A high-profile group of former Biden and Obama administration and campaign officials sent a message of support to President Joe Biden for his backing of Israel in the wake of the October 7 attacks by Hamas as he faces division within his own party on the matter.
The letter, signed by more than 115 former officials and shared first with CNN, comes as some fissures emerge among Democrats and the Biden administration as Israel mounts a ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza, threatening party unity heading into the 2024 presidential election cycle. It also offers an on-the-record statement of support amid a spate of other protest letters from Biden administration officials, many of which were sent anonymously for fear of retribution.
Those letters of dissent include a letter reviewed by The New York Times on Tuesday signed by more than 400 political appointees and staff members representing 40 government agencies, which protested Biden’s support for Israel.
The pro-Israel group expressed “deep appreciation” to Biden in their letter.
“As former Biden and Obama administration officials and campaign staff, we are writing to express our deep appreciation for your moral clarity, courageous leadership, and staunch support of Israel, one of our nation’s strongest allies, in the aftermath of the worst massacre of Jewish people in a single day since the Holocaust,” the letter said.
The group condemns Hamas, expresses support for the proposed $14.3 billion in security assistance for Israel and humanitarian aid for Palestinians, and says it agrees with the president’s assessment that “a ceasefire is not possible at this time.”
The letter was signed by a range of former Biden and Obama officials and campaign staff, including former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, three members of Congress, 18 former ambassadors and others.
In Congress, the issue has inflamed underlying tensions within the House Democratic Caucus, a debate that has fallen along ideological, generational and even racial lines. Democratic leaders have been eager to keep a lid on the tensions and have intervened directly, spilling into public view as 22 Democrats joined Republicans last week to censure Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, over her use of a phrase many see as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state.
That division reflects deepening divides among Democratic voters on Biden’s handling of the situation. Polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research last week found that 46% of Democrats disapprove of how Biden has navigated the conflict, compared to 50% of Democrats who approve.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged disagreements within the State Department over the Biden administration’s approach to Israel-Hamas war in an email to staff Monday.
“Some people in the Department may disagree with approaches we are taking or have views on what we can do better,” Blinken said in the email, adding that forums have been organized so that employees can provide feedback.
The pro-Israel group also offered a message to those who have different views: “To those blaming Israel alone for this violence or excusing the atrocities including rape and beheading as ‘resistance,’ we want to be very clear: there is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, a designated terrorist organization responsible for mass atrocities,” it said.
The letter continued, “No aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict justifies Hamas’s unconscionable war crimes on October 7 and the destruction it has caused in Gaza in the weeks before and since.”
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Annie Grayer, Melanie Zanona, and Manu Raju contributed to this report.