Vice President Kamala Harris supported a student who accused Israel of committing “ethnic genocide” against Palestinians on Tuesday.
Harris spoke to students at George Mason University just outside of Washington, D.C., on National Voter Registration Day. During the question-and-answer period, Harris supported a student who accused Israel of committing “ethnic genocide,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
“You brought up how the power of the people and demonstrations and organizing is very valuable in America,” the student began. “But I see that over the summer there have been 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, who identified herself as part-Yemeni, part-Iranian, suggested that the U.S. should expand publicly-funded healthcare and the welfare state rather than funding Israel’s defense.
“Americans are struggling because of lack of public health care, affordable housing, and all this money goes to funding Israel and backing Saudi Arabia and whatnot and I think that the people have spoken very often in what they do need, and I feel like there is a lack of listening,” she continued. “And I just feel like I need to bring this up with you because it affects my life and people I really care about.”
Harris responded to the girl saying she was “glad” the student spoke up. “This is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard,” Harris said.
“A democracy is its strongest when everyone participates. It is its weakest when anyone is left out,” Harris continued. “That’s not only about being physically present but that your voice is present.”
“Our goal should be unity, but not uniformity,” the vice president said. “Unity should never be at the expense of telling any one person, ‘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. And then we see where that ends up in terms of a healthy debate on the issues.”
Referring to the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East, Harris told the student, “we still have healthy debates in our country about what is the right path, and nobody’s voice should be suppressed on that.”
Tensions between the U.S. and Israel under the Biden administration have grown more strained as President Joe Biden has sought to reestablish an Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran. Israeli leaders have broadly criticized the move, asserting that the deal would not stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested that Israel was readying to take action against Iran on Monday over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Iran’s nuclear weapon program is at a critical point. All red lines have been crossed. Inspections — ignored. All wishful thinking — proven false,” he said. “Iran is currently violating the IAEA’s safeguard agreements — and it’s getting away with it. They harass inspectors and sabotage their investigations — and they’re getting away with it. They enrich Uranium to the level of 60 percent, which is only one step short of weapons-grade material — and they’re getting away with it.”
“Evidence which clearly proves Iran’s intentions for nuclear weapons in secret sites in Turquzabad, Teheran & Marivan — is ignored,” he continued. “Iran’s nuclear program has hit a watershed moment. And so has our tolerance.”