Dinner for Iran’s President at Columbia University Cancelled after Threat of Lawsuit


New York, 26 Sept 2011: A dinner invitation by a group of students for the controversial president of the Islamic Republic, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was cancelled after an Israeli law firm threatened law suits against the university and its officials.

Ahmadinejad is in New York for the 66. General Assembly of the United Nations, were during the general debate on Thursday he called the Holocaust a myth and an excuse to fund the “Zionists”. The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in his eyes are “mysterious”, and he blamed the West and the U.S. for world wars, mass murder and the global financial crisis.

The U.S. and EU delegations, as well as representatives of several other countries left the assembly in protest against Ahmadinejad’s verbal attacks.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who spoke immediately after the Iranian president, called for a more hard-line approach in dealing with dictators. Ahmadinejad won his second term in office only after massive protests and repeated allegations of election fraud.

During his stay in the U.S., the Iranian president was invited to attend a banquet organized by the Columbia International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA), one of the largest undergraduate organizations of the prestigious university.

To deny Ahamadinejad another high-caliber forum after his speech at Columbia in 2007, the Israeli law organization Israel Law Center sent a letter to University President Lee Bollinger, telling him that “a banquet for Ahmadinejad runs afoul of U.S. anti-terror laws and will subject the university and its officials to both criminal prosecution and civil liability to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism in Israel or elsewhere. ”

The letter also reminded Mr. Bollinger that Iran sponsors such terrorist groups as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad and accused the Iranian president for directing terrorist activities all over the world.

As a reaction the Columbia University changed its mind and cancelled the banquet, saying the initiative came from a “private student group”.

The Israel Law Center operates world-wide, threatening and taking legal action against individuals and organizations that are suspected to support terrorists. The firm’s motto  is “Bankrupting Terrorism – One Lawsuit at a Time.”

(Sources: UN, Israel Law Center, Süddeutsche Zeitung; 26 Sept 2011)

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About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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