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Senate's Mideast debate divisive

Boulder activist gets tossed after pro-Israeli vote

Published February 2, 2009 at 2:37 p.m.
Updated February 3, 2009 at 5:54 p.m.

Dan Winters holds up a sign, which read in part,  ... 'FOR A HATE RESOLUTION' as security guard Dan Erickson tries to grab the sign from him at the State Capitol in Denver, Colo. .  As senate members talked about  SR09-009 concerning the strong expression of support for the state of Israel in it's battle with terrorist attacks.  And the hope that there could be peace between Israel and Palestine.

Photo by Linda McConnell © special to the Rocky

Dan Winters holds up a sign, which read in part, ... 'FOR A HATE RESOLUTION' as security guard Dan Erickson tries to grab the sign from him at the State Capitol in Denver, Colo. . As senate members talked about SR09-009 concerning the strong expression of support for the state of Israel in it's battle with terrorist attacks. And the hope that there could be peace between Israel and Palestine.

A man holding a sign and hollering pro-Palestinian remarks was removed from the Senate gallery Monday amid the most partisan - and surreal - battle in the Senate this session.

Lawmakers voted on two separate resolutions, one promoting peace and one supporting Israel, but eventually the debate linked the resolutions.

Republicans were furious when Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, who had sponsored the peace and nonviolence resolution, voted against the Israeli resolution. She later explained her vote by saying she wasn't elected to vote on international issues.

Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, tried to amend the peace resolution, saying a copy would be sent to Hamas. Various Republicans talked about the Palestinian group's intent to try to destroy Israel.

Senate Majority Leader Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, called the motion "political gimmericky." And Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Northglenn, later asked, "What does this have to do with jobs?"

Tochtrop was annoyed that Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, earlier accused Democrats of wasting time on silly bills instead of focusing on jobs and the economy.

The peace resolution passed.

The Senate opened with state troopers posted at the entries to the Senate gallery, where visitors can watch the proceedings one floor below. The officers were on high alert because of protests in the morning outside the Capitol over the Israeli resolution by Sen. Joyce Foster, D-Denver.

It supported Israel and condemned Hamas, but Palestinians and Jewish peace groups argued the language was too one-sided.

When Foster's resolution passed on a 32-2 vote, Boulder resident Dan Winters stood up in the gallery and held a sign that read, "Shame on senators for a hate resolution."

He then began yelling, asking about the Palestinians' rights and America's role in arming groups in the Middle East.

He was escorted from the gallery and told not to return, but he was allowed to stay in the Capitol. "I thought it was important to speak out," Winters, said, when reached at his home later.

Winters, who turns 72 next week, describes himself as a peace activist.

As for Foster, she was stunned at the drama surrounding her resolution. She said the language is nearly identical to one the U.S. Senate passed unanimously.

"Oy," she said, getting a huge laugh from the Senate floor.

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