State Department Employee Who Accused Biden of ‘Genocide’ Still Shapes Israel Policy

Israel critic Sylvia Yacoub said Biden has 'blood on hands' over support for Israel

Sylvia Yacoub (LinkedIn)
February 6, 2024

A State Department employee who accused President Joe Biden of "genocide" and worked to undermine the administration’s support for Israel remains in her post more than three months after her social media activity drew widespread outrage, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Sylvia Yacoub, a career foreign service officer in the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, is still shaping policy inside the administration as Secretary of State Antony Blinken increases pressure on Israel to end its war against the Hamas terrorists who slaughtered more than 1,200 in an Oct. 7 terror spree.

Yacoub drew outrage inside and outside of Foggy Bottom in November, a month after Hamas launched its war against Israel, when she publicly accused Biden on social media of being "complicit" in the Jewish state’s "genocide" inside the Gaza Strip. She also criticized U.S. military assistance to Israel, and accused the Biden administration of fomenting Islamophobia with its pro-Israel positions, the Washington Free Beacon first reported.

Yacoub’s antipathy towards Israel is said to be well known among State Department employees and her social media posts caused headaches for Foggy Bottom’s leadership, but did not result in her being sidelined from involvement in the administration’s diplomacy with Israel and other Middle Eastern nations, sources told the Free Beacon.

"It's disappointing that she can publicly seek to undermine the president and his policy when a close ally suffers a terrorist attack the likes of Oct. 7," a U.S. official, speaking only on background to offer candid thoughts about the situation, told the Free Beacon. "Far too much slack has been given to these vocal activists within the Department who continue to work against the president and U.S. interests."

Yacoub is one of several State Department employees who led a dissent cable challenging the Biden administration’s early support for Israel as they mounted a massive military campaign to dismantle Hamas following the Iran-backed terror group’s unprecedented pogrom. A dissent cable is an organized way for diplomats to signal dissatisfaction with an administration’s policy, but is rarely accompanied by fiery public rhetoric accusing a sitting president of supporting genocide.

A State Department spokesman, when asked about Yacoub’s current status at the State Department, told the Free Beacon she is still "a foreign affairs officer with the Department." The spokesman would not say whether she faced any disciplinary action as a result of her social media postings or was moved to a different policy portfolio.

In November, Yacoub first drew attention for responding on X, formerly Twitter, to a post from Biden advocating increased U.S. military aid to Israel.

"You are providing significantly more military assistance to the government that is indiscriminately attacking innocent Gazans….you are complicit in genocide," she wrote.

In another post, Yacoub accused Biden of supporting "genocide" by providing U.S. arms to Israel to aid its fight against Hamas.

"Hey @POTUS—so long as you keep showing absolute support for [Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu] with no clear, actionable redlines or calls for ceasefire, you continue to support genocide," she wrote. "Your rhetoric and approach from day one has resulted in the deaths of thousands. There is so much blood on your hands."

Yacoub also lashed out at Vice President Kamala Harris after she publicly condemned Islamophobia, writing, "This should have started with an apology from [the president] for contributing to the problem." She also accused Harris of being "embarrassingly out of touch" for issuing a tweet supporting "Israel’s right to defend itself."

One senior GOP congressional official who works on Middle East issues said the Biden administration’s shift towards pressuring Israel into a ceasefire can be attributed to staffers like Yacoub who are publicly and privately protesting U.S. support for Israel’s anti-terrorism operations.

Since war broke out in November, Biden and Blinken have become increasingly vocal about the need for a ceasefire and have issued fresh sanctions on Israeli citizens it claims are fomenting violence in the West Bank area. This policy is vastly different from the full-throated support the administration offered in the days after Hamas’s Oct. 7 rampage.

"It's always true that personnel is policy, but these people are abusing the privilege," said the source, who would only discuss interactions with the State Department on background. "Biden, Blinken, and [Near Eastern Affairs assistant secretary] Barbara Leaf are trying to force Israel to surrender to Hamas and accept a Palestinian state. So of course they're keeping vicious activists who hate Israel in place to run policy."