As General Assembly Convenes, Jews Are Preparing for Ahmadinejad

Thousands of Jews and non-Jews are set to greet members of the 61st United Nations General Assembly with a message of solidarity with Israel and a warning to Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — that his anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and anti-Western policies will not be tolerated. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, United Jewish Communities and the UJA-Federation of New York will hold a “Stand with Israel” national solidarity rally outside the U.N. building at noon Wednesday, the first day of the General Assembly.

“The purpose is to show that we are concerned and that there is national solidarity with Israel and to demand the release of the three Israeli soldiers” captured by Hezbollah and Hamas in the days leading up to Israel’s recent war in Lebanon, said Malcolm Hoenlein, the Conference of Presidents’ executive vice chairman. “We want to send a message to Ahmadinejad that his message and threats to destroy the West, to destroy Jews, to destroy Israel and his denials of the Holocaust are not accepted by us.”

Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address the United Nations on Thursday night.

Some 60 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations have signed on as co-sponsors of the rally, which Hoenlein said should draw “many, many thousands of people.”

As the General Assembly reconvenes, special-interest groups from around the world are meeting behind closed doors this week with dozens of foreign ministers and officials to voice their concerns. Jewish groups such as the Presidents Conference, B’nai B’rith International, World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Congress and Anti-Defamation League are raising issues that will be addressed at the rally, as well as other issues such as global anti-Semitism, immigration and human rights.

“We will be there to show support,” Shai Franklin, director of international organizations for the WJC, said of the rally. “We have been having all of these meetings indoors. Now we will have something happening outdoors.”

Meanwhile, a Jewish-led campaign hopes to expel Iran from the United Nations. Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and lawyers Irwin Cotler and Alan Dershowitz are backing a Jerusalem Council for Public Affairs document calling for the United Nations to oust Iran because it has violated the U.N. Charter with its threats to destroy Israel.

For more information on the rally, call the JCRC of New York at (212) 983-4800, ext. 125.

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