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Vice President Kamala Harris’ office is scrambling to reassure pro-Israel Democrats after she failed to push back against a student who accused Israel of “ethnic genocide.”
The controversy stems from an incident Wednesday in which a student attending an event to promote voting told Harris Israel was committing “ethnic genocide” in Palestine and argued the U.S. was ignoring protests despite promoting the power of democracy.
“Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard,” Harris told the student.
The remarks prompted immediate backlash from the Israeli press, which ran headlines such as, “Kamala Harris doesn’t reject US student’s ‘ethnic genocide’ claim against Israel.”
Members of Harris’ staff have been working behind the scenes with pro-Israel groups and lawmakers on damage control, with one senior staff member contacting the Democratic Majority for Israel to reaffirm the vice president’s commitment to the country.
“We were pleased Vice President Harris’s senior staff reached out to us today to confirm what we already knew: Her ‘commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering,’” said Mark Mellman, the group’s president.
A senior adviser also reached out to Rep. Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat who co-chairs the Bipartisan Anti‐Semitism Taskforce, according to Politico.
Deutch’s office did not respond to a Politico request for comment on the issue, but a source told the outlet that it was “fair to say that the group of House Democrats that super care about this noticed it and talked about it.” The same source said that Harris’ office also reached out to Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt on Thursday.
Mellman said Harris’ senior staff reassured his organization that Harris “strongly disagrees with the George Mason student’s characterization of Israel.”
“The Biden-Harris Administration, as well as President Biden and Vice President Harris personally, have exemplary pro-Israel records, for which we are immensely grateful,” Mellman said.
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