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Warm Applause for Ahmedinejad at Columbia

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    A most improper shameful introduction by Columbia University president Lee Bollinger at this link: COLUMBIA SPEECH
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 25, 2007
      A most improper shameful introduction by Columbia University president
      Lee Bollinger at this link:


      To watch the dignified response by the Iranian President, click on the
      link on the same page.


      Full Interview With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

      Video - 60 Minutes - 09/23/07

      Presstitute, Scott Pelley interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud
      Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Thursday. Ahmadinejad talks about his visit
      to New York, Iran's nuclear program and his views on Israel.


      Turning Ahmadinejad into public enemy No. 1
      By Juan Cole

      Demonizing the Iranian president and making his visit to New York seem
      controversial are all part of the neoconservative push for yet another



      Tough US welcome for Iran's Ahmadinejad
      Associated Press Writer

      Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the stage at Columbia
      University on Monday to a blistering reception from the president of
      the school, who said the hard-line leader behaved like "a petty and
      cruel dictator."



      Iran's Ahmadinejad at Columbia University

      By Michael A. Hoffman II
      Sept. 24, 2007


      1. Synopsis of highlights from Ahmadinejad's talk at Columbia

      2. Reactions from students and the public

      3. Brief observations by Hoffman

      ***Synopsis of highlights from Ahmadinejad's talk at Columbia

      Inside the auditorium, the Columbia students laughed appreciatively
      when Mr. Ahmadinejad pushed back against the attempts by Dean John H.
      Coatsworth, the event's moderator, to get him to answer questions
      directly about the Zionist regime. "Do you or your government seek the
      destruction of the state of Israel?" Mr. Coatsworth asked.

      "We love all people," Mr. Ahmadinejad said. "We are friends of the
      Jews. There are many Jews living peacefully in Iran." He went on to
      say that the Palestinian "nation" should be allowed a referendum to
      decide its own future.

      Mr. Coatsworth persisted: "I think you can answer that question with a
      simple yes or no."

      Mr. Ahmadinejad was having none of it. "You ask the question and then
      you want the answer the way you want to hear it," he shot back. "I ask
      you, is the Palestinian issue not a question of international
      importance? Please tell me yes or no."

      For that, he got a round of applause from the students, who had lined
      up four hours before the speech to get into the auditorium. Online
      tickets evaporated in 90 minutes last week, they said, almost on par
      with a Bruce Springsteen concert.

      Mr. Ahmadinejad asked of the United States: "If you have created the
      fifth generation of atomic bombs and tested them already, what
      position are you in to question the peaceful purposes of others who
      want nuclear power? We don't believe in nuclear weapons, period. It
      goes against the whole grain of humanity."

      President Ahmadinejad completed his appearance by thanking his
      audience. "I ask Almighty God to assist all of us to work hand in hand
      for a future filled with peace, justice and brotherhood," he said.
      "Best of luck to all of you."

      He added that Columbia's faculty members were "officially invited" to
      come to Iran to speak - to which the audience gave a rousing round of
      applause. "You are welcome to choose any university in Iran," he said.
      "We'll give you the platform, we'll respect you 100 percent, we will
      have our students sit and listen to what you have to say."


      There is an interesting problem with selling the "Iran as Nazi
      Germany" line. If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit
      genocide against Israel's Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a
      nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and
      more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel
      and American Jews. The Ma'ariv newspaper pointed out that previous
      schemes had found few takers. There was, noted the report, "a lack of
      desire on the part of thousands of Iranian Jews to leave".

      According to the New York-based Forward newspaper, a campaign to
      convince Iranian Jews to emigrate to Israel caused only 152 out of
      these 25,000 Jews to leave Iran between October 2005 and September
      2006, and most of them were said to have emigrated for economic
      reasons, not political ones. To step up these efforts - and presumably
      to avoid the embarrassing incongruence of claiming an imminent second
      Holocaust while thousands of Jews live happily in Tehran - Israel is
      now backing a move by Jewish donors to guarantee every Iranian Jewish
      family $60,000 to settle in Israel, in addition to a host of existing
      financial incentives that are offered to Jewish immigrants, including
      loans and cheap mortgages.

