Arab Lawmakers Forcefully Ejected from Pence Speech in Israel (VIDEO)

Arab Lawmakers Forcefully Ejected from Pence Speech in Israel (VIDEO)

Pence caused some trouble in Israel

In early December 2017, President Trump caused an intense amount of controversy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Not only did this go against past presidential policies of being relatively neutral on the topic, but also resulted in plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before the end of 2019.

The decision was derided by many, including the United Nations, for many valid reasons. As former State Department employee and current Global Affairs Analyst for CNN Aaron David Miller put it, Jerusalem is a very volatile issue courtesy of religious and political conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides recognize it as their rightful capital, and, as such, “the President’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is likely to be far more trouble than it’s worth — adding another layer of complication to a peace process that already faces long odds.”

Related: Bush’s NATO Ambassador Blasts Trump’s Threats to Allies

Protests were long-anticipated as a result of this move, but it appears that even the peaceful ones have no place in the Israeli Congress. Today, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Israel to speak before their parliament, the Knesset, about the future of U.S.-Israel relations.

During his address, members of parliament (MPs) from the Arab political party Joint List began a demonstration against Pence, holding up signs with the words “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” and shouting down the visiting VP. Rather than just escort out the hecklers, security officers violently tore the papers from everyone’s hands and forcibly removed all 13 members. As The Intercept further reported, several individual officials from the Likud Party, which is currently in power, threw derogatory insults at the protesters.

The scene was best captured in a screenshot of Israeli TV by the Times of Israel:

Joint List lawmaker Jamal Zahalka told the Times of Israel that the ushers used unnecessary force. “At the beginning of Pence’s speech,” Zahalka said, “the members of the Joint List stood and began to leave, waving a political sign, while exercising their legitimate right to protest.”

“The ushers attacked them brutally,” he added, “pushed them and dragged them even though they were on their way out without resistance.”

And Zahalka alleged that the actions were a violation of the rules of order. “Our expulsion was done in a collective manner without reading the names of the lawmakers that should be removed, contrary to Knesset regulations.”

All while the Vice President of the United States, ostensibly the second most powerful man in the world, stood by and said nothing to stop it.

Related: FBI Agents Concerned About GOP Access to Files Amid Treason probes

One of the core tenets of a Democracy is to ensure that freedoms are preserved, including freedoms on non-violent speech, protest, and assembly. That the Knesset prevented these freedoms from being exercised by its own MPs, even from a minority party, calls into question of whether or not the Israeli Government can truly label itself the only democracy in the Middle East.

On a positive note, Pence’s Biblical-laden speech was widely-derided by Israeli and Palestinian journalists and activists:

Check out the speech and subsequent protests below:

Featured image screenshot of Israeli TV, via Twitter, Times of Israel.