SEPTEMBER 23, 2008 – Last week the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) delivered a global petition to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon signed by over 55,000 Christians from more than 120 countries worldwide demanding that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be indicted for incitement to genocide against Israel. The petition was delivered to the United Nations on the eve of the Iranian leader’s planned visit to New York to address the Opening of the UN General Assembly.
This past Monday in New York, Lisa Newman Greenspan, one of our Canadian readers, attended the highly publicised ‘Stop Iran Now’ rally, now refered to by CBS TV as a ‘protest against Ahmadinejad that was, at times, a pro-Palin, bash-the-Democrats affair.’
Here’s what she had to say:
I am writing this from New York, where I attended the rally yesterday at the UN; it was impressive to see how many people turned out. Of course there were those who came out to get the publicity for their own ends [incl. Neturei Karta, McCain and Obama supporters]. Both Elie Wiesel and Natan Sharansky spoke.
September in New York can be beautiful: warm sunny weather with fewer tourists than in the summertime, an atmosphere of urban civilization and sophistication, and the felt hopes of the millions of immigrants drawn here to pursue the American Dream. New York at its best.
Thousands of us filled Dag Hammarskjold Square Monday, opposite the United Nations, to protest the appearance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as an invited speaker representing Iran. Students were out in force. Yeshiva University had closed for the day, busloads of Hillel students had arrived from Canada and other nearby centres for the rally, and younger students came in groups from their high schools. The students clearly relished a day off and the opportunity for socializing at the same time as they were raising their voices in the chant of ‘Stop Iran Now’ that pervaded the event.
The evil, provocative regime Ahmadinejad represents and its ambitions to control the Middle East via surrogate states and organizations like Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas, was roundly condemned by all speakers. As well as representatives of Jewish organizations, we heard from prominent speakers of Christian and multi faith groups. Especially moving were the words of Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP, Natan Sharansky and Elie Wiesel who vilified Iran’s state terrorism and the lack of basic human rights in Iran today. Their words were strongly supported by several speakers of Iranian origin whose families had suffered torture and imprisonment, including for such trivial acts as requesting that pay cheques be distributed on time.
One Iranian speaker pointed out to the largely young audience that many of their ordinary activities [listening to music, dancing, wearing clothes of their choice, etc.] which in America are considered free personal choices would, in today’s Iran, land them in jail.
And then there was the side action. McCain and Obama supporters jostled [and got into arguments] with those who wanted the rally to be non-political, in terms of the U.S. election. The organizers, local Jewish organizations and the Conference of Presidents, had shot themselves in their collective feet by first inviting Hillary Clinton to speak, then inviting Sarah Palin only to disinvite her when Ms Clinton protested that this would politicize the rally. In the end Ms Clinton withdrew her participation and the organizers were left with no high profile U.S. politicians and a considerable amount of egg on their collective faces.
As we left the litter-strewn plaza after the speeches concluded, the Neturei Karta in black kaftans and peyot were still holding up their own large placards denouncing the state of Israel, which they believe is premature as the Messiah has not yet arrived.
Editor’s note: This coming Thursday, September 25, a group representing over 30 organizations of all faiths and political affiliations, called the Stop Ahmadinejad Rally, will be holding an interfaith rally outside New York’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, in protest of the decision by The American Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Central Committee, Quaker UN Office, Religions for Peace, and the World Council of Churches-UN Liaison Office to honour President Ahmadinejad at an Iftar (dinner to break the day’s Ramadan fast).
In their media release, the rally organizers state:
These religious leaders are about to betray their brethren across all religions, parties, and countries by honouring the tyrannical regime of Ahmadinejad and the Iranian mullahs of this terrorist state. Iran’s nuclear program represents a serious and immediate threat that cannot be left unchallenged. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has called for wiping Israel off the map, and Iran is the biggest backer of terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas that have launched more than 8,000 rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians. Iran now promises to ‘share’ its nuclear technology with others, which will likely get in terrorists hands.
Information on the rally can be obtained at: http://stopahmadinejadrally.wordpress.com