Coalition Gears Up To Protest Ahmadinejad Dinner

By Marc Perelman

Published September 22, 2008.

A coalition of Jewish and non-Jewish groups is planning a demonstration to protest a September 25 dinner organized by five American Christian organizations at which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be a featured guest.

“These religious leaders are about to betray their brethren across all religions, parties, and countries by ‘honoring’ the tyrannical regime of Ahmadinejad and the Iranian mullahs of this terrorist state,” protest organizers said in a statement posted on their Web site.

The rally will come just three days after another anti-Iran rally held outside the United Nations. That rally became embroiled in controversy after the organizers decided to rescind invitations to Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Democratic Party officials.

The sponsors of the dinner protest have invited Palin to participate, though she is not expected to attend.

The protest will take place outside the Grand Hyatt hotel in Manhattan at the same time that Ahmadinejad is dining inside. Among the 30 groups organizing the protest are Americans for a Safe Israel, Stand With Us and the Catholic League. The Ahmadinejad dinner has also prompted the American Jewish Committee to send a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon protesting the planned attendance of the president of the U.N. General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann.

“The President of the General Assembly, Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, has put the credibility of the United Nations into question,” the AJCommittee’s president, Richard Sideman, and executive director, David Harris, wrote in their September 22 letter. “The presence of the President of the General Assembly at an event in honor of Mr. Ahmadinejad would make a mockery of you, the United Nations, and the nations and leaders who have made a point of rejecting Holocaust denial whenever, wherever, and by whomever it is made.”

The September 22 protest outside the United Nations was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and local Jewish groups. Because of the flap over Palin’s invitation, the event did not feature American politicians as it did in previous years. Among the participants were Israeli Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, former Soviet refusenik Nathan Sharansky and former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler. The sizable crowd was made up largely of youth brandishing signs assailing Ahmadinejad for his anti-Israel pronouncements and his country’s poor human rights record.

The American presidential campaign remained mostly on the sidelines, except for a few signs directed against Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

A block away, one demonstrator, Bill Rubin, was standing at a corner, waving an Israeli flag and a sign that said, “Dems hate Sarah Palin more than they hate Islamo-fascists.”

“I am ashamed, you don’t tell someone to come to Shabbat, have the person accept and then say ‘Oh no,’” he said.



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