attend NYC anti-Iran rally
Efforts by the Jewish
organizers of a New York City rally against
Iran Monday to keep the event free of politics
failed to stop protesters from voicing their
avid support for the Republican presidential
ticket of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.
Interspersed with Israeli flags
and placards calling for Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad to "take your hate back to
hell" were a fluttering of blue McCain-Palin
campaign signs, along with more strident handmade
ones sticking out above the crowd, including
one that read: "Prevent a nuclear Iranian
Holocaust on Israel, vote McCaine-Palin [sic]."
The event, organized by Jewish
groups including the Conference of Presidents
of Major American Jewish Organizations, the
United Jewish Communities, the UJA-Federation
New York and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs,
drew several thousand cheering students and
activists from as far away as Baltimore and
Detroit to protest the Iranian government and
its nuclear program.
"These weapons will not only
threaten Israel, they will threaten Riyadh,
Paris, London and New York," Knesset Speaker
Dalia Itzik told the cheering crowd.
"The free world must not allow
the threat of destruction like this without
taking proper action to stop him. We have to
stop him, to stop him, to stop him!" she
"When I hear these threats
I see the concentration camps, I see the horrors,
I see the gas chambers," Itzik said. She
described Ahmadinejad as "the man who has
brought this nightmare back, the man who is
responsible for bringing back the horrors of
"Some think he is crazy, others
say he is just arrogant, but bitter experience
has taught us to take such madmen seriously.
He surely believes that the world that was silent
then will be silent today, too. He wants us
to suffer, to have nightmares, to be afraid,"
said Itzik, who wore a flak jacket at the insistence
of her security detail.
"When the Nazis came to power,
and threatened the existence of the Jewish people,
people dismissed his [Hitler's] statements.
We should not ignore them now... Iran's fingerprints
can be clearly seen and felt wherever people
plan and carry out acts of terror," Itzik
Other leading lights, including
former deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky
and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, joined the roster
of students, rabbis and New York Jewish leaders
"We urge all the UN delegations
across the street to leave the hall when [Ahmadinejad]
appears on the stage," said Wiesel, who
accused Ahmadinejad of backing the groups that
are holding Gilad Schalit captive, and of planning
"a nuclear Holocaust" against the
"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, go home
and stay there, we don't want you here. America
doesn't want you here. Nobody wants you,"
Wiesel declaimed. He called for Ahmadinejad
to be indicted by an international war crimes
tribunal in The Hague.
Sharansky said Iran was as evil
and dangerous as the former Soviet Union ever
"Our struggle will need a
lot of moral clarity. When the president of
the United States of America called the Soviet
Union the 'Evil Empire' we in the prisons knew
its days were numbered," said Sharansky,
wearing a simple white shirt rather than a suit,
and sporting a green canvas cap against the
"Now, unfortunately, the leaders
of the world need it explained again and again
that here is evil, equally dangerous,"
"We believe the most important
responsibility for people of faith is tikkun
olam, to heal the world. For them, the most
important thing is to kill as many people as
possible," Sharansky added.
While most strove to leave politics
out of their addresses, Iranian human rights
activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, who said her
father was a political prisoner in Iran, criticized
politicians who advocated dialogue with the
Iranian government, calling the lifting of sanctions
by the Clinton administration and by various
European countries "failed efforts"
to appease "recalcitrant fanatics."
"I would like to remind everyone
here today that everyone has tried," she
said, "from Ronald Reagan to the Clinton
administration that reached out to the mullahs
and kept reaching out for seven whole years
under both Warren Christopher and Madeleine
Albright, and they tried everything to accommodate
the mullahs, from lifting sanctions on rugs,
caviar, pistachios, to apologizing to the leaders
of the Islamic regime. Then there are the British,
French and Germans as well as the entire European
Union which has tried over and over again since
2001. Everyone has offered these recalcitrant
fanatics' deals, agreements and incentive packages
which under the pretext of 'peaceful intentions,'
should have been entirely acceptable."
"Career politicians or self-appointed
experts who insist on dialoguing with a regime
to further legitimize them, while totally forgetting
the millions who have to endure this reign of
terror on them, sound like old fashioned colonialists
to the ones of us who have had to put with the
Mullahs," she went on. "Willfully
turning a blind eye to the endless failed efforts
of the past and insisting on repeating them
over and over, when time is of the essence...
If these politicians really mean to make changes
they need to find people who can offer solutions
on how to treat the cause and not the symptoms
which they simply have failed to address. The
supreme leader, Khamenei, during this past week¹s
Friday prayer specified that the 'door of any
dialogue should be considered closed once and
The crowd, which thinned as the
speeches wore on, reacted enthusiastically.
"This is an issue that Democrats
and Republicans should agree on, not something
they should be squabbling over," said Ariel
Kahane, a 37-year-old public-school biology
teacher in Manhattan who arrived wearing a McCain
cap and waving a sign.
Another man standing at the
rear of the crowd echoed the point as he silently
held a scrawled, accusatory placard: "Dems
hate Sarah Palin more than they hate the Islamofascists."