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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Chanting "No, you can't!" and waving signs bearing messages in a similar vein, nearly 200 people held a demonstration outside the US Consulate on the capital's Rehov Agron on Wednesday evening, protesting the growing American pressure to stop construction in West Bank settlements.
Speakers at the event included MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and Esther Pollard, the wife of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. All brought a similar message - that the American government does not have the right to dictate where Jews may or may not live within the Land of Israel.
"Mr. Obama, we started demonstrating 16 years ago," said Rabbi Shalom Gold, the founder of Kehillat Zichron Ya'acov in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood, alluding to the early days of the Oslo Accords. "You were in your '30s and you probably didn't know the first thing about Eretz Yisrael... but we're part of God's divine plan, we're here and we're staying here!"
"Be a friend of Israel, but even if you won't be, we have the greatest ally in the world," he said, pointing to the heavens.
Esther Pollard followed, telling the crowd that her message to the US president was that "your problem isn't with Prime Minister Netanyahu, nor is it with the People of Israel. Your problem, Mr. President, is with the almighty God of Israel!"
The protest continued for more than two hours, as the demonstrators ebbed and flowed and consular staff across the street came out to watch the goings-on.
The protest was only a part of a wider campaign launched by activists on Wednesday, in which they will try to counter the American stance by portraying Obama as an anti-Semite whose policies would harm the Jewish state.
Over the coming days, activists plan to hang posters throughout the country of Obama wearing a keffiyeh, flanked by the words, "Anti-Semite," and "Jew-hater," written in red in both English and Hebrew. Another poster published by the campaign shows Obama shaking hands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against a background of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion.
The Jewish National Front, which is backing the protests, said in a statement: "We decided to launch a campaign against the president of the United States and to say that Barack Hussein Obama is bad for the Jews."
"From the moment that he entered the White House, we have been feeling anti-Semitism and hatred toward Israel," the statement continued. "We have a number of plans, among which are demonstrations in the US and protests in front of the consulate and homes of the ambassadors."
Later Wednesday evening, Peace Now issued a statement harshly criticizing the campaign, saying the anti-Obama posters and demonstrations would cause considerable damage to the friendship between the US and Israel.
"The radical Right is damaging our strategic alliance with the US, and is embarrassing Israel in front of the world," the organization said. "[Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] must renounce this campaign of the settlers at once, and act decisively against the hilltop youth and those who are breaking the law in the settlements."
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.