27 Bay Area residents disrupt former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's
speech, citing war crimes
San Francisco – More than 25 activists have bought tickets to Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech to the World Affairs Council – currently
underway at the Westin St. Francis Hotel (Union Square) – in order to
vocally disrupt his speech. Inside the auditorium, activists are reading
the names of the children killed in Gaza last winter, publicly charging
Olmert with killing innocent civilians, and displaying banners that read
"Lift the Siege on Gaza" and "War Crimes are Not Free Expression!" Olmert
ordered Israel's brutal attacks on Gaza beginning in late December 2008,
codenamed 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 found that Israel violated
international law and possibly committed crimes against humanity.
"Israel is an apartheid state guilty of war crimes and its leaders should
not be welcome in San Francisco," said Lisa Nessan, a Jewish resident of
Oakland, who has traveled several times to Israel and Palestine, most
recently in May. "For the past sixty years, under leadership like Olmert's,
Israel has denied Palestinians their basic human rights, built settlements
on their lands, and killed civilians – all to force them from their
A lively protest has also gathered across from the hotel in Union Square,
where about 150 people are carrying signs bearing the names and pictures of
children killed during Operation Cast Lead. Olmert is making several
appearances in the US this month, and has been met with strong protests at
locations including the University of
Tulane University in New Orleans.
"We join with people around the world who believe that Israel and its
leaders must be held accountable for their actions. Israel killed 1400
people during its attacks on Gaza last winter alone, and many more have died
or suffered from the effects of siege, occupation, and apartheid on their
daily lives," said Monadel Herzallah, a Palestinian activist who lives in
Fairfield and whose 21 year old cousin was killed in Gaza in January.
Organizers also expressed outrage that President Obama has ignored the
findings of the Goldstone Report. The US has pledged more than $3 billion
each year in unrestricted aid to Israel. "Israel’s use of US aid and
military equipment violates our own laws," said Rae Abileah, an organizer
with CODEPINK whose father is Israeli. "Why are we giving aid to a country
that is destroying people's homes and attacking civilians, while our own
nation is struggling with unemployment and underfunded social services?"
Eduardo Cohen of San Francisco sums up the sentiment: "The war crimes in the
Goldstone Report are not an exception, but a reminder that Israel's
apartheid law is itself criminal. We must not only hold Olmert accountable,
but all of Israel's leaders, our own elected officials, and other companies
and individuals that profit from these crimes. Only then can true justice
The protest was sponsored by: Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), Bay
Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid (BACEIA), CODEPINK Women for Peace,
Friends of Deiribzi'a, Northern California International Solidarity
Movement, Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), South Bay Mobilization,
Stop AIPAC, CAL Students for Justice in Palestine, US Palestine Communities
Network (USPCN), Bay Area Women in Black.
Updates will be posted live via Twitter at http://twitter.com/ProtestOlmertSF.
Video and/or photos will be available to stream and download.