      The announcement was met with scorn by the Society of Iranian Jews,
      which issued a statement that their national identity was not for
      sale. "The identity of Iranian Jews is not tradeable for any amount of
      money. Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians. Iran's Jews
      love their Iranian identity and their culture, so threats and this
      immature political enticement will not achieve their aim of wiping out
      the identity of Iranian Jews."
      --Posted by Thomas

      Ahmadinejad was gracious and thanked the crowd (read the full
      transcript) even after being attacked viciously by his host.
      - Posted by Jessica Hunt

      Lee Bollinger embarrassed himself and his University. He behaved like
      the quintessential "ugly American". Ahmadinejad was an invited guest,
      he should have been treated as one regardless of what Bollinger thinks
      of him. If anyone looked petty it was Bollinger.
      - Posted by David

      Can anyone imagine, even for a moment, George W. Bush being
      interviewed by a hostile media overseas, say in Iran; fielding any and
      all questions, and putting himself through a gauntlet such as
      Ahmadinejad endured today at Columbia University? Being held to
      account for his own war crimes, not to mention his wars? Being taken
      to task for his own hypocrisies, lies, and atrocities without a
      manager or teleprompter? The mere notion is laughable, and that should
      tell you something about this courageous, if sometimes misguided,
      leader of Iran.
      - Posted by Mike Conrad, Washington DC

      There were demonstrations seen and heard - which is something the Bush
      Administration has not allowed to happen within hearing or eyesight of
      President Bush.
      - Posted by Katy

      Ahmadinejad's openness to questions is far greater than Bush or Cheney
      has ever done, and this to an audience that would be hostile. If this
      were a Bush or Cheney Q&A, everyone would have been screened to assure
      unimpeachable neo-con credentials, and the question would have been of
      the type, Mr. President, what do you consider your greatest success,
      the magnificent job you did after protecting people and restoring New
      Orleans after Katrina, or the destruction of Iraq WMDs?
      - Posted by Joseph Chiara

      When was the last time Bush faced an unbiased, intellectual community
      like Columbia and answered non-scripted questions in a
      straight-forward manner? Bush doesn't speak before any other groups
      other than the American Legion, Bob Jones University and the American
      Enterprise Institute. Look at home first people rather than at other
      nations. Are our leaders held accountable?
      - Posted by Charles

      I came to this country, from India, thinking this is the country with
      fair and balanced view. Only after coming here I realize that America
      has pledged its independency and interests to Israel and is controlled
      by powerful Israeli lobbyists though this group itself does not
      constitute more than 5% of the U.S Population. God save America from
      - Posted by Sam Swaminathan

      I listened to both the National Press Club meeting and the Columbia
      University presentation by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran from
      my perch here in Minnesota. I have been led to believe (in the NY
      Times, News Hour, NPR, Washington Post, not to mention the popular
      press) that he is not grounded, that he is a nut, not a thinking
      person, blinded by ideology - not smart.

      I was amazed at how wrong I was. He is clever, quick on his feet and
      well spoken...his message was clear and thoughtful. I agree with much
      more than I disagreed with. He took the hard questions and answered
      them with confidence....There is so much bias in the reporting that I
      highly recommend that all interested observers listen to the actual
      recordings. It is some of the best listening in a while. The guy is
      very interesting and he has a point of view. It would be a terrible
      mistake to dismiss his words or to that them out of there context.
      Another knee-jerk Republican war is a stake.
      - Posted by Larry


      1. Transcripts and in particular, complete recordings of Ahmadinejad's
      speech at Columbia Univ. are difficult to find online.

      2. Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia has harmed the Israeli lobby.
      He came off as an interesting human being and not a devil. Contrasted
      with George W. Bush's filtered and scripted appearances before heavily
      screened audiences, Ahmadinejad showed himself to be a real mensch.

