pro-israel protest 224.8.
(photo credit: Ari Teger)
Detroit - "'May you live in endlessly interesting times' is both a wish and a curse," said Ron Dzwonkowski, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press.
Dzwonkowski addressed some 400 people gathered outside the Holocaust Memorial Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan on Monday; they were there to protest the Iranian nuclear threat and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's upcoming speaking engagements at Columbia University and the UN.
Dzwonkowski explained that as a journalist, "interesting times" are fuel and intrigue, but for his children's generation, it would be best if things could just stop and be calm for a while.
About a month ago, the Detroit Free Press published an editorial saying that Iran was unquestionably an international menace.
Dzwonkowski repeated the sentiment and echoed the crowd's displeasure at Ahmadinejad's welcome to the US, but he said that sometimes with people like the Iranian president, it was best to let them keep talking. By allowing Ahmadinejad's hateful views out in the public, Dzwonkowski noted, they could be repudiated. "I'm glad I live in a society where [Ahmadinejad] doesn't get the last word," Dzwonkowski declared.
He added that he doubted the Iranian president would appreciate the irony of his being able to speak freely in the US, especially considering the hatred he has spouted against America, while anyone attempting to do the same in Iran would be imprisoned.
Dzwonkowski advocated further economic sanctions and diplomatic action against Iran, but expressed hope that the US would not attack Iran.
Petitions were circulating through the crowd urging the government to take action against the threats coming from Iran.
Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig, the founder of the Holocaust Memorial Center, addressed the protesters, warning that "those that deny the Holocaust are attempting to create another," referring blatantly to Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime. He urged the crowd to "thank God that there is an Israel that will not permit another Holocaust," a statement met by loud cheers and singing, particularly by the groups of Jewish high schoolers assembled.
The demonstration was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, the mouthpiece of the Detroit Jewish community. The organization's executive director, Robert Cohen, said the purpose of the metropolitan Detroit rally was to lend support to the larger assemblies in New York this week and to oppose Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, threats to Israel and sponsorship of terrorism.
There to back the Jewish community's stance against the Iranian nuclear threat was David Blewett, the president of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel. Blewett expressed his community's concerns over radical organizations coming together in a "loose alliance" with Iran at their head, rattling off a list of terror organizations that included Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Fatah. He was there to speak out against the "very real threat" to Israel, saying that history has proven that "when Jews are threatened, Christians will be next." He cited threatening graffiti he had seen on church walls in Bethlehem.
In addition, Blewett said that the current Iranian regime was decimating the Christian leadership in Iran and persecuting Iran's Christian community through a "coordinated effort in Teheran."
"Missiles don't need to be in the air for Iran to be a threat," Blewett asserted.
The event ended with the crowd chanting "No nukes for Iran" and singing of "Am Yisrael Chai."
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