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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Khatemi at Harvard

As many of you have undoubtedly heard already, Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, whose former dean, Stephen Walt, co-wrote an unsupported paper that claimed that Israel controls US foreign policy, has invited Mohammad Khatami to speak at their illustrious school. But have you heard the topic and the date yet? The topic is "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence." And the date? 4:00 PM on September 10, 2006, which is the day before the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Sure glad I'm getting out of this town before then....

The New York Sun has a biting commentary on the occasion, which juxtaposes Khatami's words with Walt's:

The title insults the intelligence of all those who would attend. What in the world is a man who presided over the July 9, 1999, crackdown on Tehran University, where hundreds of students were arrested and tortured, doing speaking about "tolerance" at a university?

What a disgusting way for Harvard to mark the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of a war that has claimed thousands of American lives and is still in full tilt. Not that Mr. Khatemi won't feel right at home at the Kennedy School. A professor there who had served as its academic dean, Stephen Walt, co-wrote a paper earlier this year that sounds pretty much like what Mr. Khatemi says. Here's a side-by-side comparison:

• Mr. Khatemi told CNN in January 1998, "The impression of the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain foreign policy decisions of the United States are in fact made in Tel Aviv, and not in Washington." Mr. Walt wrote, "The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress."

• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "I regret to say that the improper American policy of unbridled support for the aggression of a racist, terrorist regime does not serve the United States interest, nor does it even serve those of the Jewish people." Mr. Walt wrote, "This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained U.S. backing. But neither rationale is convincing."

• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "Israeli intransigence and the course of the current peace process and its failure to honor its own undertakings has enraged even the United States' allies in the region." Mr. Walt wrote of "the obvious need to rebuild America's image in the Arab and Islamic world."

• Mr. Khatemi has spoken of "the criminal Zionist regime." Mr. Walt said: "the creation of Israel entailed a moral crime against the Palestinian people," and earlier this week, Mr. Walt appeared at the National Press Club in Washington at a forum sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and cited Human Rights Watch's reports accusing Israel of war crimes in Lebanon. Mr. Walt also cited a review praising his paper that appeared in Foreign Affairs, a journal edited by the vice chairman of Human Rights Watch, James F. Hoge Jr.

• In April 2001, the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mr. Khatemi as saying, "As a parasite, Zionism is founded on the fallacious concepts of superiority and the transgression of human rights." Mr. Walt wrote, "Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship."

• Mr. Khatemi, in Japan last week, said the West had nothing to fear from Iran's nuclear program. "We are seeking a peaceful kind of use of nuclear technology," Mr. Khatemi said, according to AFP. Mr. Walt has also written, "Iran's nuclear ambitions do not pose an existential threat to the United States. If Washington could live with a nuclear Soviet Union, a nuclear China, or even a nuclear North Korea, then it can live with a nuclear Iran."
Read the whole thing.


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