The controversy began when Vice President Kamala Harris recently took questions while at George Mason University to discuss voting rights. A student spoke about U.S. funding of Israel and referred to Israel as an “ethnic genocide and a displacement of people," according to CNN. The student said they felt the need to bring it up because it affects their life and the lives of people they really care about, according to CNN.
Harris responded “I'm glad you did."
Republican U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn, of Colorado Springs, and Joe Wilson, of South Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, wrote a letter to Harris on Oct. 6, condemning her “Anti-Israel comments."
Harris is married to Doug Emhoff, who is the first Jewish spouse of any U.S. president or vice president, according to ABC News.
Harris responded to the student by stating, “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard," according to the letter.
In the letter, Lamborn and Wilson said the student was referring to the funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system, which “House Progressives demanded" the funding for be removed. They called the demand for the removal of U.S. funding “anti-Semitic action," and said it prompted the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 5323, which allocated $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome's missile supply. “This funding is critical to reducing conflict within the region and protecting the innocent lives of Israeli citizens," they wrote in the letter.
Breaking 🚨 @RepJoeWilson & I sent a letter to VP Harris condemning her recent anti-Israel comments. With anti-Semitism on the rise worldwide, we cannot have a member of the Biden Admin spreading blatantly false information about one of our longest allies, Israel.
Read more 👇 pic.twitter.com/xIsMeyhafc
— Rep. Doug Lamborn (@RepDLamborn) October 7, 2021
“Furthermore, your affirmation of her remarks are not only based on an anti-Semitic worldview, they are a lie," Lamborn and Wilson wrote. “Truth is not subjective but based on facts. Israel is not in any way, shape, or form committing ethnic genocide. Israel has an absolute right to defend itself."
According to CNN, Symone Sanders, the spokesperson for Harris, said the “vice president strongly disagrees with the student's characterization of Israel."
“Throughout her career, the Vice President has been unwavering in her commitment to Israel and to Israel's security," Sanders said, according to CNN. “While visiting George Mason University to discuss voting rights, a student voiced a personal opinion during a political science class."
“I am extremely disappointed in the anti-Israel comments made by VP Harris last week," Lamborn said in an Oct. 7 press release. “The Democratic party is growing increasingly anti-Semitic, and I am deeply concerned that her comments will fuel this sentiment."
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, a group that works to stop the defamation of Jewish people, tweeted on Sept. 30 that he spoke with Harris and she confirmed that she knows the claim of Israel committing ethnic genocide is “patently false."
Just spoke with @VP office. Glad to hear her confirm she is proud of her record supporting #Israel, and knows claim it is committing 'ethnic genocide' is patently false. Looking fwd to a clearing of the record so there's no ambiguity that what that student said was hateful/wrong.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) September 30, 2021
The Republicans' letter ended with a request from Lamborn and Wilson for Harris to apologize, pledge to fight antisemitism, and work to support Israel.
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