Columbia Students vs. Ahmadinejad

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Reflecting on the 2007 event, Snider conceded that there was a “distinct difference between an open forum, or a public sighting or speaking, versus a private dinner.” He continued:

When Ahmadinejad came to Columbia in 2007, he was part of the World Leaders Forum, which is a real event. There was a lot of national attention then as well. The interesting thing is, in the moment when he was addressing folks…Ahmadinejad made a complete fool of himself.

This, in fact, raises and important point as to why opposing the private repast was necessary. “Whereas the speech in 2007 did, in the majority of its moments, reveal, to educated students and the rest of the world, that Ahmadinejad is an illogical madman,” Snider explained, “the dinner didn’t even afford those moments. It only could have acted as fuel for propaganda.” Co-organizer Eric Shaprio agreed. “You have dinner with family and friends. You don’t have dinner with hated world leaders and people who commit crimes against their own citizens.”

When the CIRCA invitation was revoked, the group of protesters decided that this was not the time to abandon the campaign. “Once we realized the dinner had been canceled, we moved to continue the rally under the premise of a more general protest of the human rights violations that take place every day in Iran — perpetrated by Ahmadinejad,” said Snider.

He further noted that Columbia University has a special role to fill with respect to international relations. “Columbia University is a unique place,” Snider observed. The close proximity to the United Nations and frequent opportunity to associate with world leaders — good or bad — creates a “larger burden of responsibility to bear,” he said.

Part of that responsibility is making people aware of the fact that, even if the dinner had taken place, it did not represent the only voice of the undergraduate community at CU. “We didn’t want [the CIRCA students] to be the sole undergraduate voices of Columbia.” Though much of the national attention was directed at the students who would meet with Ahmadinejad, “they did not speak for all of the students,” Snider said. “We wanted to contribute to the conversation.”

Fellow protest organizer Eric Shapiro echoed that sentiment, noting that “the real nuance here is that we felt as Columbia undergraduate students, we had a particular voice that we wanted heard.”

Those attending the rally heard from former Iranian political prisoner Shirin Nariman, who addressed the crowd that had gathered in front of East Campus. “When I was 17, I had a 13-year-old friend who was arrested and killed,” she said. “This is the oppressive Iranian regime, and we need to reject such a regime and their representatives, which is Ahmadinejad.” She then honed in her opposition on the dinner and the focal point of the rally. “It’s morally wrong. It shouldn’t be done,” Nariman said. “Many people were killed for a dictator to come to power. Is this what Columbia wants to associate with?”

The two other rally organizers also spoke. Sam Schube noted that “we’re here because we hold the modest, but at the same time really grand hope that we might use our voices to draw attention to those who are silenced, and those who refuse to remain silent in the face to unimaginable hardship.” David Fine explained that the rally “reminds Columbia and New York that although the terror of Tehran may be allowed to visit our city, though he may be allowed to sleep in our hotels, and eat in our diners, he will not do so as a welcome guest. Rather he will be greeted as the tyrant he is…”

The rally closed with a moment of silence.

Jacob Snider was proud of what he and his fellow organizers accomplished. “People have noticed,” he beamed. “They came up to me and said they know we four students got together and said something.” Noting the reality of student apathy, Snider was moved by the recognition and the knowledge that other students had been reached by the group’s message. He concluded:

I think it’s good for the spirit of saying what you believe. Apathy could be best defined in this situation as believing in something but being too passive to put those beliefs into action. I think I speak for the group when I say that we wanted to put our beliefs into action, not just go back to class and “say yeah, well….”

Indeed. The success of this counter-campaign demonstrates that a few courageous voices, who make the effort to be heard, can become a powerful tool for truth.

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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-

  • 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.