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Windows on Iran 53

A beautiful picture from the recent water and light art show in Tehran's Parke Mellat. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more photos from this event.

A beautiful picture from the recent water and light art show in Tehran's Parke Mellat. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more photos from this event. Also be sure to check out Brian Appleton's photo essay from his recent trip to Iran, entitled "Five Days in Tehran" (link below).

Dear All,

I hope you have had a great summer. Here at Washington University in St. Louis, we are gearing up for another lively academic year. I have a wonderful piece of news for those of you who have enjoyed these windows, shared them with friends, or taken them to your classroom, during the past two years. My stellar student Matthew Miller has started blogging the windows. He has devoted a considerable amount of time, thought, and taste to the project. Check it out for yourself: https://windowsoniran.wordpress.com/. In not so distant a future, all of the Windows on Iran will be available on line. Thank you Matt! You have done a super job.

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Tehran is a World Class City

* Thanks to my friend Brian Appleton, who has just returned form a trip to Iran, I can open this window with a wonderfully detailed pictorial essay called “Five Days in Tehran.” In this essay, Brian captures what some reporters allow to get buried under layers of political conflict. That is, he brings out the vibrancy and the complexity of Iranian urban life. The subtitle to his piece reads: It is important to understand that Tehran is a world class city. Not only does he speak about events, people, and buildings but he remembers other important details: “Since the revolution, 30,000 trees have been planted in Tehran and it is one of the greenest cities you will ever see anywhere on the planet.” Before I give you that address to Brian’s great piece, I would like to add that of course not every corner of Iran is Tehran. Neither would Brian Appleton claim that. Urban life is more affluent and complex everywhere. Here is a rare opportunity for you to read about the beauty and complexity (and of course traffic jams, etc.) of city life in Iran. Thank you Brian! http://www.iranian.com/main/2008/five-days-tehran.

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Iranian Olympic basketball player Hamed Ehadadi and the head coach of the Russian team, Israeli David Blatt, embrace in a show of friendship at the recent Olympic games.

Iranian Olympic basketball player Hamed Ehadadi and the head coach of the Russian team, Israeli David Blatt, embrace in a show of friendship at the recent Olympic games.

The Israeli/Iranian Embrace

* It is generally believed that sports and art are the best way to bring people together. During the current Olympic games, there were such rare moments when Israeli and Iranian athletes transcended the political conflicts and exhibited kindness and support for each other. The first attachment to this window is a Kodak moment during which an Iranian 7-foot-2 basketball player, Hamed Ehadadi and the Israeli coach of the Russian team David Blatt have posed for the camera. Earlier, another Iranian player and Blatt embraced. This simple gesture of friendship should not be so rare as to make it to the headlines. However, with the current political tensions, it is good to see any such exchanges. Thank you Omid Jan for forwarding this message.

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The Israelis Against an Attack on Iran

* While we are on the subject of Iran and Israel, I should bring a very important declaration to your attention. I have, in the past, quoted Israeli politicians who have called for a military attack on Iran. It is only fair that the voices of Peace Seeking Israelis be included in these windows as well. Earlier this month, a group of Israeli academics and peace activists who call themselves “Ad Hoc Group Against Israeli Attack on Iran” issued a very important press release to publicize their declaration. Its main message: “There is no military, political or moral justification to initiate war with Iran.” This is a courageous move that will be appreciated by all peace-loving readers of these windows, most especially the Iranian segment. However, the group made no secret of the fact that the Israeli well-being is of great concern to them. “After serious consideration,” the press release went on to say “we reiterate our position that all the arguments for such an attack are without any security, political or moral justification. Israel might get caught up in an act of adventurism that could endanger our very existence, and this without any serious effort to exhaust the political and diplomatic alternatives to armed conflict.” To read the entire declaration, please visit: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0808/S00077.htm.

