The Iranian president did not make good on his threat to visit the site of the ground zero memorial on Monday, but he was given a New York welcome by tens of thousands of protesters at the United Nations and at Columbia University.
Hundreds of the protesters carried yellow signs bearing the Iranian president’s likeness and a phrase, “Hitler lives.”
Hundreds more lined police barricades at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza along 47th Street with posters that said, “Christians united for Israel.” Malcolm Hoenlein, vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations, was thrilled as he gazed out at the sea of bodies stretching all the way back to First Avenue, about a full city block away.
“In just 10 days, look at all the people who have come to this coalition,” he said.
“In the front lines, all are non-Jews.”
Willam Daroft, of the United Jewish Coalition, told NewsMax that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s early afternoon speech at Columbia University had galvanized its members.
“Speaking at the United Nations is par for the course for dictators,” he said.
“But polluting an institution of higher learning such as Columbia – that was a real spark.”
Security was tight up at Columbia where police sealed off all gates leading onto campus and patrolled overhead in helicopters.
More than a thousand predominantly young protesters were confined to the sidewalks along Broadway at 116th Street. Speakers had to use bullhorns to be heard.
“The police wouldn’t give us a permit to use a sound system,” said Jennifer Cogan, who helped organize demonstrators for Hasbara scholarships and the David Project, groups that offer pro-Israel education programs in high schools and colleges.
Fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb motivated the crowd, who carried posters with Ahmadinejad’s picture that said, “Stop Iran from going nuclear.”
David Jonas, a 21-year-old rabbinical student from Riverdale, N.Y., said that he had been proud to be a Columbia student that morning.
“Tonight, I am proud to no longer be a student at Columbia. Shame on Columbia!” he said to a cheering crowd.
Elisha Davidovitz, who recently earned a master’s degree from Columbia’s school of journalism, said she could not longer in good conscience hang the diploma on her wall.
“Today, a terrorist has been given more respect than we are here,” she said to the protesters.
By inviting Ahmadinejad, Columbia has “shown more respect to a terrorist than to the victims of 9/11 or to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. So in their honor, I am tearing up my diploma.”
Holding up her pigskin to the cameras, Davidovitz tore it in two. “President Bollinger, this is free speech,” she said, addressing the university president who at that moment was introducing Ahmadinejad to an invitation only event inside.
New York Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel said Congress would pursue tougher sanction legislation “to squeeze the Iranian regime because the Iranian people deserve better and don’t want Adolph Hitler running their country.”
Instead of Ahmadinejad being allowed to address the United Nations and Columbia, the Iranian president “should be arrested,” Engel said.
“Columbia University should be ashamed of itself,” he added.
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