The Untenable Situation: Resignation from the State Department and Ethical Dilemmas

2023-11-01 17:14:50

Two weeks after his very public resignation from the State Department, Josh Paul explains to us that the situation was untenable for him.

We find Josh Paul sitting on the steps of the National Gallery, very close to the Capitol, in Washington. It’s almost 5 p.m.

After a brief exchange of courtesy, he looked back on the last two weeks and the reasons which pushed him to resign after 11 years at the military office of the US State Department.

In all my years at the State Department, it has never been our goal to provide lethal weapons to a country knowing that they would be used to mass kill civilian populations.

This is not the first time we have been confronted with complex moral questions, he said. But in the case of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, we no longer followed the usual guidelines applicable to any transfer of arms to a country. In the case of Ukraine, for example, when it came to sending cluster bombs, there was a debate, the Biden administration was receptive to different recommendations and conditions, and always took into account the human rights. For Israel, it was just necessary to respond to requests.

Yet the White House’s policy on arms transfers has always been clear, he insists: If there is a greater chance that the use of American weapons will lead to human rights violations, then the transfer will not be authorized. In the conflict between Israel and Hamas, there is a violation of human rights, but this policy has been set aside.

According to him, it was inevitable that the weapons supplied by the United States to Israel would be used against Gaza and cause massive casualties among the civilian population.

When I raised my concerns, there was no willingness to listen, no interest. We rushed to supply weapons to Israel, without the slightest debate. I had to resign.


Report by Azeb Wolde-Giorghis

When he resigned, he was allegedly offered psychological support, telling him that if he did not work in this division, someone else would, but also that he should no longer questions department policies.

Criticizing Israel is a slippery slope, he tells us. Obviously Israel had to respond to Hamas’ monstrous attacks, but how many Palestinian children have to die for this? he asks.

There is beauty everywhere in the world, it needs to be protected in order to flourish. This is my deepest desire for Israelis and Palestinians, he wrote in his resignation letter. The killing of civilians by terrorists during a rave or the murder of those who harvest their olive trees are the enemies of this desire. The kidnapping of children, armed threats in kibbutzim, as well as collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, occupation, apartheid are the enemies of this desire.

According to Josh Paul, there are double standards when it comes to Ukraine and Israel.

There is double talk. We are against the Russian occupation in Ukraine, but when it comes to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, there is silence. We even make it easier.

He believes that the United States is seen as hypocrites. Our arguments no longer hold up in the Middle East or across the world, he regrets. We are weakening our trademark, which is democracy. I think we are irreparably damaging our foreign policy.

In total, US arms exports are valued at $180 billion per year. Israel would receive $3.8 billion in military and security support.

He denounces the support, which he describes as blind, of the Joe Biden administration for Israel, affirming that Tel Aviv’s response will lead to more suffering on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

He fears an escalation of violence in this conflict, while being relieved to no longer be responsible for the transfer of weapons.

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