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Sherry on the Rocks

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

  • Anonymous says:

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

    1. David Fine says:

      @David Fine Oh no, you’ve discovered my deepest, darkest secret…I admit it…I’m a Zionist. Who would’ve *cough* http://bit.ly/L8MK1Z *cough* guessed?

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous How full of yourself do you have to be to use an analytics link to your own stuff in a Bwog comment? Fuck your 11 clicks.

        1. very says:

          @very full

    2. not david fine says:

      @not david fine also, what does assad’s human rights violations have to do with zionism.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous its sorta like if an indian wrote an article about human rights abuses in pakistan or a cuban wrote about injustices in the united states. its a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black

    3. Barnard 2015 says:

      @Barnard 2015 he is actually more concerned about promoting himself than anything else.

  • Anonymous says:

    @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.

  • Anonymous says:

    @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.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I think the controversy here is that her admission was based heavily on her role in Syrian regime (and subsequent notoriety) and not her personal qualifications.

      Columbia obviously cannot admit every person with misguided values who want an education- that’s what makes it a selective university.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous And I mean the Barbara Walters recommendation letter. Bwog, edit button perhaps?

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous wth are ‘personal qualifications’?

      3. OP says:

        @OP Becoming personal aide to the leader of a country? I think that makes her more qualified than me, the president of the chess club with good grades and SAT scores.

  • edit says:

    @edit “Their is little agreement amongst parties.” should be “Their is little agreemint amongst parties.”

    1. i'm too dumb says:

      @i'm too dumb … to get this joke; please explain.

  • 27yro engineering bro says:

    @27yro engineering bro i’d bang her.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous me too bro. me too.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous I would totally tap that assad LOL

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Dat ass cus

  • Anonymous says:

    @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.

  • Anonymous says:

    @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.

    1. Wernher von Braun says:

      @Wernher von Braun “I Aim at the Stars (But Sometimes I Hit London)”

    2. err says:

      @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…

  • great says:

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

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Way to retweet Fine’s article, Bwog.

    Was it worth it?

  • XXX says:

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

  • Anon says:

    @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!

  • pondering man says:

    @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.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @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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