Iran Hitler Ahmadinejad At Columbia - Free Speech Or Incitement?

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem ----September 23...... As one who studied at Columbia University, I am both embarrassed and ashamed of that fact today. Columbia University in New York City had one of the finest journalism schools in the US, that is until Columbia invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran to speak at Columbia tomorrow.

The Iran President left Tehran for New York today and will participate in a question and answer forum at Columbia tomorrow. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is traveling to New York to address the United Nations' General Assembly.

Ya see, I live and work in Israel, a tiny, democratic nation in the Middle East which Ahmadinejad has sworn to "wipe my children off the map." Not really a nice thing of this dictator who fashions himself after Adolf Hitler with a twist of Islamic lemon to say.

Ahmadinejad's Iran is one of the world's leading sponsors of international terror, especially the Hizbullah gang in Lebanon, and he is now obsessed with building thermonuclear weapons with which he might just accomplish what Hitler could not: the annihilation of half the world's Jews with the push of a single button.

Ahmadinejad is also directly responsible for the murder of dozens of numbers of American troops in Iraq, whose killers, according to hundreds of reliable reports, he is arming and funding.

The US State Department calls Iran a state sponsor of terror, and Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust ``a myth'' and urges for Israel to be destroyed.

Why would Columbia University desire to have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak on their campus?

Is it freedom of speech or is it marketing? Is it marketing at the expense of incitement to commit genocide against the civilian population of Israel?

Well let's take a deeper, more cerebral look.

Columbia acknowledged last week that the visit to the university of Iran terror leader Ahmadinejad was initiated not by the university but by the Iran envoy to the United Nations through a faculty member, Richard Bulliet.

This was an excellent public relations speaking engagement placement made by Iran. Something that the William Morris Agency would have been proud of (the placement - not Ahmadinejad).

Bulliet is described as having been criticized for, among other things, "his views on the Israel Palestinian conflict as overly favoring the Palestinian cause" and also for offering "qualified support" for the revolution that brought the mullahs to power in Iran in 1979.

"If Hitler were in the United States and wanted a platform from which to speak, he would have plenty of platforms to speak in the United States," Columbia's Coatsworth said in an interview with Fox News.
"If he were willing to engage in debate and a discussion to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him."

A former professor of history at Harvard, Coatsworth is dean of the university's School of International and Public Affairs, whose graduates, according to a statement Coatsworth issued last week, "serve as diplomats, intelligence analysts, security experts, business leaders, human rights activists," and leaders of non-governmental organizations.

But even if Hitler would have been, or Ahmadinejad is, welcome at Columbia, would an Egypt tribal leader be invited to defend female genital mutilation, a practice the Egyptian government is finally trying to ban? What about the current president of Sudan, or the leader of the Janjaweed militia that is committing genocide in Darfur?

Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Conference of Presidents
of Major American Jewish Organizations, discussing the importance of attending
the September 24, 2007 rally protesting Iranian President Ahmadinejad's visit to the UN.


Last week, the university's president offered his own defense of the invitation.
"The event will be part of the annual World Leaders Forum, the University-wide initiative intended to further Columbia's longstanding tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate, especially on global issues," he said in a press statement.

When Columbia's president states: "World Leaders" is he focusing on world leaders who serve as examples of democracy and freedom or global sponsors of terrorism?

"In order to have such a University-wide forum, we have insisted that a number of conditions be met, first and foremost that Iran President Ahmadinejad agree to divide his time evenly between delivering remarks and responding to audience questions. I also wanted to be sure the Iranians understood that I would myself introduce the event with a series of sharp challenges to the president on issues including: The Iranian president's denial of the Holocaust."

Ahmadinejad has already answered that question, he calls the Holocaust a myth.

"His public call for the destruction of the State of Israel."

Ahmadinejad has already expounded on this issue, as recently as yesterday during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur when he introduced and showed off his new Ghadr long range missile that had a sign on it saying: "Israel must be destroyed."

"His reported support for international terrorism that targets innocent civilians and American troops."

Ahmadinejad is a man of action, barbaric action. How many Israeli civilians did he murder this year through his Hezbollah puppets in Lebanon and Syria, how may US soldiers did he kill in Iraq?

"Iran's pursuit of nuclear ambitions in opposition to international sanction."

Ahmadinejad has answered this question as well telling the United Nations to go to hell.

So if these fundamental questions have already been asked and answered then what is this exercise taking place at Columbia tomorrow? It is a marketing event. A marketing event which has backfired on Columbia. A marketing stunt poised as free speech when all know that it is nothing less than a hate speech to be delivered.

