U.N. pulls badges from Jewish NGOs

GENEVA (JTA) — The United Nations pulled credentials from a number of Jewish activists who disrupted a speech by the Iranian president at the Durban Review Conference. 

Of the 46 badges that were pulled this week for disruptive behavior, the vast majority were from individuals accredited through Jewish organizations. Notably, the French Union of Jewish Students lost 21 badges.

Credentials were stripped as well from four members of the European Union of Jewish Students and one B’nai Brith member. Between them, the French and European Jewish student groups had 370 members accredited, amounting to more than one-third of all the NGO activists at the conference. 

U.N. officials said they believed Jewish activists who already had their credentials pulled swapped badges with members of another group, Coexist.

"It seems they were in league with each other," said Rupert Colville, a U.N. spokesman.

Some of those who lost their credentials were ejected after they donned rainbow wigs and clown noses and rushed the podium during the speech of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Others were barred because they were found to be hiding clown paraphernalia and plotting a second disruption, said Colville.

The United Nations is still investigating how many other individuals may have been involved, with the U.N. accreditation of entire groups possibly revoked if they were found to have coordinated the disruptions. No charges are expected to be filed against individuals. 

"I don’t think that throwing a nose is a criminal offense," Colville said. 

Two members of an Iranian group were expelled for distributing "offensive materials" and an Israeli journalist was sent out for "screaming racist comments" from the gallery, according to Colville.

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