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Archive for the ‘Tehran’ Category

A painting by the Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar. All of her paintings are so vivid and strikingly beautiful that it was hard decide which one to include. Please see the link at the end of this 'Windows on Iran' for more of her works.

A painting by the Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar. All of her paintings are so vivid and strikingly beautiful that it was hard decide which one to include. Please see the link at the end of this 'Windows on Iran' for more of her works.

Dear All,

Greetings! I hope you are all well. Many of you have asked for my comments on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s presentations/interview at Columbia. I promise to do that after I have had a few days to gather a summary of important points. This is likely to be the next window.

The current window is number 40 and that is a fact worth celebration. Number 40 is a significant number in Persian culture. First, people are supposed to mature at age 40 and the 40th day after many events is remembered or celebrated. Second, I am proud of being able to keep up with preparing these windows in the evenings. When I started them, I was not sure how long will I be able to continue them.

Third, a respected colleague has asked me to teach a course on the basis of these windows. I am really excited about this and thinking about the best ways to bring the material to the classroom.

Finally and most importantly, as I sent out these windows during the past year, the number of subscribers tripled! And these are only the direct recipients. Many of you share these windows with others.  To celebrate the 40th Window on Iran, let us focus on good things.

Iranian American Presence in the U.S.

Iranian American Omid Kordestani

Iranian American Omid Kordestani is currently the senior vice president for global sales and business development at Google. He recently gave the commencement address at San Jose State University (click the link on the left to see his address) (image courtesy of http://www.fogcityjournal.com).

Let us open this window celebrating Iranian Americans as a vibrant immigrant community who continue to turn the opportunities available to them here into stunning success for themselves and the community at large. Watch a few minutes of this year’s commencement address at SJSU by Omid Kordestani, 42, the senior vice president for global sales and business development at Google sent by cousin Abe:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJer30-Lj2s

Iranian and Israeli Artists Collaborate to Avert War

A great friend I have made through these windows, Joy, usually sends wonderful Iran-related links for the windows. Recently, she sent me the link to a web site that describes a collaborative play by an Israeli and an Iranian playwrite, Motti Learner and Mahmoud Karimi-Hakkak among others. In the play which is called Benedictus, a Jew and a Muslim work to avert a war on Iran. What Joy does not know is that only yesterday, we hosted Motti Learner, the Israeli playwrite, on our campus here at Washington University. He gave an absolutely wonderful talk about the ways in which drama can serve peace. Do visit the site to read about the collaborative work. And see Motti Learner’s plays if you can. I know I’d be lining up for the tickets if his work is staged anywhere I can go: http://www.goldenthread.org/0708/benedictus.htm (also, please click the video below to hear from the writers and learn more about the play).

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This Friendliest of Countries!

Yes, it is about Iran. Who says it? Lonely Planet World Guide! Thanks
Rostam for sharing this rave review:  “Axis of evil’? Most visitors,
after experiencing this friendliest of countries, couldn’t agree less.
For culture seekers, Iran has magnificent ruins of ancient cities,
glorious mosques and mausoleums, and museums so interesting they’re
bound to leave your feet sore.”  Here is the link to the web site of
one of the world’s most popular travel guide publishers:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/middle-east/iran

Music

* In Iran, women musicians were honored in Talare Vahdat in Tehran last
July. For pictures of various group and individual performers visit
this site: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1066.html.

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World famous guitarist Lily Ashfar.

World famous guitarist Lily Afshar.

* On a related note, the first woman in the world to earn a Doctorate of Music in guitar performance, an Iranian American, Lily Afshar is going to perform in St. Louis in January. Her program will include music from her native country Iran performed on the Persian traditional instrument Seh-tar.  For more information on this great artist, visit her website at: http://www.lilyafshar.com/ (thanks to Sara for the website).

