NEW: Kamala Confronted

Kamala Harris

( – On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Arizona students, emphasizing the need to differentiate between Palestinian civilians and the militant group Hamas. Her remarks came after students confronted her about an ongoing issue that coincided with President Biden’s trip to Israel.

While she had steered clear of discussing the Middle East during recent campus visits to South Carolina and Nevada, focusing instead on domestic topics like gun violence and LGBT rights, this time was different. In confronting Harris, a student drew a parallel between the plight of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Palestinians in Gaza. He mentioned a recent incident where Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza, resulting in many casualties.

“Why take away the life of the children in Gaza and at the border, which ultimately takes away the right of education?” asked the student, Jonathan Otero.

This topic garnered strong reactions from the student audience, leading Harris to address it.

“I am deeply, deeply affected — as I think we all are — by what we have seen in terms of the loss of life and the violence that has occurred, when first of all a terrorist organization, Hamas, struck Israel in the way that it did,” Harris said. She underscored the significance of distinguishing between Hamas and the broader Palestinian civilian population.

Though the conversation eventually returned to domestic issues, it’s evident that Harris is engaged in the Israeli-Hamas situation beyond the campus. She remarked on her commitment to Israel during an off-campus event. However, she tends to avoid this topic during her “Fight for our Freedoms” college tour.

Some critics argue Harris should actively counter the apparent college students’ negativity towards Israel. Jonathan Schachter from the Hudson Institute noted the growing voices against Israel on some U.S. campuses.

This engagement with students comes during a noticeable division in the Democratic Party. Younger members seem to lean pro-Palestinian, while traditional members lean pro-Israel. This division became even more evident after a recent Hamas attack on Israel.

Several student groups from U.S. universities, including Harvard, have blamed Israel for the attack, holding rallies and events supporting Palestine.

The Biden administration and many Democratic leaders have condemned the attack on Israel, an established U.S. ally. However, a noticeable shift is occurring among younger Democrats, as seen in a Gallup poll from March.

Bianca Adair from Catholic University suggests that Vice President Harris could play a more prominent role during her university visits. Adair believes Harris should condemn the actions of Hamas and emphasize its status as a terrorist organization in U.S. foreign policy. She also stresses the importance of denouncing antisemitism while supporting the protection of innocent Palestinian and Israeli civilians.