Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is coming to the UN on Monday and there will be no Jewish communal rally of protest to greet him this time. That’s because of the last-minute timing of the trip and because Jewish groups were worried that the turnout would be so small as to backfire.
It tells us something about our culture to consider that when Ahmadinejad claims the Holocaust never happened or pledges to wipe Israel off the map there is little reaction here. But when, during his memorable visit to Columbia University a couple of years ago, he asserted that there are no homosexuals in his country, people reacted far more viscerally. "This guy is nuts," was the response. Finally.
It’s a shame that efforts to prevent Iran from having a nuclear bomb are seen as an Israel issue. A nuclear Iran would be a threat to the entire Mideast and American interests there, and would lead to countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt starting their own race for nuclear weapons. This is an issue that should have all Americans out there protesting, but in the past couple of years our community has had enough trouble getting even a few thousand Jews to speak up when Ahmadinejad comes to the UN Security Council in September. And if not for busing in day school students, the size of past rallies would be even more embarrassing.
For now American Jewish groups are trying to get foreign diplomats from democratic countries to walk out on Ahmadinejad when he addresses the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference on Monday afternoon. Not much to ask, considering the hateful message Iran’s president sends, but let’s see who walks out on him.