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Mahan Esfahani

Mahan Esfahani

* Iranian Americans are playing an increasingly significant role in the non-Iranian musical scene in the U.S. The harpsichord player Mahan Isfahani wins international acclaim: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/sep/1261.html

Politics

* Not entirely possible to avoid politics, I’m afraid. My husband, Ahmet Karamustafa, who is always on the lookout for positive news with relation to Iran, has supplied a great short article on the dreaded question of war on Iran by a very prominent scholar, Immanuel Wallerstein. You’d be happy to know that he ends the article with the statement: “in my view the likelihood of such ‘desperate’ action to prevail is quite low, if not entirely impossible.”! http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=1361

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* Another step away from a war on Iran came last week from a very
important military figure, the former U.S. Commander John Abizaid. He
suggested that a nuclear-armed Iran may not be such a threat. “Iran is
not a suicide nation,” said the General “I mean, they may have some
people in charge that don’t appear to be rational, but I doubt that
the Iranians intend to attack us with a nuclear weapon.” While I hope
we move in the direction of demilitarization of the region including
nuclear weapons, it is reassuring to know that important military
figures such as General Abizaid opt for the more middle of the road
approach: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/mochila.php?articleId=9037252&channelId=73&buyerId=talkingpointsmemo_com400732&buid=.

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Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar.

Iranian artist Mansoureh Panahgar (image courtesy of http://www.elahe.net).

Visual Delight

For our visual delight, this week I introduce the work of a young woman painter Mansoureh Panahgar. Panahgar was born in Tehran in 1976. As you will see, her work is very different from the paintings of other young artists whom I have introduced here. She combines realistic and abstract art. The theme of antique objects is particularly prominent in her work. The objects themselves appear with realistic clarity against abstract backdrops of softer colors. Please click here: Mansoureh Panahgar Painting Show. Enjoy!

With that, I think it is time to close the window for this week. 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 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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Windows on Iran 37

Some of the many Iranians that the recent American Peace delegation met on their visit to Iran this past July. Organized by Phil Wilayto and sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network and The Richmond Defender newspaper, the five-member "People's Peace Delegation to Iran" visited Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Qom (see below for more on their trip) (image courtesy of http://www.campaigniran.org).

Hi All,

Earlier today I sent out a special window urging you to write to your
representatives in an attempt to stop our country from getting one
step closer to a war with Iran. Many of you wrote back within the hour
to let me know that you have shared the message with others. Thank
you.

With that, let us move on to Window on Iran number 37 which opens with
a good piece of news.

Major Iran/IAEA Agreement on Additional Measures on the Nuclear Issue

* The following news should be hailed as a significant diplomatic
success, a step toward cooling things down. On Tuesday Iran and the
UN Atomic Energy Agency agreed on a timetable for Tehran to clarify
outstanding concerns about its contested nuclear program, amid Western
threats of further UN sanctions. International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) deputy director general Olli Heinonen and top Iranian national
security official Javad Vaeedi announced the agreement after two days
of talks in Tehran. “We have now in front of us an agreed working
plan, how to implement it and we have a timeline for the
implementation. We talked about the details and the steps to be
taken,” said Heinonen. Here is the rest of the article if you like to
read (thanks Paul Appell for sharing this)
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/295302/1/.html

* The current U.S. administration, however, has so far acted as if it
never happened. The same week that Iran and IAEA signed the above
agreement, former CIA Director James Woolsey appeared on CNN with Lou
Dobbs to say an attack on Iran is a bad idea but allowing Iran to
obtain a nuclear weapon is worse. And in today’s New York Times
(August 29), Elaine Sciolino quoted unnamed officials from “Western
governments” describing the plan as a “new and dangerous strategy by
Iran to drag out the process.” Further down the article explains that
“Details of the timetable will be included in a report” that will be
released later. It is not clear how a plan that is not yet released,
that includes a clear timetable, and that has been described by the
IAEA officials as a “breakthrough” is faulted and branded as a
dangerous plan even before it is released.

