Shurat HaDin — Israel Law Center plans to initiate legal action against Columbia
University in New York for its dinner event with Iran’s President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad on Wednesday.
“Hosting Ahmadinejad at a banquet is not merely
morally repulsive: It is illegal and will expose Columbia University and its
officers to both criminal prosecution and civil liability to American citizens
and others victimized by Iranian- sponsored terrorism,” the Tel Aviv-based NGO
wrote to the university’s President Lee Bollinger last week.
'Ahmadinejad insists Zionists started both World Wars'
Columbia students may dine with Ahmadinejad
three-page letter was written by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Shurat
HaDin’s director, and the organization’s American counsel, Robert J.
Copies of the letter were sent to US Attorney-General Eric
Holder, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, New
York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, FBI Deputy Director Sean M. Joyce
and FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry.
“Iran is officially
designated under US law as a state-sponsor of terrorism, as a proliferator of
weapons of mass destruction and as a perpetrator of human rights
Ahmadinejad is Iran’s chief executive and personally directs
Iran’s terrorist and nuclear proliferation activities and human rights abuse,”
Darshan-Leitner and Tolchin wrote.
Columbia’s student newspaper The
Spectator reported earlier this month that Ahmadinejad plans to dine with
members of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association. The
council’s vice president, student Tim Chan, said in the Spectator, “Everyone was
really enthusiastic,” and “they’re thrilled to have this
Chan told the paper there were no concerns from CIRCA's
members about meeting with Iran’s president.
Writing on the popular US
news and blog website Pajamas Media, the site’s CEO, novelist and screenwriter
Roger L. Simon, said, “After having once hosted Iran’s President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, they are doing so again — and this time they are giving the
misogynistic, homophobic, Holocaust denying religious fanatic a banquet! The
progressive intellectuals of Morningside Heights [the neighborhood where
Columbia is located] evidently have a special place in their hearts for state
sponsors of terrorism who murder and torture their own citizens with
Alana Goodman, a blogger for Commentary Magazine, first reported on Shurat HaDin’s possible lawsuit. She noted that “Shurat HaDin is the same organization that used targeted lawsuits to block the Gaza flotilla in July, so it has a history of success with high-profile cases.”
Columbia’s Spectator reported on Friday that “The university has
issued a statement denying any involvement in the dinner,” and adding that the
news stories “fundamentally misstate the university’s role in this unconfirmed
possible encounter. Simply put, there never was one. In fact, at no time has
there ever been any university event planned or considered involving the
president of Iran, nor has there ever been any plan for a dinner involving the
Iranian president and President Bollinger.”
Though Bollinger criticized
the Iranian president as a “petty and cruel dictator” at a debate with him at
Columbia in 2007, he was roundly criticized in the media for providing an Ivy
League university stage to a major human rights violator.
Iran’s government subjected on Wednesday doctoral student Somayeh Tohidlou to 50
lashes because of her pro-democracy activities.
She is part of the Iran’s
opposition Green Movement.
Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, an expert on Iran’s
democracy movement and a senior fellow at the Brussels-based European Foundation
for Democracy, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that “Ms.
Tohidlou was sentenced to 50 whips in the Evin Prison on September 14.” The
prison guards placed her “feet and hands in chains” in order to apply the whips,
The penalty applied to Tohidlou is “torture,” Wahdat- Hagh told
According to Wahdat- Hagh’s translation of a Persian- language
blog entry from Tohidlou, she wrote, “Be happy, because if you wanted to
humiliate me, I confess that I feel my entire body is suffering with
degradation. I cannot think that such a form of humiliation will repeat
She cites a story about Moses from the Bible in her blog, saying
“Let your cane fall and do not have fear.”
Tohidlou said she will never
forget the whipping. “My pride is broken,” she said.
Wahdat-Hagh, Tohidlou cites the Moses story to draw a parallel between the
unjust Egyptian pharaonic system and Iran’s anti-democratic regime.
common for Iranians to cite the Old Testament and quotes from Moses, Wahdat-