Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “arrested” in San Francisco
22 activists, including several women with CODEPINK, were arrested after disrupting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech to the World Affairs Council on Thursday, October 22, 2009 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Inside the auditorium, activists began disrupting the event by placing Olmert under citizens arrest. Every couple of minutes, more activists disrupted his speech, barely allowing him to speak, by reading the names of the children killed in Gaza last winter, reading from the recently published Goldstone Report, and displaying banners that read "Lift the Siege on Gaza" and "War Crimes are Not Free Expression!" Activists were removed from the auditorium chanting "War Criminal!" and taken to the Tenderloin Police Station where they were cited for "disrupting public assembly".
Olmert ordered Israel's brutal attacks on Gaza beginning in late December 2008, codenamed Operation Cast Lead. Last week, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report, an independent investigation into the Gaza operation, which found that Israel violated international law and possibly committed crimes against humanity.
“Israel is an apartheid state guilty of war crimes and its leaders should not be welcome in San Francisco,” said Lisa Nessan, a Jewish resident of Oakland, who has traveled several times to Israel and Palestine, most recently in May. “For the past sixty years, under leadership like Olmert's, Israel has denied Palestinians their basic human rights, built settlements on their lands, and killed civilians – all to force them from their homeland.”
A lively protest also gathered across from the hotel in Union Square, where about 150 people carried signs bearing the names and pictures of children killed during Operation Cast Lead. Olmert is making several appearances in the US this month, and has been met with strong protests at locations including the University of Chicago, Tulane University in New Orleans, and the University of Kentucky. “We join with people around the world who believe that Israel and its leaders must be held accountable for their actions. Israel killed 1,400 people during its attacks on Gaza last winter alone, and many more have died or suffered from the effects of siege, occupation, and apartheid on their daily lives,” said Monadel Herzallah, a Palestinian activist who lives in Fairfield and whose 21 year old cousin was killed in Gaza in January.
Organizers also expressed outrage that President Obama has ignored the findings of the Goldstone Report. The US has pledged more than $3 billion each year in unrestricted aid to Israel. “Israel's use of US aid and military equipment violates our own laws,” said Rae Abileah, an organizer with CODEPINK who is of Israeli descent. “Why are we giving aid to a country that is destroying people's homes and attacking civilians, while our own nation is struggling with unemployment and underfunded social services?”
Eduardo Cohen of San Francisco sumed up the sentiment: “The war crimes in the Goldstone Report are not an exception, but a reminder that Israel's apartheid law is itself criminal. We must not only hold Olmert accountable, but all of Israel's leaders, our own elected officials, and other companies and individuals that profit from these crimes. Only then can true justice be reached.”
The protest was sponsored by: Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid (BACEIA), CODEPINK Women for Peace, Friends of Deiribzi'a, Northern California International Solidarity Movement, Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), South Bay Mobilization, Stop AIPAC, CAL Students for Justice in Palestine, US Palestine Communities Network (USPCN), Bay Area Women in Black.
Warrant for the Arrest of Ehud Olmert
Under the authority provided under the international law principle of Universal Jurisdiction, this warrant authorizes the arrest of Ehud Olmert for high crimes against the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip, and the people of Lebanon committed during his tenure as Prime Minister of Israel.
Whereas, crimes which are liable for prosecution under universal jurisdiction include genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, torture, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and crimes against humanity; and
Whereas, The International Independent Fact-Finding Mission authorized by the United Nations Human Rights Council (the Goldstone Report) found evidence that Israel is guilty of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" in its prosecution of “Operation Cast Lead;” and
Whereas, under Mr. Olmert's personal direction, involvement, planning and knowledge, the crimes perpetrated during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip include, but are not limited to the following:
§ 1400 Palestinians were killed, the majority of which were civilians and non-combatants including over four hundred children,
Whereas, six Norwegian lawyers have filed a lawsuit against Ehud Olmert and other Israeli officials over the Gaza war, citing “massive terrorist attacks” during the war which led to the killing of civilians; and
Whereas, Ehud Olmert, because he no longer has diplomatic immunity, can no longer travel to the UK, Norway, Spain, or Belgium, for fear of prosecution for war crimes via “universal jurisdiction”.
Ehud Olmert, as the Israeli Prime Minister during Operation Cast Lead, is charged with "war crimes" and possible "crimes against humanity” and is hereby authorized to be placed under arrest by and for citizens of the state of California, and for the international community in the name of justice.