Sixteen former Campaign staffers of Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., have penned a letter urging their onetime boss to back a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, telling him that “it is not too late to change your stance and stand on the righteous side of history.”
The open letter comes as Fetterman, a consistent supporter of Israel, has defended its war on Gaza and is the latest effort by former or current U.S. government employees urging an end to the violence.
On Thursday, Fetterman joined 35 other senators in pushing for “the swift implementation of sustained access for humanitarian aid, including water and medical supplies, to save innocent civilian lives in Gaza,” yet he has been dismissive of his congressional colleagues’ calls for a ceasefire.
“Now is not the time to talk about a ceasefire,” Fetterman posted a few days after 13 House Democrats introduced a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. “We must support Israel in efforts to eliminate the Hamas terrorists who slaughtered innocent men, women, and children. Hamas does not want peace, they want to destroy Israel.” (The ceasefire resolution now has 18 co-sponsors, including Florida Rep. Maxwell Frost, who signed on Friday.)
The former Fetterman campaign staffers, who called for an end to unconditional arms support to Israel and signed the letter as “Fetterman Alumni for Peace,” said they were speaking out because of the role they played in getting Fetterman elected. They published the letter anonymously out of fear of professional reprisal.
“On the trail,” they wrote, “your overarching promise was to ‘Forgotten Communities’ – people and places that get overlooked, written off, and left behind. You can’t be a champion of forgotten communities if you cheerlead this war and the consequent destruction of Palestinian communities at home and abroad.”
The letter is the latest in a spate of objections from official Washington and its orbit. Earlier this week, 411 current congressional staffers and 260 former Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign staffers issued statements demanding support for a ceasefire, while an 11-year State Department official resigned due to his moral disagreements with the Biden administration’s approach to the conflict.
On Thursday, activists staged a protest at Fetterman’s Philadelphia office, calling on him to support a ceasefire. They later said they were expelled from the office, though the senator’s Chief of Staff Adam Jentleson argued that that was not the case.
When asked online whether Fetterman would join the calls for a ceasefire, Jentleson simply responded, “No.” He also derided the letter signed by 411 congressional staff urging their bosses to join the call for a ceasefire. “The thing about being a staffer is that no one elected you to represent them,” Jentleson said.
There does, however, appear to be broad public support for a ceasefire. On Friday, the progressive polling firm Data for Progress released the results of a survey that found that 66 percent of all likely voters and 80 percent of Democrats are in favor of a ceasefire. Israel’s assault on Gaza has so far killed nearly 3,800 people, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.
Fetterman’s staunch support for Israel goes back to his 2022 campaign. During his primary race against Rep. Conor Lamb, as The Intercept previously reported, Fetterman allowed the Democratic Majority for Israel to guide his platform on Israel and Palestine. DMFI had spent the campaign season dropping millions of dollars in opposition to progressive Democrats critical of U.S. support for Israel, and Fetterman succeeded in avoiding their ire.
Speaking with Jewish Insider during the campaign, Fetterman said he wanted to go out of his way “to make sure it’s absolutely clear” that the views he held on Israel “in no way go along the lines of some of the more fringe or extreme wings of our party.”
“I would also respectfully say that I’m not really a progressive in that sense,” Fetterman said, stressing that he supported U.S. aid to Israel “without any additional conditions.”