Read up on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week, and you'll come across headlines like Activists to Protest Ahmadinejad in New York and Controversy Comes to NYC Ahead of UN General Assembly. But here's the caveat: While Ahmadinejad's General Assembly visits are always cloaked in controversy, this year, at least thus far, the protests are largely emanating from one source: the New York-based advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, which counts some foreign policy heavyweights among its members.
Past protests against Ahmadinejad's General Assembly visits have generally involved more groups. In 2007, for example, students gathered en masse to protest Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia University. The following year, organizations including Americans for a Safe Israel, the Catholic League, and the American Jewish Committee spoke out against Ahmadinejad attending a dinner organized by American Christian organizations, while the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and other Jewish groups staged a protest outside the U.N. In 2009, the year of Iran's disputed elections and mass protests, thousands of Iranians in exile descended on New York in what The Wall Street Journal called "the largest gathering of Iranians in exile since the early days of the Islamic Revolution." Last year, New York lawmakers like David Paterson and Kirsten Gillibrand lashed out at Ahmadinejad. Delegates have also walked out of Ahmadinejad's last two General Assembly addresses over the Iranian leader's remarks about Israel and 9/11