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Protesters and roll calls

Is it really worth paying hundreds of dollars to attend the AIPAC conference, just to spend a few seconds screaming at the Israeli prime minister? Apparently it was for three people Monday evening, who were thrown out of AIPAC’s annual banquet on Monday evening for trying to interrupt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech. We couldn’t hear what the protesters were saying, both because of our location at the back of the room and the fact that many in the audience drowned them out by applauding.

Meanwhile, the banquet also featured AIPAC’s annual display of political power — the roll call of government officials in attendance. Our unofficial count was 59 senators and 269 members of the House of Representatives, along with administration staffers, ambassadors and even a Chicago alderman or too.

Other than Netanyahu, speakers included Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). The South Carolinian said, in reference to the recent public spat between the United States and Israel, that the relationship should be like a "good marriage," where partners "disagree quietly." He also repeated what AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr said earlier in the day, and Netanyahu repeated an hour later, that "Jerusalem is not a settlement."

Schumer didn’t say much about the trouble over settlements, only saying that the differences between the United States and Israel were "displayed all too publicly last week." Schumer did say that U.S. sanctions on Iran must be passed and "put into effect" by the president immediately.

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