Tell the Networks Not to Follow Fox

Why does the American news media not scrutinize significant news items
concerning Iran? Why, concerned friends such as Nadir Sadeqi and Matt
Miller ask in their e-mail messages, while the FOX news works on the
American public to convince them that war with Iran is the only
option, do the other networks not respond? All they need to do is
following the tradition of sound reporting. Christine Amanpour,  is
quoted to have said – concerning bad reporting on Iraq – that her
network was silenced and intimidated by FOX. On behalf of Nadir and
Matt, I share the following information with those of you who are
interested in telling the networks not to follow FOX down the road to
war: http://foxattacks.com/iran (or watch the video below)

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Is the War on Iran Still a Strong Possibility?

* Some argue that a war on Iran is not an option for practical reasons.
A fantastic piece on this is an interview that David Barsamian has
done with the renowned historian of contemporary Iran, Ervand
Abrahamian (City University, New York). The interview is short, very
perceptive, and readable. It has a very interesting title too: The
Mullahs Face Off: Washington Versus Tehran
(San Francisco, City
Light Books, 2007).

* Others are still very worried about the possibility. In his site
www.AntiWar.com, blogger Philip Giraldi writes: Anyone who doubts that the
war party is firmly focused on Iran need only take note of the Aug. 21
lead editorial in the Washington Post, which had the heading “Tougher
on Iran: The Revolutionary Guard is at war with the United States. Why
not fight back?” The Post, which regularly features neocons like
Charles Krauthammer on its editorial page, was a principal cheerleader
for the Iraq war. Giraldi criticizes the Post for accepting Washington
claims that Iranian special forces are in Iraq training the Shiite
militia. “Why is the U.S. army not been able to arrest a single one of
them or provide any evidence of this” is his question. It is a very
good question. I would add that this claim is not just refereeing to
an unsubstantiated hypothesis but a very unlikely one. Any number of
Iraqis who survived the rule of Saddam by taking refuge in Iran could
have been trained sufficiently to return and train their Iraqi country
men. But the point is not how logical or provable these claims are.
The point is the poisoning effect they have on the American public.
You can read the rest of Giraldi’s article at:
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/giraldi.php?articleid=11509

American Peace Delegation to Iran

A photo from the American Peace Delegation to Iran discussed below (image courtesy of www.campaigniran.org).

A photo from the American Peace Delegation to Iran discussed below (image courtesy of http://www.campaigniran.org).

All right, we need a little antidote to offset the alarming bells of
war. Let me tell you about this delightful five person American
delegation who visited Iran this past July. Organized by Phil Wilayto
and sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network and The Richmond
Defender newspaper, the five-member “People’s Peace Delegation to
Iran” visited Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Qom, plus several
villages and towns. The Following are interesting excerpts from Phil
Wilayto’s interview with CASMII about the trip:

On our first day, in the capital city of Tehran, we attended the
Friday noontime prayer service at the University of Tehran. This is
the big weekly religious gathering for this metro area of some 14
million people, and around 10,000 men and women attend. We had heard
that they finish the service with a rousing chant of “Death to
America!” so we thought that would give us one cultural pole for the
trip. Actually, we were two hours into the program when we had to
leave, and still no anti-U.S. chants. So we had to settle for a lot of
warm smiles and handshakes.

Also, I’d like to anticipate the question, “But you probably only saw
what the government wanted you to see.” One evening in Qom – it was
about 9 p.m. – I walked to an Internet cafe to send an e-mail to
family members and friends back home. I stayed till 11 p.m., then got
lost on the walk back to the hotel. So there I was in the holy city of
Qom, lost – on the eve of a major national religious holiday, no less
– wandering the streets and trying unsuccessfully to change some
Iranian bills into coins so I could call our guide from a pay phone. I
wound up meeting two brothers, one of them a theology student. They
brought me back to the hotel in a taxi. So I was out on my own for
about three hours. Two other members of the delegation walked back one
evening to their hotel in Esfahan, and in 45 minutes they were stopped
by three groups of Iranians who wanted to talk with them. On the
streets and public places we talked with anyone we wanted. One
afternoon while driving from Esfahan to Qom we stopped by the side of
the highway and had tea with a family of goat herders. I learned to
smoke a hookah, or “hubble-bubble,” in a 5,000-year-old town about
4,000 feet up in the mountains. We photographed anything we wanted,
except military installations. I made a point of trying to speak with
people from as many social classes as possible. I’m not saying we
became experts on Iran, but I think we got a pretty fair look at the
country and its people.