      3. Ahmadinejad's brief reference in his speech at Columbia to
      academics imprisoned in Europe for critically studying certain aspects
      of the "Holocaust" is not being discussed anywhere online that I have
      seen. It's a subject that's just too hot to handle, since it short
      circuits the brains of a generation of American youth hard-wired to
      believe that "The West" represents Enlightenment. Germar Rudolf, who
      is not a "neo-Nazi" of any kind, but a chemist, sits locked in a
      German prison solely because his scientific research into the alleged
      execution gas chambers of Auschwitz blasphemes the sacred tenets of
      the West's civic religion, Holocaustianity. We cannot face the fact
      that our vaunted western society harbors religious fanaticism and
      persecutes independent thinkers who violate the taboos of the
      all-powerful cult of Holocaustianity.



      I awoke this morning with an email from an Iranian reader, fearful
      that her nation is about to be attacked, after watching her president
      get savaged in the US corporate media yesterday. Iranians have images
      of what has happened to their neighbors in Afghanistan and Iran after
      such a propaganda campaign takes place.

      Last night, after I'd gone to bed, the phone rang and an old friend
      said he hoped it was not too late, but he had to talk to someone about
      the treatment the president of Iran got yesterday from the corporate
      media. Wasn't it frightening?

      I told him I had watched several news programs, including the PBS
      NewsHour, where Iran had been referred to as an enemy state, without
      explanation, and gave my friend references to recent Liberty
      Underground columns by ex-CIA analysts predicting an attack on Iran.

      Yesterday's mass media savaging of Ahmadinejad was chilling, reminding
      one of the run-up to the Iraq War, when all networks, all newspapers,
      all weekly news magazines-- echoed screams that we had to go to war to
      stop Saddam from attacking us with his weapons of mass destruction.
      No other viewpoint was allowed.

      Yesterday's New York Daily News ran the front page headline "The evil
      has landed" while The New York Post called Ahmadinejad the "Madman
      Iran Prez."

      Every mass media outlet vilifies Ahmadinejad, passing on the wildest
      translations of things he never said. The alternative leftist press
      have corrected these statements for years, but the information never
      gets to the masses, because there is no public interest mass media
      outlet in the Land of the Free.

      Columbia University President Lee Bollinger made a complete ass of
      himself by showing ignorance and rudeness toward Ahmadinejad, based on
      the lies which continue to be spread in our mass media despite facts
      being available. "Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty
      and cruel dictator," Bollinger introduced his guest. Imagine doing
      that to any other world leader after inviting him to speak.

      Senator Joe Lieberman said he thought Columbia's invitation to
      Ahmadinejad was a mistake "because he comes literally with blood on
      his hands." Lieberman would never say such a thing about his friend
      Bush, who has more blood on his hands than any living human being and
      is allowed to speak freely, without mass media comment about his
      incessant lying.

      Even a local news channel's anchor identified Iran as an enemy state
      yesterday on news at noon, and such people are not insiders of the
      National Security State, they simply learn by rote. When it is
      broadcast everywhere, 24/7, they figure, it must be true, so why not
      repeat it once more?

      On CBS News last night Katie Couric ranted of Ahmadinejad, "To most
      people his views are repugnant, he's denied the Holocaust and called
      for the destruction of Israel. There's also strong evidence his
      country is arming terrorists in Iraq who are targeting American
      troops. Last week Ahmadinejad shocked us again by asking to visit
      Ground Zero, a propaganda trick that was rightfully denied him." To
      view a video of this, click here and scroll down to "Notebook."

      Concerning the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad actually said "Granted, this
      happened." He did speak out against people being imprisoned for
      denying it happened, as has occurred in some European nations, and
      this has been twisted into his being a Holocaust denier, repeated
      again and again.

      Concerning Israel, Ahmadinejad said "We love all nations. We are
      friends with the Jewish people. There are many Jews living in Iran
      with security." This has been twisted into his wanting the state of
      Israel to be attacked and its people wiped out.

