A pro-Israel rally last Thursday outside the United Nations was nearly swallowed up by a variety of other protest groups, each of which was restricted by police barricades to separate sections of 47th Street between First and Second Avenues.
The pro-Israel advocacy group Stand With Us rally, which it billed as a “three-ring circus,” was designed to illustrate the hypocrisy of the U.N. and its so-called Durban III conference against racism that was then taking place across the street. While conference delegates was reaffirming a 10-year-old anti-Semitic document that ignored the Holocaust but singled out the Palestinians as victims of Israeli racism, those in the rally were being given tri-colored clown wigs, clown bibs, and large red clown noses.
The rally was primarily attended by a couple of hundred students from area colleges. They listened to speeches, milled around and watched someone in a clown outfit put on a juggling show. There were balloons and several in the crowd waved foam hands stamped with the words “Shame on the UN.”
Next to them, a group from Tibet held a protest, as did another objecting to the Korean government’s forceful deportation to China of the followers of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong.
Iranian-Americans held by far the largest demonstration. They had giant TV screens set up throughout 47th Street so that its hundreds of participants could see speakers, who spoke in both English and Farsi, denounce Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In addition, they expressed concern about the safety of 3,500 Iranian dissidents who live in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
At the other end of 47th Street on a stage just off Second Avenue, Iran 180 staged its mock wedding between actors wearing masks of Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashir Assad. Ousted Libyan strongman Moammar Kadaffy presided over the ceremony. Watching the street theater were passersby, many of whom stopped and happily snapped pictures of the event with their phones.