(The Forward).Netanyahu was interrupted five times by protesters who shouted and held up signs while the Israeli prime minister was delivering an address on Monday to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
The protesters shouted “the loyalty oaths delegitimize Israel” and “the occupation delegitimizes Israel” while being escorted from the room. Their signs bore similar messages.
The disrupters were members of a group of young protesters convened by Jewish Voice for Peace, a left-wing activist organization. The protesters said that they were responding to the General Assembly’s focus on what has been called an international effort to delegitimize Israel. At a General Assembly that has made much of the involvement of 600 college students, the protesters claimed that they represented a political perspective and an age cohort that deserved a place at the conference.
The protesters rose and shouted one at a time, separated by pauses of a few minutes. While the first few were escorted out with minimal interaction with the crowd, the fourth appeared to be pulled down violently by people sitting around him. One crowd member wearing a yarmulke stood on a chair to tear a sign carried by another protester.
According to members of the activist group, three of the disrupters were being detained until Netanyahu left the building and the remaining two had been let go.
Activists initially told the Forward that they planned to silently hoist signs. But in the meeting the night before the action, the plan seemed to be shifting. Rae Abileah, a staff organizer for the anti-war group Code Pink, was arguing for the disrupters to shout while being removed from the room. Abileah said that the time between when the signs are taken from the protesters and when they were removed from the room could total 15 minutes — time that could be used to shout slogans.
“We are often far [more] concerned with being polite and being politically correct and being nice than we are with human rights, dignity, justice, and international law,” Abileah said later in an interview. Abileah said that she has participated in similar disruptions at two recent AIPAC conferences.
After the disruption, Jewish Council for Public Affairs senior vice president Martin Raffel, who is leading the Israel Action Network, said that the disruption demonstrated the atmosphere advocates for Israel face. “Trying to prevent the audience from hearing what the prime minister has to say is in itself a form of delegitimization,” Raffel said.