Jul

10

Sherry on the Rocks

Written by

Sherry

As debate continues over whether or not Sheherezade “Sherry” Jaafari,  former press aide to Bashar al-Assad, should have been granted admission to SIPA, some of our own weigh in.

David Fine, CC ’13, interviewed Columbia professors, students, and alumni in a piece published on Tablet. Interviewees include Elazar Barkan, the director of Columbia’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Richard Bulliet, a history professor and director emeritus of SIPA’s Middle East Institute,  and Jay Lefkowitz, Columbia alum and former United States’ special envoy for human rights in North Korea. There is little agreement amongst parties. A spokesperson for the Syrian Expatriates Organization, as well as SIPA’s sole Syrian member of the class of 2012 contribute to the discussion. While the piece draws no definite conclusion, Fine digests a diverse group of opinions and draws parallels between Jafaari and Rahmatullah Hashemi— a former Taliban spokesperson who attended Yale as a non-degree student.

Some excerpts:

SIPA’s lone Syrian member of the class of 2012, Haya Dwiedary, who declined comment to Tablet, told the Daily Beast that she was “disappointed” that the school admitted Assad’s aide. “I’ve been familiar with the kind of work she does for the government and the fact that she’s a supporter of the regime to this moment. And this is a regime that has killed more than 15,000 civilians.”

Other professors I spoke to said they would have admitted the young woman even with knowledge of her role in the regime. They made the case that SIPA could be a positive influence on the 22-year-old Jaafari, allowing her to receive Western-style civic education and hopefully take those lessons back to Syria. “I can’t see any moral issue at all,” said Richard Bulliet, a history professor and director emeritus of SIPA’s Middle East Institute. Bulliet, the professor who played a large role in bringing Ahmadinejad to campus, drew a bright line between key actors and young aides like Jaafari: “There’s a huge difference between a principal and a functionary. If a functionary objects to a policy he can’t really change it.”

So far, unlike at Yale, no great outcry has emerged from SIPA’s powerful alumni community, which supports the school with annual donations. Columbia alum Jay Lefkowitz, former United States’ special envoy for human rights in North Korea and a prominent supporter of the university, thinks that Jaafari’s admittance is not the most major issue facing SIPA. “Given that liberal universities should be devoted to educating students,” the former Bush Administration official said, “I would be concerned about imposing litmus tests based on ideology in the admissions process.”

Illustration via Tablet

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29 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    David Fine has always been more concerned with promoting his zionist agenda. not surprised he would write an article like this

  2. Anonymous

    Yeah! and he does a really good job hiding his ulterior motives.. The words israel and zionist do not appear in the article. Sneaky kid there, that david fine.

    But really, you're wrong. The political issue at the heart of the article--Assad's regime in Syria has very little to do with "zionism" and is, in its essence, a question about democracy, human rights, and revolution.

  3. Anonymous

    An individual with a wide-spread voice and misguided values wants to let us educate her and some people want us to say no?

    This is an opportunity to better the world, not one to let us express pettiness and vengeance.

  4. edit

    "Their is little agreement amongst parties." should be "Their is little agreemint amongst parties."

  5. 27yro engineering bro

    i'd bang her.

  6. Anonymous

    Isn't it better she studies here than Damascus? She is a public relations intern. Blaming her for Assad is like blaming some random Obama intern for his policies on healthcare.

  7. Anonymous

    I'm sorry, but when did it start becoming kosher to exclude people based on their political affiliations? This is 'merica, dammit. As far as I'm concerned, this isn't a debate, but a religiously motivated screed against someone who probably needs a healthy dose of Western values.

    *cough* Operation Paperclip. Google it.

    • Wernher von Braun

      "I Aim at the Stars (But Sometimes I Hit London)"

    • err

      no one here ever said it is "kosher to exclude people based on their political affiliations." genocide is not a political affiliation. it's a universally agreed-upon (i.e., about as close to objective as something can be; i.e., as apolitical as something can be) violation of human rights,.

      i don't think operation paperclip is actually that relevant here...

  8. great

    pun, bwog, but what uncouth person would put sherry over ice?

  9. Anonymous

    Way to retweet Fine's article, Bwog.

    Was it worth it?

  10. XXX

    my intern class is going bowling today. so get your mind outta the 'gutter': XXX was referring to my imminent turkey.

  11. Anon

    Wait so all i have to do to get my kid into columbia is have him commit genocide and oppress human rights? That sounds like a great idea!

  12. pondering man

    RT :"Yeah! and he does a really good job hiding his ulterior motives.. The words israel and zionist do not appear in the article. Sneaky kid there, that david fine.

    But really, you’re wrong. The political issue at the heart of the article–Assad’s regime in Syria has very little to do with “zionism” and is, in its essence, a question about democracy, human rights, and revolution."

    But then I ask, why is this article in a Jewish publication? It has nothing to do with Judaism either.

    • Anonymous

      exactly. pointing fingers at human rights atrocities elsewhere in an attempt to hide your own is what zionists do. david fine and his article is an excellent example of this

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