September 21, 2007 -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address a forum at Columbia University on Monday; school President Lee Bollinger promises to ask tough questions. - News item
BOLLINGER: Mr. President, you say the Holocaust didn't happen. That's very hurtful. Don't you know that hurts people's feelings?
Ahmadinejad: The truth hurts, Bollinger. I hosted a conference at which it was conclusively demonstrated that 6 million Jews actually escaped Nazi Germany by journeying over the Alps into Switzerland, singing "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
B: That was the Von Trapp family in "The Sound of Music"! And that was Austria, not Germany! And the Von Trapps weren't even Jewish!
A: For someone who claims the Holocaust happened, you seem to know a great deal about the escape plans, Bollinger.
B: Oooh! You make me so mad I might actually venture an opinion about something!
A: This is my narrative, Bollinger. You have your narrative. Everyone has a narrative. What is truth to me might not be truth to you. Haven't you read your Derrida? The Ayatollah brought us back a copy from his exile in Paris.
B: And what about saying you are going to wipe Israel off the map?
A: What about it?
B: Well . . . that's not very nice, is it?
A: Actually, I was once very pro-Israel.
B: You were?
A: Yes, I was. Until I read the works of a Columbia professor named Edward Said.
B: Really, that is absolutely . . .
A: It was reading Said that convinced me Israel was an apartheid nation guilty of monstrous crimes and, therefore, that it should cease to exist. Well, now I am in a position to give aid to that cause. What kind of person would I be if I failed to heed the guidance provided by a respected Columbia professor?
B: Now wait a . . .
A: He was very august, wasn't he, Edward Said? I mean, you even have a professorship named after Edward Said here at Columbia. Oh, who's that I see in the front row? It's the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies here at Columbia, Mr. Rashid Khalidi!
Khalidi: Not now, Mahmoud. I'll Skype you later.
B: I can understand your anger at Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, Mr. President, but surely 5 million Israelis shouldn't be wiped off the map.
A: Why not? After all, at your sister school, Barnard College, you are in the process of granting tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj, who has written a book that proves there was no ancient Jewish kingdom in Israel. Her work has had a great deal of influence on me. After all, if there is no Jewish claim on the land dating back to the time before Christ, there really is no reason for Israel to be where it is, right, Bollinger?
B: I have no say over Barnard tenure decisions, Mr. President, but I must say that there are some questions about the quality of her scholarship because she does not take account of the archaeological evidence.
A: That is uncalled for. Ms. El-Haj says in her own book that she rejects your "positivist commitment to scientific method," Bollinger. She has a narrative. A narrative, Bollinger! So shut your pie hole.
B: Now about your state support of terrorism . . .
A: What is terrorism, Bollinger? I take my wisdom from another newly tenured professor here at Columbia, Mr. Joseph Massad. You remember him. He's the one who Jewish students claimed had intimidated them in his classes.
B: That was never conclusively . . .
A: Right here on this campus, he called Israel a "racist state" and then said: "Every racist state should be destroyed." I don't know why you are upset with me, Bollinger - I'm learning so much from people who are paid by your institution!
B: Wait, let me check my list of very tough questions for a second . . .
A: Sorry, our time is up, Bollinger. You promised to give me a lift to Ground Zero.
B: I did no such . . .
A: Just kidding!