After a controversial speech at Columbia University in 2007, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have linked up with the New York school again to discuss his policies. And every news outlet from the Upper West Side to Israel has put their two cents in.
According to a Sept. 10 article in the Columbia Daily Spectator, an email went out to the listserv of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA), inviting its members to a potential private dinner with Ahmadinejad two days from now, on Wednesday the 21st.
Campus website Bwog later posted the text of the email, which offered students the opportunity to “learn about Iran from her president!” The Spec reported that only 15 students would get the opportunity to dine with Ahmadinejad and they were excited to have the chance to do so.
Since then, a firestorm of media coverage has sprung up, with major news sources like The New York Post reporting on it.
Many sources blasted Columbia for interacting with Iran’s president again. An op-ed in the Spec advocated that Columbia should “say no to the Ahmadinedinner” because of the “moral sacrifice” inherent in doing so.
Ynet News reported that the president of United Against Nuclear Iran has opposed the dinner. Members of the organization called upon Columbia president Lee Bollinger to cancel the meal, calling the proposed meeting “inappropriate.”
Comedian Dennis Miller even advocated that CU students “blow off” Ahmadinejad’s head.
On PajamasMedia, Roger Simon scathingly rebuked Columbia, stating that “the progressive intellectuals of Morningside Heights evidently have a special place in their hearts for state sponsors of terrorism who murder and torture their own citizens with impunity.”
Columbia has also come under fire abroad for its potential meeting with Ahmadinejad. According to The Jerusalem Post, the Israel Law Center, Shurat HaDin, has targeted the university for its “illegal” invitation to Ahmadinejad. In a letter to Bollinger and other authorities, including the U.S. Attorney General, the NGO noted that “Ahmadinejad is Iran’s chief executive and personally directs Iran’s terrorist and nuclear proliferation activities and human rights abuse.”
In recent days, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that Columbia has denied that Bollinger was involved in bringing Ahmadinejad to campus and would be attending the meal.
The Spec reported that CU has since corrected the rumor, going so far as to claim that “…at no time has there ever been any university event planned or considered involving the president of Iran, nor has there ever been any plan for a dinner involving the Iranian president and President Bollinger.” According to the Spec, the dinner, indeed, remains tentative. Conservative websites, like American Thinker, expressed skepticism over the university’s denial, while the National Review dubbed the school “Jihad University.”
Will Columbia and CIRCA’s plans to host Ahmadinejad come to fruition? Stay tuned for more.