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Former Assad Aide Chillin’ in the Village

After Columbia controversy, Sheherazad Jaafari is at The New School

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Sheherazad Jaafari.(Splash)

Communiqué, the predictably named newspaper for Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, has an update this week to the story of Sheherazad Jaafari. A former aide to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, Jaafari was admitted to Columbia last spring with the help of luminaries like Barbara Walters.

David Fine, a Columbia senior, friend of Tablet, and lapsed Dallas Cowboys fan, wrote about the controversy for Tablet over the summer:

Emails leaked last month revealed that Barbara Walters had helped Jaafari, Assad’s former aide and daughter of Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, gain admittance into Columbia’s graduate School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), a kind of finishing school for future diplomats. But the controversy at Columbia isn’t about what strings Jaafari pulled. It’s about the fact that she worked closely with the Syrian president for over a year to help him reach out to and spin foreign press as his regime murdered over 15,000 of its own people and tortured countless others.

News of Jaafari’s admittance shocked various Syrian expatriates, many of whom have been working to raise awareness of Assad’s atrocities in the United States. A petition calling for “Columbia University to adhere to general ethical principles and rescind admission to Jaafari,” has been signed by over 1,800 people. The Syrian Expatriates Organization, a group made up mostly of academics and engineers, released a statement demanding that Columbia revoke Jaafari’s admittance right after news of her acceptance broke. “We feel like accepting an adviser to Assad into a prestigious American university is like accepting a kind of partner to a killer,” Sawsan Jabri, a spokesperson for the expatriate organization, told me. (Columbia hasn’t responded to the organization, according to Jabri.)

As it turns out, Columbia did not rescind Jaafari’s admission, but she chose not to go. According to Communiqué, Jaafari is now enrolled downtown at The New School, where she seems to enjoy the college life in Greenwich Village.

A university spokesman, Sam Biederman, declined to comment on her enrollment, citing privacy, but said that The New School evaluates candidates on the basis of their merits.

After a recent class on a Monday evening for her Graduate Program in International Affairs, some of Jaafari’s classmates at The New School said they had no knowledge of complaints about her admission.

One student, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid her resentment, said that many classmates did not know she had worked for the Syrian government, but a rumor about her identity had been circulating since orientation week last September.

“There is more gossip than real opposition to her enrollment,” added this student.

There you have it. The New School evaluates candidates on the basis of their merits. Being press aide to Assad must have taught her a lot.

Related: Assad Aide Joins Ivy League [Tablet]
Sheherazad Jaafari No Problem for the New School

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Are we sure she was just his “aide?”

permission granted to be my aide, 24/7 :P

herbcaen says:

Bashir Assad may soon be a professor at Columbia. Ahmadienjad is the most popular professor at Columbia. Between Hamid Dabashi, Nadia El haj, Ahmadinejad, and soon Bashir AAssad, Columbia is becoming quite a circus

    Though I’m hesitant to engage, as Tablet’s local “Columbia senior,” I must clarify that Ahmadinejad is not a professor at Columbia and that the prospect of him or Assad ever becoming one is microscopically close to zero. Thanks for the interest, though!

      herbcaen says:

      When Columbia’s Jews applause Ahmadinejad enthusiastically at his talks, he is functionally a Columbia prof. Ahmadinejad would certainly be loved by famed Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler, and would fit in well with the late Edward Said.

    Saint_Etienne says:

    Dunno about the others, but Hamid Dabashi appears to be a piece of work in himself:

    That’s a ridiculous statement. Yes, Ahmadinejad did speak at Columbia. At the same event, his ideas, policies, and rhetoric were harshly criticized to his face by University President, Lee Bollinger. This criticism was not only in front of an audience of Columbia students and professors but widely streamed to the internet.

      herbcaen says:

      Boilerplate criticism of Ahmadinejad does not obscure the fact that by inviting him to speak at Columbia, Ahmadinejad has the imprimature of Columbia U. Both Ahmadinejad and Columbia benefitted from this episode, while truth and the USA were the losers

      Frank Edelstein says:

      Thats because many of the academics at the US ‘s top universities like Columbia have as much credibility as the results on Wall Street and the US economy and foreign affairs.

j75010 says:

Was she the one who helped Joan Juliet Buck write the Vogue profile?

She could pass for a pretty and sexy actress. Sheherazad Jaafari looks sweet and would be more appreciated in Hollywood than fanning the ego of Assad the Hitler of Syria.

who cares ,,,,, aide is aide….she does what she can to keep her job….lol

She can aide me anytime.

Frank Edelstein says:

So what? did the British not kill their own people in Northern Ireland for wanting independence from Protestant rule? did Pincochette with our backing not kill over 40,000 wanting him to go? What is with this bit of ‘spin’ that Bashir Assad is killing his own people? These are murderers we trained with Israel to bring down a regime who will not bow to us? I hope he wipes out a lot more and that we can finally have a tribunal that will try Henry Kissinger for Viet Nam and other horror stories, Bush, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Feith and others for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Do I hear 2000 years of persecution in the background somewhere?


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Former Assad Aide Chillin’ in the Village

After Columbia controversy, Sheherazad Jaafari is at The New School

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