Not surprisingly there was some fallout from yesterday’s extremely awkward encounter between Vice President Kamala Harris and a George Mason University student. As I described yesterday, Harris did a little speech at the school followed by a Q&A with students. One of the students said she was upset to see the House voting to spend money supporting Israel’s Iron Dome “because it’s ethnic genocide.” Throughout the student’s statement, Harris nodded along and when it was over she replied “Your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed.”
No one was saying it needed to be suppressed. How about just pointing out to this student that Iron Dome saves civilians from rocket attacks by terrorists, attacks that have been characterized as war crimes. Why couldn’t the VP say something about that?
And you really can’t say this is much ado about nothing. Harris’ remarks were widely covered by Israeli newspapers and also caught the attention of Iranian state media which tweeted out the clip:
Student accuses US of funding “ethnic genocide” by Israel in front of VP Harris
“Americans are struggling because of a lack of health care, public health care, lack of affordable housing and all this money ends up going to Israel..” the student said at an event on VOTING RIGHTS! pic.twitter.com/n2lTSU4qp3
— Press TV (@PressTV) September 30, 2021
So it’s fair to say this exchange was international news. Today, Politico reports that Harris’ office has been scrambling to repair the damage she caused:
On Thursday, Harris’ senior staff contacted the influential Democratic Majority for Israel to clean up remarks she made Wednesday at George Mason University where Harris was visiting a classroom of students. “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 president of the group.
A senior adviser to Harris also reached out to Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fl.) the co-chair of the Bipartisan Anti‐Semitism Taskforce, a source familiar with the outreach told POLITICO.
The Democratic Majority for Israel released a statement praising the Biden administration and stating, “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,’ and she ‘strongly disagrees with the George Mason student’s characterization of Israel.‘” [emphasis added]
Following her recent visit to GMU, @VP’s senior staff confirmed to DMFI what we already knew: Her ‘commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering,’ and she ‘strongly disagrees with the student’s characterization of Israel.'
— Democratic Majority for Israel (@DemMaj4Israel) September 30, 2021
I guess it’s good that she strongly disagrees with the student about Israel. What’s not so good is that she didn’t manage to say anything close to that yesterday when the student was saying it. What happened there exactly? Is there a reason she didn’t say how she allegedly felt at the time? Having your office get a third party group to say how you felt a day later seems sort of pathetic. Maybe this helps explain why Harris’ office just added two crisis communication staffers:
Lorraine Voles, a crisis communications expert, and Adam Frankel, a speechwriter for former President Barack Obama, worked for Harris during President Biden’s transition and are well versed in White House and corporate messaging, the Washington Examiner reported.
Both “offered to be of assistance” to the vice president and will concentrate on “organizational development, strategic communications, and long-term planning,” a White House official told the newspaper.
My guess is their very first piece of advice will be something like: No more Q&As on college campuses. She’s just not up to it.
Finally, I’ll wrap this up by noting that the executive director of CAIR says the VP’s office is suppressing “the truth” about Israel. Can’t really say I’m surprised by that POV coming from a CAIR executive but I guess I’m a bit surprised he would admit it.
It's remarkable how much effort Israeli apartheid apologists will expend in their attempt to suppress the truth.#ApartheidIsrael#BDS
Harris' office does damage control over student’s Israel 'ethnic genocide' comment https://t.co/j82uApajUS via @politico
— Nihad Awad (@NihadAwad) September 30, 2021