked up than anyone else.

  8. GC
    February 3, 2024 at 21:56

    This administration is making a humongous mistake supporting BiBis genocide. Fck the IDF and Netanyahus blood thirsty apartheid

    • Raymond J Comeau
      February 4, 2024 at 14:52


  9. Tom Partridge
    February 3, 2024 at 15:09

    Israel continues to carry out acts of genocide in Gaza, with the complicity of many Western nations. Even after the warning, by the ICJ, they continue their genocide against the Palestinian people.The politicians that support the genocide seem oblivious of the implications and the consequences for them personally.
    To claim ignorance subsequently, when the smell of death is now everywhere in Gaza, is not an option. The MSM cannot be exonerated either. They fuelled the fire of vengeance of the Israelis by repeating lies without confirmation, thereby providing a cover for the most egregious crime of genocide. Never again can the West or Israel claim the high moral ground. The U.S., U.K. and Europe have through their support for Israel, demonstrated their proclivity toward hypocrisy. By virtue of their actions they have surrendered any semblance of virtue or morality which they previously held.

  10. Spartacus
    February 3, 2024 at 14:32

    Let us never forget that Israel’s internationally recognized borders do not include Gaza.

  11. Spartacus
    February 3, 2024 at 13:51

    Given that these are ‘western diplomats’, when they call for the release of “all hostages”, one has to question whether or not they can even really see all the hostages? The Palestinians are calling on Israel to release the thousands of hostages it holds. Don’t forget that these hostages are held by a regime that we know practices torture. These ‘western diplomats’ have been voluntarily blind to the Israeli detention camps and holding of ‘hostages’ for years or decades. Are the Palestinians held hostage even visible to these exceptional people?

    Notice that their priority is the “security” of the genociders, echoing the rhetoric that says only Israeli lives matter. They clearly say that the prisoners of the open-air prison must never be able to rebel against the screws again. Clearly, the open-air prison is to remain a permanent feature. Something like a ‘right of return’ is clearly right off the table, as is Israel returning to its internationally recognized borders and following the resolutions of the UNSC with numbers like 242.

    I suspect that these people would strongly support the American plan for putting Gaza under a US designated dictator. Like with the American plan, the words “democracy” or “self-determination” do not seem to appear in this statement, and appear to be completely outside of any vision of ‘the west’ for the Palestinians.

    • Annie MCSTRAVICK
      February 5, 2024 at 15:03

      Yes, there are glaring omissions in this text. I notice also:

      The anonymous civil servants call for “policies that reflect the core principles of western foreign policy”.
      Unfortunately the “core principles” of western foreign policy are not ones that decent people wish to uphold.

      “Israel’s military operation … has not contributed to Israel’s goal of defeating Hamas and instead has strengthened the appeal of Hamas, Hezbollah and other negative actors”.
      Hamas and Hezbollah are, naturally, seen as “negative” actors by civil servants who are enamoured of those “core principles of western foreign policy” mentioned above.

      “Our governments’ current policies weaken their moral standing and undermine their ability to stand up for freedom, justice, and human rights globally (is it a joke?) and weaken our efforts to rally international support for Ukraine and to counter malign actions by Russia, China and Iran”.
      We are thus aware of their mindset.

      Apart from that, what force is there to a statement that is signed by nobody?

  12. anaisanesse
    February 3, 2024 at 13:27

    Hamas is the elected government in Gaza and the people have not bee allowed another election since 2006 when they dared to vote for Hamas, which helps them fight the illegal occupation by Israel. To support Hamas is not a crime. Support for the “Democratic Party” or the “Republican Party “in the USA should be a crime!!!!
    800 doesn’t seem many dissenters- a few months ago about 800 civil servants in the EU wrote such a letter, and they are hardly forceful dissenters. Look at the pitiful EU now as it keeps giving to Ukraine, accepts huge costs by lining up with the USA, and has President Ursula jumping for joy in aiding Israel’s genocide.
    Plenty of demonstrations all over the globe, but the terrible acceptance of media lies all over the West and the “leaders” who seem unable to speak up and act with any moral fibre show the state the world has reached . China is criticised for daring to succeed through cooperation and without war, Russia is punished for reacting after USA/NATO interference for 8 years. Nobody takes responsibility for the West’s violet actions.

  13. Spartacus
    February 3, 2024 at 13:26

    If you notice, America now rarely refers to “international law”, preferring instead its own “rules based order”. On this morning, the reason is glaringly obvious. Biden and the Democrats attacks on Iraq and Syria are flagrant violations of “international law”. Joe Biden, the Democrats, the Americans, are using “international law” as toilet paper this morning.

