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Protesters Interrupt Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu's AIPAC Speech

Pro-Palestinian protesters affiliated with Move Over AIPAC coalition try to cut Netanyahu's address short. 'Do you think they have these protests in Gaza?' he jokingly asks


A protester is led out by security personnel after disrupting Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington May 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's AIPAC speech was interrupted Tuesday (GMT) by pro-Palestinian protesters affiliated with the Move Over AIPAC coalition.

The protesters, five in all, unfurled banners, and chanted slogans. They were apprehended and escorted out of the conference hall by security.

"Do you think they have these protests in Gaza?" Netanyahu jokingly asked the audience.

In response to Netanyahu’s claim that returning to the 1967 borders would be “indefensible,” the protesters called out that various aspects of Israel's policy were indefensible.

"Growing up as the son of Holocaust survivors, I learned that it is everyone’s job to stand up for others when they are persecuted, and I learned what happens when we don't defend humanity. Now, it is my job to stand up in support of Palestinians, saying, 'bombing schools is indefensible, bulldozing homes is indefensible,’" said Jewish American protester Rick Colbath-Hess, 53, from Massachusetts.

"As a young Jewish person it is important for me to stand up today and tell Netanyahu and AIPAC that their voices do not represent me,” Ariel Vegosen, 30, from New York, added. “I will not allow my faith to be misused as a weapon, covering up the theft of Palestinians' homes and livelihoods. Judaism teaches me to stand up when I see oppression— discrimination is not a Jewish value and does not make Israel safer. Occupying Palestinian land is indefensible."

Bruce Taub, 71, from Massachusetts was another protester. "As a Jewish man, I come from a people who have been scattered about the world without losing their identity. I will not sit by and allow Palestinian refugees to be denied their rights and peoplehood in a country that would allow me to become a citizen even though I have no ties there. Displacing refugees is indefensible," he said.

Chelsea Byers, a 21-year-old college student from Arizona added: "I am protesting AIPAC and Netanyahu because I am disappointed and enraged that the US supports human rights violations by Israel. This includes killing, injuring, and locking up nonviolent protesters fighting for the same human rights I am. I am appalled that $3 billion US tax dollars goes to fund the perpetuation of violence instead of building a more sustainable future. Silencing dissent is indefensible."

“Since Palestinians can’t confront Netanyahu and remind him of their daily condition, we are doing that tonight," Sasha Gelzin, 23, said.

The protest was part of a week-long set of protests against AIPAC in Washington.

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