Does US INTEL, the CIA, military intelligence and the NSA really need to hear something new by Ahmadinejad that satellites and microwave surveillance have not already picked up?

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on Columbia University to reconsider its decision to host Iran's president.

A similar invitation to Ahmadinejad was revoked last year by Columbia President Lee Bollinger.

David Feith, CC ’09 and editor of the Jewish affairs publication The Current, expressed his concern directly to Bollinger that there was a difference between refusing to suppress hateful speech and actively inviting and providing a platform for it. Bollinger responded that the invitation very well may serve to help controversial speakers, but that the negative is “far outweighed by the importance of confronting ideas and not shielding ourselves from the world as it is.”

"It is inappropriate and a perversion of the concept of freedom of speech," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Columbia University has no moral imperative, no legal imperative, no social imperative to give Ahmadinejad a platform, which he would not give them in Tehran. Why give him the credibility and the respectability of a major institution of higher learning? What message does that send to the students? This is not what the First Amendment is all about."

In a letter to President Bollinger, the ADL said it was "extremely dismayed" by the university's invitation to the Iranian President, who has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and has made remarks denying the Holocaust, and Bollinger's plans to personally introduce him at the forum. The League noted Iran's support for international terrorism and his country's ambition to acquire nuclear weapons as reasons enough not to provide Ahmadinejad a platform at Columbia.

This is not free speech. This is Ahmadinejad inciting the Iranian and Islamic global public
with hate and violence. It is a perverse marketing event being staged by Columbia
at the expense of Israeli civilians and US troops killed in Iraq.

"Last year, Columbia almost made the same mistake," said Mr. Foxman. "Ahmadinejad didn't get better since then. He's gotten worse."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that the university was free to invite Ahmadinejad to speak, but "personally, I wouldn't go to listen to him - I don't care about what he says."

White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said Friday that the Bush administration had no involvement with Columbia's decision.

"This is a country where people can come and speak their minds," he said, adding, "It would be wonderful if some of the countries that take advantage of that here allowed it for their own citizens there."

It was reported today that Iran's judiciary is to have shut down the offices of a news Website critical of Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Mehr News Agency reports that Baztab, a Website close to the former head of the Revolutionary Guards Mohsen Rezaie, had been banned in April and is the subject of a legal complaint from the Iran presidency.

Will Ahmadinejad's Columbia speech and question and answer be made available to the citizens of Iran. Will the citizens of Iran witness thousands of New Yorkers telling Ahmadinejad to go home?

No way. Iran will edit out and censor the negative and use the positive to incite the Iran and Islamic public. Does Columbia care?

Ahmadinejad's trip to New York also created a debate this week over his rejected request to lay a wreath at 9/11's Ground Zero. Politicians and families of Sept. 11 victims were outraged that Iran's president might visit the site.

New York Police rejected Ahmadinejad's request, citing construction and security concerns.

President George W Bush backed New York authorities in blocking a Ground Zero tour, saying, "I can understand why they would not want somebody running a country who is the state sponsor of terror down at the site."

The Iran leader said before leaving Tehran earlier Sunday that the visit would allow him to meet independent politicians from Tehran's arch foe and provide Iran a platform to address the international community.

"The General Assembly of the United Nations is a good opportunity to present the solutions of the Iranian people to solve the problems of the world," he was quoted as saying by the Fars News Agency.

"We need to take advantage of such opportunities to present the positions of the Iranian people as they (the Americans) are very keen to hear them." That is what Ahmadinejad wants his voters at home to think. And Columbia is giving it to them.

Jewish organizations in the United States are planning large-scale demonstrations, involving thousands of protesters this week to express their growing anger at Columbia University's invitation to Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

AMCHA - the Coalition for Jewish Concerns plan to mount a vigil of conscience at 115th and Broadway as Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University on Sept. 24th at 12:30pm.

University authorities however, have advised that only Columbia University students and faculty will be permitted on the campus on Monday, September 24, and thus, neither Rabbi Weiss nor Amcha will be permitted to protest against Mr. Ahmadinejad at that time.

AMCHA sent the attached letter to Columbia University president Lee Bollinger, protesting Columbia's decision to close the campus to outside demonstrators.

"This limitation on non-University affiliated persons is particularly inappropriate here where the speaker and his considerable entourage is not affiliated with Columbia University," Rabbi Weiss argues.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, National President of AMCHA, indicated, "We've raised a voice against Palestinian disinvestment conferences at Ohio State, Duke, and Michigan amongst others. This is the first time a university campus has been closed to us."