Sean Penn’s Reference to Iran

Sean Penn in Iran meeting with his industry colleagues in the Iranian film industry at the Cinematheque (PLEASE cick the link below to read his letter about Iran). (Image courtesy of www.payvand.com).

Sean Penn in Iran meeting with his industry colleagues in the Iranian film industry at the Cinematheque (PLEASE cick the link below to read his letter about Iran). (Image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

Actor/activist Sean Penn felt the same warmth visiting Iran in March.
Jaine Benson, one of my many friends through these windows, has
forwarded this very interesting letter which I had almost forgotten
about. Thanks Jaine. The letter is long and mostly focused on Iraq,
below I quote the paragraph on Iran which remains relevant today:

“You want to rattle sabers toward Iran now? Let me tell you something
about Iran, because I’ve been there and you haven’t. Iran is a great
country. A great country. Does it have its haters? You bet. Just like
the United States has its haters. Does it have a corrupt regime? You
bet. Just like the United States has a corrupt regime. Does it want a
nuclear weapon? Maybe. Do we have one? You bet. But the people of Iran
are great people. And if we give that corrupt leadership, (by
attacking Iran militarily) the opportunity to unify that great country
in hatred against us, we’ll have been giving up one of our most
promising future allies in decades. If you really know anything about
Iran, you know exactly what I’m referring to. Of course your
administration belittles diplomatic potential there, as those options
rely on a credibility and geopolitical influence that you have
aggressively squandered worldwide.” If you are interested in reading
the whole letter, here is the link:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-penn/an-open-letter-to-the-pre_b_44172.html


Mohsen Mostafavi, Iranian American, recently named new Dean of Harvards Graduate School of Architecture and Design.

Mohsen Mostafavi, prominent Iranian American, recently named new Dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

Iranian American Named Dean, Harvard School of Design

Mohsen Mostafavi, an international figure in the fields of architecture and urbanism, will become the dean of the Faculty of Design beginning in January 2008, President Drew Faust announced today (Aug. 10). The news was forwarded by my cousin Abe Massoudi, and my friend Farimah Companieh, thank you both! You can read more at:
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2007/08.23/99-gsdean.html

Iranian Women in Sports

Time for more fun and for seeing images from Iran which are almost impossible to see in the American media. It is rather unfortunate any negative news on Iranian women will make it to the front page here almost immediately. But images such as these are missing. Iranian Women Canoe Polo players in action:
http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article68

Iranian women canoe polo players in action! (click the link above for more pictures).

Iranian women canoe polo players in action! (click the link above for more pictures).

Visual Delight

Last week I was showered with your loving messages about the wonderful
paintings of the Iranian Assyrian artist Hannibal Alkhas. Thank you! I
can’t agree  more. I’ll promise to make more slide shows of his
exhibits whenever new ones appear. This week, I bring you the works of
two Iranian women artists, Elham Nafisi Farr, a young and up-coming
painter and Mansoureh Hussaini a much more experienced
painter/calligrapher. Unfortunately, I did not find much personal
details on them except they are both graduates of Tehran School of
Fine Arts. Click here: Nafisi Farr-Hussaini painting.Enjoy!

A beautiful painting by Mansoureh Husseini (click the link below for more paintings by her and also Elham Nafisi Far).

A beautiful painting by Mansoureh Husseini (click the link below for more paintings by her and also Elham Nafisi Farr).

Till our 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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A fascinating watercolor painting by Hannibal Alkhas (see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his works).

