Ahmadinejad American Jews Iran Israel

What do Columbia U’s Lee Bollinger and the ADL have in common?

On the ADL web site, there is a section called “No Nuclear Iran.” The slogan is ‘Get informed. Get active.” One page is entitled “AHMADINEJAD: IN HIS OWN WORDS.” It provides some of his most “virulent statements” about the Holocaust, Israel, etc. etc. And they are pretty horrific, disgusting statements, indeed.

Like other Jewish groups, the ADL insists that the man cannot be ignored. It wants to expose him and show why he is wrong and dangerous. That is why, on Sept, 5th, it announced:

Over the next few weeks and months, the Anti-Defamation League will roll out a public awareness and advocacy campaign aimed at focusing attention on the gathering threat of a nuclear-armed Iran to Israel, the Middle East and the world

With the slogan, “No Nuclear Iran,” the campaign focuses on Iran’s clear and present threat to Israel, America and the global community through high-profile eye-catching posters, advertisements in national and community newspapers, and other awareness initiatives using e-mail and the Internet to spread the word.

Isn’t that precisely what Columbia University President Lee Bollinger tried to do yesterday, when he harshly criticized Ahmadinejad just before the Iranian President delivered a speech at Morningside Heights? Wasn’t that an “awareness initiative?” And since the denunciations came from a university president, in a confrontation that was broadcast all over the world, didn’t they have more credibility and impact than arguments made by American Jewish activists, i.e., the usual suspects?

In the last few days, thanks to harsh denunciations of Bollinger by Abe Foxman, other Jewish leaders and a bevy of politicians, the international media were focused primarily on arguments over whether Columbia should have invited the Iranian President. Those arguments just mitigated the impact of arguments against Ahmadinejad’s message. What should have been a story about a brutal dictator became a story about free speech. In today’s USA Today, Foxman wrote, “Columbia should have taken a stand that some ideas are simply not acceptable.”

But if they are not acceptable enough to be presented at Columbia, why are they acceptable enough to appear on ADL’s web site, where there is a page of quotes without any refutation of any kind?

As Richard Silverstein put it:

Ahmadinejad isn’t David Duke or Lyndon LeRouche–he’s the president of one of the most important Muslim nations in the world which currently is in danger of embroiling the world in conflict. Hearing him speak and telling him what we think of his ideas as Bollinger will do does nothing to “legitimize” those ideas. Who in the Columbia audience will be persuaded that a nuclear Iran is a good thing??

Philip Weiss makes a similar argument. Even the New York Sun, a harsh critic of just about everything Islamic, praised the Columbia Pres. today, calling the event a “teaching moment”:

…By our lights Bollinger did pretty darned well. It may have been a mistake to welcome the Iranian demagogue to campus in the first place, but it will be a long time before any figure, here or abroad, gives such an eloquent rebuke to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s face.

…Mr. Bollinger spoke to some of the elements in which Jewish particularity is engaged, asserting that Columbia has become a “world center of Jewish studies” and, in partnership with the YIVO Institute, of studies of the Holocaust, which Mr. Bollinger called “the most documented event in human history.” He spoke directly, as well, to Iran’s assertion that Israel should be “wiped off the map,” and noted that Columbia has more than 800 alumni living in the Jewish state. He noted that more than 400 college presidents have joined in his call against the proposed boycott of Israeli scholars and universities. “Do you plan on wiping us off the map, too?” Mr. Bollinger asked. He then addressed Iran’s state sponsorship of terror, funding such groups as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Sounds like a very affective “awareness initiative” to me. When Philip Weiss, Richard Silverstein and the NY Sun agree on something, it is probably correct. The ADL should put the Bollinger-Ahmadinejad confrontation on its web site.

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