By COLlive reporter
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s speech at the Jewish Federations’ General Assembly on Monday was marked by repeated heckling from members of the audience.
The first heckler, who interrupted Netanyahu barely moments after he began his 30 minute speech, was ejected while shouting “the loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel.”
The prime minister, unperturbed by the interruption, responded by saying, “I was going to talk about delegitimizing Israel but they really have the wrong address.”
Subsequent interruptions of regular intervals protested Israel’s “occupation”, claiming that it too delegitimizes Israel.
The unprecedented scale of interruptions did not sit well with the audience, who after the first heckler’s interruptions responded with chants of “Am Yisrael Chai” [The nation of Israel lives], and “Bibi, Bibi” [Netanyahu’s nickname].
Israel’s Channel 2 TV showed footage of one of the hecklers being unceremoniously escorted from the plush ballroom with the help of a bearded rabbi.
COLlive identified him as Rabbi David Eliezrie, Director of Chabad in Yorba Linda, California, and president of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County and Long Beach.
We reached him on the phone Monday night as he was rushing to another session at the convention in the New Orleans Marriott.
“Yes, it’s me,” he said.
“I was sitting on the second row and we were very agitated by the repeated disruptions. When this person started screaming and waving the sign “Israel is Apartheid” I pulled it from him.”
After the heckler was escorted out, the Chabad rabbi took the sign and began ripping it to pieces.
His friend Shalom Elcott, President and CEO of Jewish Federation of Orange County, advised him to do so while standing on a chair so the crowd could see.
“It all happened in a nano second,” Eliezrie says. “It was a gut reaction… like when your heart tells you to do something.”
He said Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), came over to him later to thank him.
Eliezrie and Elcott delivered Tuesday morning a workshop on the topic “Federations are from Mars, Chabad is from Venus.”
They discussed how Chabad shares an agenda with the Federations for the welfare of Jews around the world and how can Federations and Chabad work together locally and globally.
Orange County was mentioned as an example where a remarkable partnership has evolved between the Jewish Federation & Family Services and Chabad.
Other Chabad officials attending the GA are Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Director of American Friends of Lubavitch in Washington, DC; Rabbi Ephraim Mintz, Director of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and Rabbi Avrohom Berkowitz, a representative of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch.
The GA is fully kosher thanks to the supervision of Rabbi Yossi Nemes, director of Chabad Center of Metairie in New Orleans.