by Jerry Gordon (Oct. 2007)
University of Columbia President Bollinger certainly blundered by giving an internationally televised soapbox to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad during the latter’s fractious visit to New York for the recent U.N. General Assembly meetings, but the fact of the matter is, the Iranian President had been invited to speak by Columbia’s School of International Public Affairs, not by Bollinger himself.
During the event, Mr. Bollinger, in classic prosecutorial fashion, aggressively challenged the Iranian president before an audience of students, faculty and invited media at the Roone Arledge Auditorium in
Ahmadinejad bobbed and weaved in rebuttal to this assault with outrageous comments. He told
Ahmadinejad hammered in his remarks calling for a “referendum” in the Middle East to effectively ‘erase’ the Jewish state of
Bollinger thought his aggressive challenge of Ahmadinejad was a victory for “free speech.”
The New York Post headline “U da Man!” applauded Bollinger’s “boffo” aggressive attack on Ahmadinejad to provoke and challenge him (as did the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal). The unintended consequence of Bollinger’s contrived media event was that Ahmadinejad played it for maximum effect in the
In a New York Times City Room blog interview with Bollinger following the
I believe very strongly that this is free speech at its best. This is free speech. It’s not simply allowing someone to speak. It is how the discussion or the debate or the dialogue goes.
The statements I made had nothing to do with responding to those objections. This was my effort to state as fully and deeply as I could my sense of what this man has stood for and has done.
Very important to state this: I did not extend the invitation to him. This arose out of faculty and from the dean of the school of international and public affairs, a school within
The Cabal That Boxed in Bollinger at
What lies behind Bollinger’s dilemma is “academic freedom” manipulated by a minority of faculty at
This elite university President was sandbagged in the Ahmadinejad PR coup by a cabal of Islamist Iranian regime apologists at Columbia’s, School of International Public Affairs (SIPA): Middle East History Professor Richard Bulliet, Dr. Gary Sick of the Gulf 2000 Project and acting Dean John H. Coatsworth of SIPA.
Coatsworth said he would have invited Hitler to campus as long as the man who engineered the Holocaust would “engage in a debate.”
When Dean Coatsworth’s appointment was announced, I wrote of his incredible participation in an anti-Israel episode while at the
Coatsworth had accomplices in the cabal at SIPA consisting of pro-Islamist faculty with close ties to the Islamic Republic.
After former SIPA Dean Lisa Anderson was rebuffed last year by Bollinger, these pro-Islamic Republic faculty members were waiting for another opportunity which occurred courtesy of a request from the Iranian mission to the UN. The Iranian UN
In 1997, Dr. Gary Sick worked intensely with Hossein Alikhani, an Iranian closely related to
….his views … favor the Palestinian cause and … support for the revolution that brought the mullahs to power in
The New York Sun noted that in December, 2006:
Mr. Bulliet argued in favor of providing him [Ahmadinejad] a platform. Mr. Bulliet said he attended a breakfast meeting with the Iranian and found him to be a “very reasonable speaker, a very effective debater.”
There are students in SIPA who feel very strongly that President
Bollinger didn’t teach an enlightening lesson in diplomacy, commented Bulliet.
Sick had this comment on the Gulf 2000 blog:
Mr. Bollinger’s opening speech “was pitched in a deliberately insulting tone, descending almost to the level of schoolyard taunts. (I hope students did not take away the lesson that this is how international politics should be conducted.)”
According to Sick, Ahmadinejad emerged unscathed:
Ahmadinejad gave mostly his usual exposition. He did make several points that have been made before but are always ignored or lost in the noise: (1) The way Israel is to be “wiped off the map” is by a referendum in Palestine, not a nuclear holocaust; and (2) Iran is not interested in, and is not producing, nuclear weapons.
Indeed it was his “usual exposition,” which makes Bollinger’s lack of preparation particularly inexcusable.
