Arabic-language State Dept Spokesperson Resigns Over Gaza; U.S. Talking Points Only ‘Inflamed’ Anti-U.S. Sentiment

Left: From U.S. State Department website Hala Rharrit Right: Courtesy of Josh Paul Josh Paul

WASHINGTON — A growing number of U.S. federal government officials are said to have have resigned due to dissatisfaction with Washington’s pro-Israel diplomatic stance on the ongoing fighting in Gaza.

Two former State Department officials spoke to The Yomiuri Shimbun, saying they had resigned out of remorse and that many government employees had also resigned in April.

Hala Rharrit, 41, a former Arabic language spokesperson for the State Department, resigned over the administration’s position on the war in late April after an 18-year career as a diplomat.

She was one of the State Department’s senior officials assigned to deal with Arabic-language media and was based in the United Arab Emirates starting in 2022.

She gave more than 100 interviews as the face of the U.S. government. However, after Israel’s retaliatory strikes against the Islamist organization Hamas last October, she began refusing to do interviews.

The United States, which continues to provide military support to Israel, was labeled a “child killer” and a “devil” in Arab media and social media, and “the situation became so emotional,” she said. “It was actually instigating people to hate America more … It was really inflaming the situation when we are amplifying our talking points.”

Her decision to refuse interviews on behalf of U.S. interests drew a cold response from Washington and her superiors.

Rharrit was accused by some of refusing to do her job. “I was silenced by some,” she said.

She sent daily reports to Washington warning of the rise of anti-Americanism in the Middle East and proposing diplomacy that did not rely on militaristic means, but they were not taken seriously.

No matter what she said from the inside, nothing has changed in terms of policy, Rharrit said. “The constant pushback I got from the department was just, it was exhausting.”

Josh Paul, 46, a former director at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, resigned about 10 days after Israel launched its war on Gaza.

“We were receiving multiple requests from the government of Israel to expedite arms transfers and we were receiving direction from senior levels of the U.S. government both in the State Department and the White House, to move forward on those requests as quickly as possible to authorize those transfers,” Paul, 46, said. “There was no space for discussion or debate around these policies.”

He revealed that, as far as he knows, “about two dozen” people in the federal government likewise resigned in the last month.