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Is Kamala Harris's Call for Ceasefire Genuine? Voters Raise Doubts

Megan Hayes | News Editor

Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

United States Vice President Kamala Harris called for a ceasefire at the annual "Bloody Sunday" commemoration in Selma, Alabama this past Sunday. The recipients of this call for ceasefire are Israel and Palestine, which have been tangled in a conflict over land, blockades, resources, refugees, Jerusalem and more since 1948. Their conflict recently became a full-fledged war on October 7th of 2023, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an assault on Israel (killing 1,200 people), leading Israel to bomb the Gazza Strip and launch an invasion which has claimed nearly 30,000 lives. Throughout October of 2023, the issue began spiraling into a humanitarian crisis, with many large powers like the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNDP urging aid - as disease outbreak, a shortage of fuel, medication, water and medical supplies, were soon to claim more lives in Gaza.

Jumping back to Kamala Harris's Sunday address - Selma, which is an important historical site of the United States' fight for civil rights, once held peaceful marches after police murdered a civil rights activist named Jimmie Lee Jackson in 1965. To protest the murder, demand justice and fight for the constitutional right to vote, upwards of 600 people began a march from Selma to Montgomery, but were met with extreme force from Alabama state troopers. Bloody Sunday became one of the origins of fighting for justice, teaching about history, and combatting police brutality through law. It also allowed for the Voting Rights Act to be passed. It has become a crucial part to American history, and knowing many eyes would be on the commemoration, Harris took her pulpit to call for change. This address, which was the 59th annual commemoration of Bloody Sunday, was mainly aimed to criticize those attempting to remove voting rights as well as other laws that are being threatened. Harris made references to absentee ballots, early voting, and laws preventing abortion and the "freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body". However, the piece that garnered the most attention was Harris's statement about Gaza.

One of Israel's closest allies is the United States, involving our country in the outside conflict. Over the years, the US has given Israel upwards of $260 billion, and has an ongoing pact of resources, aid, air defense missiles, as well as ammunition and arms. Other countries, like Russia and China, have yet to take a stand on either side of the issue, and say that they are "maintaining contact with both sides". According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States' support of Israel is the reason why there has been no conflict resolution in the Middle East between these two nations.

Harris's nation address is possibly one of the most polarized and strongest statements made by a government official in many years. She demanded an immediate and temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to work out hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas, as well as offer some overdue aid to Palestinians in the Gaza strip. She offers her protection to civilians, and references that innocent people are dying by inhumane ways - bodies unburned are allowing disease to spread rampant, families are eating leaves, animal feed and any food they can find, and innocent bystanders are being brutally murdered day to day or dying from malnutrition or dehydration.

|"The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid... No excuses," Harris stated at the address.

Many are expecting this to accentuate conflicts, as well as raise tensions within the United States. She repeated President Joe Biden's demands for a six week ceasefire from then on, which would allow significant aid to be given to Gaza, hopefully saving lives and easing some of the heartache experienced by the families of refugees living there. Shortly before, the US as well as Jordan had air-dropped humanitarian aid into Gaza to assist with what many have claimed to be a genocide.

From Kamala's response, many have burst into debate, taking to social media to air polarized opinions. Many express contempt for Harris not demanding a permanent ceasefire of Israel's military power, as a six-week ceasefire would allow continuity of the conflict. Many are taking this as a move by Harris and the Biden Administration to support this war, and many American citizens are unhappy. Many say that her speech was exorbitantly late, missing the brunt of the conflict. Others say it is "performative", turning opinions to the motive behind this address - it is to get more voter support in the upcoming 2024 Presidential election, where Joe Biden will presumably running against former President Donald Trump again. Pressure is running high - many democrats are finding themselves divided, and the voter support for Biden is dwindling, especially among younger voters and Arab Americans. What do you think?


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