Kenneth Timmerman, veteran Iran dissident watcher, has raised questions regarding Bulliet, Sick and the SIPA Gulf 2000 project in his FrontPage Magazine piece, “Hitler’s Muslim Nephew Comes to New York”
Sick’s “Gulf 2000” Project, created in the early 1990s and fueled by Exxon-Mobil, George Soros and the Ford Foundation, among others, focused from the start on “engaging”
Gary Sick conceals his lobbying activity behind a cloak of cuteness, claiming that access to his website, emails, and electronic library “is limited to scholars and analysts with a professional interest in an association with the
Therefore, my personal opinion is that he should not be invited to speak. Mr. Ahmadinejad is a reprehensible and dangerous figure who presides over a repressive regime, is responsible for the death of American soldiers, denies the Holocaust, and calls for the destruction of
Former Chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, R. Glen Hubbard now Dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Business, had this comment in a ‘Dear Students and Colleagues’ notice issued of the day of the Ahmadinejad event:
The University’s decision to invite Mr. Ahmadinejad to speak on campus and to engage in a dialogue with our students and faculty has polarized our community. Some would argue that a University should be a place of intellectual freedom and open debate, but others including me argue that Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is responsible for the death of American soldiers, denies the Holocaust, and calls for the destruction of Israel, has proven himself incapable of engaging in a true and honest academic discussion.
On the blog of
At the same time, reading between the lines, I find hints that were it his call to make, Bollinger would not have invited Ahmadinejad. He says: “we must respect and defend the rights of our schools, our deans and our faculty to create programming for academic purposes.” Translation: Coatsworth invited this guy, and our internal organization gives deans an absolute right to decide whom to invite to speak at their schools and departments.
One can certainly question whether a university ought to have a rule that the central administration unequivocally backs deans of particular units on decisions of this sort. One can, that is, argue that the dean of a department or school is not, in that capacity, entitled to the same sort of academic freedom as an individual professor. But I doubt that this ‘out’ would have been available to Bollinger even if he wanted to take it. Either Coatsworth or Bulliet could easily have argued that he was acting in his capacity as faculty member in inviting Ahmadinejad.
A former university provost commented to me, “This goes on all the time in academia.”
How Ahmadinejad Played Columbia’s Bollinger in the Islamic Ummah
My colleague at American Congress for Truth, Brigitte Gabriel, put out a news release on the conclusion of a successful 72 hour petition drive that delivered over 10,000 signatories along with a stirring statement to President Bollinger objecting to Ahmadinejad speaking at
Here is how the Columbia Ahmadinejad event was played in the Iranian Press:
Before President Ahmadinejad’s address,
He said that the Iranians are a peace loving nation, they hate war, and all types of aggression.
Referring to the technological achievements of the Iranian nation in the course of recent years, the president considered them as a sign for the Iranians’ resolute will for achieving sustainable development and rapid advancement.
The audience on repeated occasion applauded Ahmadinejad when he touched on international crises. At the end of his address President Ahmadinejad answered the students’ questions on such issues as
Abu Mosaab a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, the Syrian and Iranian-backed terror group in
This invitation proves that when Muslims and Arabs come from a position of power to the West they receive more respect and consideration to their causes and to their conditions and to their insisting on their sovereignty” The fact that one of the American universities invited the Iranian president to raise whether the Holocaust happened proves that in the American people and leadership there is a hidden will to raise a serious discussion about these Zionists lies and propaganda.
Walid Phares, Senior Fellow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, commented on the cable TV news program FoxandFriends the morning after the
Ken Timmerman whom I spoke with following the event had similar observations, to wit, “Why did we need to provide Ahmadinejad with a forum at a major prestigious American institution like
Ahmadinejad’s Disingenuous Invitation to Bollinger
Ahmadinejad invited everyone to come to another staged event at a university in
The Bollinger-Ahmadinejad Event Score
As someone commented, the score for the Columbia Ahmadinejad event was, “Bollinger: 0 and Ahmadinejad: 1.” Credit that to the stealth team of Dean Coatsworth, Professor Bulliet and Dr. Sick at SIPA who pushed Bollinger into this box in the name of “free speech” only to provide a platform for a radical Iranian Islamist, President Ahmadinejad.
Jerry Gordon is a Member of the Board of American Congress for Truth and an alumnus of the