A fascinating watercolor painting by Hannibal Alkhas (see the link at the end of this

Dear All,

Greetings after a long absence. I have been very busy preparing for the academic year and participating in St. Louis community events. In the second week of August, I spoke at CAJE (Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education) which held its annual meeting in St. Louis and on the campus of Washington University. It was a lively and well prepared event. My presentation in this conference was an important experience for me. I am looking forward to staying connected with educators in the American Jewish community to share information and work for better communication and understanding between our respective communities.

I also was very much involved in the three day annual convention of VFP (Veterans For Peace) held here in St. Louis last week. Together with my friend Alice Bloch, I gave two workshops. I also had a keynote address about Iran. Alice and I both felt very pleased and honored to have been a part of the VFP convention.

If you have written to me recently, please note that – emerging from these events and also preparing for the academic year – I will need a just a little more time to write back.

And now to our window number 36 on Iran:

A woman with velvet voice

Popular Iranian singer Elaheh, the woman with a velvet voice.

Popular Iranian singer Elaheh, the "woman with a velvet voice."

On August 17, the popular Iranian singer Elaheh passed away. As a pre-revolution Iranian woman singer, Elaheh’s songs have not been played on national Iranian radio and television. Nevertheless, Elaheh remains a very familiar and popular voice particularly for Iranians of my generation. She was known as “the woman with a velvet voice”. Here, I would like to share with you one her hits Rosvai Zamaneh Manam. Click to Listen.

Iranian Unit to Be Labeled ‘Terrorist’

U.S. Moving Against Revolutionary Guard.  The United States is
considering to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the
country’s 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a “specially
designated global terrorist,” according to U.S. officials, a move that
allows Washington to target the group’s business operations and
finances. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081401662.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Resolution Opposing Military Action Against Iran

The Democratic Party of the most populous state in the nation has
passed a strong resolution calling on US Congress to “oppose
unprovoked military action against Iran” and to “support direct talks
between the Untied States and Iran without preconditions.” This is
wonderful news! Read for yourself  the full text of the resolution
that was authored by the Bay Area Iranian American Democrats (BAIAD):
http://www.baiad.org/

Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran speak of Collaboration

A week after President Karzi embarrassed the current U.S.
administration by calling Iran a support and solution rather than a
problem, President Ahmadinejad visited Afghanistan and the two leaders
spoke of collaboration to improve the Afghan economy and help the
country out of its current crisis. The trip is intended to put the
seal on a range of Iranian-led reconstruction projects as well as
consolidate areas of cooperation such as combating drug traffickers.
Iranian aid – worth £125m – has been provided for three projects: a
water research center, a dental college and equipping Kabul’s medical
university. While local papers highlighted these projects, the western
media defined the trip in terms of another confrontation between Iran
and the U.S.  Guardian titled its report:

US feels heat as Iranian leader visits Afghanistan
http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,,2148964,00.html

About a week earlier, President Bush had to warn Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki of Iraq after seeing pictures of cordial meetings between
Maliki and top Iranian leaders in Tehran hoping that – despite the
pictures –  the prime minister was delivering a tough message. “If the
signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a
heart-to-heart with my friend, the prime minister,” said President
Bush. Here is the full article:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070810/ts_afp/usiraniraqbush_070810091315
I am not a Mid-East politics expert to give you full commentary on
these recent moves. However, as the U.S. led war is viewed more and
more as weakening the region, and the U.S. money arms the hard-liner
Sunni groups, looking eastward for cooperation and support seems to
have been an outcome. In the meantime, China and Russia are looming
larger on the horizon with ideas for regional cooperation (economic
and otherwise). These may explain, at least in part, the Iraqi and
Afghan leaders confidence in acknowledging the positive role of Iran
in the region.

Visual Delight

A painting by Hannibal Alkhas (click the link on the left for more of his terrific work).

Another painting by Hannibal Alkhas (click the link on the left for more of his terrific work).

