This week’s UN Summit means a lot of things for a lot of people. For some, it is a chance to discuss climate change. For others, it is a opportunity to take a picture with the President of Nicaragua. For me, though, it is a time for me to be crass and make fun of real world issues. That’s right, it’s time for the second annual running diary of the anti-Ahmadinejad rally at the United Nations (Check out last year’s diary here). It should be noted that while I agree with everything the rally stands for, the scene is just too hilarious to pass up making fun of.
11:30- The rally is scheduled to begin at noon. Yet, even with living in New York for over a year (and having been to the rally last year), I have no clue where Dag Hammarskjold Square is. This is honestly the first time I’ve been lost in New York. But I have a plan. Follow the kippahs. The men in kippahs will bring me to the promised land.
11:38- I’ve spotted a college age kid with a Jew-fro and a Guster t-shirt handing out flyers. Yep, I found the rally. It’s strange though. It is supposed to start in 20 or so minutes, and the square is surprisingly empty. I’m guessing the rally is planned on Jewish time.
11:52- I’m a little worried. The real highlights of last year’s rally were the insane signs people brought. (Who can forget the infamous “McCaine-Palin ’08” sign?) So far, the signs are pretty generic (Israel is here to stay…yada yada yada).
11:55- Our wonderful intern Jordanna informed me yesterday that she would be standing on the stage, with her mouth taped, holding a sign about people who are oppressed in Iran. I promised that I wouldn’t make fun of her. But I never promised I wouldn’t make fun of the other people on stage! Sorry! Here is one of the other signs on stage: “I’m a woman and in Iran I get stoned.” That’s right. There are no women left in Iran. They have all been stoned.
11:56- A couple of girls near me are chanting, “Hey, hey. Ho, Ho. Ahmadinejad has got to go!” It sucks that Ahmadinejad’s name is so long. We need to figure out some chant that can account for a five syllable last name. Anyone have any suggestions?
11:57- Let me describe the scene a little bit. The square actually has filled up quite a bit. And there are tons of pro-Israel signs. Honestly, I’m surrounded by them in every direction. I just did a 360 degree turn and all I see is blue and white. This makes the following statement by the woman next to me all the more hilarious: “The best thing about this rally is that it isn’t Jewish.”
11:58- The rally hasn’t even officially started and I have to go to the bathroom and I’m starved. This is going to be a long day. Honestly, why aren’t there falafel and schwarma stands set up here? This seems like the worst business decision by the kosher food industry since moving to Postville.
12:00- The rally has started with the American National Anthem. I’m a little disappointed that Jordin Sparks isn’t doing it. And in all seriousness, the amount of signs surrounding me has made me claustrophobic. I can’t see anything in any direction past five feet. I need to move back.
12:01- First insane sign of the day (don’t worry, many more to follow)! “Eichmann bin Jihad” with a picture of Ahmadinejad. Eichmann son of Holy War? Come on, at least be egalitarian! “Eichmann bin Jihad wa Crusades.” See, now we include everyone in a statement that makes zero sense.
12:04- Another great sign: “First Taiwan, Now Israel?” Hey, if that implies cheap knockoff bags and sunglasses made in Israel, I’m all for it.
12:07- Speaker refers to Al-Quds Day as “Israel’s Anti-Israel Day.” I’m not totally sure if Israel sponsors that day, but then again, I’m no expert.
12:08- And we have ourselves a slogan for the day! “Free Iran Now” is led from the stage. I’m sure we will be hearing this a lot. The speaker then reads off all the sponsors for the event. He finishes off by saying “…and 10,000 other organizations.” Is this an anti-Iran rally or a pro-Minnesota rally?
12:11- Second “Free Iran Now” chant. That didn’t take long.
12:15- A religious leader (I forget from where, I wasn’t paying attention), in one sentence says how proud we should be that we live in a country where anyone can speak no matter what they believe and that we should do everything in our power to make sure Qadafi and Ahmadinejad are not allowed to speak next year. Just pointing that out.
12:24- We are already on “Free Iran Now” chant #6. I’ll tell you this much though. One thing I’ve noticed this year is that people just aren’t into it as much as last year. Maybe it was the election that was getting people all fired up but there is an obvious decrease in anger in the crowd. All the chants are kind of weak. Most people are just talking to each other.
12:25- Last year, I tried to count the different pronunciations of Ahmadinejad. This year, a New York city councilwoman has taken it to another level. She referred to the Iranian President as “the man with the name I can’t pronounce.” Seriously, we couldn’t get a council member who knew Ahmadinejad’s name?
12:28- Just as I thought I was getting bored, my man, Irwin Cotler, my Member of Parliament back in Montreal, gets up to speak. He is just a fantastic speaker. Incredibly intelligent, eloquent and passionate. But he disappoints me yet again: Two years in a row and you don’t use Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof!? That’s your line Irwin. I’ve heard you say it 100 times! Why go away from something that works so well?
12:30- I’m gonna go find some crazy people. Oohhh. Here we go. “Obama is Hitler.” Jackpot. Just as I get near the guy, a young, relatively normal looking woman comes up to him and says she loves his sign and asks permission to hold his extra one! I’m flabergasted.
12:31- My favorite line on the second sign? “78% of Jews thought Roosevelt was our friend.” You tell ’em! FDR and Hitler were in cahoots! Wait, huh?
12:33- The key is to get out of the front of the rally. All the crazy people are chilling further back. How about this sign? “Who are Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod?” You needed to come to a rally to ask that? It’s called Wikipedia buddy.
12:35- There is a man wearing a shirt that says “Free Southern Cameroon!” Seriously, Ahmadinejad. What do you have against Southern Cameroon?
12:40- The chant this time is “Stop Iran Now.” Wait, a sec. Are we trying to free Iran or stop Iran? These two statements seem diametrically opposed.
12:41- A message to shomer negiah girls. If you don’t want me to touch you, get out of my way. You don’t seem impure to me. So, I have no issues pushing you out of the way.
12:45- The most rational sign there: “Gilad is still alive.” Amen.
12:46- Did anyone see the Emmys this year? I say this because the format for the rally is much like this year’s Emmys. At the Emmys, they split the show up into five categories, with Comedy and Drama at the beginning and the end, and the three boring categories stuck in the middle. That is the only way to explain why Gov. David Patterson would speak before New York’s State Comptroller. “And now for your main event, the guy who you just heard’s assistant!”
12:50- Wassup Neturei Karta.
12:51- Last year, I compared the Neturei Karta guys to zombies praying for brains. I’d like to change that to a less funny, yet more appropriate comparison. They look like they belong in Madame Tousaud’s. They are standing completely still (except for the one guy who started yelling at some kid in the crowd, only to be told by the guy next to him that he was being inappropriate. Yeah, the Neturei Karta have standards) and everyone just stands right in front of them and takes pictures.
12:53- My biggest issue with these guys are their glasses. Seriously, they need to have a fashion update. They look like Martin Starr in Freaks & Geeks.
12:55- I’m at my end. Call me a bad journalist. I don’t care. I really need to pee. I’m leaving. The crazy part is, looking back at last year’s rally, I actually made it to 1:45. How did I do that?
To be fair, and to not look like Max Blumenthal, I would say that almost everyone at the rally was relatively normal and was there to support a worthy cause. I’m just an immature kid who likes to make fun of people who don’t deserve it.
Pronounced: KOH-sher, Origin: Hebrew, adhering to kashrut, the traditional Jewish dietary laws.