Harris: Campus protesters over Gaza war ‘showing what human emotion should be’
Israel at warComments came in interview with The Nation

Harris: Campus protesters over Gaza war ‘showing what human emotion should be’

Vice president also notes that she rejects some of the university demonstrators’ rhetoric, amid focus on her as potential replacement for Biden if he quits campaign

Vice President Kamala Harris (Lawrence Jackson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
Vice President Kamala Harris (Lawrence Jackson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

United States Vice President Kamala Harris has expressed sympathy with the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters who have been staging campus encampments in colleges around the country, while adding that she doesn’t agree with all of their positions, as speculation grows that she could potentially end up as the Democratic presidential candidate.

Young Americans protesting Israel’s war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza are “showing exactly what the human emotion should be,” Harris said in an interview with the left-wing magazine The Nation, an excerpt of which was published on Monday.

She noted, however, that “there are things some of the protesters are saying that I absolutely reject, so I don’t mean to wholesale endorse their points. But we have to navigate it. I understand the emotion behind it.”

The comments came amid widespread talk of Harris possibly replacing US President Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for president in November, though the interview was conducted before the president’s poor debate performance last month that ignited many of the calls for him to step aside.

The US has seen many anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian protests over the war in Gaza, which erupted on October 7, when thousands of Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking 251 hostages, prompting a still ongoing war aimed at vanquishing the terror group.

Protests have been especially common at universities, where they have largely taken the form of unauthorized encampments and frequently included slogans against the existence of the State of Israel, as well as calls for “intifada” and expressions of support for Hamas and other terror groups. They have also sometimes veered into antisemitism.

The Biden administration repeatedly condemned extremist elements of the protests and has continued to support Israel’s war effort, but it has also expressed concern over the war’s effect on Gazan civilians.

In her interview with The Nation, Harris also recounted drawing attention to specific details of the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza.

“Okay, the trucks are taking flour into Gaza. [But] I like to cook. So I said to my team: You can’t make shit with flour if you don’t have clean water. So what’s going on with that?” Harris said.

“Similarly, I was asking early on, what are women in Gaza doing about sanitary hygiene. Do they have pads? And these are the issues that made people feel uncomfortable,” she added.

Though Harris has not deviated from the administration’s policy positions on the war, she has taken what some identify as a sharper tone in her criticism of Israel.

In March, Harris said that “the Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid,” invoking reports of “families eating leaves or animal feed” and “children dying from malnutrition and dehydration,” and calling for “an immediate ceasefire.”

At the time, NBC reported that administration officials had “toned down” parts of Harris’s speech, which the vice president’s office denied.

Later that month, Harris declined to rule out “consequences” should Israel enter the southern Gazan city of Rafah, echoing comments that Biden had previously made and then walked back, when he called major operations in Rafah a “red line.”

Her comments have taken on a new relevance in the weeks since Joe Biden’s historically weak debate performance last month, which prompted widespread calls for the president to step aside as his party’s nominee in November’s general election.

Biden, who would have to voluntarily step aside, has since repeatedly doubled down on his reelection bid. PJC

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