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23 Sep, 2008 09:29

Jews divided over Ahmadinejad ahead of UN Assembly

Leaders and chief diplomats from almost 200 nations are preparing to gather under one roof to tackle global problems. The United Nations General Assembly opens on Tuesday, with fierce debate expected for the entire sessi

Their agenda includes the global financial crisis and the way it may affect the UN's plan to tackle African poverty, as well as Iran's nuclear ambitions and the recent military conflict in Georgia.

Thousands of protesters assumed position on Monday as world leaders prepared to descend on New York City for the 63rd UN General Assembly.

Israeli supporters rallied near the UN Headquarters, condemning the arrival of Iran’s controversial President.

“Ahmadinejad is a person who is inciting war crimes, inciting genocide against humanity. If that's the case – he has no business being here. And the world needs to take his problems seriously. The problem of a nuclear Iran is a problem that can not be tolerated in this world,” one of the protesters said.

While the majority were denouncing the presence of the Iranian president, there was also a small group of Jewish people that welcomed his message and called for diplomacy.

Members of Jews United Against Zionism demonstrated behind barricades calling for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. They consider Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a peaceful leader and say he deserves more respect from the West.

“President Ahmadinejad, who I personally spoke to for hours – we met him many times – he insists he has nothing against the Jews. He respects, protects them,” Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss from Jew United Against Zionism said.
Thousands of cops are positioned around the UN, where streets and sidewalks are closed for security precautions.

And inside the building, tensions are expected to run high. The global financial meltdown, poverty, food prices – all will be hotly debated.

Issues dominating the dialogue will include last month's military conflict in South Ossetia, and Moscow's recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Iran's nuclear program and Kosovo will also take centre stage. These topics continue to cause deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia.