US Jews Ready for Iranian President
Iran's President Ahmedinajad is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly in two weeks - and Jewish groups are planning to greet him with a massive "Stop Iran Now!" rally.
The protest will take place at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, outside the UN building, on Sept. 22.
Malcolm Hoenlein, long-time executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, "We cannot remain silent when someone threatens to destroy the United States and Israel."
Ahmedinajad visited New York last September as well, speaking both at the UN and at a Columbia University forum. Though a similar appearance at the University was canceled in 2006 because of public protests, the school resisted the pressures last year - partly, authorities said, because Ahmadinejad agreed to take questions in addition to his prepared talk. Asked if he seeks the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, Ahmadinejad replied, "We love all nations. We are friends with the Jewish people... We must allow the Palestinian people to decide about its future for itself... We must allow Jewish Palestinians, Muslim Palestinians and Christian Palestinians to determine their own fate themselves through a free referendum."
Jewish groups held protest rallies then, as well.
University President Lee Bollinger preceded the Iranian's speech with his own remarks, calling his guest a "petty and cruel dictator" and reciting a litany of human rights abuses and repression in Iran. Bollinger said, "Twelve days ago you said that the state of Israel cannot continue its life. This echoed a number of inflammatory statements you have delivered in the past two years..."
This year, in addition to the UN protest, a large rally will also be held in Washington, D.C., highlighting the issue of genocide and Ahmedinajad's threats against Israel.
Ahmedinajad has been quoted widely as threatening to wipe Israel off the map. Shortly after taking office three years ago, Ahmedinajad addressed an audience of about 4,000 students at a program called "The World Without Zionism," and said that attacks by Palestinians would destroy Israel... As the imam [Ayatollah Khomeini]
US Republican nominee for Vice President Sarah Palin weighed in with a strong swipe against Ahmadinejad on Thursday. Speaking on ABC, she said his calling Israel a "stinking corpse" that "should be wiped off the face of the earth" was "atrocious" and "unacceptable."