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Jews Wonder: Of All Days For Ahmadinejad To Speak, Why Yom Kippur?

Expert: UN Doesn't Recognize Jewish Holidays, But Does 2 Muslim, 2 Christian
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during the United Nations General Assembly in New York - Sep 22, 2011 (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during the United Nations General Assembly in New York – Sep 22, 2011 (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Wednesday is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

But many Jews are asking who will atone for the fact that on that day a man who has called for the elimination of the state of Israel will be speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported.

There is protocol to the order of speakers during the General Assembly. Brazil always starts it off, followed by the United States. President Barack Obama had his turn on Tuesday morning.

“There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents,” the president said.

And on Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will take to the podium.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Ahmadinejad on Sunday and warned him not to use any incendiary rhetoric. The Iranian president ignored the advice.

On Monday, Ahmadinejad told reporters that Israel has no basis in history and will ultimately be eliminated.

It is statements like that which has many upset about the timing of his address Wednesday.

“I don’t understand it at all, don’t agree with it and he shouldn’t be here at all,” Charles Fravola said.

“They could have choose the day after,” said Iranian Jewish-American Shabrouz Hagh.

But as it turns out, the scheduling was purely random.

“Countries are decided on by rank, in other words a head of state, and then by lottery. So it’s fairly serendipitous who goes when. But the issue is still why is anyone speaking on Wednesday, is because there are no Jewish holidays at the UN,” CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk told CBS 2’s Dahler.

Even though, Falk said, there are two Muslim holidays and two Christian holidays observed by the world body.

“I guess there was an irony, but the fact is whether it was the holiest day of the year for us or just a regular day, he does not belong there,” said Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The Iranian president has, in the past, used his time in front of the General Assembly to question the Holocaust and the U.S. account of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The White House on Tuesday called Ahmadinejad’s comments about Israel, “disgusting, offensive and outrageous.”

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