The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is coming to New York for the U.N. General Assembly and expects to stay at the luxurious Intercontinental-Barclay Hotel. But a group of distinguished Americans, the New York Post reports, is urging the hotel not to take the Iranian delegation in as guests, saying it would be like accepting “blood money.”
I say that whether or not the hotel decides to cancel his booking, New Yorkers should unite in giving him a resounding Bronx cheer. That’s a gesture -- more familiar to older generations of New Yorkers perhaps -- that involves pursing the lips and blowing hard or simply booing. How that translates into Farsi I don’t know -- but Ahmadinejad’s offensive statements and misstatements resonate deeply here.
The bipartisan group that sent a protest letter to the general manager of the Barclay includes President Obama’s special Afghanistan ambassador Richard Holbrooke and another Middle East envoy Dennis Ross. The protesters say that businesses in New York shouldn’t be taking money from an evil leader who sponsors terrorism.
The New York Post reports that, in their letter, the group, United Against Nuclear Iran, says that, by allowing the Iranian delegation to stay there, the InterContinental not only endorses Ahmadinejad’s recent disputed re-election but also ignores the regime’s ‘’flagrant violations of human rights and its commitment to illegally developing nuclear weapons.”
Ahmadinejad’s tirade against Israel and the Jewish people never ends. In April of this year he again denied the Holocaust ever happened, specifically saying the charge that Hitler virtually wiped out the Jewish population of Europe was false. The Iranian leader called it a ‘’pretext.’’
I visited some of the Nazis’ most notorious death camps after World War II. The scene at barracks buildings brimming with hair shaved off the heads of women who had just been gassed to death was heart rending. The smell of the lethal gas, Zyklon B, lingered. Some pretext! I remember, too, a pile of hundreds of baby shoes taken off the feet of little corpses after they were murdered.
Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, who has written many works on the Holocaust, calls Ahmadinejad ‘’the Number 1 Holocaust denier in the world.’’
Wiesel, a citizen of New York, told me: ‘’This man wants Iran to become nuclear so that he could destroy the state of Israel. This man should be arrested for incitement, crimes against humanity. He should be arrested and brought to trial before an international court.’’
I can understand the reluctance of a hotel manager to go back on a contract. To make it easier for the Barclay to honor its agreement to take in the Iranian delegation, I would make a simple suggestion:
Take the money and donate it to the Holocaust museum down at the Battery. In a metropolis with more than 2 million Jewish citizens, it would be a nice gesture. Even a Holocaust denier can make a nice gesture to the people of the host city at a UN gathering.
Certainly we cannot deny the fact that the delegations to the UN General Assembly need places to stay. No matter how distasteful their policies may be to the average citizen of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, they deserve our city’s hospitality.