I would like to revive our old tradition of closing these windows with a painting exhibit. This one is a very recent show of the watercolor works of Hannibal Alkhas (b. 1930). An Iranian Assyrian artist of great stature in the Iranian art community, Alkhas has worked with many different media and styles of painting. He has also worked with wood. I’ll leave the show to speak for itself. Since it is the only visual attachment, I hope it won’t be too large for your computers. Click here: Hannibal Alkhas 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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The Art Gallery in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

The Art Gallery in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures of the modern Tehran that you will not see in the mainstream U.S. media).

Dear All,

Greetings! I am back in St. Louis now getting ready for the academic year. I hope you are enjoying what is left of the summer. If you have written recently, do please give me a few days to reply. I am getting back into the swing of things and have tackled the piled-up mail and e-mail only recently.

It is good to be back and to send you one of the regular large windows, Window on Iran – 35. So, let’s get started without much ado:

The Best in the World

Iranian Americans of all backgrounds and political persuasions take a
lot of pride in educational achievements in Iran. The latest clip of
film (one minute) circulating in the community quotes the chair of the
department of electrical engineering at Stanford as describing the
department of electrical engineering in Sharif University in Tehran to
be the best in the world!  http://youtube.com/watch?v=s957W6jomBc

Iran’s Role in Afghanistan

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN, President Hamid Karzai of
Afghanistan, in a feat of courage unprecedented for US-supported local
leaders,  contradicted the US claims that Iranian arms were helping to
erode the security situation in Afghanistan. He described Iran as “a
helper and a solution:”

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“Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan, in the peace process that
we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics
in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in the interview conducted Saturday. He
went on to say that Afghanistan and Iran had “very, very good, very,
very close relations. … We will continue to have good relations with
Iran. We will continue to resolve issues, if there are any, to arise.”

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Here is a brief commentary: If you have wondered why President  Karzai
should be so ungrateful as to make such  embarrassing comments about
his American friends, the simple explanation is that he is the one who
has to face the Taliban and the al-Qa’ideh on the ground. He knows who
in the region will come to his help. Furthermore, Iran rushes to
Karzai’s help in facing these extremist groups because they are its
sworn enemies as well. If that is not enough, they infest the region
with their narcotic trade. Iran loses about 300 soldiers annually
preventing drug dealers from crossing into the country. Finally,
instability in Afghanistan is not good for Iran which has ethnic
populations close to the border, and which would love to see economic
ties (rather than ethnic uprisings) on the two sides of the border.

All right, call this one the happy window! I have more good news:

Americans Wage Peace on Iran

* It is unfortunate that we hear a lot more about war-mongers than those
who wage peace. The truth is a large number of peace loving Americans
are devoting their time and life precisely to that, chief among them
CodePink. When Leslie Angeline of CodePink started her fast to get the
attention of Senator Lieberman who had promoted a war with Iran,
little did she know that she would be unleashing a new campaign to
stop the next war now. But that’s precisely what has happened. Click
on the link below to read about CodePink’s Cities for Peace in Iran:
http://codepinkdc.blogspot.com/2007/07/codepink-launches-cities-for-peace-in.html

* Also, the Virginia Anti-War (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender Newspaper
organized a People’s Peace Delegation to Iran in response to a
suggestion by the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention
in Iran (CASMII). The five member delegation traveled over 1,750
kilometers during its 12 day trip in Iran and returned to the U.S. on
July 31. Here it is a picture and more details:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1343.html

Virginia Anti-War Network (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender newspaper organized a People's Peace Delegation to Iran recently.

The Nuclear Issue — a correction and some comments

* A dear friend who shared window 32 with his friends has brought a
couple of queries to my attention. Since they pertain to the nuclear
issue, I thought of sharing them – and my responses – with you. In
that window, I contrasted the U.S. and three other countries
(Pakistan, Israel and India) with Iran in that they have not become
members of the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty). The critic pointed out
that this is partially incorrect, the U.S. is a signatory to the
treaty. S/he is right. This is a mistake on my part, and it must have
occurred because of the abundance of discussions on the ways in which
the U.S. is in breech of that treaty. Here is the latest example of
that from N.Y. Times:
http://ploughshares.org/news.php?a=4&b=0&c=0&id=438
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the U.S. is officially a signatory
of the NPT. I’d like to correct the mistake.