Should the university not grant AMCHA the right to protest on campus, AMCHA, as the letter indicates, "will consider pursuing legal remedies."

September 21, 2007
Via Facsimile and E-mail
Mr. Lee C. Bollinger
Columbia University
535 West 116th Street
202 Low Library
Mail Code 4309
New York, NY 10027
Dear President Bollinger:

This firm represents Rabbi Avi Weiss and Amcha – the Coalition for Jewish Concerns ("Amcha"). I write in connection with the upcoming visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, to the Columbia campus on Monday, September 24.

Rabbi Weiss and Amcha intend to protest against Mr. Ahmadinejad but have been advised that only Columbia University students and faculty will be permitted on the campus on Monday, September 24, and thus, neither Rabbi Weiss nor Amcha will be permitted to protest against Mr. Ahmadinejad at that time.

You are a First Amendment scholar of considerable repute and as such are, I suspect, both sympathetic to and supportive of the First Amendment principles of free expression that permeate Columbia's own policies and regulations regarding demonstrations, rallies and picketing. Specifically, Section 440 of Chapter XLIV of the Rules of University Conduct provides:

Demonstrations, rallies, picketing, and the circulation of petitions have an important place in the life of a university. They are means by which protests may be registered and attention drawn to new directions possible in the evolution of the University community. . . . .

While the University as a private institution is not subject to the Constitutional provisions of free speech and due process of law, the University by its nature is dedicated to the free expression of ideas and to evenhanded and fair dealing with all with whom it conducts it affairs. The Rules of University Conduct are thus enacted by the University to provide as a matter of University policy the maximum freedom of expression consistent with the rights of others. . .

While the University certainly has the right to enact and apply reasonable restraints on the time, place and manner of demonstrations, banning all non-University affiliated persons from the entire campus is not such a reasonable restraint.

This limitation on non-University affiliated persons is particularly inappropriate here where the speaker and his considerable entourage (which I understand will be permitted on the Columbia University campus) is not affiliated with Columbia University.

I therefore ask that you advise by return facsimile today or on Sunday whether the University will permit Rabbi Weiss, Amcha and others similarly situated, onto the Columbia University campus on Monday, September 24, 2007 so that they may peaceably demonstrate against Mr. Ahmadinejad and the hate-filled and offensive positions that he has long advocated.

Should the University not permit Rabbi Weiss and Amcha to demonstrate on campus on Monday, September 24 in accordance with the University's own policies and guidelines, Rabbi Weiss and Amcha will consider pursuing their legal remedies.
Very truly yours,
Steven Lieberman
cc: Rabbi Avi Weiss

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Gillerman, also likened the Iranian president to Adolf Hilter, and said that a proposed visit by Ahmadinejad to Ground Zero would be similar to a visit to the site by the Nazi fuehrer.

Israel Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also in New York, has spoken out harshly against the divisive visit. "In a just world, his visit would never have been authorized and Iran would not be a member of the United Nations," said Livni.

"For Ahmadinejad to come here - the UN should be ashamed. It is shameful for a world that does not understand that Ahmadinejad is exploiting international values to harm us all. This will not come without a price. The world must put an end to this. The world cannot allow a nuclear Iran," she said."

A team of lawyers, led by Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, are seeking to have Ahmadinejad arrested upon his arrival in New York.

"He is an international war criminal," Dershowitz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "He has repeatedly violated the anti-genocide convention. He is as guilty as the Rwandans who are convicted and sentenced to years in prison for inciting genocide."

Today, the US military accused Iran of smuggling surface-to-air missiles and other advanced weapons into Iraq for use against American troops.

Now we will see how much guts George W. Bush really has.
Will he, will the Governor or Mayor of New York have this "diplomat" arrested, detained and held for the World Court as a criminal, as a terrorist or will Ahmadinejad be protected by so-called diplomatic immunity?

One thing is certain. Columbia University has now placed a commercial marketing event, a cash generating PR effort over the lives of Israel civilians and US troops in Iraq.

Paul Joseph Goebbels, the leader of the NSDAP's propaganda machine and Hitler minister responsible of all Nazi propaganda would have been proud.

Since 1995, the Israel News Agency has been vigilant on behalf of Israel, 365 days a years, 24 hours a day.

Related Websites:
Columbia Confuses Free Speech: The Minutemen vs. Hitler and Ahmadinejad
Israel Watching Iran, Syria, Islamic Terrorists On Yom Kippur





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