Obama makes fun of heckler asking “who killed Rachel Corrie?”

US President Barack Obama arrived in the West Bank city of Ramallah by helicopter yesterday and gave yet another insipid speech. The Palestinian Authority’s security forces, collaborating with US forces, designated a huge security perimeter with the PA compound — the Muqataa — in the middle. Some of the city’s busiest streets were closed off and inaccessible to those not living there. As helicopters filled the skies from the morning up until late afternoon, I was stuck at home working during the nine-hour lockdown, all too aware of the soldiers stationed on the rooftops around my building. 

Protestors tried to march from Manara Square in the city center to the Muqataa yet again yesterday morning, but were stopped by hundreds of policemen and riot guards. The speech Obama gave at the compound was not littered with Arabic phrases (a speech he delivered the previous day was littered with Hebrew phrases) and gave the usual empty and irrational rhetoric of the US supporting an independent sovereign Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state that will only come into fruition through direct negotiations with Israel.

He also tried to play down the Jewish-only settlements by mentioning that the US does not consider them as “constructive” or “appropriate” for the advancement of peace, but refused to call for their dismantlement or use strong language to call out their illegal nature, which prompted Mahmoud Abbas to uncharacteristically interject and describe them as illegitimate and more than an obstacle to peace.

Obama’s next stop was at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, where he gave a long-winded sycophantic speech to more than a thousand Israeli students and academics from different universities. It was during this speech that Obama laid out his formula for peace: Palestinians, who have shown a willingness to renounce violence — as if violence is inherent to Arabs — should accept Israel, their colonizer and occupier, as a democratic and Jewish state. In return, Israel should halt its illegal settlement building.

Twenty-five-year-old Rabeea Eid, a student activist and member of the National Democratic Assembly, had heard and had enough. He stood up in the middle of Obama’s speech and called him out on three issues that summarized the flaccid nature and flagrant inefficacy of Obama’s visit to occupied Palestine.

“Did you really come here for peace or to give Israel more weapons to kill and destroy the Palestinian people? Did you happen to see the apartheid wall on your way here?”


What is the point of Obama’s visit? It is to bribe the PA to maintain its repression of Palestinian protests and “unrest” to uphold Israel’s security and to pressure it to re-enter bilateral negotiations with Israel without any pre-conditions?

The unnecessary bit is the Israeli side to the question. Obama wants to fall short from supplicating himself fully on the ground to an extremist government, in which the defense minister has likened Palestinians to cancer and the housing minister has pledged to construct more settlements and the minister of trade, industry and labor wants to annex more than half of the West Bank. US foreign policy has always favored and strongly supported the Israeli occupation and rewarded it with billions of dollars in military aid annually — that is nothing new. From 1949 until the present day, the US has given Israel more than $115 billion.

The level of groveling, the cringe-worthy speeches and recycled propaganda and lies of depicting Israel as a small pioneering country that started off with its back against the wall amid a sea of hostile enemies alternates between tedium and sarcastic amusement. Even David Ben Gurion recognized that Israel is a colonial enterprise, nothing more and nothing less. Is it necessary to out-Zionize even the most ardent Zionists just to reaffirm support for Israel?

Of course, Obama didn’t see the apartheid wall on his way from Ramallah to Jerusalem; he was too busy reveling in orgasmic pleasure at Israel’s innovative technology (with bases set up on occupied lands), its vibrant ancient history, and the mighty brave “Israeli Defense Forces” (who by the way arrested 30 schoolchildren on Wednesday in the old city of Hebron.) Eid continued:

“There are Palestinians sitting in this hall. This state should be for all of its citizens, not a Jewish state only.”

Ah, the conundrum of being Jewish and democratic. Twenty percent of Israel’s population, more than 1.5 million Palestinians, are citizens of Israel. Where exactly do they fit?  Surely not as third class citizens battling an institutionalized racist and discriminatory society on a daily basis, or the more than 60 laws issued by Israel since 1949 that discriminate against Palestinians in the education, public services, and civil rights sectors, to name a few. Eid also said:

“Who killed Rachel Corrie? Rachel Corrie was killed by your money and weapons!”

Not a word

Some could say this is the nub of the relationship between Israel and the US. Rachel Corrie, an American citizen, was killed ten years ago by a bulldozer as she tried to protect a Palestinian family’s home from being demolished in Rafah, Gaza. Nine years after her murder, an Israeli court ruled that she was to blame for her own death. The US administration didn’t say a word.

Does the US allow Israel to continue with its impunity and grave violations of human rights and give it unconditional support because three thousand years ago, Jews were exiled from the holy land? Or — as Obama correctly noted in his opening speech on Tuesday — because of the similarities between the US and Israel: both colonizing entities that committed (in Israel’s case, continues to commit) massacres and ethnic cleansing of the population indigenous to the land they settled on?

