September 26: God help democracy

Lee Bollinger's introduction of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was passionate, poignant and one of this century's great displays of oratory.

September 25, 2007 20:37
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God help democracy Sir, - Columbia president Lee Bollinger's introduction of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was passionate, poignant and one of this century's great displays of oratory. But, unfortunately, this was neither Hitler nor Stalin sharing the university's podium with Bollinger, and his attempt to rouse a nation in the same vein as JFK or Reagan in Berlin only amounted to legitimizing Ahmadinejad's shallow façade - and at what price? On this democratic world stage which prides itself on academia and intellectualism, Ahmadinejad had no real purpose other than the pursuit of legitimacy. And the democratic cause of freedom of speech was circumvented in such a banal way that after the flash and dash of heightened expectancy we were left with a sudden emptiness, wondering how we had missed this grand opportunity to undress the puppet king from Iran. Prior to the much-trumpeted visit to New York by Ahmadinejad, there remained a slender thread of hope of dialogue with a country that appears hell-bent on destroying itself and those who share its region of the globe; but this is not to be. Our worst fears have been confirmed. Iran is determined to follow the road to its apparent destruction, and God help democracy ("Big lies and pernicious truths," David Horovitz, September 25). DANIEL KOWBELL Toronto Sir, - Yasser Arafat (so I understood from people who met him) was tremendously charming and ingratiating, and he knew it. On first encounter most people were completely sold on him, and for good. A chronic liar and orchestrator of mass murder couldn't look like that, they falsely assumed. That is generally how he got away with anything he said or did. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is all of the above, plus well-dressed and personable. Observe his smile, his charming gestures - a gentleman. These people know how to flatter, joke, laugh and smile. And they are captivating speakers who can feign any feeling but anger. I tell you: These people are the worst. Ronny Gordon's artful caricature of September 24 made Ahmadinejad look ugly. But most people go after their superficial or sub-conscious impressions, and will be rather disarmed by this lowlife, no matter what alarming things are written or said about him. And that's why it was wrong to let him speak. He came only to entrance - not to explain. M.M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem 'Purimshpil' at Columbia Sir, - I was wondering if we have not to commend Columbia University for having invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the greatest Purimshpil ever. Haman was there. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, with his introduction, made a very acceptable Mordechai. Of course, we missed the beautiful Queen Esther as well as the many UN-Ahasueruses; but, anyhow, Columbia's students saw a real Purim farce. As a follow-up, Megillat Esther should be required reading so the students can learn about the fate of Haman ("Ahmadinejad avoids question of destroying Israel," September 25). MARCEL KORNITZER Jerusalem Sir, - It seems that everyone was horrified by Columbia University's invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was particularly concerned about the fact of inviting a guy who is in violation of the very Charter of the United Nations, let alone Security Council resolutions. Let him be reminded of how many UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions Israel is in violation. And Israel enjoys the use of each and every podium in the US and the UN. MICHAEL KREUTZBERG Santiago de Chile We so need friends Sir, - I couldn't agree more with Michael Freund that shunning Evangelicals is "No way to treat our Christian friends" (September 19). Let's not be guilty of stereotyping. We've been the target of such ignorance. We need all the friends we can get. DVORA SCHOENFELD-FAIRFIELD Jax, Florida Let's be fair and seek truth Sir, - Your editorial of August 30, "Facing up to the past," lacked objectivity. Genocide is a crime like no other, and it requires conclusive proof. The tragic events of 1915 were a dark episode in the common history of Turks and Armenians, who had lived together in peace for centuries. But would it not be unjust to simply conclude that these events constitute genocide? Is it fair to rewrite history without seeking the truth, objectively? Should we let Armenian circles exploit the historical context of the Holocaust by comparing their version of the events of 1915 to the Shoah? Armenian allegations have no historical or legal basis. The claim that there is a consensus on the real nature of events does not reflect the truth. Scholars such as Bernard Lewis, Guenther Lewy, Gilles Veinstein and many others think otherwise. They define these tragic events that occurred under the difficult conditions of WWI as security measures taken by the Ottoman Government to relocate Armenians who revolted and sided with the belligerent countries. Inter-communal violence, disease and starvation were the main causes of death. Where Ottoman control was strong, Armenians went unharmed. Thus it is a moral obligation to refrain from rewriting history. First, the archives of all relevant countries - and of course Ottoman records, which are open to the public - should be thoroughly studied. Armenian records ought to be examined as well, but, as far as we know, they remain closed. Prime Minister of Turkey Erdogan has called for the formation of a joint historical commission to study the events of 1915. This offer has not been taken up by the Armenian government. MOMO UZSINAY, President Association of Turkish Jews in Israel Bat-Yam Boys as potential killers Sir, - Some time ago, close to the Police Academy at the northern end of Netanya, I witnessed a policeman in a police patrol car trying to stop four young drivers in four ATVs who were driving at high speed, with total recklessness and posing a danger to other drivers. They were in the constant view of a police helicopter, but the policeman on the ground was powerless to stop even one of these crazies. The helicopter hovering overhead kept the ATV drivers in view, and the policeman eventually drove to a different position to attempt to "close the road." I watched it all for several minutes, but did not hang around to see what happened next. When I thought the road was safe for me to ride my scooter I left, a little shaken at what I had seen. A short while later I went to buy something at a store that sells and repairs these vehicles. When I mentioned to the salesman what I had seen, he shrugged off the incident as a case of "Boys will be boys!" ("Girl killed in Yom Kippur bike accident," September 23.) LOU SCOP Netanya Domestic harmony Sir, - My Monday edition of The Jerusalem Post could not have made me happier: You have moved the puzzles to the second section. I could be in the computer room (second bedroom, really) doing my puzzles with my breakfast coffee, while my husband was in the living room muttering about the latest news. Peace reigns again on Mondays. Thank you so much. NORMA KURAS Petah Tikva

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