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Archive for September 12th, 2008

A screen shot from the most popular Iranian soap opera, which,  Holocaust Zero Degree Turn.

A screen shot from the most popular Iranian soap opera, entitled "Zero Degree Turn," which centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman. Please see below for more on this show.

Dear All,

I hope you are all well. Here in St. Louis we are enjoying the slight cooling down of September while Washington University is now in full motion with the fall semester. New students, some new colleagues, lots of activity…it is all wonderful. I am off for a short trip to London to convene a conference/celebration of the 800th birthday of the great medieval poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi. You can read about the conference at http://www.iranheritage.org/rumiconference/programme.htm. The conference will bring together quite a few world scholars of Rumi.

Let us open window number 39 on Iran before I leave for London.

The Iranian TV Hit about the Holocaust

The Wall Street Journal (September 7) has a piece about a TV series it
describes as Iran’s Unlikely TV Hit and adds “the most surprising
thing about the wildly popular show is that it is a heart-wrenching
tale of European Jews during World War II.”  The truth is what is
surprising is not the Iranian series but the Wall Street coverage of
it. The presentation of Iranian society as being in denial of the
Holocaust is so bad that I was going to search bookstores on my next
trip to Iran to see what I can find on the subject. Last week, a
friend returning from Iran brought me four randomly picked magazines.
Two of them had clear (in one case extensive) articles in condemnation
of the Holocaust. Now, let’s get back to the TV series:
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The hour-long drama, “Zero Degree Turn,” centers on a love story
between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman.
Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi
detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for
the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian
Jews to their homeland.

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Shot on location in Paris and Budapest, the show stars Iranian
heartthrob Shahab Husseini and is so popular that its theme song — an
ode to getting lost in love — is a hit, too.

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Despite its positive subject, theWSJ article about Iranian TV show, is
still plagued with a negative language. It calls the series “unlikely”
and “most surprising” and describes other Iranian TV series as a “fare
of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men.” As a person who tries to
follow Iranian popular media, I can tell you that these statements are
exaggerations at best. Nevertheless, in these days of demonizing Iran,
the Wall Street Journal must be commended for allowing a positive and
heart-warming piece of information to come to light about present day
Iran: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118912609718220156.html?mod=loomia&loomia_si=1 (also, click on the video below to see the first episode!).
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Jewish Wedding in Tehran

All right, I dedicate this window to the Jews of Iran with this short and beautiful slide show of the wedding of Sanaz and Payman, two young Iranian Jews who got married three weeks ago in a beautiful synagogue in Tehran. Please click here: Jewish Wedding in Tehran.

Jewish wedding in Tehran (click the link on the right for more pictures from their wedding).

Jewish wedding in a Tehran synagogue (click the link above for more pictures from Sanaz and Payman's wedding).

Iran Depicted as a Sewer

* On September 4, the Columbus Dispatch carried a cartoon that depicted the entire map of Iran as a sewer with cockroaches running out of it and infesting  neighboring countries (see the cartoon I only reluctantly insert below): http://www.payvand.com/news/07/sep/Racist-Iran-cartoon-Columbus-Dispatch.jpg.  I wrote to the editor, asked if he realized the implications of turning 70 million people into cockroaches, and indicated that I was amazed – indeed speechless – that this kind of Nazi style dehumanization propaganda could be carried out by a respectable paper. The editor wrote back – referred to Mr. Ahmadinejads anti-Semitism – and suggested that the intention was only to caricature the extremists! Since he sounded very nice, I mailed him the beautiful wedding pictures of the newly wed Jewish couple Sanaz and Payman in case the paper would like to show Americans a dimension of Iran that most Americans do not see. I have not heard back yet.

Racist and dehumanizing Columbus dispatch cartoon depicting Irans as cockroaches.

Racist and dehumanizing Columbus dispatch cartoon depicting Iranians as cockroaches.

* National Iranian American Council (NIAC) protested the Columbus
Dispatch editorial page cartoon. Board member Dokhi Fassihian wrote to
the Columbus Dispatch editor: http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=880&Itemid=2

* The protest did not come only from the Iranian Americans. Many other
Americans have been horrified by the dehumanizing message of the
cartoon. Teach Peace did a special information sheet on it which you
can easily forward to others to prevent this kind of preparing the
public for a new war. (Thank you David Dionisi for sharing this):
http://www.teachpeace.com/WarPropaganda.pdf

US Sees Potential Merit To Iran Cooperation Plan

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/iran_nuclear_usa_dc;_ylt=AnkDEkaB3_.W2O0BsNtPT1FSw60A
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Visual Delight

Mahtab Abdullahi (or, Mahtab Abdollahi).

Mahtab Abdullahi (or, Mahtab Abdollahi).

Now, to replace dry political discussion with a bit of fun and introduce a healing note, I would like to invite you to meet a very young Iranian painter: Mahtab Abdullahi who seems to enjoy playing with orange and blue in particular. Please click here: Mahtab Abdullahi Painting Show.

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 garden of modern Tehran. Please click on the link below to see many other terrific photos from Iran.

A beautiful garden of modern Tehran. Please click on the link below to see many other terrific photos from Iran.

Dear All,

I hope you have had a nice long weekend. I managed to salvage a few hours of the weekend to put together a new window on Iran for you. Let us get to Window 38 without further ado.

Musical Opening

Due to constant threat of a pending military strike on Iran, the Iranian American community is in deep stress. No one knows what is going to happen if the most powerful military force on the face of the earth really decides to strike. The example of Iraq is not reassuring. Lots of poems and songs about Iran and what it means to the Iranian American community get circulated everyday. Here is a one minute and twenty second slide show. Its name tells all “Iran: the Eternal Land of the Persians.” The melody in the background is asong called “Elahe-ye naz,” a big hit in the 60s and 70s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ0zx8XTEN8 (circulated by Daniel Pourkesali)

Haleh Esfandiari Leaves Iran

Here is a piece of important – and good – news which ought to help
cooling things down. However, I have not seen it in our popular media
yet. Iranian newspapers report that Haleh Esfandiari, who had been
freed from jail, has left the country last night. Great to know that
she will be reunited with her family soon.

