The Anti-Defamation League has called on Columbia University to cancel a scheduled Tuesday appearance by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which the visiting Iranian president is to answer questions posed by students and faculty.
"It is inappropriate and a perversion of the concept of freedom of speech," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. "Columbia University has no moral imperative, no legal imperative, no social imperative to give Ahmadinejad a platform, which he would not give them in Tehran. Why give him the credibility and the respectability of a major institution of higher learning? What message does that send to the students? This is not what the First Amendment is all about."
It could be argued that this is, in fact, exactly what the First Amendment is all about. But let us, for the moment, lay that debate aside.
Let us look, instead, at what the Iranian president represents for us, the Jews who live in the state he has suggested he'd like to see erased.
Let's face it. We need all the help we can get, on the diplomatic sphere as well as in the area of international understanding of our defense concerns. That's where our man in Tehran comes in. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is simply one of Israel's premier diplomatic and security assets. His expressed views make Israel look pragmatic, clear-eyed, non-paranoid.
He has denied away the Nazi Holocaust as a myth. He has, as well, denounced Israel for Nazi-like actions. Referring to last year's Lebanon war, he was quoted as saying "Just like Hitler, the Zionist regime is just looking for a pretext for launching military attacks" and "is now acting just like him." And, just for good measure, he added: "What this regime is doing is even worse than Genghis Khan."
He is unparalleled. Asked by CBS whether he considered his stated desire to visit Ground Zero as an insult to the American people, he asked why it should be considered as such.
We couldn't have created the man if we had tried. He is everything we want in a neo-Haman nemesis.
His remarks have been such that it was no problem for Dan Gillerman, Israel's UN ambassador, to suggest in an address to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organization, that a Ahmadinejad visit Ground Zero was comparable to a visit by a resurrected Hitler to Auschwitz.
Let the man talk. Let the Iranian president speak his mind, all he wants.
You never know what favor he's going to do us next.
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