Planned disturbances by Arabs and leftists have forced former U.S. President George W. Bush to cancel a speech to the United Israel Appeal (UIA) in Switzerland due to concerns for his security.
The calls to demonstrate were sliding into dangerous terrain, Robert Equey, a lawyer for the UIA, told the Swiss daily newspaper Tribune de Genève.
Bush was to launch the UIA’s annual fundraising campaign. The organization’s Geneva director, Nati Metuki, said that Bush’s appearance was called off after intelligence officials said that Arabs, anarchists and anti-Israel leftists planned to cause disturbances at the event.
“Left oriented anarchist organizations, part of them Arab, part of them anti-Israel, they all teamed together to block Bush,” Metuki told The Miami Herald, adding that Internet chatter pointed to the possibility of a protest similar to those “who threw Molotov cocktails in Davos, who come to just destroy.”
Anti-Israel organizers also had called on demonstrators to bring a shoe to throw at Bush, copying a protest action by an Arab journalist when Bush appeared in Baghdad in 2008.
The visit to Geneva was to be Bush’s first since the recent publication of "Decision Points," his memoirs that revealed his authorization to use simulated drowning on terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Human rights activists charge that the technique is a form of torture and violates international law.
Amnesty International insisted that the cancellation was due to a threat to ask Swiss authorities to arrest the former president for alleged crimes, but the claim was rejected by a spokesman for Bush and the UIA as being totally untrue and without foundation.
Metuki said, “It’s all rubbish.”
The former president enjoys immunity from prosecution for actions while he was in office, a Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman told the Associated Press.
A spokesman for Bush confirmed that the United Israel Appeal decided to cancel his appearance at the fund raising dinner, which will be held without a keynote speaker.