So I have received maybe 200 e-mails in the past week and a half about Mahmud Ahmadinejad (first spellcheck suggestion in Firefox, BTW: "Shadiness"; how appropriate...). He came, on Monday, to my Alma Mater, Columbia University. Why does columbia continually do this? Anyway, I sent a number of e-mails to the VBS listserv this week and I want to share them with you. Note that I have not included other peoples' e-mails to protect their privacy so they might be out of context:
As an alumnus and as a member of LionPAC, Columbia's AIPAC arm, I want you to be assured that he's going to have a little welcoming committee when he comes. He was supposed to come speak last year but cancelled at the last minute. Perhaps he will rethink once again speaking on a campus on which a third of the students are Jewish and a good portion are Israelis.
Sep 21, 2007 9:36 AM subject Re: Ahmadinejad mailed-by gmail.com
Gmar Tov and a meaningful fast,
It's funny, in the last week I have gotten over 100 e-mails regarding the Ahmadinejad situation; the last 11 consecutive e-mails have had the word Ahmadinejad in the header. I have been invited to protests through the Columbia Political Union, Columbia/Barnard Hillel, AIPAC, IsraelCampusBeat, StandWithUsCampus, a chevruta (study partners) program I used to be affiliated with, and various students of Columbia, Barnard, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as invitations to seminars about Iran and Ahmadinejad, and a friendly reminder from the Columbia Democrats to protest nicely.
Sep 23, 2007 10:27 PM subject Re: Ahmadinejad mailed-by gmail.com
I turned on FOX News this morning and it was the top story. Sure, Columbia is no stranger to controversy. On IsraelCampusBeat, which reports on Israel and Jewish-related "issues" on universities worldwide, there are usually at least two articles with the little blue Roary The Lion icon, signifying that there is yet another example of Israel getting somehow disparaged in a Columbia classroom/Anti-Iraq War protest, so it comes as no surprise to me that a campus which two years ago rejected the obvious academic intimidation perpetrated by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic (and when I say Semitic, I mean anti-Jewish, nobody ever refers to the other descendants of Shem by this moniker, so please don't counter with the semantics as Professor Hamid Dabashi did when he called a Jewish student with blue eyes "not Semitic") professors not allowing any pro-Israeli opinions within their classrooms. Indeed, nothing surprises me anymore about some of the enterprising (read: incredibly idiotic and embarrassing) programs which my fair Alma Mater and President Lee Bollinger comes up with.
So, yes it was stupid to invite the President of Iran, but at the same time it the opportunity of a lifetime to hear the Hitler of our times on our own home turf. I would not want to be the Jew in the crowd at a Nazi Rally in 1935 Berlin, but the fact is that Ahmadinijad is going to "Columbia JEWniversity of JEW York City" (as we so belovedly call it), where he will be preaching to a whole bunch of Jews. He's not going to win anyone over with his ranting propaganda. He's not in Tehran where they eat up his every anti-Semitic word, but in a room filled with headstrong intellectuals who won't take any of his crap. I just fear that he will be heckled as my fellow students heckled John Ashcroft a couple of years ago... that was just embarrassing.
Count on this not to end pretty. I cringe in advance.
As of press I am both proud of and ashamed of Columbia. I am proud that President Bollinger broadsided the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and made him look like a complete fool and liar. I am proud of the Hillel, LionPAC, and other groups and decent individuals who peacefully protested against the Hitler of today from the actual Aryan country (Aryan people originally migrated from Iran. However, I am ashamed and horrified that students cheered when Ahmadinejad called for the destruction of the State of Israel. Having attended Columbia for four and a half years I know that there is a lot of Israel-hating that goes on there. But cheering a murderous terrorist who calls on it's destruction?! I don't separate Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitism. Also self-hating Jews can also be anti-Semites. I consider members of the Jewish sect of Netueri Karta to be anti-Semites. I also consider former acquaintances who have fallen in with the socialist crowd and have become anti-Israel... well you can see why they are not current friends... The great irony in the socialist crowd is that the socialists seem to support the dictator-run countries while denouncing Israel, the only country in the world where socialism has remotely worked. The country was formed by socialists and social Zionism and the Kibbutz system is the best example of social communism at work. Not that I support communism or socialism, but I just find it funny that most of these socialists seem to support fascism over socialism.
Yes indeed, I am proud of President Bollinger who couldn't have handled it any better. As for the statement, it is actually much longer and much juicier. The transcript of his introduction can be found at http://www.columbia.edu/cu
Sep 24, 2007 6:11 PM subject Re: Fw: Columbia President's Statement About President Ahmadinejad's Appearance mailed-by gmail.com /news/07/09/lcbopeningremarks .html
One of the best lines: "Let's, then, be clear at the beginning, Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."
I found these other lines in an article on Breitbart: http://www.breitbart.com
"Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?" he asked, challenging the leader of the Islamic republic to explain his comments downplaying the Holocaust.
"Frankly, in all candor Mr President, I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions," he added.
"When you come to a place like this, this makes you quite simply ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated," he said.The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history." (as found on a Fox News Article http://www.foxnews.com/story/0
As for President Ahmadinejad, he once again proved himself a fool. "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you that we have it." He was evasive on the simplest of questions regarding his basest policies.
I am yet to watch the speech but I am currently instant messaging friends who saw it live so I will update you when I hear more. As of now, I feel good that my worst fears weren't realized -- that Columbians didn't make fools of the United States by heckling and not hearing him out, however stupid he sounds. And as for President Bollinger, I am proud of his ability to not sugarcoat (which I feared he would) but instead attacked where it hurts, even if Ahmadinejad was completely evasive or ridiculous at points. I don't think Iran's president expected it to go like this at all, broadsided as he was, and I think he will rethink how he talks to outside media in the future.
Yom Tov is coming, but I don't think I'm done with this one. Gut Yontif and as we celebrate the festival in which we traditionally advocate for all of the other nations of the world, may I advocate that the residents of nations that are forcibly suppressed by evil dictators overthrow their captors. As it is written in the Uvchen prayers of the High Holidays which have just passed, "ki taavir mimshelet zadon min haaretz", "for You shall cause to be removed wicked governments from the world".