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The Smelly Comment Heard Round The World (with Video)

Ram Emanuel reportedly once said that one should not let a serious crisis go to waste.

So when a student at Harvard Law School said that Israeli MK and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was “smelly” it was not only embarrassing to the school and the panel’s sponsors, but it was an extremely serious crisis that could be used to crush him and make a point.

First some background: A week ago, on Thursday, April 14, the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation hosted Tzipi Livni and U.S. Ambassador and author Dennis Ross in order to discuss the real world difficulties in negotiating peace between various parties (see video below). At the end of the moderated presentation there was time for questions. A 3L who heads the Justice of Palestine club, Husam El-Coolaq, said, “My question is for Tzipi Livni — how is it that you are so smelly?” The panel did not understand the question, and he added, “It’s regarding your odor — about the odor of Tzipi Livni, very smelly.”

El Coolaq perhaps likes the role of provocateur.

Earlier this year, his student club used funds to buy $500 in pizza for a panel on Palestine, free speech and Steven Salaita. When this led to law firm Milbank Tweed pulling $250,000 from student club support, he joked that it was all about the pizza.

Four days later, on Monday, April 18, the leader of the Jewish Law Students Association at Harvard Law School, Jeremy Salinger and Jacqueline Wolpoe, along with the former club president Jonathan Gartner, wrote that his comments and ad hominem attack were “blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric.” Later, the Dean of the law school, Martha Minow, condemned the incident in an email to the school. So did Sahand Moarefy, the president of Harvard’s Middle East Law Students Association.

Yesterday, the student in question published an apology. But as a 3L should know, it was a false apology. He apologized for not knowing his statement is anti-Seminitic. But never apologized for being an asshole. See it HERE.

Will MK Livni wither after his comments. Of course not. And the world will not end. Will the Harvard brand be tarnished and HLS grad not get job offers? No. Would Saul Alinsky be proud of the student’s methods? No. Even he would say that the tactic was stupid and mostly reflected poorly on him. The only winner is the JLSA, who knew how to make lemonade out of lemons.

Here is the video of the panel with the smelly question redacted

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