Columbia Students vs. Ahmadinejad

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


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On September 10th, an article was published in the Columbia Spectator, Columbia University’s student newspaper, announcing that 15 members of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA) would be attending a private dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was supposed to take place on September 21st, while the Iranian despot was in New York to deliver a speech before the United Nations General Assembly. CIRCA vice president of academics, Tim Chan, CC ’14, noted that the prospect was well received by group members. “Everyone was really enthusiastic,” Chan said. “They’re thrilled to have this opportunity.” Other Columbia students, notably Jacob Snider, David Fine, Eric Shapiro, and Sam Schube, were far less enthusiastic. They mobilized against the event, and after Iran’s mission to the United Nations rescinded the invitation to CIRCA due to the adverse publicity, the group held a rally protesting the Iranian tyrant anyway.

“A group of like-minded friends and I decided to initially protest a private off-the-record dinner between [CIRCA students] and Ahmadinejad,” explained rally organizer Jacob Snider. “The rally was organized by me and three other kids, but it began with me and David Fine. He and I became co-organizers at the ground level.”

Snider explained that after reading the news of the dinner in the Spectator, he was compelled to act:

I sat with [the news] for a couple of hours. I played in my jazz ensemble and after playing I was walking on campus and looking around, and I saw people having normal conversations, and it just wasn’t sitting well with me. [The dinner] was under the [campus] radar, but all over the national radar.

Snider then contacted his friend David Fine. “In the Cabinet of my life, he’s my Attorney General of History,” Snider quipped. He explained how the counter-event grew from their exchange:

I called and asked him if he’d heard about the dinner. He said yes and thought it was ridiculous, but he didn’t know what was going on or what to do about it. I said “consider me your ally and let’s do something together.” At first we were just going to put up fliers, but then we said “let’s turn this into a thing.”…We used the power we had at our disposal and did something.

That something turned into a rally in which the original name, “Just Say No To Ahma(dinner)jad” gave way to “Just Say No to Ahmadinejad” after publicity over the student backlash raised Iranian hackles, and CIRCA students were disinvited. Fox News originally reported that Columbia president Lee Bollinger would attend the dinner and that the university itself had sponsored it. This apparently was not the case, but the news prompted the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv to send a letter to Bollinger condemning the invitation and threatening legal action. “Hosting Ahmadinejad at a banquet is not merely morally repulsive: it is illegal and likely to render Columbia University and its officers both criminally and civilly liable,” said the letter from the center, which has another office in New York.

In 2007, Bollinger had in fact invited the Iranian president to speak at the university, despite much controversy. “It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas, or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas,” Bollinger said at the time. “It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.”

And while Bollinger was critical of Ahmadinejad in his opening remarks, calling him a “reprehensible and dangerous figure who presides over a repressive regime,” there were times during the speech when Columbia students applauded the Holocaust-denying Iranian president.

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  • jacob

    Isn't it time for the Jewish students of BERKELY to put a stop to Muslim students
    actions there as well, instead of asking the so called "authorities" to act accor-
    dingly, WHICH GTHEYR KNOW DAMNED WELL THEY WON'T ????????

  • StephenD

    Hats off to Snider and Fine! THIS is exactly what can begin young folks rubbing their eyes to clear their vision so they can see the light. I'd love to hear more and MUCH more of like movements at every college campus in the country. Truth and common sense may be making a comeback! Moral decency is not dead.

  • tanstaafl

    "What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground,
    How can you run when you know?"

  • Chezwick_mac

    Very hopeful story. Just two quick questions…

    1) How many attended the rally?

    2) When will it be understood that Ahmadinijad is NOT a dictator, he is a puppet…a figure-head. The REAL dictator is Ayatollah Khameini.

  • Sound Doc

    Ali Khamenei Is not in control of Ahmadinejad, neither is he in charge of anything YHVH does not allow. Both are under the sway of Satan and in his grip, just as all evil men are. And they will ultimately, like Pharaoh was used to further the Living GOD'S plan to His glory. These men are called, ''Vessels of dishonor'' and without their knowledge, do in the end prove the truth that God will not be mocked and every knee will bow to the glory of GOD proclaiming that Jesus Christ is LORD.

  • maturin20

    So many dinners to stop, so few bold Columbia students. If only someone could stop Angela Merkel having dinner with Ben Bernanke.

  • Ben

    Brave boys! The great authority of Science the leftist professors and administration use for making fools and fight with free thinking of their students.

  • Steve Chavez

    Cancelled due to bad publicity? Every where this RUNT goes is bad publicity including at home!

    I am bummed though that the RUNT didn't attend since that would have been another nail in Columbia's coffin!

  • Ghostwriter

    Good for Jacob Snider and his friends! A-jad has no moral standing in this country or anywhere else. He is a beast and deserves to be called that!

  • Roland

    I hear that Columbia invited Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot to dinner earlier in the 20th century. Well they would have if they could have. .J ust shows that Columbia ,the Gem of Commotion, is consistent.

    • Anamah

      Progressives never lose the opportunity to go wrong. Progressives always choose dictatorships.

  • Terrorists Suck

    The only reason to host Achmed-dumbass-jad is to have the opportunity to personally kick him in the nuts…repeatedly!

    WONDERFUL job to Jacob Snider, Sam Schube, and David Fine, and THUMBS DOWN TO LEE BOLLINGER.

  • Ron

    Cruelty even to the cruel is a slippery slope. It ignores the image of God in every human, and it debases those who commit it.

  • american

    What happened to the freedom of association?

  • american

    It is interesting to note how fast our precious constitutional freedoms lose their appeal if they benefit the opposing point of view. What makes the Israeli ambassador at UC Irvine more holy than Mr. Ahmedinijad at Columbia. Both of them are foreigners. One bleeding our country by hijacking our national and international policies (Israel) and the other poking holes on moral grounds (Iran). Eject them both from american soil.

    • aspacia

      At the moment, Israel is our only real ally in the critical Middle-East. We have had Black Op there for years you fool. Oran represents a government far more closely aligned to the US than the theocracy Iran.

      american, you are clueless.

    • Anamah

      The answer is very simple. The Israeli ambassador is an honorable person, he is honest and can be trusted. The other is an inhuman figure lier, dishonest and malevolent. He is a negative destructive killing machine not deserving respect from anybody. Listen the ambassador is a gift to better understand reality and history, the other is to fall into craziness decline to the most despicable level of evil only for ignorant and lunatic public as the entire Iranian government is. This one is special for imbeciles.

  • american

    On further consideration it is hypocrisy to arrest Muslim students at UC Irvine for protesting Israeli ambassador while supporting non-Muslim students protesting Iranian president. Use the same yardstick for everybody. If Columbia students are "brave boys" the UC Irvine students are heroes in comparison.

    • aspacia

      It was an illegal disruption not allowing Oren to speak and then asking him questions which is what he wanted.

    • Anamah

      American, you should go to Iran and there even you will be able to understand the obvious why.

  • Wesley69

    Jacob Snider, David Fine, you give all of us hope that our young people will see through the words and propaganda of governments and their leaders and see the truth. You were right to oppose a private dinner. If Ahmadinejad was to speak, it had to be open to all students.

    Columbia president Lee Bollinger proved to be neither hero or villain, but weak. As a president he should encourage freedom of speech and thought in his university. I seriously doubt that condition exists on his faculty. If Ahmadinejad speaks, people like Gingrich, Palin should be allowed to speak. THEY SHOULD NOT BE SHOUTED OFF THE STAGE DUE TO THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS. This is what an institution of higher learning should do. They should be schools of many thoughts. Not schools with one point of view and not policed by political thugs.