Thousands flooded Times Square Wednesday evening to kick off a national rally campaign by a Long Island organizer opposing the Iran nuclear deal announced by President Barack Obama.
Iran "is a dangerous country that is unreformed," said Jeff Wiesenfeld of Great Neck, a leading rally organizer whose group provided buses to bring hundreds of supporters from Long Island synagogues. He said the focus of the rallies is to demand that "our representatives not only vote against this deal but speak out against it."
The Times Square rally, where several thousand supporters crowded the sidewalks of Seventh Avenue from 39th Street to 42nd Street, is the first of a string of nationwide marches scheduled for the coming 60 days while the House and the Senate begin debate on the nuclear agreement. The Obama administration announced the pact last week and it is expected to face a House vote in September.
"Anyone who has an understanding of history knows that appeasement to a tyrannical power is not good. This is a horrific deal for Israel and for the west," said Wiesenfeld, who worked for former Gov. George Pataki, now a Republican presidential hopeful, former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) and the late Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Democrat.
Wiesenfeld has taken strong pro-Israel stances and written opinion articles for New York City papers and magazines suggesting Palestinians are not human. As a member of the CUNY board, he tried to block John Jay College from awarding an honorary degree to Tony Kushner over the playwright's opinions about Israeli politics.
"We want to make our voices heard in Washington and target lawmakers to vote against the deal and a possible presidential veto," said Eve Epstein of Great Neck, a volunteer with the Stop Iran Rally Coalition, who views Iran as sponsor of terrorism that will "endanger" both Israel and the United States.
Izzy Horowitz, 80, of Dix Hills, said a nuclear agreement with Iran "terrifies me."
"I won't be here for long but I have grandchildren who are bright and contributing to society," he said. "They deserve better."
Before getting on a bus to leave from the Chai Center synagogue in Dix Hills, supporters "said a special prayer for the survival of Israel," Horowitz said.
Horowitz, a retired vice president of the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, said that as a registered Democrat, "I'm ready to change and become a Republican."
He said he voted for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). "Those guys caved and turned their backs on the community who backed them."
One keynote speaker was Pataki, who told rally supporters, "We are here as one America, saying stop Iran now. . . . Do not bow down to Islamic terrorism."
People in the crowd, many holding Israeli and American flags, cheered.
Pataki ended his remarks by making the assertion that a signed nuclear deal with Iran "is a guaranteed arms race in the Middle East."The NYPD said there were no arrests and the rally ended about 8 p.m.