Last night, 22 activists were arrested at Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s speech to the World Affairs Council at the Westin St. Francis Hotel at Union Square in downtown San Francisco. More than 250 individuals were protesting outside the hotel, as dozens of activists launched an organized campaign of disruption inside the auditorium, including attempting to place Olmert under citizen’s arrest. Every couple of minutes, more activists disrupted his speech, barely allowing him to speak. Activists read the names of the children killed in Gaza last winter, or read from the recently published Goldstone report and displayed banners that read, “Lift the Siege on Gaza” and “War Crimes are Not Free Expression!” Activists were removed from the auditorium chanting “war criminal!” and taken to the Tenderloin Police Station where they were held for citation and released.
Olmert ordered Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza beginning in late December 2008, code-named Operation Cast Lead. Last week, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution endorsing the Goldstone report, an independent investigation into the Gaza operation, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and, found that Israel violated international law and possibly committed crimes against humanity.
Nora Barrows-Friedman, senior producer of Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio, was on the scene, interviewing those who had gathered to voice their outrage at Olmert’s presence. This audio was produced for KPFA’s Flashpoints and is reproduced with credit.
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- “Why I disrupted Olmert, Ali Abunimah (23 October 2009)
- “Olmert visit sparks Palestine movement at US university,” Emily Ratner (20 October 2009)
- “EI exclusive video: Protesters shout down Ehud Olmert in Chicago,” Video by The Electronic Intifada and text by Maureen Clare Murphy (16 October 2009)