Palin Invitation Withdrawn
Organizers of a protest against the appearance of Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations next week withdrew an invitation to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin yesterday because the controversy over her participation was distracting from the goals of the protest.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) abruptly pulled out of the event this week after learning that Palin had been added to a list of attendees that includes Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and the speaker of the Israeli Knesset Dalia Itzik. Clinton's staff voiced concern that the event was becoming too politicized.
The Monday rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza is being sponsored by a coalition of American Jewish Organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. It will take place one day before Ahmadinejad addresses the U.N. General Assembly.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), blamed "Democratic partisans" for pressuring the organizers to disinvite his running mate and criticized his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), for failing to participate in the event.
The Obama campaign slammed what they said was their rival's attempt to politicize the event. "This is another dishonorable lie from John McCain. The Obama campaign had planned to send a surrogate to the rally," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. "The truth is, John McCain had a real opportunity to stand up for Israel's security yesterday, but he refused to stand up to his allies in Congress who blocked Barack Obama's bipartisan divestment bill that would have increased pressure on Iran."
The purpose of the rally "is to protest the presence of Iran's President Ahmadinejad at the United Nations, and to oppose his nuclear weapons program," the group said in a statement.
-- Colum Lynch
No Commitment on Spain
John McCain suggested this week that he would continue President Bush's cool approach toward the government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain, despite having told the Spanish news media this year that he looked forward to normalized relations with the NATO ally.