Pro-Palestine protesters heckle Obama at Biden election fundraiser in New York

Pro-Palestine protesters heckle Obama at Biden election fundraiser in New York
Joe Biden was joined by former presidents at a huge fundraising event in New York on Thursday as pro-Palestine activists staged demonstrations.
3 min read
29 March, 2024
Pro-Palestine demonstrators rally before President Joe Biden's fundraiser in New York City [GETTY]

US President Joe Biden’s glitzy fundraising evening in New York on Thursday was disrupted by pro-Palestine protesters who heckled former president Barack Obama and staged a demonstration outside the event.

Biden was joined by his predecessors Obama and Bill Clinton on stage at a blockbuster fundraising event at the Radio City Music Hall in central New York, where he raised a record $25 million for his re-election campaign.

The former president quipped at one pro-Palestine demonstrator who interrupted him while speaking:

"You can’t just talk and not listen… that’s what the other side does," he snapped, in an apparent dig at Israel.

Footage shared online showed crowds of protesters gathered outside the Manhattan venue, waving Palestinian flags and chanting "Genocide Joe has got to go", while rows of New York City police officers looked on.

The event came amid a week of growing tensions between Tel Aviv and Washington with the Biden administration losing patience over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that his troops must invade Gaza’s southern city of Rafah.

Since Israel's onslaught in Gaza began in October, over 32,500 Palestinians have been killed. Around 1.5 million people are sheltering in Rafah, the only city in the tiny enclave which has not been invaded by Israeli troops and serves as a vital humanitarian artery.

Biden took the opportunity to address the ongoing war in Gaza, as UN agencies warn the beleaguered population is facing famine and disease outbreaks.

"We must get more food, medicine and supplies for the Palestinians, but we cannot forget that Israel is in a situation where its very existence is at stake," Biden told the audience.

Activist organisation Jewish Voice for Peace NYC posted on social media,"Palestinian youth, descendants of Holocaust survivors, climate activists, doctors and academics, and students disrupt one of the biggest fundraisers in the history of the Democrat Party".

Several demonstrators who stood up and disrupted the speeches were taken out by security as Biden spoke of the war and current negotiations with Israel.

"I have worked with the Saudis and with all the other Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Qatar. They are ready to fully recognize Israel, but first there must be a plan for the 'day after' in Gaza, and there must be a way forward for a two-state solution," he said.

The star-studded event saw singers Queen Latifah and Lizzo perform before the presidential trio were interviewed by American comedian Stephen Colbert.

Biden's campaign team said the "record" collection of more than $25 million was more than Republican rival Donald Trump had raised for the whole of February.

According to reports, tickets for the event cost between $250 and $500,000, with more than 5,000 people expected to attend. Guests at the event could pay $100,000 for a photo with the trio, American network ABC News reported.

Trump's campaign spokesperson, Steven Cheung, blasted the event on social network X, as a "glitzy fundraiser ... with their elitist, out-of-touch celebrity benefactors".