The U.S. Official Reaction to Iran/IAEA Agreement

Last week, the International atomic energy agency ( IAEA) and Iran
reached an agreement about answering some crucial questions concerning
the Iranian nuclear program. The IAEA called it a breakthrough. This
agreement is particularly important not just because it gives the IAEA
access to certain documents that it has wanted to see but because a
timetable is set so the negotiations are not going to last
indefinitely. The U.S. government, which has used even a negative hint
form IAEA about Iran to push for more sanctions, dismissed this
agreement. In other words, if the agency reports anything negative, it
is evidence of Iran’s non-compliance. If it makes progress, they have
been fooled by Iran which is seeking time to make a bomb.

The Possible Attack on Iran

* None of the recent developments have brought a sense of relief to
those who follow the news of a possible attack on Iran. If anything,
this weekend papers have been particularly alarming. Matt Miller has
shared the UK Sunday times piece titled Pentagon “Three-Day Blitz”
Plan for Iran: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/090207A.shtml. The
supposed plan would involve hitting 1200 targets inside Iran with the
casualty figures (not often discussed by proponents of the idea) in
the millions. Here is an article that Paul Appell has shared. I do
hope that its findings do not reflect the reality of what the U.S.
government is up to. However, it has been written in a spirit of
activism for peace. It is in that spirit that I share it with you.
After all, this is the time to say that there are better ways to deal
with the Iran question that killing a couple of million Iranians and
sending the whole region up in flames. Here is the reference to the
article that Paul has kindly forwarded:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-a-rodman/how-i-learned-to-stop-wor_b_62830.html

* If you talk to individuals who have been alarmed by the “threat” that
Iran is posing to the world, remember:

1. Iran’s cooperation with the U.S. was crucial in overthrowing the
Taliban in Afghanistan
2. We have plenty of evidence to believe that the roadside bombs that
kill American soldiers are manufactured in Iraq. Starting as early as
a year and half ago, American troops have found many shops and
factories that make such bombs inside Iraq. Here is a U.S. Marine
Corps press release on the subject:
http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/templatereleaseview1/E017AB5105AC8A9D85257035004FC172?opendocument
3. The only countries in the region in which al-Qa’ideh does not have
freedom to operate are Iran and Turkey.
4. As President Karzai pointed out only a few weeks ago, Iran continues
to be a help and a support to Afghanistan in its efforts to stand up
to the Taliban (who are getting closer to power by the day).
5. President Ahmadinejad is an elected president who, as polls in Iran
show, stands zero chance of re-election. He is not a life-time
dictator who needs to be removed by military force.
6. Iran’s enrichment of uranium for its nuclear industry is not a breach
of the international law. What is important is to keep it under
control by IAEA. This is possible only if Iran stays in NPT (the Non
Proliferation Treaty) and its facilities get inspected regularly.

What did the Young Iranian Cyclist Say to Senator Lieberman?

Leslie Angeline, who had been fasting for twelve days, sits outside Senator Joseph Lieberman's waiting to meet with him about his aggressive stature towards Iran.

Leslie Angeline, who had been "fasting for peace" for twelve days, sits outside Senator Joseph Lieberman's waiting to be granted an audience with him about his aggressive stature towards Iran.

Leslie Angeline 50, mother of two, member of CodePink spent two weeks in Iran this summer. She loved the country which she found warm and friendly. When Leslie returned to the U.S. to advocate for diplomacy with Iran, Senator Lieberman was suggesting to bomb Iran. Leslie went on hunger strike, lost ten pounds and fainted but did not give up her goal of getting her message to the Senator. You can read about her here:    http://www.newhavenadvocate.com/blogs/home.cfm?aid=1602
When, finally, she got 15 minutes the senator, she took Ali the young Iranian bicyclist for peace with him. I think I should let you read the rest, in Leslie’s words:

He then allowed Ali, one of the Iranian Miles for Peace bicyclists, to join us. Ali spoke from his experience as a young man in Tehran’s student movement.  He said, “There is a growing student and feminist movement in Iran.  70% of the population is under the age of thirty. Every time Bush refers to us as the Axis of Evil, or a politician such as you threatens war or sanctions, our government uses this as an excuse to clamp down. 90% of the Iranian people want a different form of government.  The Iranian people like Americans.  Lieberman responded to this by saying he’s heard that “the two countries in the Middle East that like Americans are Israel and Iran!”   Ali continued, “The U.S. has been a democracy for three hundred years and you still have problems.  Iran’s democracy is new and fragile; please give us some time and we’ll take care of our own problems.”

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The Biggest Non-governmental Charity in Iran

From here in the U.S., it is hard to imagine that Iranians think about
things other than politics and conflict, that they are ordinary human
beings with the same problems and aspirations as anyone living
anywhere in the world. I thought it’ll be nice to read about the
Kahrizak Foundation which supports disabled elderly who lack financial
resources: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jun/1240.html (Thanks to my
friend Parinaz Massumzadeh for circulating the information).

Iranian Women Athletes

Iranian woman race car driver.

Iranian woman race car driver.

Let us close this window with some beautiful images of Iranian women in sports:

* Iranian women drivers are back in the car race scene this September: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article490.
* In fencing, women are working to improve the training conditions so they can compete internationally: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article495.
* In soccer they have been training hard and have achieved success in Asia: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article496.

Let us hope that the peace is holding, and the news is good, when I
send you the next window.
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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