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Open Letter to Senator Obama

* Here in the U.S.. many are concerned with the same issue. Here is an open letter sent to Senator Obama on August 14 concerning the dangers of U.S./Iran confrontation: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21735.

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Iranian “Star Students” in Newsweek

* I have often talked about the negative light in which the Iranian culture is presented to the American public. This, unfortunately, has impacted the general language used to speak about Iran. The result is that even positive matters are often articulated in a pessimistic manner that counters its positive nature. Let me give you an example.

* There is a piece in the August 18-25 ’08 issue of the Newsweek describing the success of the Iranian students which is a very interesting piece to analyze with the above point in mind. The core news is that, in the field of science, some of the best undergraduates in the world are being trained in Iranian universities. This should be cause for celebration. Not quite. First, we are given the feeling that all of that is on the brink of disappearing. I have no problems with pointing to economic (and other) problems that Iran faces. I am not even talking about exaggerations like “University professors barely make ends meet—the pay is so bad some must even take second jobs as taxi drivers or petty traders.” Yes, Iranian economy is not doing particularly well, but relatively speaking, Iranian professors are good wage earners.

My real problem with the piece is that it views the Iranian students’ success as an anomaly which requires an extraordinary explanation. And here it is: “When you live in Iran and you see all the frustrations of daily life, you dream of leaving the country, and your books and studies become a ticket to a better life,” says one who asked not to be identified. “It becomes more than just studying,” he says. “It becomes an obsession, where you wake up at 4 a.m. just to get in a few more hours before class.” In other words, when other cultures make educational success, they are bright. When Iranians do that, they are frustrated and obsessive.

And finally the piece adds: “Iran’s success, in other words, is also the country’s tragedy: students want nothing more than to get away the moment they graduate.”

I don’t want to discourage you from reading the piece. In fact here is the link: http://www.newsweek.com/id/151684. But it is truly amazing, how the American media has developed a talent for casting the most positive matters related to Iran in a negative light.

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The Smallest School in the World

The young Iranian students diligently at work in the smallest school in the world.

Young Iranian students diligently at work in the "smallest school in the world." Please click on the picture to visit the teacher's blog and check out all the great pictures of the students and their school.

* Now that you know about the star students in Iran, I would like you to see why I think the cynicism in the Newsweek article is unwarranted. In other words, Iranians are not promoting learning in their communities so that good students can leave the country. Like many other people in the world, they care deeply about education. In a small and remote village in the southern province of Boushehr, a young man has established a school for 4 students to make sure they get their primary education properly (see the pictures above and below). And please bear in mind, this is not a propaganda tool of the Islamic Republic. The resourceful young teacher Abdolmohammad Sha’rani who runs the school has a personal blog in which he writes about the village, the people, and of course the school. Remember I told you a while back Iranians are number four bloggers in the world. Do visit Sha’rani’s blog, even if you don’t read Persian and enjoy the pictures he has taken of this tiny fishing village on the Persian Gulf: http://www.dayyertashbad.blogfa.com/ Thank you Bahar for forwarding this information.

Two young Iranian students who look quite pleased with their new school supplies! Please visit his blog for many more great pictures of the students and their school.

Two young Iranian students who look quite pleased with their new school supplies! Please click on the picture to visit the teacher's blog and check out all the great pictures of the students and their school.

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Iranian Zahra Karimi has won the womens gold medal at the 2008 Wushu World Championships.

Iranian Zahra Karimi won the women's gold medal at the recent 2008 Wushu World Championships.

Iranian Zahra Karimi Wins Gold in Wushu

* An Iranian woman by the name of Zahra Karimi has won the women’s gold medal at the 2008 Wushu World Championships, held in Beijing along side the Olympic Games: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=67454&sectionid=3510211.