    What you are seeing is the old “rule” from the European Rules Based Order of the 1930’s and 40’s …. “Might Makes Right”

    • eg
      February 4, 2024 at 09:11

      It’s older than that — at least as old as the Melian Dialogue …

  14. Jamie Aliperti
    February 3, 2024 at 11:29

    It has become increasingly apparent that Democratic establishment and Republican neocon and evangelical support for Israel will continue unabated no matter what fresh atrocities in the name of “self defense” they commit. But I do take great issue with the notion expressed by some commenters that this is due to some sinister world-wide Jewish cabal that is manipulating us and events towards their interests. That view not only is frankly antisemitic (as opposed to the very necessary condemnation of the State of Israel’s monsterous policies) but it also implies that we decent Americans are the good guys here who have simply had the wool pulled over our eyes.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Neolibs and neocons are united in their desire for the pursuit and expansion of American Empire at all costs, because that is what their donors want. Israel is our outpost in the Middle East and really our sole mechanism for projecting power there after the Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan fiascos and the Saudis moving away from us. That is why we are not merely “supporting” or “looking the other way” at Israel’s genocidal campaign. U.S. military satellites in geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean are identifying, and U.S. analysts are recommending as targets and supplying Israel with coordinates, the civilian enclaves, hospitals and refugee camps which Israel then obliderates with missiles and ordnance we have provided to them. Just as the U.S. is fighting Russia by proxy in the Ukraine, we are committing genocide by proxy in Gaza. Great for Empire, great for Wall Street, Raytheon et al., great for the Zionists who, ironically enough, were the ones who originated the term “from the river to the sea” (see Likud’s foundational documents) which has been used as a club to stifle dissent and to accuse Ivy League presidents of promoting Jewish genocide by “allowing” their students to chant it. Establishment news stories about the administration “trying” to ameliorate Israeli actions that we are in fact actively helping them to perpetrate are just so much empty imperial P.R.

    • Bruce Edgar
      February 4, 2024 at 11:38

      It is not anti Semitic to say that numerous members of our Congress are controlled by AIPAC money. AIPAC is a cabal, and its tentacles reach into the media, into the universities. Its well orchestrasted shaming tactics intimidate others to cower in fear of reprisals. We have seen this on many campuses some time now.

  15. Bill Todd
    February 3, 2024 at 11:22

    It’s long past time that members of the far too easily manipulated ‘democracies’ in the U.S. and fellow complicit Western co-conspirators (certainly including the farcical apartheid democracy in Israel) take matters into their own hands by throwing out the criminals controlling their governments who have fettered the U.N. into failing to take action to correct this situation despite its oh-so-correctly phrased positions on the issue over more than a half-century of word-smithing.

    That minorities of government workers and voters have stood up for such action has been insufficient to correct the situation despite the fact that doing so threatens their own livelihood (especially by threatening the benefits which those governments claim their criminal policies bestow upon on those they manipulate so adeptly) demonstrates that nominal ‘democracy’ is far over-rated when the voting public’s competence when it comes to responsibility and even self-interest is marginal and their leadership is corrupt. That, of course, is allegedly part of why the U.N. exists, but so far it has been useless in this area and no obvious steps toward correcting that are yet visible though optimists might claim that increasing interest in taking actual action may be evident should action occur in time to keep this genocide from completing.

    Enough to make one wonder whether survival of the human race is a goal worth pursuing, especially if other members of the animal kingdom get a vote.

  16. Vera Gottlieb
    February 3, 2024 at 10:54

    Do the WHITE Western nations know what ‘shame’ means??? Such a despicable behaviour. RACISM is alive and well.

    • Susan Siens
      February 4, 2024 at 16:10

      No, Vera, they don’t. Look up the Sand Creek Massacre and you can learn everything about white people you never wanted to know.

      We are a shameless people — I do not hold “everyone” responsible, but I have observed far too many ordinary people supporting our vicious regime — shameless and drunken, drunken with both hubris and greed, and drunken with all the booze, drugs, shopping, porn, etc, we can stuff ourselves with.

      • joey_n
        February 5, 2024 at 16:35

        I dunno. Are ethnic Russians not a “white” people too?

  17. Francis Lee
    February 3, 2024 at 10:49

    It seems bad enough when two armies go head-to-head in battle in what they regard as their civic-national duty. But what we have here is something very different: the heavily armed IDF who saw it as their national duty not only to kill unarmed civilians but also murder thousands of children this is an outrage. AN OUTRAGE.

  18. hetro
    February 3, 2024 at 09:39

    It is good to know people in governments internationally are disturbed and seeking to offer feedback on this real and increasingly matter-of-fact slaughter in Gaza, including to “keep on thinking.” But these letter signers should follow their own advice in certain aspects of this letter, as with:

    “Our governments’ current policies weaken their moral standing and undermine their ability to stand up for freedom, justice, and human rights globally and weaken our efforts to rally international support for Ukraine and to counter malign actions by Russia, China and Iran;”

    Here (support for Ukraine and to counter malign actions by Russia, China and Iran;) undefined generalization equals the kind of ideological and political thinking they’re complaining about. I would call this a gross inconsistency in the letter’s appeal.

    • Susan Siens
      February 4, 2024 at 16:14

      Thank you, hetro. As soon as they start spouting a steaming pile of propaganda, their protests against genocide collapse from rot. I do not find these people admirable in the least, just the usual PMC supporters of state terrorism.

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