Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Yesterday I supported Israeli Ambassador Ayalon's decision to shun the Columbia conference on the mideast peace process. Having read this Jerusalem Post article, however, I'd like to retract that statement, and change positions on this one. I was unaware of the other participants and think that while there are definitely glaring problems in Columbia these days, given the other distinguished members of the debate (Egyptian ambassador to the US, Israeli historian Tom Segev, former Israeli consul general in NY Alon Pinkas, the infamous Rashid Khalidi, and Columbia prez Lee Bollinger, among others), this might have provided a perfect forum for a constructive and healthy discussion of the issues; an opportunity to dispell some of the myths and lies that may have been (and probably are still) floating around the gorgeous campus located in Manhattan's Morningside Heights.
Further, I find the argument of current NY Israeli consul general, Aryeh Mekel (a Columbia graduate, himself), uncompelling and rather weak:
"There are two opinions on this. One tells us that it would not be right to pull out. Others tell us that it would not be good to hold such an event with Israeli participation so long as the panel did not present its case. I believe that this time we have to wait for the panel. This is why Ambassador Ayalon postponed—not postponed, but canceled—his participation."
Why not present the official case of the State of Israel in person in front of Khalidi and Bollinger? Why wait for a panel whose report or findings are almost definitely predictable as of today given the fact that some of the members actually signed an Israeli disinvestment petition in Columbia?


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