Screaming protesters disrupt JNF meeting

Anti-Israel protestors caused severe disruption at a major JNF conference on Sunday, with two Jewish demonstrators carried out of the hall after screaming insults at Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor.

The one-day conference, held at the Hendon Hall Hotel in north west London, considered solutions to overcrowding in Israeli cities and how the Jewish state deals with the severe water crisis in the Negev.

Around 100 demonstrators from groups including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and the Islamic Human Rights Commission protested outside the hotel, disrupting delegates’ attempts to enter the conference.

Despite stringent security measures employed by JNF, the Community Security Trust and police, two protestors were evicted from the hall as Mr Prosor began to speak.

One, wearing a kippah, sitting in the centre of the hall, leapt to his feet and screamed: “You lot are a bunch of f***ing racists. Ethnic cleansers.”

CST security men removed him from the hall, but as Mr Prosor resumed his speech a second man began shouting anti-Israel remarks. He was punched and kicked by a delegate as he was pulled from the hall.

Neither man is thought to be Jewish but they had successfully registered for the event after passing the JNF and CST screening processes. They used photo ID cards to enter the venue and were not arrested after being thrown out.

Other conference speakers included Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, JNF UK chairman Samuel Hayek and KKL-JNF world co-chairman Avraham Duvdevani.

Mr Prosor spoke of the “strong trend” in Britain to delegitimise Israel and blamed the situation on the British media, the atmosphere on university campuses and the efforts of non-governmental organisations including Oxfam and Christian Aid.

He said Israel had become an “acceptable punching bag” and called on the community to “look [the problem] in the eye and all fight together”.

CST confirmed there had been a “verbal disruption” to the event and two people had been removed. But neither CST nor JNF could comment on the registration and screening process for delegates.

The event also caused disruption for other hotel users. One Jewish family holding a private Chanucah party at the venue on Sunday was asked the previous evening to provide a full list of guests.

The family was then barracked by demonstrators as they arrived.

Despite claims that anti-Israel groups had encouraged Hendon Hall to rule out hosting future JNF events, a spokeswoman for the hotel said no such agreement had been made.

    Last updated: 4:47pm, December 17 2009