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Ehud Olmert Disrupted by Protesters During Speech in Chicago

The former Israeli Prime Minister is accused of war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza

Common Dreams staff

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. (Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/ AP)

Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister of Israel during the country's wars on Lebanon and Gaza, was interrupted by protesters in Chicago last night. The former prime minister was invited to speak at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about peace. As a result, Chicago activists decided to disrupt the talk, which only included pre-approved questions.

Human rights organizations have widely condemened Israel for human rights violations and war crimes in Gaza in 2009 and in Lebanon in 2006.

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Statement from The Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago and the Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights:

Approximately 100 Chicagoans, many of them students, protested former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s appearance at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs yesterday. Olmert’s talk, an exclusive event for ticket-holders only, was also disrupted by a courageous activist who attended the 45-minute speech focusing on the “peace process.”

Thaer Ahmad disrupted the talk during the question and answer part of the program, when it became clear that all questions were pre-arranged and he would not be allowed to ask a question.

“I decided to interrupt as he was answering a question about predicting the future two to three years from now. I asked him if he thought that two to three years from now, justice would be served and he’d be tried as a war criminal for the murder of 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza in 2008 and 1,000 Lebanese in 2006.”

Ahmad added, “[Olmert] stopped and looked at me in surprise. Everyone was quiet and [security] grabbed me and while they escorted me out, I said there was more than 300 children who were killed [in Gaza].”

Demonstrators’ chanting and drumming were heard inside the venue throughout Olmert’s appearance, forcing him to acknowledge the protest. Olmert remarked that he was surprised that there was a protest of his appearance. However, it should have been no surprise as Chicagoans made international headlines in 2009, the last time Olmert appeared in Chicago. His speech at the University of Chicago was constantly disrupted and the protest caught on video that went viral on the Internet and was broadcast by Al Jazeera and even Israeli Army Radio.

Attendees of yesterday’s Olmert event were given mock programs as they entered the downtown Chicago Club. Inside the mock program was a warrant for Olmert’s arrest for war crimes perpetrated in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Demonstrators were still chanting as attendees filed out of the building approximately two hours after the action started.

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Electronic Intifada: Olmert disrupted by activists in Chicago (again)

Chicago gave former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a proper greeting once again yesterday. Outrageously, the former Israeli premier was invited to speak at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about “peace.”


Olmert also spoke at the liberal Zionist J Street conference last week. His participation caused the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem to come under fire after the group sent out an email saying they were a “proud sponsor” of the conference.

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