      Concerning the baseless accusations that Iran is developing a nuclear
      weapons program, Ahmadinejad said "We do not believe in nuclear
      weapons. Period. This goes against the whole grain of humanity." More
      importantly, on August 9, 2005 Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali
      Khamenei, issued a fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of
      nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never
      acquire these weapons.

      Yesterday, Ahmadinejad said at Columbia, "No one should prevent love
      and kindness from flourishing in mankind and turn it into hostility."
      It will probably be distorted by corporate media into "I want to kill
      everyone because I love terrorism." He continued "When we take a look
      around us, we are not happy with what we see. Threats of war have
      affected everyone. Continuous wars have in fact hurt the human spirit.
      If we look at the root cause of some of these problems, we will be
      able to think about how to build a better future, a more prosperous
      future based on peace and security of all humanity."

      In the following piece, Larry Chin says the National Security State
      and corporate media are once again preparing the population for war.
      If all the public knows is lies, it will be easy, as in the case of
      the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, to name only recent ones based on
      lies and misinformation --Jack


      Ahmadinejad, the Toast of the Big Apple
      by Larry Chin

      That's toast, as in burned to a crisp.

      It's clear from the way in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
      was treated on his visit to New York that not only will he remain the
      target of massive scapegoating as a "terrorist," but the US fully
      intends to attack Iran, and the American public will enthusiastically
      support it, if and when it happens.

      Ahmadinejad, whose visit was "decried" by scores of US politicians and
      "civic leaders," has spent the length of Monday, September 24, being
      sandbagged and openly blasted and baited endlessly at both Columbia
      University, and at the National Press Club, where the questions from
      so-called reporters and journalists consisted of nothing but waves of
      attacks, character assassinations, and accusations. The US media is
      clearly, openly, and aggressively serving as the propaganda weapon of
      the CIA and Bush/Cheney and hawkish neoliberals.

      The Iranian president was in the ultimate no-win situation, the
      ultimate Orwellian trap. When he attempted to answer impossible
      questions reasonably, he was attacked. When he stated (correctly) that
      anti-Iran reporting was the result of US government distortions, he
      was attacked, and made to sound like a nutcase.

      The centerpiece of the propaganda campaign against the current number
      one strawman, Ahmadinejad, was authorities refusing to allow him to
      visit Ground Zero. This proved, once again, that the original mass
      propaganda effect of 9/11 remains fully in effect. Iran had nothing to
      do with 9/11. No connection whatsoever, even if one completely accepts
      the Bush administration's official story. Yet in the minds of so many
      brain-addled Americans, Iran is the ultimate "terrorist."

      Of course, only those watching this unfold minute-by-minute on C-SPAN
      will ever know how rudely Ahmadinejad was treated. Corporate media
      sound bites will certainly frame him the way Dick Cheney wants him framed.

      Whichever figure the White House chooses as its boogeyman is accepted
      as such, without question. Criminality on the part of the US
      government never enters the thought process.

      The Iranian president, of course, knows that his visit will be seen
      differently, everywhere outside the fiercely protected bubble of the
      United States. But that won't matter.

      At the same time Ahmadinejad was defending himself, Senator Joe
      Lieberman was on the floor of Congress demanding action against Iran,
      spewing lies, pushing legislation that paves the way for military
      action against Iran .

      Is it any wonder that as America tunes in to PBS to get patriotic and
      riled up about Ken Burns' corporate-financed World War II documentary,
      The War, the US government is systematically setting up another
      atrocity right under their noses?


      Columbia to be punished for hosting the new Hitler enemy
      Monday September 24, 2007 11:05 EST
      Glenn Greenwald

      All of the hysteria over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speaking at Columbia
      University is so tiresome for so many reasons, beginning with the fact
      that it is all rather transparently motivated by exactly what Juan
      Cole says: "The real reason his visit is controversial is that the
      American right has decided the United States needs to go to war
      against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy
      head of state."

