Vice President Kamala Harris has angered supporters of Israel by expressing support for a college student who accused the country of ethnic genocide against Palestinians.
The interaction came as Harris made a surprise visit on Tuesday to a political science class at George Mason University in northern Virginia to encourage voter registration and discuss voting rights.
As Harris took questions after speaking, one of the female students voiced her concerns about US financial and military support for Israel and Saudi Arabia.
‘I see that over the summer there have been, like, protests and demonstrations in astronomical numbers standing with Palestine, but then just a few days ago there were funds allocated to continue backing Israel, which hurts my heart because it’s ethnic genocide and displacement of people, the same that happened in America, and I’m sure you’re aware of this,’ the student said, as Harris nodded.
Vice President Kamala Harris has angered supporters of Israel by expressing support for a college student who accused the country of ethnic genocide against Palestinians
The interaction came as Harris made a surprise visit on Tuesday to a political science class at George Mason University in northern Virginia to encourage voter registration
The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bill to send Israel $1 billion for its Iron Dome defense system, a measure that was bitterly opposed by a handful of the most left-wing Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Kamala Harris’ gaffes
May 29: Harris tweeted a picture of herself smiling with the caption, “Enjoy the long weekend” the Friday before Memorial Day.
After facing a barrage of criticism that she was ignoring the somber occasion, Harris tweeted a number of tributes to fallen service members.
June 6: Harris handed out cookies to reporters on Air Force Two that were decorated with her own face.
Critics slammed the bizarre cookies as ‘narcissistic’ but an aide later explained that they were a ‘gift’ to Harris from a staffer that the VP wanted to share.
June 8: Harris snapped at NBC News anchor Lester Holt when he asked why she had not yet visited the border, despite being appointed Biden’s border czar.
‘And I haven’t been to Europe,’ she responded.
August 20: Harris drew criticism for laughing awkwardly when a reporter questioned her on the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Observers have noted that Harris has a tendency to chuckle when faced with uncomfortable questions.
The student went on to express her belief that the funding would have been better spent helping Americans struggling with housing and health care costs goes instead ‘to inflaming Israel and backing Saudi Arabia and what-not.’
The student says she felt that she had to raise the issue, saying: ‘It affects my life and people I really care about’s lives.’
‘I’m glad you did,’ Harris responded. ‘And again, this is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth, should not be suppressed and it must be heard, right? And one of the things we’re fighting for in a democracy, right?’
‘Unity should never be at the expense of telling anyone personally that, for the sake of unity, ‘Oh, you be quiet about that thing. You suppress that thing. Let’s not deal with that thing.’ That’s not unity. True unity is everyone in that room has a voice,’ the vice president continued.
‘The point that you are making about policy that relates to Middle East policy, foreign policy, we still have healthy debates in our country about what is the right path, and nobody’s voice should be suppressed on that,’ she added.
The exchange drew criticism from Republicans and supporters of Israel, including Senator Ted Cruz’s spokesman Steve Guest, who called the interaction ‘unbelievable’ in a tweet.
On Sunday, the the deadliest violence in several weeks between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank erupted when Israeli troops conducted a series of arrest raids against suspected Hamas militants.
Five Palestinians were killed and two Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded in the ensuing gun battles.
The region has seen an increase in fighting in recent months, with tensions fueled by Israeli settlement construction, heightened militant activity in the northern West Bank and the aftermath of a bloody war between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip last May.
The Israeli military said it had been tracking the Hamas militants for several weeks and that the raids were launched in response to immediate threats.
Harris speaks to students in a political science class at George Mason University during a surprise visit to campus on Tuesday in Fairfax, Virginia
In his first address to the United Nations general assembly on Monday, new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made no mention of Israel’s decadeslong conflict with the Palestinians
In his first address to the United Nations general assembly on Monday, new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made no mention of Israel’s decadeslong conflict with the Palestinians, instead seeking to portray Iran as a menace to global security.
Harris last month had a phone conversation with her new Israeli counterpart, President Isaac Herzog.
On the call, Harris expressed her strong commitment to Israel’s security and reiterated the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a State Department summary.
The two leaders also discussed the urgency of efforts to address the effects of climate change, according to the readout.
Harris thanked Herzog for Israeli assistance in Central America by providing water catchment systems to Guatemala, and training farmers in ‘climate-smart’ agriculture.