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The Photographer Capturing Rural Life in Iran

* In these windows, I have usually brought you images from urban life in Iran. This is mostly because I have always found the complexity of Iranian urban life to be the aspect which is not as well known as it should be. However, today, courtesy of my cousin Abe Massoudi, I have the opportunity to introduce to you the great work of a contemporary Iranian photographer who has dedicated almost his entire career to taking photographs of Iranians living in rural parts of the country. Nasrullah Kasraian, who has had many exhibits and published over 30 collections of his photographs, is a national figure in Iran. Please click on the link to view some of his stunning images. Enjoy! http://www.jadidonline.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Kasraiian_test/kasraiian_eng_high.html.

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Another beautiful picture from the recent water and light art show in Tehran's Parke Mellat. Please see the link to the left for more photos from the event.

Another beautiful picture from the recent water and light art show in Tehran's Parke Mellat. Please see the link to the left for more photos from the event.

Water Show in the National Park

* I opened this window with a look at the city of Tehran. Here is a visual delight from the same city to close Window 53, a great Water and Light show from Tehran’s Parke Mellat courtesy of my friend Farimah. Please click here: Water and Light Show in Tehran’s Parke Mellat.

Till next Window, have a great end of the summer.

Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
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Windows on Iran 52

A painting by Iranian painter Iman Maleki of a group of Iranian men enjoying some setar, tar, oud, and ney music. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his fantastic paintings.

A painting by world-famous Iranian painter Iman Maleki, depicting a group of Iranian men relaxing and enjoying some traditional Persian music being played on the setar, tar, oud, and ney. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his works.

Dear All,

Greetings. I hope you are continuing to enjoy the summer. My summer has turned out to be as lively as the academic year usually is. Let me briefly report.

* Last week I got together with my undergraduate classmates in a Shiraz University reunion held in San Diego! San Diego and Shiraz are both beautiful cities, in different ways. We had a panel organized on Rumi’s poetry. Besides that, I read poetry to music.

* Another exciting piece of news is that I have accepted to be the honorary Co-Chair of a vibrant emerging organization called “Iranians For Peace” (IFP). Our Board consist of five very able and dedicated women of Iranian heritage (more to be added). The main goal of this non-partisan group is to prevent war through promoting peaceful cultural education on Iran. On some level, this is what I have been engaged in for a sometime. These windows are an example of that. I hope you get a chance to visit our website, stay abreast of the activities, and provide us with your support: http://www.iraniansforpeace.net.

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* On the subject of my summer activities, let me give the links to two articles which I have recently published. On July 16, I had an editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the link is: “A 21st-century warning from a 13th-century poet.”

* And on August 2nd, I had a piece published in the online newsletter Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/keshavarz08022008.html.  I hope you find them useful!

Who Are Iranian Americans?

* Enough of my activities. Many Americans are working hard to bring about an understanding of the diversity of Iranians in Iran and in the US. Watch this fascinating clip which was sent to me by my friend, and a board member of the IFP, Leila Zand: http://www.searchles.com/channels/show/4563 (or view below!).
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Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of http://www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

What do Do Iran and America Exchange?

* Sometimes it appears that Iran and the U.S. only trade harsh political attacks. The truth is more interesting exchanges take place as well, but somehow do not qualify as news. Once I reported in these windows that the American women softball team was in Iran for a match with their Iranian counterparts. A lot of you were surprised. Well, here is another fun headline which does not make it to your evening news: An Isfahani young man, Arsalan Kazemi, the first Iranian to get an NCAA scholarship to play basketball in the US. Take a look at him in action. Thanks to my friend Omid Safi who has shared this interesting piece of news: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/luke_winn/07/15/kazemi/index.html

* Before I put the finishing touches to this window, I recieved a great clip from another friend Ladan Foroughi-Hedayati related to the subject of Iranian basketball. It is an MSNBC report on the recent visit of the Iranian Basketball team to the U.S. The report is great in showing a side of Iran that we rarely see in our media here. However, sadly, the report follows the general tradition of connecting all Iran related news to the American hostages. We even listen to President Bush declaring Iran to be a member of the axis of evil before we see a few minutes of the game. The formula prevents one from seeing the humanity or normality of Iran because we are first told about all the possible differences, disagreements, and political conflicts. Still, I hope you enjoy the basketball part: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25796284#25796284.

