New York, New York: My Kind of Town

11/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

by Matt Ferrero

RUTV is on location at the U.N. General Assembly and at the Clinton Global Initiative this week and things are off to a good start. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama joined President Bill Clinton to open the Fifth Annual CGI Meeting, bringing together world leaders from the political, corporate, and civil sectors to develop innovative solutions to the world's most pressing problems. They both remind us that we can all be social innovators and that we don't have to hold public office to be a public servant. On top of that, Matt Damon announced a new Water.org commitment for the people of Haiti and Coca-Cola CEO announced an initiative to empower women in Africa ... and it's only the first day.

On the other end of the spectrum -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a lot to look forward to today. For the first time since his cloudy reelection, he will be taking the podium before the world's acknowledged leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. Accounting for such an invitation will make it harder than ever for opponents to question his legitimacy. It may be less productive for his colleagues at the UN, who have little new to expect from dialogue on Iran's nuclear program and human rights violations.

It won't surprise Ahmadinejad that the largest gathering of Iranians in exile in thirty years will be waiting for him here in New York City. Thousands of them are expected to fly in from across the United States bearing the green flags and bandanas of the Iranian opposition movement. What he probably won't notice, and would never be able to account for, will be the pockets of blue. Groups like the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the United Jewish Appeal have joined the coalition behind the protest.

The sight of rabbis taking up banners next to Iranians is quite distinct from what Ahmadinejad is used to. His own country recently celebrated Quds Day, Iran's annual parade in support of the Palestinian people and against Israeli control of Jerusalem. At a rally at Tehran University, the president reiterated his seasonal idea of the holocaust as a "false pretext" for the creation of Israel. He further argued that the battle against Zionists is a national and religious one.

The cooperation between Jewish and Iranian protestors shows real vitality in our democracy. No city in the world has tapped human energy from as many sources and directed it into meaningful action as New York. The ability of my city to incorporate the talent of people of all backgrounds is what gives it the economic and political clout to host institutions like the United Nations. That energy will be abundant today, and I hope he is ready for it.

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