Gaddafi at Georgetown

Editor’s Note: Yesterday,  Libyan President Gaddafi gave  a speech at Georgetown University in Washington DC (via  Satellite ).   I know MediaShack readers would be very interested in what he had to say, so my good friend and loyal reader Andrew wrote up a nice little post.  Thanks man.  Take the floor:

ANDREW SPEAKING FROM HERE ON:

On Wednesday, January 21, 2009, the New York Times published an op-ed by Muammar al-Qaddafi on his one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The link is here:

The very same day, Qaddafi addressed an audience at Georgetown University via teleconference from Tripoli on the exact same topic. Titled “White Book Solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” the discussion was moderated by Professor Michael Hudson of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. The teleconference with Qaddafi would be followed by a speech made by the parents of two of the American college students aboard Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Introduced by Professor Hudson as the “Leader” of Libya, Qaddafi spent ten minutes at the beginning of his lecture correcting Dr. Hudson, informing him that he (Qaddafi) is not the leader of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Great Jamahiriya, but rather the Jamahiriya is a direct democracy in much the same fashion as Ancient Rome.

While the op-ed published by the Times is eloquent, the language he used with the Georgetown community was less flowery, and the talk was rambling and at times incoherent. Qaddafi was obviously uncomfortable addressing an audience of American citizens, even from far-away Tripoli. He spent the first couple of minutes adjusting his glasses as he spoke, and throughout the lecture he continued to adjust his hat and his robes, and he fidgeted while explaining his views, only making eye-contact with the camera a few times during his one-and-a-half hour speech.

Qaddafi’s solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a single, unified state where Palestinians of all religions (Muslims, Jews, Christians, Druze) live in harmony between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. As he argued in the op-ed article, he repeated his assertion that this physical area is too small to sustain two individual states. Formally dubbed “Isratine,” Qaddafi called this plan a “final solution,” the term also used by Adolf Hitler for the Holocaust. While the op-ed remains vague on his plan to create such a state, Qaddafi made clear in his teleconference that his final solution would involve “expelling” Jews from the Holy Land who originally came from Russia, Eastern Europe, Ethiopia, etc., who according to Qaddafi have no right being there in the first place. The Jews to which he refers in the op-ed, the ones who have a right to be included, he clarified in the speech as Jews of Palestinian origin, the ones who lived there through the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate. Thus, “Isratine” would have Palestinian homogeneity.

So, what to do with the millions of Jews of non-Palestinian origin who currently reside in Israel? Qaddafi suggests “transferring” those who remain committed to a Jewish state to realize their dream in frigid Alaska or remote Hawaii, effectively dumping the problem on the United States, Israel’s largest supporter.

However, Qaddafi made clear in the lecture that the United States was no friend of Jews. When he listed the governments who persecuted Jews throughout the centuries (the Egyptian pharaohs, Edward I of England, the Russian Tsars, and Adolf Hitler), he dropped the United States into that category at least twice. He then made it perfectly clear that the Jews and the Arabs are “cousins,” and that the Arabs are the only friends the Jews have in the world.

Following his speech, Qaddafi received questions screened in advance by Georgetown University faculty. When asked about the abduction of Mansour El-Kekhia, a former Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Qaddafi opponent, Qaddafi attributed El-Kekhia’s abduction in Egypt to the notorious rampant crime levels there.

In the token question about his hopes for the future with a new American administration, Qaddafi alluded to a similar distrust of President Obama that he harbored towards President Bush, but he paid lip service to Obama’s message of “hope,” saying that he hoped Obama would open up a dialogue with Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Qaddafi defended bin Laden’s past actions, saying that “there is no proof he was behind 9/11,” but called bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, a “thug” who should be prosecuted. However, Qaddafi was correct in pointing out an American misconception that only, in Qaddafi’s words, “beggars and drug addicts” are the sole targets for recruitment into terrorism, and that “intelligentsia” is also susceptible.

When asked about Libya’s role in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, Qaddafi, obviously chafed, immediately became angry and defensive, denying that Libya played any role in the bombing, adding that the financial compensation to the victims’ families was more than adequate for a bombing in which he had no part. He said that he would not engage in “grave-digging,” a thoughtfully-chosen euphemism for leaving the past alone that simultaneously insulted the families of the victims whose bodies were never recovered from the bombing. When asked a second time about the Lockerbie bombings, Qaddafi refused to answer, remarking only that to this day there is no proof of Libya’s involvement in the attack.

At the end of the conference, Dr. Hudson announced that the audience would hear from the victims’ families. Immediately, approximately 80 percent of the audience stood up and made their way to the door. As the tearful parents addressed what was left of the audience, Arab diplomats who were in attendance congregated at the rear of the auditorium and conversed loudly. One of the mothers of the victims made it clear that she would cut her remarks short due to the fact that few were paying attention to her. Dr. Hudson got up and coldly thanked the parents for their time, and he informed the audience that they had been invited at the last minute to make their case after they had protested the invitation extended to Qaddafi. The defiant statement released by Georgetown University President John G. DeGioia, defending the University’s action, can be read  here.  After all, the Georgetown Community wanted to hear the Brother Leader speak, and they twice thanked and twice applauded him at the end of the videoconference. They weren’t interested in listening to what the families of the Lockerbie bombing victims had to say.

3 Responses

  1. New York Times Letters to the Editor regarding Qaddafi’s op-ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/opinion/l23qaddafi.html

  2. Thanks for the report, Andrew. Just pointed an update to it after my own take on the op-ed. Still hard to figure what the Times was thinking.

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention something important: the teleconference at Georgetown was sponsored and paid for by ExxonMobil.

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