New York City police Wednesday night arrested 11 rabbis, donned in prayer shawls and blowing shofars for disorderly conduct while protesting the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
(courtesy of Stephen Belsky)
Police picked them up and moved them into a paddy wagon after they tried to block the road where Ahmadinejad’s motorcade was to pass en route to the United Nations.
"A bunch of rabbis showed up and were able to block First Avenue at 41st street. . .the majority of us didn't move from the street when we heard his motorcade was coming," Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro told the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey "We stayed there, they arrested us and put us in a wagon, we didn't resist."
More than 100 rabbis participated in the protest and succeeded in blocking the intersection for a short time. Rabbi Shapiro held a sign saying that "Ahmadinejad is not welcome in the USA or New York."
The video below shows the city police warning the rabbis they would be arrested if they did not disperse.
Police were busy with larger demonstrations against Ahmadinejad. "The police were overwhelmed in central booking. . They checked (our records) and understood none of us had (criminal) records, and let us out with a ticket for disorderly conduct," Rabbi Shapiro told the APP news site. "We definitely did not expect to get out that early; they went easy on us."
After their release, the clergymen promptly returned to the area of the United Nations to join an Iranian-American demonstration against the Islamic Republic president.
"They couldn't believe a bunch of Jews were protesting against him.... We had an issue we were united on," Rabbi Shapiro said. "Not many of them were pro-Israelis, [but] the fact that we came together on a similar issue was powerful to see."
Before the protest, Rabbi Shapiro warned that Ahmadinejad “threatens the world with his nuclear program, holds conferences to deny the Holocaust, and brutally suppresses the voice of his own people. For a rabbi, I think it's a very scary thing to be listening to someone like this.
“It reminds me too much of a Hitler figure, and I personally feel the world needs to wake up to the dangers that the president of Iran is telling us -- telling us that he wants to do.”