National Review Online: Columbia Letter And Eljahmi's Reply
Columbia hosted the first major delegation of scholars and policy analysts
from Libya in 25 years at an academic conference exploring the prospects for
democracy, March 22 and 23.
Prompted by the thaw in U.S.-Libyan relations under the administration of
George W. Bush, the two-day program was designed to reintroduce Libya’s
academic community to the United States.
The conference featured more than 50 university professors, researchers, and
analysts, including a number of younger social scientists from Libya who
never before had an opportunity to engage with their American counterparts.
There wass no funding by the Libyan government. Travel expenses from Libya
and a videoconference call from Libya by Muammar al-Qaddafi was supported by
the cosponsors. The conference was co-sponsored by Columbia University’s
School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), the Center for Strategic
and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Tripoli’s Green Book Center,
and al-Fatah University.
Sincerely, Mariellen Gallagher
Deputy Director, Public Affairs
New York, N.Y.
Mohamed Eljahmi replies: Mariellen Gallagher’s letter is disingenuous when
she claims that Columbia University did not receive Libyan funding for its
recent conference. She acknowledges co-sponsors contributed to the
conference. Among the co-sponsors were Libya’s Green Book Center and
al-Fatah University. Both are government entities. Nongovernmental
organizations cannot operate in Libya. Civil society is nonexistent.
Columbia can try to obfuscate the issue, but the fact remains that it
allowed the Libyan government to launder its image without divergent or
critical points of view to interfere.