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Archive for August 24th, 2008

Windows on Iran 28

Jewish School in Shiraz, Iran (photo courtesy of www.iranian.com). Read below to learn about the strong and proud Iranian Jewish community.

A Jewish School in Shiraz, Iran. Please read below to learn about the strong and proud Iranian Jewish community. (photo courtesy of http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

Welcome to another Window on Iran. I am delighted to report that I
have just welcomed our first subscriber from Italy! Is this cool or
what? Thank you all for doing such a super job of promoting these
windows globally. Now practically anywhere I do public speaking, a
number of people in the audience are familiar with these windows. I am
also grateful to you all for forwarding to me the interesting stuff
you like to share with others.

On to our Window number 28!

Current Issues:
* I start this week’s current issues with an amazing piece of evidence
that came to light on April 29:

Barely a week has been passed since our speaker Professor
Ghamari-Tabrizi made his excellent presentation “A Manufactured
Crisis: Facts, Fiction, and the Politics of a Nuclear Iran” at
Washington University. Professor Ghamari spoke to a surprised audience
about numerous steps taken by Iran over the past few years to reduce
tension with the U.S. and to end the crisis. These steps were ignored
by the current U.S. administration. An op-ed piece in yesterday’s NY
Times by Nicholas Kristof reveals exactly that: a secret proposal that
the Iranian government sent to the current American administration in
the hope of making peace. Mr. Kristof, who still uses a demeaning
language to speak of Iranians, admits nevertheless that “The officials
from the repressive, duplicitous government of Iran pursued peace more
energetically and diplomatically than senior Bush administration
officials.” The Iranian proposal offered “full transparency”
concerning the Iranian nuclear technology, “active support for Iraqi
stabilization,” and “pressuring Hamas to stop violent actions against
civilians inside Israel” among other things. Obviously, Iran wanted
something in return. These demands described by Mr. Kristof as ‘a lot’
included “mutual respect,” abolition of sanctions, access to peaceful
nuclear technology and a U.S. statement that Iran did not belong in
the “axis of evil.” Sadly, the Iranian diplomats, (obviously
moderates) who had worked hard to make this proposal possible, were
ignored by the American administration and the opportunity that Mr.
Kristof calls “a real hope for peace” was lost. Here is the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/ontheground

More to the point is that another window of opportunity for engaging
Iran in a positive way seems to be around the corner provided we sing
songs different from the one proposed by Senator MacCain.

Suggested Reading:
* If it is hard for you to accept that Iran may have a diverse political
landscape in which there are moderates who oppose the view points of
the extremists and work hard to move Iran in the direction of positive
change, take a look at this excellent recently published book on the
subject: Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty by
Professors Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr (Oxford University Press,
2006).

* You have heard me complain about the misinformation on Iran. Starting
last summer, the popular media allowed incredibly slanted reporting.
There were times that I felt I was reading about another country not
the one I had just visited. At first, I searched for critical
responses and discussions that would subject such slanted reporting to
scrutiny. Little by little, I lost hope. Finally, I felt so concerned
about the intensity of the misinformation that I decided to start
these windows. Last week, a journalist gave me new respect for our
media. In a special edition of his journal “Buying the War: How did
the Mainstream Press get it so Wrong?” Mr. Bill Moyers asked why the
press did not scrutinize the ‘information’ that led to the war in
Iraq. I pray from the bottom of my heart that we scrutinize the
information given to us which suggests that Iran is a threat to the
world, before it is too late. Please watch this program and compare
the rhetoric to the one used against Iran:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html

Time to Laugh!

* Let’s get a bit light-hearted with all this political talk. Some
members of CodePink have had a little fun with Senator MacCain’s idea
of using a Beach Boy song to “joke” about bombing a country:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTEBjPCNBbc

Abadan, Iran.

Abadan, Iran.

* While we are on fun themes, Americans who lived in Iran in the 60s and 70s think about Iran nostalgically. Joy Martin, a subscriber to these windows, has sent me this beautiful photo-essay of the city of Abadan by Paul Scheroeder. Thank you Joy!
http://www.iranian.com/Abadan/2007/April/1958/index.html

Science

* Apparently, last year the American Chemical Society suddenly decided to expel its Iranian scientist members (no explanation given). The ACS simply decided not to renew the membership of its Iranian scientist members starting January 2007 without disclosing it to the public. Members heard of this decision when it was reported in the March issue of the Science Magazine. A number of prominent Iranian American scientist have written an open letter to the ACS trying to reverse this decision which they consider to be politically motivated, unfair, and damaging to Iranian scientists:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/apr/1351.html

Social

Iranian Jews in a synagogue in Tehran (photo courtesy of AP, Hasan Sarbakhshian).

Iranian Jews in a synagogue in Tehran (photo courtesy of AP, Hasan Sarbakhshian).

* There is a recent story in the Christian Science Monitor about Iranian
Jewry. No one should pretend that Iranian society would not benefit
from social reform. Neither do minorities in any society enjoy
identical privileges as the main stream. But Iranian Jews are proud
people. They feel offended by being portrayed as victims, or a
minority whose way of life is disrespected in present day Iran. What
affects them most is the political tension between the Iranian and
Israeli governments. But as you read in the interview, they focus
mostly on positive aspects of their peaceful coexistence with Muslims
and the fact that they are Iranian. Currently there are about 100
functioning synagogues in Iran. I’d like to thank Behrooz Ghamari for
sending me the link to share with you:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0427/p01s03-wome.html
Visual Delight

A beautiful painting by Iranian artist Sholeh Reshad (click the link below for more).

