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Thousands attend NYC anti-Iran rally

Touristclick Iran Travel News

Thousands attend NYC anti-Iran rally

by Jerusalem Post

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 exhorted.

"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 the past."

"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 added.

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 who spoke.

"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 Jews.

"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 was.

"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 sun.

"Now, unfortunately, the leaders of the world need it explained again and again that here is evil, equally dangerous," Sharansky said.

"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 for all.'"

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."

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