- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2009

UNITED NATIONS | Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Jews of dominating the world in a harsh speech Wednesday evening that drove many foreign diplomats to leave the U.N. chamber.

The Iranian president’s remarks came hours after Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi left his mark with a 95-minute harangue against more powerful nations that he said had turned the U.N. Security Council into a “terror council.”

In its 64 years, the U.N. General Assembly has heard many colorful and controversial figures, from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez comparing the American president to the devil.

But the Iranian and Libyan leaders vied for the dubious honor Wednesday of delivering the most offensive and outlandish remarks.

Mr. Ahmadinejad repeated accusations that Israel was responsible for “inhuman policies” against the Palestinians. Then he broadened his attacks to the Jews who live outside that country.

“It is no longer acceptable that a small minority would dominate the politics, economy and culture of major parts of the world by its complicated networks, and establish a new form of slavery, and harm the reputation of other nations, even European nations and the U.S., to attain its racist ambitions,” he said.

However, in an apparent reference to the U.S. agreement to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, “Our nation is prepared to warmly shake all those hands which are honestly extended to us.”

“We have all seen that how the inequitable economic structures controlled by certain political interests have been used to plunder national wealth of countries for the benefit of a group of corrupt business giants,” the Iranian president told the world body. He also rejected widespread belief that Iran is funneling weapons to powerful Islamic armies Hamas and Hezbollah.

Numerous diplomats, including Americans and Canadians, walked out during his speech, leaving him to continue talking before a mostly empty chamber.

“It is disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric,” officials from the U.S. Mission said in a statement distributed while Mr. Ahmadinejad was still speaking.

Iran’s controversial leader was making his fifth appearance before the world body as hundreds of Iranian-Americans protested his regime outside the United Nations.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who claimed earlier this month to win a contentious June national election, positioned himself as a beacon of democracy, proclaiming that “our nation has successfully gone through a glorious and fully democratic election, opening a new chapter for our country in the march towards national progress and enhanced international interactions.”

The Iranian spoke hours after Col. Gadhafi, who took power in a 1969 coup, gave his first speech to the United Nations. He used it to inveigh against its decision-making structure.

He called the Security Council illegitimate because it is controlled by five permanent members - the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia.

“It should not be called the Security Council. It should be called the terror council,” he said. He added that its powers should be given to the General Assembly, which includes all 192 U.N. members.

Shuffling through several sheets of creased paper that appeared to contain handwritten notes and brandishing a small copy of the U.N. charter - which he later tossed over his shoulder -the Libyan meandered from demanding investigations into all the wars and assassinations since the United Nations was founded, to accusing capitalist countries of making viruses, to calling for the end of a treaty that bans landmines, which he called defensive weapons.

He also called the war in Iraq “the mother of all evils” and asked why the United States was fighting in Afghanistan. “If the Taliban wants to make a religious state, OK, like the Vatican,” he said. “Does the Vatican constitute a danger against us? No.”

He spoke so long that he exhausted his own interpreter and had to switch to a second. The room emptied out as diplomats scurried to lunch. Low-level note-takers could be seen rolling their eyes and even snoozing, leading Col. Gadhafi to suggest they were all suffering from jet lag.

In a sea of gray suits and red ties, the Libyan stood out in a coppery-brown robe, black pillbox hat and Africa-shaped pin.

The United States and Britain made a fragile peace with Tripoli after it turned over two intelligence officers for trial in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, most of them Americans, and gave up a fledgling nuclear program. But the United States was infuriated when a Scottish court last month released the one man found guilty in the bombing.

The Security Council has demanded that like Libya, Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program and eventually give it up. Iran has agreed to talks with the United States and five other powers Oct. 1 but says it will continue enrichment.

Hundreds of Iranian Americans converged on New York to stand outside the United Nations and shout protests against Mr. Ahmadinejad.

“We are hear to say that we, not just us here, but every Iranian, is disappointed in America’s decision to listen to him, to talk to” Mr. Ahmadinejad, said Farshad, 24, who refused to give his family name “because my father is living in Iran.”

The protester, who lives near Atlanta, and spent 26 hours to get here, said the Iranian regime is killing young people and politically active citizens, with the implicit help of trading partners China and Russia.

“And you know he did not win the election,” Farshad added.

Many of the protesters wore bright green scraps of fabric wrapped around their heads, knotted into scarves and twisted into armbands.

Green is the color of the Iranian opposition.

“We are here for the media,” demonstrator George Far said. “We know they [world leaders] won’t listen to us, but hopefully the people of the United States will.

“They should see [Mr. Ahmadinejad] as a terrorist, which he is. Why would the United Nations allow this man inside to speak?”

Col. Gadhafi and Mr. Ahmadinejad have endured housing troubles during their New York visits.

The New York Helmsley Hotel and the elegant Essex House canceled banquets for the Iranian delegation after they were challenged by activist group United Against a Nuclear Iran, according to communications director Kimmie Lipscomb.

Col. Gadhafi, who likes to take his own Bedouin tent with him when he travels, had a difficult time finding a spot on which to pitch it. The Libyan government owns a spacious estate in nearby New Jersey, but neighbors loudly objected to the colonel’s presence. The United Nations turned him away, as did Central Park.

The large tent was finally erected in Bedford, N.Y., on property owned by real estate magnate Donald Trump. The neighbors there objected too, and Mr. Trump’s organization on Wednesday promised to take it down.

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