Arab student explains why he heckled Obama in Jerusalem 24Mar13 March 24, 2013

The Lede, New York Times    -    22 March 2013

575988_10151310507270168_1705561159_nThe 24-year-old student from Israel’s Arab minority who interrupted President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem on Thursday explained his comments and why he made them in an interview with The Lede on Friday.

The heckler, Rabbea Eid, a political science student at Haifa University, said by telephone that he did not plan the outburst but was offended by Mr. Obama’s remarks, which seemed to rule out the solution that he favors: a single, binational state to be shared by Israelis and Palestinians:

I was listening to the speech of Obama and he said a lot of things that made me upset so I just stood up and shouted. He was talking about democracy and justice and at the same time he said he supports Israel as a Jewish country. So, from my perspective and that of a lot of people, Arab people, Palestinians who were in the building listening to the speech … the Arabs, the minority in Israel are also against a Jewish country because it’s not a democratic country. It’s against us, so how can Mr. Obama be democratic and in the same time support an ethnic country?

So I stood up and I told him, “President Obama, did you come to make peace or to support Israel and the Israeli occupation?” Then I asked him about this thing, “How can you be democratic and support a Jewish country?” And I asked him also, “Who killed Rachel Corrie?” The last question was, “Did you see the apartheid wall when you came from Ramallah?”

And then the security guys came and took me out, the Israeli security guys, and they told me that I’m arrested and they threatened me and they used, at first, a little bit of violence with me. But after that there was a journalist, from Fox News, I think, came out and followed me … She started taking my details and pictures, while I was stopped by the Israeli security guys … One of the security guys, I think the boss of them, told his team, “Deal with him easy. I don’t want to make a big story now. There is media so just let him go.” Then they walked me outside.

Mr. Eid, an activist with the Balad Party, which represents Arab citizens of Israel, also said, “I don’t think Obama can solve the problem, because he’s as I see it, he’s part of the problem because he supports Israel and gives Israel weapons and money without saying they shouldn’t be killing the Palestinian people.”

He added:

I believe if he’s from a real democratic party, he should support a country for all its citizens and end the occupation, not to support a Jewish country and to support the Israeli army. He didn’t talk that much about the settlements. He talked about the violence from settlers but he didn’t say very clearly that something against settlements is that they are built on occupied land. He didn’t talk about the apartheid wall. And many things.

Most of his speech was to me, and to a lot of others, a Zionist speech. He talked about the historical Zionist story about the Jewish people, starting from 2,000 years ago till today and the right of the Jewish people to have their own country, but he didn’t say that there are millions of refugees, Palestinian refugees that were expelled in 1948, just before 65 years ago.

To me, I believe in one state for two people — one democratic state. There could be a special national thing for the Jewish or the Arab people, you know, but it could be one country. We need justice, you know. I actually don’t care what the name of this state is, but what I care is for there to be justice for two peoples in the state and to end this conflict.

Before hanging up, Mr. Eid said, “It is important for us that the American people know what is happening here, and to know that the money from their taxes is going for the weapons for Israel and different places.”

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