On Wednesday an event held in the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem to launch the new issue of the Palestine Israel Journal, which deals with the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, was disrupted. Participating in the event were dozens of Palestinians, Israelis and foreign diplomats. Among others were consular representatives and ambassadors from the United States, Norway, Sweden and more.
When the editor of the journal, veteran Palestinian politician Ziad Abu Zayyad, began to speak, young men burst in and began to riot. They shattered glasses of water, threw down the microphones and called out in condemnation of normalization with Israel and the Oslo Accords, and in favor of the freedom of the Palestinian people. According to those present, the rioting did not escalate to physical violence, but at least one young man threatened Abu Zayyad.
Afterwards the young men called on the audience to leave the place and the event ended shortly after it began. "There was no choice but to disperse the event and not to continue to clash with them. It wasn't a public singalong or a dance, it was an event for talking about politics among allies, with people who want to end the occupation, we're not the enemy," said Hillel Schenker, the Israeli editor of the journal.
"It was very authentic, a lot of energy of anger, bitterness and frustration that doesn't find any other outlet except this activity. There is no way within the Palestinian establishment to give vent to these feelings," said Prof. Menahem Klein, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University.
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"I interpret it as a generational issue, it's not a random phenomenon," added Klein, who was supposed to speak at the event. This is the second time that Klein has had a similar experience. About a year and a half ago a similar group disrupted a Geneva Initiative event in Jerusalem's Ambassador Hotel.
Sources in East Jerusalem believe that the young men are connected to Fatah and to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, being encouraged by senior Palestinian activists in the city. Last week young Palestinians attacked Aziz Abu Sarah, a Palestinian resident of the city, who has declared his candidacy for mayor of Jerusalem.
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