Hecklers Disrupt Netanyahu's Speech at U.S. Jewish Conference

Protesters chant 'loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel' during Prime Minister's speech at Jewish Federations General Assembly.

Sara Miller
Sara Miller
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Sara Miller
Sara Miller

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the Jewish Federations General Assembly on Monday was marked by repeated heckling from members of the audience, who were then unceremoniously escorted from the plush ballroom.

The first heckler, who interrupted Netanyahu barely moments after he began his 30 minute speech, was ejected while shouting "the loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel".

The prime minister, unperturbed by the interruption, responded by saying, "I was going to talk about delegitimizing Israel but they really have the wrong address."

Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuCredit: AP

Subsequent interruptions of regular intervals protested Israel's occupation, claiming that it too delegitimizes Israel.

The unprecedented scale of interruptions did not bear well with the audience, who after the first heckler's interruptions responded with chants of "Am Yisrael Chai" [The nation of Israel lives], and "Bibi, Bibi" [Netanyahu's nickname].

Hanna King, a 17-year-old student and member of the Jewish Voices for Peace, which organized the protests, told Haaretz that the protesters had been escorted out of the hotel, where they were handed over to the police, although she did not believe that they had been arrested.

King said that she had been driven to act as she felt Israels behavior went against her Jewish upbringing.

We believe that the actions that Israel is taking, like settlements, like the occupation, like the loyalty oath, are contrary to the Jewish values that we learnt in Jewish day school, she said. This is not Tikkun Olam. Oppressing people in refugee camps is not Tikkun Olam. And it is a hypocrisy that I cannot abide.

"We must be tough on all countries that abuse human rights but I care about Israel because for me it's personal," King explained. "I dont believe that Netanyahu heard our message but our message was aimed at the other young Jews at the convention."

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