While addressing the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on Thursday, President Obama's speech, designed to be a call for peace in the troubled region, was interrupted by a heckler shouting in his native Hebrew.
The nature of the shouts, however, are unclear.
While some news organizations, including the White House pool report, have reported the heckler was calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard, an American-born Israeli spy who provided thousands of pages of U.S. intelligence between June 1984 to November 1985, the New York Times reported that the heckler was an Arab-Israeli calling for the "liberation of Palestine."
The president seemed to take the incident in stride, saying:
This is part of the lively debate that we talked about...I have to say we actually arranged for that because it made me feel at home. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler.
"I recognize the emotions involved in this. One of the strengths of the Israeli people is you think about your people wherever they are and I recognize that and I’m sympathetic," Obama said in the interview. "I think people have to understand that, as the president, my first obligation is to observe the law here in the United States and to make sure that it’s applied consistently. And there are a lot of individuals in prisons in the United States who have committed crimes who would love to be released early as well and I’ve got to make sure that every individual is treated fairly and equally."
The president's Middle East trip, though, has already proven eventful. As he arrived in Tel Aviv Wednesday, he was caught on camera saying it was good to get away from Congress, a quip that House Speaker Boehner joked about on CNN.
"So much for the charm offensive," Boehner said, referring to the president's recent efforts to befriend Republican legislators on Capitol Hill.
Obama will be in Israel until Friday, when he will leave for Jordan.