Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dinner With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran

This op-ed by PRIMER Board Member Jay Bergman was published in the Litchfield County Times on Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

On Oct. 24 The Central Recorder, the student newspaper at CCSU, reported that when the U.N. General Assembly convened in New York in late September, Professor Ghassan El-Eid of the CCSU Political Science Department brought 12 CCSU students to attend a dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. In the article Mr. Ahmadinejad was described by students as "very smart," "not as radical as the western media portray him," "inclusive," "kind to everyone who asked a question," and someone who "really wants everyone to get along, be respected, and learn."

Professor El Eid is quoted as characterizing Mr. Ahmadinejad as "a pretty rational leader," whose views may be "controversial" but who is "very careful to support his arguments with facts."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semitic bigot who has denied the Holocaust while repeatedly making clear his intention to carry out a second one:

* "Today, they [Europeans] have created a myth in the name of Holocaust (Dec. 14, 2005)."

*"Israel must be wiped off the map (Oct. 26, 2005)."

*"The Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan (Feb. 28, 2007)."

*"I warn you to abandon the filthy Zionist entity, which has reached the end of the line. It has lost its reason to be and will sooner or later fall. The ones who still support the criminal Zionists should know that the occupiers' days are numbered. ... Accept that the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end (Jan. 30, 2008)."

*"They [the Western powers] launched the myth of the Holocaust. They lied, they put on a show and then they support the Jews (Sept. 18, 2009)."

*No "Zionists" were killed in the World Trade Center, because "one day earlier they were told not to go to their workplace (Aug. 7, 2010)."

*"The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor (Aug. 17, 2012)."

On Feb. 4, 2012, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed "jurisprudential justification to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel. In that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm."

The government of Iran savagely persecutes Bahai's and Christians. It tortures and executes homosexuals. It has killed Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has harassed, arrested, tried and barred from travel Iranian women's rights activists. In 1983 it approved and funded the bombing of U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon, killing 241 Marines. And in 2009 it ruthlessly suppressed the Green Revolution, in which millions of Iranians demanded the freedoms Americans enjoy.

It is appalling that CCSU students were used as props in a public relations campaign to legitimize one of the most murderous regimes in the world today. I seriously doubt that any professor at CCSU, or at any other college or university in America, would arrange a dinner for students with a kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan. And yet dining with a genocidal anti-Semite who wants to kill six million Jews is perfectly acceptable.

Jay Bergman is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

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