OPINION: Is Kamala Harris a blessing or a threat to the Arab world?

“The latest barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza on innocent Israelis cannot be tolerated–Israel has the right to defend itself from these horrific attacks. ” says Kamala.

Ever since Joe Biden won the United States’ presidential elections, the internet has been spiking up in support of his vice president, Kamala Harris, for being the first woman of color and Asian descent to take this position.

But is that what us, Arabs, need to know the most about Kamala? What is discussion-worthy and makes Kamala under scrutiny is the fact that Biden, at 78, is by far the oldest incoming US president, and the main role of a vice president is to serve as a replacement-in-waiting.

So, not only would she be Biden’s most obvious successor, she might even come into office sooner than that. Therefore, her views on Arab affairs are significant and are important to us, the Arab world, to be perfectly aware of.

To what extent does Kamala support Israel?

To begin with, Harris is a strong, vocal supporter of Israel. She made this view crystal clear during a speech she delivered at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference.  In less than two minutes, she said “we must support Israel” three times.

Her political views on the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict

Although Kamala claims that Israel “overall” meets international human rights standards, she contrarily remains a vocal supporter of a two-state solution, opposes settlements and annexation, including the Trump plan, and backs the restoration of US aid to the Palestinians.

A very obvious situation where Kamala seemed to contradict herself was when she supported Israeli settlements in the West Bank. For more context, the first resolution she co-sponsored as a senator was one effectively condemning the Obama-Biden administration’s decision to abstain on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.(United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334) 

And that makes us think, how can a person support a two-state solution and illegal settlements at the same time?

VP Kamala Harris with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

And most recently, in 2019, Harris said in a statement to Jewish Insider,

“The latest barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza on innocent Israelis cannot be tolerated–Israel has the right to defend itself from these horrific attacks. I join others in urging against further escalation.”

Is it just political, or is it emotional?

The relationship Kamala develops with Israel isn’t solely political, there’s an emotional aspect to it. In Israel lobby’s 2017 Policy Conference, in a much-quoted appearance she said: “Having grown up in the Bay Area, I fondly remember those Jewish National Fund boxes that we would use to collect donations to plant trees for Israel,” she said at that conference, followed by a travelogue of a recent tour of Israel and the West Bank, which she visited with her Jewish husband. This statement can hardly make her objective for the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

To sum up, while the Biden-Kamala government may be more respectable than its predecessor for the American people, us, Arabs, are always victims of the same agenda, regardless of who’s in charge of applying it. Hence, it’s necessary to differentiate between what’s good for American citizens, and what’s good for us, because we’re definitely not on the same page.