Jewish groups to rally against Iran at United Nations

Jewish groups to rally against Iran at United Nations

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is coming to the United Nations next week and area Jewish Community Relations Councils want you to be there.

The JCRC of New York and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in cooperation with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and UJA-Federation of New York, are organizing a rally at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in front of the U.N. building at noon on Monday, ahead of the opening session of the General Assembly on Tuesday. The JCRC of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey is coordinating participation among the area’s day schools and synagogues, as well as sending a bus of its own.

UJA-NNJ organized almost 900 people for lastyear’s September rally against Iranian PresidentAhmadinejad at the U.N. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PRIEST

"We want the U.N. to hear our cry that Ahmadinejad is not a person who should be welcomed at the U.N. or given a podium," said Ruth Siev, project coordinator of UJA-NNJ’s JCRC. "This is not just a Jewish community concern, it’s a worldwide concern," she added.

Earlier this week, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had 600 missiles pointed at Israel and American interests in the Middle East, which he would launch in case of an attack on his country’s nuclear program. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the deputy commander of Iran’s air force told the semi-official Fars news agency that plans have been drawn up to bomb Israel if it attacks Iran.

"The threat emanating from Iran is palpable," said Michael Miller, executive vice president and CEO of JCRC of New York, one of the rally’s organizers. "He is interested in not only destroying Israel, he is interested in destroying the United States of America."

The Iranian threat includes more than just physical destruction. According to Miller, who spoke to The Jewish Standard earlier this week. Ahmadinejad wants to destroy Western values, such as "democracy, freedom, [and] the Judeo-Christian tradition."

Monday’s rally will be the second in as many years protesting Ahmadinejad’s presence at the U.N. General Assembly. The New York JCRC and the Conference of Presidents held a rally last September to protest Ahmadinejad’s then-recent statements denying the Holocaust, and to call for the release of Israel’s soldiers held captive by Hezbollah and Hamas. UJA-NNJ arranged for 16 buses from across the community carrying close to 900 people for that rally.

More than 60 buses from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have been registered for Monday’s rally so far, even though it is a last minute project the organizers undertook when they confirmed that Ahmadinejad planned to attend the General Assembly.

Ahmadinejad will have already arrived in the city by the time the rally takes place, but, according to Miller, Monday was the only available day because of Sukkot, which begins Wednesday night. President Bush is scheduled to address the assembly Tuesday, which would have made the streets of New York unmanageable for a rally. And Sunday was not an option, as the organizers thought most people would take the day after Yom Kippur for themselves.

"On a weekday there are already thousands of people at work who could take a lunch hour and spend their time coming to the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza," Miller said.

Organizers are mostly targeting people who work in and around New York City, who would be able to take a break from work to attend, but they are also working with groups in New Jersey and Connecticut. "It’s very heartening when people really make a sacrifice to come into Manhattan for these events," Miller said.

UJA-NNJ’s bus will leave at 10 a.m. from the federation’s headquarters in River Edge. The JCRC is also encouraging people to attend on their own, Siev said. As of Wednesday, there were still some open spots on the UJA-NNJ bus. For more information, call Siev at (’01) 488-6800 no later than Friday afternoon.

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