Independent 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was confronted by a pro-Palestine heckler calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas at a Wednesday evening campaign event in Portland.
This comes after two Jewish-owned businesses in Portland in recent weeks have been targeted by pro-Palestine graffiti and posters, and the leader of a rally in the city’s Monument Square held by the Maine Democratic Socialists of America called the Oct. 7 killing of over 1,400 Israelis by Hamas “morally and legally legitimate.”
After concluding his speech to the large crowd at the Ocean Gateway Terminal, RFK Jr. took several questions from the crowd, covering topics from the Lewiston mass shooting and immigration to curbing the power of the Federal Reserve.
Following the question and answer portion, the presidential candidate was interrupted by the shouts of a man in the crowd who called for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
The man referenced the deaths of thousands of Gaza civilians at the hands of Israel, saying “most of them were women and children,” and that the Israeli military’s efforts “are being financed by the United States.”
“If you’re for protecting the people of this country, you would want a ceasefire right now,” the man said. “Because I’ll tell you what, us financing Israelis genociding the Gazan people is making everybody unsafe, including Americans who are financing it, sir.”
Before RFK Jr. could respond, another member of the crowd shouted back at the man that “[Hamas] has American hostages.”
“Israel turned Gaza over to the Palestinians in 2005, it is not an occupied territory,” RFK. Jr. responded. “They removed all Israeli citizens in that time, 9,000 people, they even dug out the Jewish graves.”
“Hamas has in its charter that they want the genocide, the destruction of Israel, the genocide of every Jew — not only in Israel, but the entire world — that is their negotiating position,” he said. “And they say anybody who negotiates with Israel should be killed — that’s Gaza’s rule, that’s Hamas’ rule.”
“Hamas took over in 2006, took the Palestinian Authority that was running [Gaza], shot them all through the kneecap, took them up to the highest high-rise in Gaza, and threw them all off the roof,” he continued.
RFK Jr. said that Palestinians in Gaza “get more money from international aid than any human beings on earth.”
“Instead of using that money for economic development, to feed their population, to build homes, to help their population, Hamas uses virtually every penny to build 1,300 tunnels, 300 miles of tunnels,” he said. “They tore up the irrigation systems that were their food supply to turn the pipes into rockets.”
“You can’t name a country anywhere in the world that will put up with 30,000 rockets fired — with a nation next to them declaring war, saying they want the extermination of every one of your citizens and will be satisfied with nothing less,” he told the heckler.
After the heckler interrupted RFK Jr.’s response with continued shouts, the presidential candidate told the man “look, listen, nobody likes children dying.”
“When we went into Germany after the war, and then into Japan, a lot of civilians died, because we had to get Hitler,” he concluded, before thanking the crowd and leaving the stage.