Not High on Hyatt
Protesting Ahmadinejad.


Kevin D. Williamson

The world’s leading Islamic terrorist and Jew-hater was feted in New York Thursday night, dining (but presumably not wining) under the roof of Barack Obama’s chief fundraiser. This fact did not sit well with the thousands of protesters who turned out to deplore Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and to mock billionaire Hyatt hotel owner Penny Pritzker, who is the national finance chair of Obama’s presidential campaign.

Pritzker’s association with Obama did not go unremarked upon by the protesters, many of whom wore McCain-Palin buttons. The speakers demanded that Pritzker donate whatever money Hyatt made from the event to the U.S. military or that she resign from Obama’s campaign. Several suggested that she should do both. Pritzker, the 135th wealthiest person on Earth, is the chairwoman of Classic Residence by Hyatt, and her family, one of the world’s wealthiest, owns Global Hyatt Corp. She recently hosted a $28,500-per-plate fundraiser for Obama at her Chicago home with billionaire financier Warren Buffett. She has long been involved in politics and has been the finance chair of Obama’s campaign since spring of this year. There is no indication that Pritzker was personally involved in the event or knew in advance the sort of event for which her family’s property would be used. But that did not assuage the wrath of those gathered in front of the Pritzkers’ hotel, who argued that the business’s owner, being deeply involved in politics and public life, has a moral responsibility to intervene in the situation.

Ahmadinejad was dining at the Hyatt at the invitation of the World Council of Churches, the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonites Central Committee, and other religious organizations. These representatives of largely liberal Christian congregations were also run through the rhetorical wringer by a group of speakers that included Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, Catholic League leader Bill Donohue, Rabbi Zev Friedman of Rambam Mesivta high school, Richard Lamb of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Log Cabin Republicans of New York City, and a rambunctious crowd ranging from Long Island high-schoolers to Ukrainian Holocaust survivors. The message prominently displayed on several signs: “Ahmadinejad — Take Your Hate Back To Hell.”

Gov. Sarah Palin was scheduled to speak at an anti-Ahmadinejad rally on Monday but was disinvited by the events’ sponsors when several Democrats balked. Speaking for her on Thursday, lawyer Edward Cox (Richard M. Nixon’s son-in-law) delivered the speech Gov. Palin had planned to give. (The speech was also printed on the front page of the New York Sun.) Palin’s speech reads, in part: “The world must awake to the threat this man poses to all of us. Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever took place. He dreams of being an agent in a ‘Final Solution’ — the elimination of the Jewish people. He has called Israel a ‘stinking corpse’ that is ‘on its way to annihilation.’ Such talk cannot be dismissed as the ravings of a madman — not when Iran just this summer tested long-range Shahab-3 missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, not when the Iranian nuclear program is nearing completion, and not when Iran sponsors terrorists that threaten and kill innocent people around the world.”

It was an unexpected scene in many ways, not the least was a crowd of largely Jewish Manhattanites, feminists, gay activists, and other groups not traditionally associated with the Republican party cheering McCain and savaging Obama. It’s also a rare thing to see a Catholic out-preach a Baptist, but the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue received a rockstar’s welcome, including applause from a few “Gays Against Ahmadinejad” protesters, as he announced: “This bum shouldn’t even be in this city,” he shouted. “These clueless Christians are sitting down with him, for dialogue. You can’t have a dialogue with the devil.” He was especially colorful in his condemnation of the World Council of Churches. “The WCC are not neutral. They’re the same bunch who praised Arafat, that terrorist. If I were in there at that dinner, I’d probably vomit all over my plate.”

The crowd later broke into several chants of “The Hyatt hosts terrorists.” (Global Hyatt did not reply to a request for comment for this report.)

Among the speakers was Aryeh Eldad, a member of the Israeli Knesset. “The world refused to believe Hitler,” he said. “We have learned that lesson: never again! We had hoped the Free World had learned that lesson, too. We were wrong. We Jews are an ancient people with a long memory. Ahmadinejad is not the first to threaten to eliminate us, not even the first Persian.” It is significant, Eldad argued, that Israel and Iran have no underlying dispute. “There’s no territorial dispute, no political conflict. This is pure hatred. Nothing else.”

“New York, as the capital of the world, has to accept these guys at the U.N.,” said Bruce Blakeman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “But we don’t have to give them a party, to legitimize them.”

One group of people who aren’t legitimizing Ahmadinejad: the NYPD, who informally refer to this kind of U.N. security detail as “the mutt patrol.”

– Kevin Williamson is an NR deputy managing editor.