By Joseph Harkins
The National Alliance for Syria is calling for the prestigious Ivy League institution to rescind the admission of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s media advisor, who they say gained favor with the New York City school after ABC network television commentator and co-host of the morning show, “The View,” swayed in.
“We are outraged with what is happening at Columbia University,” said Sarab al-Jijakli, a spokesman for the alliance. “Columbia andmust ensure that they right the wrong and not accept someone from the inner circle of the al-Assad regime in their university.”
Sheherazad “Sherry” Jaafari, 22, was admitted into Columbia, despite spending the past year advising Assad, who has overseen civilian massacres in the civil-war torn Middle East country.
The New York Post reports her living in an East 65th townhouse with her diplomat father, an ambassador to the United Nations, and later spotted her outside the building – the onetime home of former President Richard Nixon now owned by the Syrian government.
In e-mails leaked by Syrian opposition to The Telegraph in Britain, Jafaari wrote Walters: “I applied for Columbia and I hope to get accepted. If there is any way you think you can give my application a push I would really, really appreciate it. You did mention that you know a professor there.”
In turn, Walters allegedly assisted Jaafari — in the form of e-mails to Columbia Professor Richard Wald — a few weeks after the Syrian media advisor had arranged for the ABC news personality to get an exclusive December 2011 interview with Assad in Damascus.
“The suffering of the Syrian people has escalated even further after two gruesome massacres in the villages of Al-Houla and Al-Qubair that claimed the lives of more than 200 people, most of them women and children,” said Abdulla Ibraheem, a board member of the Syrian Expatriates Organization. “We consider granting Jaafari admission to Columbia University -- given her well-documented history as a personal advisor to Assad -- extremely troubling.”
A Jaafari family friend, Walters has since expressed “regret” in helping the woman get into Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs master’s program, which rejects four out of five applicants.
In the e-mails, Walters reportedly heaped praise on Jaafari, calling her “brilliant, beautiful” and addressing her as “dear girl.” Wald, an ethics lecturer and onetime chief at ABC News, promised he’d get admissions officials to give Jaafari special attention.
Yet, despite warnings from a Syrian student who was graduating in Columbia’s international program, specifically, about Jaafari’s credentials, the professor managed to deliver.
“In light of the ongoing bloody atrocities committed by the Assad regime against unarmed civilians in Syria, and given the fact that Sheherazad Jaafari is working as a direct aide and advisor to Bashar Al-Assad, the SEO urges Columbia University to adhere to general ethical principles and rescind admission to Jaafari, who has been aiding the leader of a dictatorial regime that has killed tens of thousands of Syrian civilians,” the group said, in a statement.