Chants of “Stop Iran” and “Shame on the Grand Hyatt” could be heard on East 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan, early Thursday evening, September 25th, as over 1000 Jews and non-Jews, representing over 60 political and religious organizations gathered across the street from the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Angered by the invitation extended to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend a gala dinner in his honor at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, an umbrella organization called 9/25 Rally, under the leadership of the Jewish Action Alliance’s Beth Gilinsky assembled for a historic rally featuring a veritable cornucopia of speakers representing a broad cross section of affiliations. The dinner at the Hyatt was hosted by the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quaker United Nations office, a group called Religions for Peace and the World Council of Churches – United National Liason Office. The co-sponsor of this event was the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations.

The rally was held just two days after the Iranian president took the podium at the General Assembly of the United Nations and addressed the world body. Calling the United States “occupiers, without a sense of shame”; a direct reference to the US military presence in Iraq and consistently pointing to the US as a “bullying power”, Ahmadinejad saved his most vitriolic statements for Israel and the Jewish people.

Questioning Israel’s right to exist he stated, “In Palestine, 60 years of carnage and invasion is still ongoing at the hands of some criminal and occupying Zionists. They have forged a regime through collecting people from various parts of the world and bringing them to other people’s land by displacing, detaining, and killing the true owners of that land. ”

In typical Hitlerian fashion, he intimated that worldwide Jewry maintains a secret cabal, whose ultimate goal is global domination. Substituting the politically correct word “Zionists” for “Jews”, he assigned direct blame on Jews for the collapse of the financial markets and several Wall Street investment icons. Said Ahmadinejad, “The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.”

Commenting on what he perceives as pandering by American presidential nominees to Jewish interests, the Iranian president continued spewing forth his invective by intoning “It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support. This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations and the threats of the Zionist network against
their will.”

Among the personalities speaking at the rally were Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Guardian Angels founder, Curtis Sliwa, Edward Cox, Representative of Governor Sarah Palin, Beth Gilinsky, Jewish Action Alliance & Women United, Father Keith Roderick, Christian Solidarity International, Amir Abbas Ffakhravar, Council for a Democratic Iran, State Senator Ruben Diaz, New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, Father Rob Schenck, National Council of Clergy and Faith in Action, Rabbi Zev Friedman, Rambam Mesivta High School, Michael Hines, International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Joseph Hakim, International Christian Union, Aryeh Eldad, Member of Israeli Knesset, New York City Councilman David Weprin, New York State Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Gregory Wright, Log Cabin Republicans of New York, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, New York Board of Rabbis, Simon Deng, former Sudanse slave, Sudan Freedom Walk, Dr. Richard Land, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Fira Stukelman, Holocaust survivor, Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations (COJECO), Andrea Lafferty, Traditional Values Coalition, Desiree Bernstein, 911 Families, Banafshe Zand-Bonazzi, Alliance of Iranian Women, Christine Brim, Center for Security Policy who read a prepared speech by Dr. Phyllis Chesler, author and women’s right activist, Anne Bayefsky, Eye on the UN, Dr. William Donohue, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and Frank Gaffney, Center for Security Policy.

Many of the speakers excoriated Grand Hyatt Hotel owner, Penny Pritzker for allowing her hotel to be used as a venue to honor the Iranian president. Ms. Pritzker, a Chicago billionaire who now serves as the National Finance Chair for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was asked by the speakers to turn over all revenue generated by this event to the United States armed forces. Other speakers took direct aim at human rights abuses in Iran and strongly lambasted President Ahmadinejad for executing dracanion forms of torture on all those who do not march lock step with the Iranian regime. Michael Hines of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem wore a symbolic armband with a bright yellow Jewish star as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people and the land of Israel. “Despite the dangerous rants of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel will not be wiped off the map. Not under our watch,” he declared forcefully.

Fira Stukelman, a Holocaust survivor from Babi Yar, spoke of Ahmadinejad’s popularity with certain organizations. “What we are witnessing is rise of a genocidal maniac, in the same genre as Adolf Hitler and the world remains silent” she said while holding a sign that said, ‘Never Again’. Rabbi Avi Weiss led the crowd in prayers and the recitation of Psalms and applauded those who had the courage and temerity to speak out against evil as personified by Ahmadinejad. Other speakers addressed the ubiquitous phenomenon and dangerous proliferation of Sharia law throughout Europe and how the stringency of such laws could possibly permeate North American society. Edward Cox, the representative for Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee said that the “Iranian uranium enrichment program poses a great danger to the free world and must be stopped at all costs.” Others referred to Ahmadinejad as a terror monger who will stop at nothing to destroy those he bitterly opposes.

In her prepared remarks, read by Christine Brim, author and women’s rights activist, Phyllis Chesler who specializes in documenting horrific honor murders of women in the Muslim world, spoke of the barbaric murder of a Iranian woman named Soraya M. who was falsely accused of adultery. Soraya was stoned to death, with her body being subsequently immolated. Says Dr. Chesler, “The villagers—who had know Soraya since her birth—cursed her, spit on her, hit her, and whipped her as she walked to her stoning. A “shudder of pleasure and joy ran through the crowd” as their stones drew blood. According to one account, Soraya died a slow and agonizing death.”

Gregory Wright of the Log Cabin Republicans spoke of the horrific executions of homosexuals in Iran and chided other left-wing Gay and Lesbian organizations for not speaking out against the persecution of gays in Iran. “The reason Ahmadinejad said that there are no gays or lesbians in Iran last year at Columbia University, is because they’ve all been murdered or are in hiding.”

Signs that read, “Iran Needs Regime Change”, “No Jihad in My Backyard”, “No Nukes for Kooks”, and “Ahmadinejad = Hitler” were held by rally participants as well as signs from such Christian groups such as Christians United for Israel” and human rights organizations.

Crowd at Protest Rally

Curtis Silwa

Protesters at Rally

Rabbi Weiss

Christian at Protest


Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.


  1. TribalSkyGod says:

    I would go and join this rally. I’d probably hold a completely irrelevant sign (toilets this way ->, nuke the moon, free sex, we interrupt this pointless rally to bring you NONSENSE, BUNGIE release a new HALO game, cows taste good), or a sign that actually supports the Grand Hyatt. And I’d get some 50 people to join me and do the same.

    Christians keep complaining about getting discriminated, but what do you expect when you pull this sort of crap?

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