* The same reader asks if we can be certain that the Iranians do not
have a weapon’s program. My answer is that our only means of gaining
that certainty is to ask countries to become members of the NPT and
stay open to surprise inspection. Iran has done that and no evidence
has been found. If our reaction to that is going to be “You have done
what is required but we still do not believe you because you are
Iran,” we are proposing to dismantle international organizations and
regulations and act on instinct. Others will do the same and the
result will be chaos. The way out is to examine uncertain situations
and to think of additional ways to get guarantees. This can be
achieved by staying at the negotiation table. Iran is still offering
to do this. Their only condition is “no pre-conditions.” The Iranian
chief negotiator Ali Larijani has said repeatedly that even enrichment
is open to negotiation.

* Third, I had said that “Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in
the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian
casualties.” The reader asks if this is not something that the Iranian
government should worry about? The problems with this view, in my
opinion, are:

1. these facilites were built over the years (some of them encouraged
by the U.S. government).
2. they were not built by one Iranian government and not during a time
of military tension. In other words, they cannot all be viewed as
President Ahmadinejad’s way of shielding weapons behind people.

* Even if we make that assumption, to say that it is all right to
endanger millions of Iranian lives because their government has used
them as shields would amount to accepting genocide (in the hope of
preventing a future genocide for which we do not have any evidence
besides our mistrust of the other side).

* I draw the attention of this reader to the fact that in many places in
the world, people have a different perception of Iran. Examples? Take
another look at what the President of Iran’s troubled neighboring
country, Afghanistan, has had to say yesterday.

* Before we leave this subject, I would like to clarify and reiterate
the points that I made in window 32 concerning Iran’s nuclear
controversy:

1. Iran has no history of military aggression against its neighbors in
the past two centuries (in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was attacked and
stopped at the old borders once the invaders were pushed out).

2. Iran is a signatory to the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) which means
its nuclear facilities are open to surprise inspections. That is why
El Baradei insists that Iran should be talked to, not threatened.
Please note that there are countries such as Pakistan, Israel, and
India which have not agreed to become members of NPT.

3. Surprise inspections have not yielded any evidence of a nuclear
weapon’s program in Iran to date.

4. Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of
suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything
(including suspension of enrichment).

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5. Iranian nuclear facilities – which were built over a period of time
starting before the 1979 revolution – are spread out in the country.
It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.

Continued Military Threat Against Iran

* The Cheney camp pushes for war with Iran. Once more, the Iranian
government’s offer of its willingness to hold a higher level dialogue
with the American government gets rejected:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/aug/1040.html

* More on the defense authorization bill that mentions Iran:
http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=834&Itemid=2

Iranian Women in Sports — American women athletes in Iran!

Iranian Womens volleyball team.

Iranian Women's volleyball team (click on the link for more pictures).

Believe it or not, as you read this window, the American women’s softball team is in Iran preparing for a competition with Iranian women softball players. Shirzanan, the Iranian women’s sports weekly which reported the news provided no pictures (unfortunately). I have another sports picture for you, though. Click on the link below and, even if you don’t read Persian, scroll down for images of Iranian women volleyball players: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article375

Visual Delight

I won’t give you a painting show this time either. This window has simply grown too large. Instead I’ll attach a slide show of Tehran that a dear friend has forwarded. It is different from all the previous shows in that it combines some really old and some very recent pictures of Tehran. The combination is quite fascinating. Just click here: Tehran, A Modern Metropolis.

Another new building in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

Another new building in modern Tehran (click the link above for more pictures Tehran).

A new building in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

A new building in modern Tehran (click the link above for more pictures from Tehran).