      In their minds, we are at war with Iran -- even though, in reality,
      i.e., according to our Constitution, we are not -- and all of the
      ensuing hysteria is rooted in the fantasy world they occupy in which
      Iran is our Enemy at War. By their nature, such fantasies cannot be
      reasoned with.

      This desire to prevent people from speaking when they express views
      that one finds offensive is just always baffling. That is true in
      general, and includes even pettier though still inane suppression
      efforts such as this one, which recently resulted in the recission of
      an invitation to Larry Summers to speak at an event for the University
      of California regents. Other than converting the individual into a
      martyr and dramatically elevating their importance, what do people
      think is accomplished when a person with a certain viewpoint is denied
      a forum?

      In any event, there is not much new worth saying about the "debate"
      over whether Columbia should have invited Ahmadinejad to speak. People
      either believe in the value of having academic institutions be a venue
      for airing all viewpoints or they do not.

      Exactly as is true for the First Amendment, it is so often the case
      that those who claim to believe in this principle when it comes to
      ideas they like suddenly find all sorts of reasons why the "principle"
      does not apply when it comes to ideas they hate most. And -- as is
      true for Osama bin Laden -- nobody has done more to inflate the
      importance and power of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who, just by the way, is
      not even the leader of Iran, let alone the WorldWide Evil Axis of
      Hitlerian Dictators) than those who have focused on him obsessively.

      But what is new, and what most certainly is worth commenting upon, is
      this extremely disturbing report from The New York Sun regarding the
      threats made by Democratic State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to
      use state power to punish Columbia for inviting a speaker whom Silver
      dislikes. Silver -- who, among other things, has long been a leader in
      efforts to free convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison --
      did not even bother to disguise the threats he was making:

      As the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, prepares to address
      Columbia University today amid a storm of student protest, state and
      city lawmakers say they are considering withholding public funds from
      the school to protest its decision to invite the leader to campus.

      In an interview with The New York Sun, the speaker of the
      Assembly, Sheldon Silver, said lawmakers, outraged over Columbia's
      insistence on allowing the Iranian president to speak at its World
      Leaders Forum, would consider reducing capital aid and other financial
      assistance to the school.

      Lawmakers warned about other consequences for Columbia and its
      president, Lee Bollinger, who has resisted campus and public pressure
      to cancel Mr. Ahmadinejad's appearance today, arguing that Columbia's
      commitment to scholarship requires the school to directly confront
      offensive ideas.

      "There are issues that Columbia may have before us that obviously
      this cavalier attitude would be something that people would recall,"
      Mr. Silver said. "Obviously, there's some degree of capital support
      that has been provided to Columbia in the past. These are things
      people might take a different view of . . . knowing that this is that
      kind of an institution" . . .

      "It's not going to go away just because this episode ends.
      Columbia University has to know . . . that they will be penalized," an
      assemblyman of Brooklyn, Dov Hikind, who also attended the rally,
      said. The lawmaker said Mr. Ahmadinejad should be arrested when he
      sets foot on campus.

      Silver sounds like two-bit hooligan making not-so-veiled threats to
      Columbia ("Obviously, there's some degree of capital support that has
      been provided to Columbia in the past. These are things people might
      take a different view of") for committing the crime of inviting a
      speaker whom Silver finds offensive. Is there anyone who fails to see
      how dangerous and improper this is -- not to mention unconstitutional
      -- that government officials threaten and punish universities for
      hosting speakers whom the officials dislike? Do we want our
      universities to be able to provide speaking venues only to individuals
      who are approved by the likes of Sheldon Silver and Dov Hikind?

      What this really illustrates more than anything else is the true
      danger to our national character and basic liberties from being in a
      permanent state of war fighting. When we become a society that just
      leaps from one New Ultimate Hitler Enemy Who Must Be Destroyed to the
      next, we ensure that all of our political values and institutions
      become infected by this bloodthirsty mentality. When we have one Enemy
      after the next to annihilate, who really cares about dreary luxuries
      like due process or restraints on government power or the First
      Amendment? Saddam/binLaden/Ahemdinijad/Assad is Evil, a Hitler, and
      all power must be vested without limits in our Leaders so they can
      destroy him/them.