“I couldn’t stand listening to the speech any more,” Rabeea Eid, who writes for the Arabs48 website, said. “It was a very Zionist speech that made other speeches by Zionist figures pale in comparison.”

Rabeea was dragged out of the hall by security guards, who handed him over to the police. They handcuffed him, threatened him, and attempted to intimidate him. They told him he was under arrest. A Fox News journalist had followed the security guards outside and wanted to know what Rabeea had said to Obama. Soon afterwards, other journalists and reporters followed suit, asking him questions.


“You can say that the media circus is what got me released,” Rabeea told The Electronic Intifada a few hours later. “I felt it was important to show Palestinian voices within the ’48 territories do not welcome Obama.

“[Obama’s visit] in its entirety clearly shows the bias the US has towards Israel. I obviously wasn’t expecting Obama to talk about the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the discrimination against them. Yet I’m baffled that even after his pro-Israel speeches, the Palestinian leadership continues to welcome him, thus supporting the US hegemony in the Middle East and its policies around the world.” 

(Speaking of bafflement, Mahmoud Abbas presented Obama with a painting of Abraham Lincoln and Obama. Was it a cunning message that Obama wouldn’t be where he is today if Lincoln didn’t “free all the slaves” back then?)

In response to Rabeea’s interruption of his speech, Obama laughed and made fun of the situation, to raucous applause and standing ovations from the audience.

“No, no — this is part of the lively debate that we talked about,” he joked. “This is good. You know, I have to say we actually arranged for that, because it made me feel at home. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler.”

“A friend showed me a clip of what he said after I was taken outside,” Rabeea said. “It wasn’t very clear because the video was on a cell phone, but it tells you a lot about how Obama decided to make fun after I mentioned Rachel Corrie, the contradiction of being a Jewish and democratic state, and the weapons the US funds Israel with.”

For Rabeea, he considers the most crucial thing is for Obama’s visit not to go by without further “heckling.”

“The most important part is for this visit not to go on in a normal manner,” he said.

Protestors in Bethlehem already set fire to tires last night and burned the US flags hung at the entrance to town where Obama is expected to pass tomorrow.




I am a critic of Obama's foreign policy, particularly regarding Palestine. However there is no sense in which he is making fun of the heckler. The headline is misleading and should be changed.


Good for this guy! It's great that he asked these questions, even as a heckller. I hadn't heard about this anywhere. I hope it got more media attention in europe and the Arab countries. If it wasn't for the jounalists, he wpuld have been thrown out.


He's a disgusting individual who won both elections on the false promise of "hope" and "CHANGE, trademark 2008".

However, I saw a comment by some Christian fundamentalist that I also liked on some white house youtube video:

"and the gates of hell will open up, and Obama will tumble shrieking into the pit."
It's not based in reality but it was really fun to read.


Respect, Rabeea.

These are the people whose names will live in the history of courageous resistance. Those who lie, manipulate truth, the power-hungry, those who murder and destroy countries will go down in history, deep down.


barack obomber is a cowardly stooge of white supremacy and will lie cheat and steal to stay in the good graces of the ruling class. He does not even protest when his own people are shot down in cold blood by the racist police in his own country. Doi you think then he is concerned about the Palestinians?


Bashing the American President and calling him insulting names, is childish and unproductive. Being mean spirited and making derogatory comments, doesn't do anything except spew hate. I suggest being more understanding, respectful, and caring. We are all human beings who deserve to be honored and treated like you would want your own family treated. No racist comments or damaging insults please.


Amlya: Although in terms of etiquette you may have a point, many politicians themselves lack self respect. There are many who are fit for the war crimes tribunal and Israel has many such polititians. Obama kills by remote control and innocent people die in those incidents. So interms of the extra judicial killings that take place without due process by him, he is paying no price. Respect begets respect!


I don't think Obama made fun of the heckler, and i thoink the headline is misleading. What was terrible about Obam's whole speech was his lack of strong words against Israel's illegal and cruel treatment of the Palestinian people, which no decent human being can support. Israel's policies are an abomination.


Maybe "fun" isn't the most precise word, but Obama certainly showed how dissent is dealt with in the Western world: pretend to welcome it but don't engage, essentially marginalizing anyone outside the mainstream.

If Obama really welcomed debate, he would have responded with some substance. But he's a master at hypocritical communication -- how else did a candidate so massively supported by (and supportive of) corporations get elected emperor as a 'grassroots populist'?


I am embarrassed by our President. I had so much hope for him in his second term. I thought sure, that by him being re-elected, he would do the right thing by not bending over for Israel--as every president and elected official has for the past 65 years. Everything is laid out in front of this guy! He just refuses to see it. This is history repeating itself. He should know better than anyone.