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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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Some of the many different faces of Iranians/Iranian Americans. These particular faces are some Iranian American children from a summer camp that is dicussed in an article below (please scroll down to see many more faces of Iran!). (Image courtesy of www.iranalliances.org).

Some of the many different "faces" of Iranians/Iranian Americans. These particular "faces" are some young Iranian American children from a summer camp that is discussed in an article below (please scroll down to see many more 'faces of Iran'!). (Image courtesy of http://www.iranalliances.org).

Dear All,

Greetings from the beautiful Turkish island of Buyuk Ada on the sea of Marmara where there are no cars and plenty of lively seagulls. The summer had been so busy that when I got to the island, I gave everything a break including the Windows. But I just can’t resist sending you at least one message from this very peaceful and lovely place where the last thing you would like to do is following the news.  I must confess that it is refreshing not to have Iran in the headlines.

This will be a shorter window and I owe much of its content to Behrooz, Matt, Bahar, and Joy. Please forgive me if you have written and I have not responded yet, or if I am not acknowledging your contribution properly.

While I was here watching seagulls and a little piece that I wrote earlier called “Banishing the Ghosts of Iran,” appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education. I hope this link gets you to it if you like to read the piece:
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i45/45b00601.htm

And now to the Window 34:

Let’s hope more of this happens:

I want to start with the delightful story of the Israeli who made an accidental visit to Iran. One can only hope that more of this happens:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2003696866_webisraeliran07.html

Iranian Jews Speak Up:

Maurice Motamed (or, Morris Motamed), who is the only Jewish MP in the Iranian Parliment, called the offers of large cash rewards for Jewish immigration from Iran to Israel insulting. The Jewish community in Iran is the largest in the Middle East outside of Israel and dates back to at least 700BCE.

Maurice Motamed (or, Morris Motamed), who is the only Jewish MP in the Iranian Parliment, called the offers of large cash rewards for Jewish immigration from Iran to Israel "insulting." The Jewish community in Iran is the largest in the Middle East outside of Israel and dates back to at least 700BCE.

Iranian Jews say their Iranian identity is not for sale:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2125486,00.html

Current Issues:

An interesting piece for those who read about the Iranian government acting paranoid in relation the “regime change” issue: New Iran Regime Change Think Tank Opens in DC
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/070607S.shtml
Another very interesting analytical essay about Iran:
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/07/next_we_take_tehran.html?src=email&hed_20070716_ts1_nextwetaketehran

Iranian Women

As the news of the recent intensification of restrictions on women’s clothing – and demonstrations – get out of Iran, it is important to keep in mind that – despite these problems – Iranian women continue to maintain a lively presence in all spheres of life:

110 Iranian women bikers from 22 teams compete for national titles in Iran. I won’t make a slide show of this because it makes it harder on your computers. Just scroll down for pictures of the competitions (even if you can’t read the Persian captions):
http://www.baztab.ir/news/70794.php

Iranian women musicians were honored last week. Again, please scroll down for images. This time the article is in English:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1066.html

Iranian womens group Saman-Buyan (director Elham Kazemi) performing at the Vahdat Hall in Tehran during the two day Womens Music Festival The Sound of Kindness in July 2007.

Iranian women's group Saman-Buyan (director Elham Kazemi) performing at the Vahdat Hall in Tehran during the two day Women's Music Festival "The Sound of Kindness" in July 2007.

Iranian Americans Get Together:

Young Iranian Americans got together in a summer camp for “fellowship,” “sharing” and learning about the Persian concept of ta’arof. Thank you Joy for sharing this fun piece about Iranians:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/06/AR2007070601974.html

A photo from the Around the Campfire summer camp for young Iranian Americans.

A photo from the "Around the Campfire" summer camp for young Iranian Americans (image courtesy of The Washington Post).

Faces of Iran

And a clip with literally hundreds of faces from Iran. It is under ten minutes and well worth seeing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjtGr1Qqhng

Hope to be sending you new Windows from St. Louis soon.

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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