      Along those same lines, this "interview" of Ahmadinejad by Scott
      Pelley of "60 Minutes" has to be read to be believed. As Ezra Klein
      says: "Pelley declined to interview Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and instead
      popped off aggressive statements as if he were a White House press
      release with a cardiovascular system."

      It would be perfectly appropriate for Pelley to pose aggressive and
      challenging questions to Ahmadinejad. That is actually what reporters
      in general are supposed to do when questioning any government
      officials, not merely the Foreign Muslim Enemy du Jour. Fathom how
      elevated our political discourse would be if "reporters" like Pelley
      were even a fraction as adversarial and challenging when interviewing
      Bush officials as Pelley was when yelling at Ahmadinejad.

      But Pelley did not question him so much as make a series of highly
      dubious war-fueling statements as fact. And far more revealing than
      Pelley's tone were the premises of his "questions" -- ones which
      blindly assumed every accusation of the Bush administration towards
      Iran to be true -- such as these:

      PELLEY: Sir, what were you thinking? The World Trade Center site
      is the most sensitive place in the American heart, and you must have
      known that visiting there would be insulting to many, many Americans.

      AHMADINEJAD: Why should it be insulting?

      PELLEY: Well, sir, you're the head of government of an Islamist
      state that the United States government says is a major exporter of
      terrorism around the world. . . .

      PELLEY: But the American people, sir, believe that your country is
      a terrorist nation, exporting terrorism in the world. You must have
      known that visiting the World Trade Center site would infuriate many
      Americans, as if to be mocking the American people.

      AHMADINEJAD: Well, I'm amazed. How can you speak for the whole of
      the American nation?

      PELLEY: Well, the American nation . . .

      PELLEY: Mr. President, you say that the two nations are very close
      to one another, but it is an established fact now that Iranian bombs
      and Iranian know-how are killing Americans in Iraq. You have American
      blood on your hands. Why?

      AHMADINEJAD: Well, this is what the American officials are saying.
      . . .

      PELLEY: Mr. President, American men and women are being killed by
      your weapons in Iraq. You know this.

      AHMADINEJAD: No, no, no.

      PELLEY: Why are those weapons there?

      AHMADINEJAD: Who's saying that?

      PELLEY: The American Army has captured Iranian missiles in Iraq.
      The critical elements of the explosively formed penetrator bombs that
      are killing so many people are coming from Iran. There's no doubt
      about that anymore. The denials are no longer credible, sir. . . .

      AHMADINEJAD: Very good. If I may. Are you an American politician?
      Am I to look at you as an American politician or a reporter? . . . .

      PELLEY: Mr. President, you must have rejoiced more than anyone
      when Saddam Hussein fell. You owe President Bush. This is one of the
      best things that's ever happened to your country.

      Scott Pelley wants Ahmadinejad to know that -- like all of us -- he
      "owes President Bush." Almost every word out of Pelley's mouth was a
      faithful recitation of the accusations made by the Bush White House.
      Ahmadinejad obviously does not watch much American news because he
      seemed genuinely surprised that someone he thought was a reporter was
      doing nothing other than reciting the script of the government.

      Apparently, among the American press now, it is unchallengably true
      that the Iranian Government has the Blood of American Soliders on its
      hands and is a "terrorist state." I guess our "journalists" have
      decided that "only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude
      otherwise." After all, even the left-wing Michael Gordon and the NYT
      admit this, and they couldn't be wrong about such matters.

      And besides, our Top Military Commanders in Iraq are making these
      accusations, and we all just learned last week from Our Senate that we
      must never question "the honor and integrity . . . of members of the
      United States Armed Forces." Our media, of course, has been diligently
      following that Rule for many, many years.

      Skepticism of government officials? Media objectivity? First Amendment
      freedoms? Due Process and Habeas Corpus and diplomacy? Ahmadinejad is
      Hitler, Our Enemy, and We are at War -- with him and forever. That's
      all we really need to know.



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