With the visit of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New York on Monday, local and state leaders as well as Iranian Americans living in Los Angeles voiced their opposition to his presence in the U.S. and the policies of Iran’s government. Earlier in the day California Assemblymembers Joel Anderson, Lloyd Levine, Mike Feuer as well as Jimmy Delshad, the Iranian Jewish Mayor of Beverly Hills held a press conference at Beverly Hills to praise California Governor Arnold for agreeing to sign California’s Iran Divestment Bill. The bill also known as AB 221 would require state pension funds to divest an estimated $24 billion in investments from nearly 300 companies doing business with Iran. Both the California State Assembly and Senate unanimously approved the bill which was authored by Anderson. “I am thrilled the Governor will sign this legislation to squeeze Iran,” said Anderson, who hails from San Diego county. “Money is the mother’s milk of terrorism. AB 221 will stop California’s investments from being used to fund Iran’s terror machine”. Anderson also said passage of the bill was only possible because of bi-partisan efforts in the California Legislature on the issue of divestment.
Also on hand at the Beverly Hills press conference were Persian language media outlets including the Voice of America television and KRSI “Radio Sedaye Iran” that broadcasts daily news reports into Iran from the U.S. Los Angeles area Jewish leaders were also in attendance including Sam Kermanian, Secretary General of the Iranian American Jewish Federation and Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Nearly two dozen local Iranian Americans of various faiths protested in Westwood Boulevard against Ahmadinejad’s invitation to speak at Columbia University in New York. Cars passing by honked their horns in support for the protesters who held signs and displayed a female mannequin dressed in Islamic garb and hanging by a noose. “We are voicing our anger at Columbia University for allowing this insane man a forum to spout his hate—he’s does not represent the people of Iran who are suffering under this brutal regime!” said one Iranian American women protesting, who asked that her name be withheld because she travels back and forth to Iran to visit family.