Mad props to this guy. I'm not surprised he got kicked out. What better way to avoid answering a question than to laugh it off and remove the problem. I hope he lives to witness a free Palestine.


Jey Leno showed this clip last night on his Late Night Show. It is becoming more and more mainstream that Israel is not a normal state, but an apartheid state.


Maybe I'm being idealistic since I couldn't see or read what it said on the people's t-shirts but it looked to me like Obama was trying to get the security to stop from removing the guy who talked and then he said that's what he meant by lively debate (Rasheed's comments) and everyone stood up and cheered. This is consistent with what I have heard about Israeli youth being alienated from the government and what they are doing. Regardless, Jay Leno is definitely mainstream US. Yes, yes, yes.


Whoever thought that Barack Obama would be any different than any of his predecessors and/or opponents? I know I didn't, which is why I refused to vote for either Obama or his GOP opponent in either of the last two POTUS Elections. I voted Green instead. Obama's speech, like those of his predecessors/opponents, smacked of tokenism and tranquility, not justice.


I've always favored Israel as a Jewish-majority nation-state, but having an independent, sovereign Palestinian nation-state alongside Israel, which is comprised of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem is also an absolute necessity for Israel's survival, as well as that of the Palestinians.

That being said, anybody who thought that Obama would be any different than his predecessor(s)/opponent(s) was dreaming. It's turned out to not be the case. Like the speech of Obama's predecessor(s)/opponent(s), Obama's speech omitted the stating of the necessity to freeze and withdraw settlements and settlers, as well as the evacuation of Israeli troops from West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and giving up control of the water and air-space in those territories.


At last one was reduced to his/her solitary decision on Obama at the ballot box:
Regarding Palestine and Israel I have known for years that Barack Obama is the
property of AIPAC (the "Jewish lobby"). While there were many other reasons to
oppose Obama, I decided that I would "draw a line in the sand" with Palestine/Israel.
I cast no vote--NO VOTE !! --- for President of the US last year. I had withdrawn from his political party long ago. Voting "Green" is no solution since multi-party coalitions
have never worked in the US political system (as they do in many other nations).
I am proud of that lack of support and wish others could make the same decisions instead of writing "Dear Mr. President..." petitions. Those of us who resist have far
to go. We can begin with ourselves and what we control: our own votes.


Notwithstanding President Obama’s constant and excessive political psycho-pandering during his trip to Israel, I rate his performance as a B+. Most of the President’s points were earned for style and delivery. He lost points on substance and for his lack of ideological clarity of the true nature of Zionism.

Most non-Jews have a very superficial understanding of Zionist ideology. To most Americans, for example, Zionism is simply a movement that started circa 1900 to return Jews to their biblical homeland. To Jews, however, and to most of the non-Jewish inhabitants of Israel and the neighboring counties, Zionism is an ethno-theocratic doctrine that differentiates Israeli citizens according to race and religion. Within a Zionist Jewish Israeli society, Israeli Jewish citizens of European ancestry are given top priority. Next, come Israeli Jewish citizens of non-European ancestry, and finally consideration is given to Israeli citizens of Arab ancestry.

To many, classifying people according to race and religion is a form of discrimination. But, as we saw yesterday, President Obama apparently see it as the Zionist ideal. Or, does he?

Clearly, President Obama does not agree with how Israel is treating her non-Jewish citizens and neighbors, the Palestinians. He said as much yesterday at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.” He’s right. “It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished.” Right again. “It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer.” The President is correct on all three counts.


Obama screwed up by remarking on a heckler that he clearly didn't hear. Problem is, it's not like a heckler in the Senate heckling about Obama being a liar. Rachel Corrie was killed and We the people have some blood on ou hands for that and many, many Israeli atrocities. I hope once Obama knows what was said, he, or his administration apologizes.


President Obama’s recognition and criticism of Israel’s humiliating treatment of the Palestinians, reveals either his lack of understanding about the true nature of Zionism, or duplicity with respect to his true feeling about Zionism. Regardless of his actions and speeches while in Israel, he cannot be for Zionism and against Zionism at the same time. He is either confused or duplicitous.

President Obama’s frequent references to Israel as democratic and his suggestion that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, may be pleasing to Jewish Israeli citizens, but are essentially meaningless to advancing the larger debate. What Israel chooses to call herself is irrelevant to her Arab neighbors. The real challenge for Israel is reconciling the “Jewish” designation within her own boarders with her non-Jewish citizens who will be automatically and institutionally disenfranchised as a result.

There are many reasons why a “Jewish” state cannot be democratic, but for brevity, I will mention only two here. The first reason is the designation “Jewish” in terms of religion means that Israel is a theocracy, not a democracy. If “Jewish” is a reference to ethnicity, then Israel is an apartheid state, certainly not a democracy. The second reason is that, at least 20 % of Israelis are ethnically Arab – Christian, Muslim, Druze, or Bahai. Designating Israel as a “Jewish” state would automatically and officially make one-fifth of Israel’s population second-class citizens.


