Warm Applause for Ahmedinejad at Columbia
- 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
By NAHAL TOOSI
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
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."
***REACTIONS FROM STUDENTS AND THE PUBLIC (from NY Times' blogs):
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
- 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
***FROM MICHAEL A. HOFFMAN II--
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.
IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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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