After a student at Northern Arizona University accused Israel of genocide, then cited false news reports saying Israel had bombed a Christian hospital and killed 500 people, Vice President Kamala Harris noted that Hamas started the conflict but concluded her response by saying, “I appreciate your leadership.”
The student began his comments at the “Fight for our Freedoms” event by blasting the United States’ “inhumane policies” that he said were like Israel’s, saying, “As a proud Chicano aspiring educator, I must ask a question that relates to the lives and experiences of my students. This administration has continued to deport children and their families, while simultaneously building the wall. Children continue to die at the wall because of this country’s inhumane policies – much like the policies, crimes and committed, funded against those in Palestine.”
Then he started quoting “facts” claimed by the Health Ministry in Gaza, saying in an elevated voice: “37 families in Gaza have been completely removed from the civil registry since the bombing began, meaning genocide. These families don’t exist anymore. A U.N. school was bombed last week by Israel killing 30 students and 11 U.N. staff. Just today, I know y’all saw the news; today Israel bombed the last Christian hospital in Gaza, killing over 500 doctors, children and refugees.”
“You know, my grandpa, Arnold Otero, who is in the audience today, told me one thing growing up as an educator, and that is that no one can ever take away your right to education,” the student concluded. “And so I ask you today, Madame Vice President Harris, as an educator, why take away the life of the children in Gaza and at the border, which ultimately takes away the right to education?”
After blasting Republicans for “play[ing] games with the lives of people” because they didn’t agree with the Biden administration’s policies on immigration, Harris turned to Israel and Hamas: “On the issue of what is happening in the Middle East, I believe that Israelis and Palestinians both deserve peace, deserve self-determination and deserve safety,” she began. “I am deeply, deeply affected as I think we all are, by what we have seen in terms of the loss of life and the violence that has occurred when, first of all, a terrorist organization, Hamas, struck Israel in the way that it did.”
She insisted that distinctions should be made between Hamas and the civilians, although Palestinians elected them to power in 2006: “I think it is important to recognize also the distinction between a terrorist organization, Hamas, and the Palestinian people and civilians, and they should not be conflated. And we must have response to that in a way that we understand as humans that this suffering that is happening is something we must take seriously.”
“So I appreciate you raising the subject, and I appreciate your leadership,” she concluded.