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H. Glenn Rosenkrantz, UJC Media Relations
646.245.8975
glenn.rosenkrantz@ujc.org

 

Thousands Rally at United Nations to

Protest Iranian Leader

Demand World Action to End Iranian Nuclear Program,
Sponsorship of Terrorism, and Human Rights Violations


New York, September 22, 2008 -- Thousands of people gathered opposite the United Nations today to protest the presence there this week of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, as well as his regime’s nuclear program, its support of anti-Israeli and anti-Western terrorist groups and its violations of basic human rights.

The National Rally to Stop Iran Now featured prominent civic, religious and ethnic figures, from the United States and overseas, who called on the international community to take action against Iran.  The rally took place against the backdrop of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly and the gathering of attending world leaders.

“This is a fight we can win, this is a fight we must win, and this is a fight we will win,” said Natan Sharansky, famed Soviet-Jewish dissident and former Israeli deputy prime minister.

The thousands of people attending the rally represented communities from up and down the East coast and Canada. They packed into Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations complex and filled a number of city blocks, hoisting placards and banners underscoring Iran’s threat to Israel, the United States and world stability.

“The leader of Iran calls for the destruction of Israel, denies the fact of the Holocaust, and ignores international demands to halt a nuclear program that threatens the Jewish homeland, the region, and the world,” said Howard M. Rieger, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Jewish Communities. “The thousands of Americans and others joining the Jewish community today send a loud message to the United Nations and beyond that such views and policies are unacceptable and should not be tolerated by civilized and peace-loving nations and peoples.”

The rally was sponsored by the National Coalition to Stop Iran Now, which includes leaders and organizations representing various communities who are deeply concerned about the Iranian threat.  Members include United Jewish Communities, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, UJA-Federation of New York, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Those who spoke to rally-goers represented a cross section of major denominational, ethnic and civic leaders, including Irwin Cotler, former Canadian Minister of Justice; Dr. Paul deVries, New York Divinity School president; the Honorable Rev. Floyd Flake, former member of Congress; Dalia Itzik, speaker of the Israeli Knesset; and Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate.  Prominent international human rights advocates Nazanin Afshin-Jan and Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi also spoke.

“Our experience tells us to take this man seriously,” Itzik said, referring to the Iranian leader’s threats against Israel and his pursuit of nuclear weaponry. “Iran is not just Israel’s problem, but he is a threat to the entire world.”

Speakers urged the United Nations Security Council to take vigorous steps to impose harsh sanctions on Iran to force a halt to its nuclear development program. They also called on international countries to take diplomatic and commercial measures to persuade the Iranian regime to cease its nuclear activities and its support of terror groups.

“Iran’s nuclear program is not just a threat to Israel, as bad as that is; it’s not just a threat to America, as bad as that is; it is a threat to all humankind,” Rev. Flake said. “We must stop Iran now.”


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United Jewish Communities (UJC) represents 155 Jewish federations and 400 smaller Jewish communities across North America. UJC- Washington brings the federations’ voice to Capitol Hill and to the White House by advocating for life-saving and life-enhancing humanitarian assistance through more than 1,300 social service and healthcare institutions, community centers, schools and summer camps in nearly 800 cities and towns in North America, in Israel and in 60 other countries around the world.


 

 



Top photo: Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel
Photo two: From left, Natan Sharansky, former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center; Harold Tanner, acting chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and Irwin Cotler, member of the Canadian Parliament and former Canadian Justice Minister
Photo three: Israeli Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik
Photo four: Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and Israeli Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik
Photo five: Thousands of demonstrators at the rally
Photo six: Howard Rieger, UJC President and CEO
All Photo Credits: Robert A Cumins