A “Chicago Stands with Israel” event Thursday featuring speakers like Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin, and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren drew more than 600 paying guests, a small group of whom had their own agenda for the evening.
As the speakers addressed the audience, a group of protesters, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, stood up two at a time, shouting things like “We are Jews, shame on you, end the occupation now.” After they were briskly removed by security, another group of protesters would rise, chanting similar slogans while waving orange banners with words like “Shame.” At least five groups stood up, and by the end event-goers started swatting protesters with napkins and throwing water at them. The whole thing was captured on video.
The event was a fundraiser for the Jewish United Fund’s Israel Emergency Campaign, which provides humanitarian aid to people in Israel affected by Hamas rocket attacks. The campaign has raised $8.7 million, including donations from the event at the Chicago Hilton.
“The program was interrupted several times by a small but well-organized group of protestors who had registered and paid in advance in order to gain admission. They were quickly escorted out by security personnel,” JUF later explained on their website.
On Twitter, Chicago JVP posted images of a crowd outside the event holding signs reading “Stop All U.$. Aid To Israel Now!” and “End The Occupation and Colonization of Palestine.”
Oren, who stepped down as Israel’s ambassador last year, told the audience that Hamas uses human shields to potentially accuse Israel of war crimes. “While striving to kill Israeli civilians, Hamas hides behind Palestinian civilians, hoping Israel will kill them,” he said. “Dead Israelis or dead Palestinians; either way, it’s a victory for Hamas.”
Emanuel, Chicago’s first Jewish mayor, is known for his involvement in Jewish and Israel-related issues.
Adam Janofsky is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, where he was editor of the student newspaper, The Chicago Maroon. He has worked and written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, and The Bangkok Post. Follow him on Twitter @adamjanofsky.