Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu in the news

September 09, 2002


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach:

1 "Police clash with protesters canceling Netanyahu speech" (AP, Sept. 9, 2002). Canadian riot police fired tear gas at rioting pro-Palestinian students who prevented Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking.

2 "CJC denounces mob rule in Montreal" (Press release from the Canadian Jewish Congress, Sept.9, 2002).

3 "Netanyahu's wife says Israel 'can burn,' later apologizes" (AP, Sept. 5, 2002).



Police clash with protesters disrupting Netanyahu speech
The Associated Press
September 9, 2002

A crowd of chanting protesters waving Palestinian flags forced the cancellation of a speech Monday by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and clashed with police.

Scores of demonstrators, some wearing keffiyehs, stormed the Concordia University building in downtown Montreal where Netanyahu was scheduled to speak.

They threw chairs and smashed windows when police tried to make them leave, and police responded with tear gas. There were no immediate reports of injuries, and at least one demonstrator was seen being taken into police custody.

Netanyahu had yet to arrive when the clash took place, and university security officials later announced the speech was called off. Some of the several hundred people who gathered to protest Netanyahu's visit accused him of being a terrorist and said he had no right to propagate anti-Palestinian views.



CJC denounces mob rule in Montreal
September 9, 2002

Canadian Jewish Congress deplores the violent pro-Palestinian riot that blocked former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu from delivering his scheduled address at Concordia University in Montreal today. Mr. Netanyahu's speaking engagement in Montreal was organized by the university's student Hillel organization.

"This violent form of censorship has no place in a free and democratic Canada," says Keith Landy, CJC national president. "In this country we don't tolerate mob rule. Angry crowds should not be allowed to obstruct free expression if they don't happen to agree with or like the message. It's shameful."

Mr. Landy stresses that the demonstrators have a right to make their voices heard by lawfully protesting. "But denying a foreign dignitary a platform to give a speech, especially at a university where free speech is supposedly sacred, is completely unacceptable. This amounts to a 'heckler's veto,'" the CJC leader contends.



Netanyahu's wife says Israel 'can burn,' later apologizes
The Associated Press
September 5, 2002

In audio taped remarks played on Israel TV Thursday the wife of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "this country can burn" and that she and her husband would leave Israel because he is not appreciated.

Sara Netanyahu later apologized in a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. She made the comments Monday during a telephone conversation with Shimshon Deri, an activist in Netanyahu and Sharon's Likud party.

In the phone call, she said, "There are sometimes issues of revenge and personal conflicts and they don't understand one thing: when the country is in flames, when there are terror attacks… there is one person who can save this country," referring to her husband, who is vying with Sharon for party leadership.

Using Netanyahu's nickname, she said, "Bibi is a leader who is greater than this entire country, he really is a leader on a national scale. We'll move abroad. This country can burn. This country can't survive without Bibi. People here will be slaughtered."

Israel and the Palestinians are locked in nearly two years of fighting, during which Palestinian suicide bombers have killed more than 250 Israelis. Netanyahu has repeatedly criticized Sharon for failing to bring an end to the attacks, demanding harsher military measures.

Netanyahu served as Israel's prime minister from 1996-1999, pursuing a hard-line policy toward the Palestinians. He was defeated in an election by Ehud Barak, a moderate, whose peace efforts failed. Barak lost an election in February 2001 to Sharon, a veteran hawk.

Following his defeat, Netanyahu left politics briefly. He returned before the 2001 election, seeking special permission to run for prime minister, though he was not a member of parliament. The parliament turned him down, and he embarked on a campaign to unseat Sharon as Likud party leader.

According to Israeli media, Deri used to be a strong Netanyahu backer but the two had a disagreement. The Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that Deri's lawyer later demanded she publicly apologize to the Likud party and the citizens of Israel, the newspaper reported, printing a copy of the letter she sent to Sharon.

"I am sorry for the things I said. I love our country... This is my home and like everyone else I have no other home," the newspaper quoted the letter as saying.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.