A beautiful painting by Iranian artist Sholeh Reshad (click on the link below for more of her work).

We have to end in our time honored tradition of visiting a painting
gallery. By now, I have sent you slide shows of the paintings of close
to 20 contemporary Iranian women painters, their ages ranging from 20
to 50, and their works technically impressive, artistically
imaginative and colorful (thematically as well as visually). Here is
one to add to the collection: Sholeh Reshad, a 52 year old painter
with long experience and a style of her own. I hope these artistic
works show something of the sophistication of contemporary Iranian
women and the fact that they are not passive fantasy objects locked up
in harems. Click here: Sholeh Reshad Art. Enjoy.

Till Window 29, have a great week!

Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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A beautiful painting by the Iranian painting Farah Notash (see the end of this post for more of her work).

A beautiful painting by the Iranian painter Farah Notash (see the end of this post for more of her work).

Dear All,

I hope you are well. As we prepare to wrap up the semester here at Washington University in St. Louis, lots of exciting things are still happening. I will here mention two events specifically related to Iran.

Last week, Washington University Coalition for Peace organized a panel discussion that brought close to fifty students together in the dorm area. The title of the panel was Out of Iraq, Hands off Iran. Professor Howard Brick of the History Department, Mr. Bill Ramsey of Human Right’s Watch, and I spoke. More importantly, a long and meaningful discussion ensued that looked at our options with regard to the reality in Iraq and ways of bringing the suffering to an end. If you are a part of Washington University community, you have likely seen the flyer for the second event. Professor Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, a dynamic and dedicated historian of the Middle East with special interest in transnational and global aspects of history, will talk on our campus tomorrow. The topic of his talk: A Manufactured Crisis: Facts and Fiction, and the Politics of a Nuclear Iran. Do stop by at Ridgley, 219 at 3:00 to hear often neglected facts about this much debated conflict.

Current Issues

* If you are concerned about the “Islamic threat,” and particularly the
horrible things that Iranians are capable of doing to the world, here
is another sobering and neglected study that shows the reality may be
very different. This study, which would have made it to the headlines
if its result pointed a finger at Iran or the Muslim Middle East, was
carried out by the European Police Office (Europol) as its first major
report on terrorism in EU. According to the study, there were 498
incidents in eleven EU countries last year described as “terrorist
attacks.”  The Basque separatist group ETA carried out 136 terrorist
attacks one of which was deadly killing two in Madrid. The remaining
497 fortunately cost no human lives. How about the Islamic terrorists
then? According to Europol report, Islamists carried out ONE out of
the 498 terrorist attacks in the European Union in 2006. If you wish
to read the rest of this report or visit the Europol web site, click
on http://www.counterpunch.com/larsson04212007.html. My thanks to
Ahmet Karamustafa and Frank Flinn who both sent me this article.

* For some, like Professor John Lewis, facts seem to have little to do
with reality. Professor Lewis will deliver a talk titled “No
Substitute for Victory” at George Mason University, on Tuesday April
24, advocating a US attack on Iran.  For event details see
www.theobjectivestandard.com/events.asp.  He has suggested connections
between Iran and the 9/11 tragedy and advocated a nuclear attack on
Iran using Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a model. Such an attack would be
a genocide. Please speak up.  If you are in the vicinity, or have
friends who live in the vicinity, please attend and support our
friends at CASMII ( the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military
Intervention in Iran) next Tuesday at GMU as they leaflet at the event
and raise questions about Mr. Lewis’s “facts.” Location: The Johnson
Center Cinema is located at 4400 University Drive, a short distance
from Ox Road (Route 123), which also intersects Braddock Road nearby.

* Mr. Lewis does not seem to be the only one taking genocide lightly.
This week, Senator McCain, who many, regardless of their political
leanings, might have viewed as a mature and thoughtful politician,
found bombing Iran funny. Noticing the effect of his joke, however,
the Senator may not be laughing anymore:
http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com/blog/electioncentral/2007/apr/20/new_ad_slams_mccain_for_bomb_iran_song

Relief from Current Events

Cyrus the Greats Palace at Pasargadae.

Cyrus the Great's Palace at Pasargadae.

* This window has been heavily focussed on current events. Let us close with some fun cultural and artistic issues. To begin with, here is a historical breakthrough. New traces appear to have been found of Cyrus the Great! Here is an article on that courtesy of my friend Pamela Barmash. Thanks Pamela:
http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=7079
* Iranian women are the heart beat of modern Iran. With their writing, teaching, art work, activism and more, they are major contributors to
reform inside the country and ambassadors of peace to the world.
Tonight, I send you the beautiful images of a recent exhibition by a
wonderful Iranian woman painter Farah Notash who currently works and
teaches in Iran and has exhibited her art work in many parts of the
world. Notash works with many different media articulating her views
on a wide range of subjects from gender, and nature, to heavenly
banquets. Click here for a show of her art: Farah Notash Art Show.

Another beautiful painting by Farah Notash (click the link above for more of her work).

Another beautiful painting by Farah Notash (click the link above for more of her work).

Have a great week.
Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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