NEW ORLEANS -Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the Jewish Federations General Assembly in New Orleans yesterday was marked by repeated heckling from audience members before they were removed from the hall. The first heckler began just moments into Netanyahu's 30-minute speech and was ejected while shouting, "The loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel." The premier responded, "I was going to talk about delegitimizing Israel but they really have the wrong address."

The audience responded to the first heckler's interruptions by chanting "Am Yisrael Hai" [The nation of Israel lives], and "Bibi, Bibi" [Netanyahu's nickname].

Netanyahu said that Hamas recently admitted that many of its operatives were killed in Operation Cast Lead. He stressed that the Israel Defense Forces had always said that at least half of the Palestinian casualties were "terrorists."

"The authors of the Goldstone report owe Israel's army an apology," Netanyahu said, eliciting cheers from the audience. The prime minister began his speech by lauding the U.S. Jewish community for its efforts to rehabilitate New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"Just as the Jewish people have always rallied to help Israel, you rallied to help New Orleans."

The coordinator of the protest, 17-year-old college student Hannah King, from Seattle, said her group sought to protest the attempt to delegitimize criticism of Israeli policies, which she said goes against Jewish values.