President Bollinger…Keep Your Promise
by Gerald A. Honigman
Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is slated to arrive in the United States this week to address the United Nations. Columbia University’s president, Lee Bollinger, has also extended an invitation to him to address his prestigious university.
Bollinger’s colleague, Dean John Coatsworth, subsequently stated that if Hitler was alive, he’d invite him as well, primarily to ask a series of tough questions. It is fitting that he made this analogy since Ahmadinejad has repeatedly promised to pick up where Hitler left off vis-à-vis the Jews. And, as with the latter, Bollinger promised that he’d introduce the Iranian Hitler wannabe with a series of tough questions
Regardless of Columbia’s president’s claims, I have some serious concerns.
Since most of academia, the United Nations, media folks, and such treat visiting Israelis far differently than they do representatives from Muslim countries, I will be a non-believer until I see otherwise.
Whether the Israeli is from the left or the right, he or she can expect non-stop grilling at such visits. At times, they have been prevented from even speaking.
Too often those who confront Israel about every and all of its alleged sins cower at any semblance of the above when interviewing Muslim counterparts. Since Columbia has become a hotbed of anti-Israel activity, the concerns are even more serious.
Considering this, I have a few questions that I’d like to ask President Bollinger to pass along to Iran’s leader.
Firstly, why is it that Iran can demand a second state for Arabs in “Palestine” (Arabs historically never had one there, and purely Arab Jordan was created from some 80% of the original 1920 Mandate’s borders when Transjordan was carved out in 1922) and support groups like Hamas and Hizbullah which aim to destroy Israel (with Iran stating this as a goal itself), yet millions of Arabs, in what Iran calls (oil rich) Khuzestan but which for centuries has been known as Arabistan (even by Iranians themselves) because of the millions of Arabs who have lived and at times ruled there, remain suppressed and deprived of such aspirations? Not long ago, a neighboring Iraqi Arab Saddam fought a bloody war with Iran over this.
Why are the rights of Arabs to that additional state in Palestine more important than those in Arabistan?
Secondly, while on the same subject, why are the rights of millions of Kurds–who have lived in what is now Iran as long as Iranians themselves–any less than those who proclaim that Arab state # 22 must be created on the ashes of the Jews’ microscopic, resurrected one?
For months now, Iranian artillery has been indiscriminately shelling Kurdish civilians across the border in Iraq, supposedly because of a fear that Iranian Kurds, who wish for autonomy in Iran, are taking refuge there. Imagine if Israel was doing this in Gaza.
Indeed, Turks, Iranians, and Arabs have been collaborating with each other in ways to deal with their respective Kurdish “headaches.” All have constantly worked to deny over thirty million Kurds political rights in a nationalist age. Yet all are quick to demand Israel’s suicide to create that second Arab state in Palestine. Recall that half of Israel’s Jews were refugees from the “Arab”/Muslim world…many from Iran itself.
And, finally, Mr. President, what about Iran’s own dealings with Azeris, Baluchis, and all the others you have come to dominate in your own imperialist, pre-nationalist age but who now have aspirations of their own as well? These folks make up at least half of your own alleged nation. And, again, you’ve ruthlessly and routinely squashed their aspirations.
What makes Iranian national rights more valid than those of others seeking their own small share of justice and fair play in the modern age…especially since they have not been permitted this within your own domain?
Why “Palestine” but not Arabistan?
Or Kurdistan? Or Baluchistan?
Yet you demonize an Israel less than the size of America’s small state of New Jersey because it refuses to return to its suicidal, 1949 armistice line-imposed, nine-mile wide, rump state status.
In short, Mr. President, when will you and your country drop the hypocritical double standards which characterize your foreign and domestic policies?
President Bollinger, please propose to your guest that the day his own country grants independence to Arabistan or Kurdistan will be the day Iran gains the right to lecture and accuse Israel. Unlike the former, which had plans to even outlaw the Arab language over its own “Arab problem,” Israel made Arabic the second official language of its state.
And finally, President Bollinger, please ask Ahmadinejad this last summary question…
How can you, President Ahmadinejad, and Iran sit on your moral high horse while you butcher and suppress the rights of millions within your own borders?