Protests erupt surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued  March 3 against Iran’s nuclear program before a joint session of Congress. His speech was opposed by Arabs, Israelis, and some Democrats, but welcomed by members of the Republican party such as Sen. John McCain and Speaker of the House John Boehner. Both protesters and supporters convened on Capitol Hill and cities nationwide to voice their opinions on this historic address.

WASHINGTON – The speech begun officially at 11 a.m. as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu prepared to speak before the meeting.

“I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy,” he said. “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.”

Throughout his address, he recalled Israeli history, thanked America for its unwavering support, and, more often, questioned Iran’s intentions with a nuclear program by accusing Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei of anti-Semitism by way of violent tweets.

He also claimed that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to nuke Israel: “[Nasrallah] said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Netanyahu spoke openly about his fears of a nuclear Iranian state; on Sept. 29 when addressing the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu said that Ayatollah Khomeini once vowed to dominate the world with his militant Islamic doctrine.

“You know, to say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees,” Netanyahu said. “ …this bemoaning by the Iranian president of the spread of terrorism has got to be one of history’s greatest displays of doubletalk.”

While the Senate was packed with noted senators such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (as well as special guest award-winning author of Night, Elie Wiesel), more than 50 congressional Democrats refused to attend the event, indicating partisan complications within the House.

During the speech, Israelis For a Sustainable Future protested outside the Israeli consulate in New York City. Hunter College student and activist Abraham Gutman said that “Bibi does not speak for us.”

“Every year, there’s a cycle of violence…” he said. “Israelis live in fear of bombing from Iran, because Netanyahu uses Iran as a silver bullet for any issue [Israelis] want to discuss. It’s not sustainable.”

The previous night on March 2, Netanyahu spoke at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He defended his coming address to Congress. Upon leaving, he was greeted with hundreds of protesters on Capitol Hill, some holding a banner which read NETANYAHU: WAR CRIMINAL in red, black, and green.

Many protestors joined together under Veterans for Peace, the Coalition to End the Israeli Occupation, and Code Pink.

Michael Sampson of the Dream Defenders explained their mission: “The goals were to raise awareness and challenge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and AIPAC. Israel is an apartheid nation that persecutes the people of Palestine and African immigrants…Our message is for the U.S. government to end all foreign aid to Israel.”


One thought on “Protests erupt surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech

  • March 5, 2015 at 5:19 PM

    Keep up the good work Kaila

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