Protesting Adolf Ahmadinejad at the United Nations

In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put anti-Semitism on full display, accusing “a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists” for dominating financial and political centers in Europe and the U.S. in “a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.” He accused Jews of playing an “underhanded” role in the crisis in Georgia, and reiterated his call for the demise of the “Zionist regime.” In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) protested the address by the UN General Assembly President, Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, at a dinner honoring the Iranian leader. The General Assembly president “has put the credibility of the United Nations into question,” wrote AJC.

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

The American Jewish Committee was appalled to learn that the President of the General Assembly, Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, has put the credibility of the United Nations into question. He has agreed to speak at a dinner in honor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, a person whose blatant Holocaust denial has been rejected by you, the Security Council, and the General Assembly. As recently as last week, Mr. Ahmadinejad, having previously termed the Holocaust a “fairy tale,” denied the Holocaust again, calling it “fake.”

General Assembly Resolution 60/7 “rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or in part.”  To prevent further acts of genocide, General Assembly Res. 61/255 specifically calls on states “unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event.”  Your statement that Holocaust denial is “not acceptable” graces the home page of the UN’s Holocaust Remembrance site, together with another quotation from you: “Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State…”  The Security Council has joined in rejecting Mr. Ahmadinejad’s threats to the State of Israel.  

Given Mr. Ahmadinejad’s repeated statements about the “annihilation” and eradication of a UN member state, Israel, the claim that this event is a dialogue for peace cannot be taken seriously. Furthermore, the claim that this dinner promotes dialogue of any kind is undercut by Mr. Ahmadinejad himself, who has clearly stated: “We are ready to hold dialogue with all countries of the world except for the Israeli regime.”  It will serve as a platform through which the UN will help legitimize Holocaust denial, not to mention the destruction of a member state.

Ironically entitled “religious contributions to peace,” the invitation to the dinner at which Miguel D’Escoto is scheduled to speak identifies him in no other capacity but his role as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Mr. Secretary General, under your able leadership, the UN has been clear in its rejection of Holocaust denial. You have reminded states that the Holocaust is “a unique and undeniable tragedy.”  Given the clarity and overwhelming support by you and the nations of the world for these resolutions, it is obvious that the presence of the President of the General Assembly at an event in honor of Mr. Ahmadinejad would make a mockery of you, the United Nations, and the nations and leaders who have made a point of rejecting Holocaust denial whenever, wherever, and by whomever it is made.

The General Assembly resolution reminded states that “remembrance is critical to prevent further acts of genocide.”  You have indicated that any attempt to cast doubt on the reality of this unique and undeniable horror must be firmly resisted by all people of goodwill and of whatever faith.

Mr. Secretary-General, we ask that you put the full weight of your moral authority as head of the United Nations, and as someone who is profoundly concerned with its standing in the world, to convey to Mr. D’Escoto the unacceptability of his participation in his capacity as President of the UN General Assembly.

This dinner is an inauspicious beginning for the 62nd General Assembly, and it does not augur well for the prospect of a balanced and just session.


Richard J. Sideman & David A. Harris 

The American Jewish Committee also called on UN member states to condemn Ahmadinejad’s speech, rife with anti-Semitic stereotypes, to the GA.

“Today, President Ahmadinejad has left no doubt that he hates Jews,” said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris. “His violent bigotry is made all the more threatening by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions.”

Ahmadinejad’s address was rife with obvious anti-Semitic stereotypes, including his descriptions of a covert Jewish “network” that controls the media, dominates financial markets, and deviously starts wars. His comment that “the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse” echoed his previous calls for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

“As he seeks to build the deadliest weapons on earth, a proud anti-Semite has hijacked the United Nations to broadcast hate,” said Harris. “We call upon the international community to start applying pressure commensurate with the threat posed by President Ahmadinejad, and to stop doing business as usual with the country he represents.”

And more than 300 people marched from AJC headquarters to the mass rally opposite the UN. AJC lay and staff members were joined by a large contingent from the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students, an AJC partner. The students, and members of SHOUT, a Canadian pro-tolerance group, came by bus from Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

Check out also here the The Miami Herald’s op-ed by Brian Siegal, director AJC’s Miami, on efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program.


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