Holland: Shoes thrown at IDF officer during speech
Captain (Res.) Ron Edelheit asked to speak to members of Jewish community on situation in Israel and Gaza, gets four shoes hurled at him by three pro-Palestinian protestors before even opening his mouth. Suspects detained; Edelheit tells Ynet, 'Slander is just words – here they crossed the line'
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators threw shoes at an Israeli reserves officer while giving a speech on the Israel Defense Forces' operation in the Gaza Strip in an Amsterdam hotel Sunday.
"This was an actual physical assault – past the limits of good taste," the officer, Captain (Res.) Ron Edelheit told Ynet on Monday.
According to reports in Dutch media, three demonstrators – two men and one woman in their 20s – managed to get into the room where the lecture was being held and threw shoes at Edelheit, hitting him in the head. The three were arrested under suspicion of assault.
Edelheit, an Israeli of Dutch origin, is a reserves officer in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit's division, and is in constant contact with European media.
"I am also an Israeli citizen who loves his country. My mother lives in Holland, the Jewish organizations know me. WIZO-Holland heard I was coming, and asked me to tell the community about what's going on in Israel, especially in light of the fact that I was in reserves during the operation in Gaza," Edelheit told Ynet.
The lecture was scheduled for a convention at the Amsterdam College Hotel, but the hotel received a threatening letter including threats on Edelheit's life. The hotel's management was startled by the letter and refused to allow the event to take place.
The organizers decided to move the conference to another hotel in the city – Apollo.
According to Edelheit, "The Palestinian organizations learned of the change, and then a rush of emails pressured the second hotel as well. There was a protest of some 50 people outside the hotel screaming, 'Gas the Jews'."
'I'm in good company - Bush got 2 shoes'Reports in Dutch media said the demonstrators were protesting the lecture that they said was meant to "justify the massive destruction Israel planted in the Strip". Five patrol cars maintained order at the scene.
But there was no one to protect the Israeli speaker inside. "Three youths paid the entrance fee, and before I even started to speak, they took off their shoes and threw them at me. They were caught and taken to the police. I am going to file a complaint," Edelheit said.
"As long as they are just making slanderous remarks – it's just words. But the moment that they threaten the hotel and the hotel gives in and prevents someone from speaking – this is past the limits of good taste."
Shoe-throwing has been used as a tool for humiliation in some Muslim societies, especially after the incident in which an Iraqi journalist threw his shoe at US President George Bush during a press conference in December.
In early February, shoes were also thrown at China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao while delivering a speech in Britain's Cambridge University.
Edelheit maintained his composure despite the incident, saying, "Once they throw a shoe – I'm in good company. Bush got two shoes thrown at him, I got four."
Hagar Mizrahi contributed to this report
Initial information received via Red Email