US Vice President Kamala Harris did not push back against a university student who accused Israel of “ethnic genocide” during an event Wednesday.
Harris gave a talk about voting rights to a class at George Mason University in Virginia, then took questions from the students, one of whom said “a lot of taxpayer money is allocated for funding the military, whether it’s in backing Saudi Arabia or in Palestine.”
The student went on to note what she described as “astronomical numbers” at pro-Palestinian protests over the summer, apparently referring to demonstrations during the May conflict between Israel and Gaza terror groups.
“But then just a few days ago there were funds allocated to continue backing Israel, which hurts my heart because it’s an ethnic genocide and a displacement of people — the same that happened in America — and I’m sure you’re aware of this,” she said.
The US House of Representatives last week approved $1 billion in funds for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in a 420-9 vote. The measure, which the Biden administration supports, must still be approved by the Senate.
The student ended her remarks by saying, “I just feel like I need to bring this up because it affects my life and people I really care about…”
WATCH: Kamala Harris nods as student accuses Israel of "ethnic genocide": “your truth cannot be suppressed" pic.twitter.com/FcqCyT7Uo8
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 28, 2021
“I’m glad you did,” Harris said in response. “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 that we’re fighting for in a democracy, right, a democracy is its strongest when everybody participates…”
She added soon after: “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.”
There was no later comment from the vice president’s office on the exchange, which was criticized by some Republican figures.
“Kamala Harris doesn’t have time to go the border, but she apparently has plenty of time to encourage anti-Israel, anti-Semitic falsehoods,” Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted.
Halie Soifer, who heads the Jewish Democratic Council of America, retorted on Twitter, “Having worked for
@VP in the Senate on national security, I can personally attest to her strong & unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”
“The VP’s exchange w/the student wasn’t about detailing her policy on Israel. It was about not silencing those who don’t share her view,” said Soifer, who worked as Harris’s national security adviser when the vice president was in the Senate.
Earlier this week, @VP visited a political science class to talk about voting rights. This was NOT a discussion about Israel.
In response to a student who raised Israel, VP said "our goal should be unity, not uniformity."
AKA: "we may not agree, but you deserve to be heard."
— Halie Soifer (@HalieSoifer) September 30, 2021