The President, notwithstanding his excessive psycho-pandering, stood in front of an audience of young Israeli Jewish citizens and told them, in not so veiled terms, to disregard the rhetoric of their national leadership and chart a new course for their nation. Obama, whether or not he realizes it, when he told his audience to – create the change they wanted to see - told young Zionists around the world to reject the ideology of Jewish supremacy.

Now, that took style.

Regardless of his speeches, his reef laying at Herzl’s tomb, and his visits to Israel’s museums, Obama’s admonition to young Israeli Jews to – put themselves in the shoes of Palestinians and look at the world through their eyes – reveals the President’s true view of Zionism.

Pay no attention to the continuous and excessive political psycho-pandering we have grown accustomed to. This is simply a salve for a mind damaged by years of twisted Zionist logic.


Obama doesn't necessarily directly mock the heckler through words, but clearly gives several consistent gestures with the intention of deriding the man he carefully labels 'heckler', again deprecating.
It is naive to think politicians like Obama aren't trained for all of this, its a show, and you're the spectator.
Thank you Linah for the good article.


Does anyone know if Pres. Obama even knows/understands Hebrew in even a conversational level, let alone a voice yelling at him in a room with over a 1000 students in it? Very close to a straw-man argument.


You really think there's a likelihood the educated young Palestinian would not have been speaking English. He certainly would not have chosen Hebrew!


Obama is president who has the courage to make peaceful change...not invade countries based on lies for monetary gain. Keep up the good work President...you can't be friends with everyone, but keep doing the right things and this world will be a better place for you doing so.


What you're saying about the Obama Administration not invading other countries isn't true, Ray V. We are still invading other countries, only in more covert, rather than overt ways. Look at how Obama anted up our Afghanistan, extended and expanded it into Pakistan, and now Yemen and Libya are involved as well, and we might possibly go into Syria. Don't kid yourself into thinking otherwise. What the USA is presently doing is still gunboat diplomacy, no matter which way anybody looks at it.


Obama's speech said all those things you wanted him to say, but not in an inflammatory manner. He told Israelis he was going to speak as a friend, but what he said was tough love. He told them peace is necessary or there won't be a Jewish state, given the area's demographics, so a thriving, secure Palestinian state is necessary for Israel to continue to exist. He told them peace is JUST, which also told them, slyly, that the occupation is therefore UNJUST. He then asked Jews to look at the world through the eyes of a Palestinian girl, to see that the occupation is not fair, how hard it is to grow up with soldiers all around, controlling hers and her parents movements! He said settler violence goes unpunished! He said it isn't right to stop Palestinians from farming their land, to restrict their movement, to kick them out of their homes, etc. He said "Palestinians have a RIGHT to be a FREE people in THEIR OWN LAND." Of course, he meant just the West Bank (but all of it, not 40%), Gaza, and East Jerusalem--Jerusalem for crying out loud! You guys need to read this speech again. He is trying to stir up the students to demand justice and peace. You should be cooperating with this effort instead of griping about every little thing! He said Israelis must recognize that settlement is counterproductive to peace and that an independent Palestine must be viable, real borders must be drawn. I think this speech to students could be a turning point. At least he is right that you must work with those Israelis seeking genuine peace with genuine, equal rights for your people. It had to be a fair speech, because Neftali Bennet disagreed, saying "a nation does not occupy its own land"... (pardon me while I throw up). And Likud member Regev called it "offensive to Netanyahu, saying he doesn't want peace." Read the speech again, you guys... it was a great speech.


Obama's flip remark was and is shameful !
Rachel Corrie's murder and state complicity is reminiscent of Sherrif Bull Connor or Cecil Price during the Civil Rights atrocities !

And to think that Barack is not even eligible to buy/ lease land in Israel , this "democracy" ,because of his ethnicity or religion is amazing indeed !


All mainstream media initially stated that the remark was about Pollard. Often there is a sentence like this: "A reliable Hebrew speaker near the press pool says the shouting was about Pollard".

Is there any research into how and by whom this canard was injected in the press pool system?


This article focused more on trashing Obama and Israel than on describing the heckler. Why should hecklers get respect anyway? The heckler interrupted an important speech.


Obama's speech was not filled with empty promises, and tried to support both states coming to an agreement. He is not against the formation of Palestine, but does not want Israel and Israelis to be wiped out by forming this Arab nation.

Linah Alsaafin

Linah Alsaafin's picture

22 years old, from both Gaza and the West Bank. Writer and editor based in Ramallah. 

Twitter: @LinahAlsaafin