Current Issues

* Speaking of political conflict, despite the apparent calm, the predictions concerning the Iran/US relations are not hopeful. What you hear in the mainstream media is that Iran is about to turn down the EU package of incentives and there should be more UN sanctions. However, the view from the other side is different. Take a look at this article discussing the views of Francis Boyle, the influential intentional lawyer, to get a different perspective on the situation: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/07/29/10672/.

* There is an interesting clip, that my friend Bahar Bastani sent this week. It highlights a part of the famous interview that Mr. Mike Wallace conducted with President Ahmadinejad which has not been included in the official broadcast of the interview. Since Mr. Ahmadinejad ‘s words are often used as justification for sanctions or possible attacks on Iran, it is important to know exactly what he has said regardless of our personal interpretations of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onNzrNEFs1E (or view it below!).

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* And there is yet more grim news from Mr. Seymour Hersh. This is his latest reference to a strong tendency among certain members of the current U.S. administration to create a clash that would lead to a war with Iran. Matt Miller has kindly shared this piece with me. Thanks Matt! http://www.truthout.org/article/hersh-cheney-plan-creating-false-flag-attack
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A painting of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

A painting by Iman Maleki of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

The Amazing Paintings of Iman Maleki

* If you are familiar with Persian culture, or have been following these windows regularly, you know that painting is among the most popular art forms in Iran. I have usually been sending you paintings of Iranian women, in part because it counters the myth that they are subjugated, inactive, or unable to express their creative talents. In this window, however, I want to introduce the works of young man, an amazing master painter whose works have been getting him international fame in the recent years, Iman Maleki (1976-). Maleki has experimented with a variety of styles but he is mostly a realist whose works have a strong cultural flavor. Click here to see a slide show of some of his tremendous work: Iman Maleki Paintings. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this window.

Until the next one,
I Wish you all the Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Windows on Iran 51

A beautiful shot of a frozen waterfall in the Khorasan province of Northeastern Iran.

A beautiful shot of a frozen waterfall in the Khorasan province of Northeastern Iran (see the link below for more pictures from this striking natural wonder).

Dear All,

I hope you are having a great summer. The St. Louis weather has been exceptionally cooperating — so far. For those of you who are experiencing a hot summer, I will start this window with a cooling visual delight from Iran:

Frozen Waterfall

* Last winter, in the province of Khorasan in North East of Iran, a huge waterfall froze. Behnaz Seyedi, a female Iranian photographer, took advantage of the natual art display and took the following photographs. Please click here: Frozen Waterfall of Khorasan. Enjoy!

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Iranian Women Inventors Shining in International Competition!

* Bagging 12 gold, five silver and six bronze medals, Iranian women inventors gained the first place among 25 countries participating at the international event, held in the South Korean capital of Seoul from May 8 to 10, 2008. Among their inventions: surgical equipments and electricity generators. In this prestigious international event, Iranian female inventors competed with participants from 25 countries including France, Switzerland, Japan, Romania, and Australia and got the first place. For the full article please visit: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=168969.

Iranian Maryam Eslami won the International Federation of Inventors Associations (IFIA) Award for the surgical tool she invented that is used to repair the olecranon.

Iranian Maryam Eslami won the International Federation of Inventors' Associations (IFIA) Award for the surgical tool she invented that is used to repair the olecranon.

* The above news contradicts the images often circulating on the internet depicting Iranian women in frightening conditions. Please don’t get me wrong, there are a few items on the Iranian constitution which I would like to see changed. However, much of the “information” circulating about Iranian women on the web and in the popular media is often grossly inaccurate because it is published without proper scrutiny and verification. Basically, negative news comes across as “most probably true” and therefore not necessary to be questioned. Let me give you an example, an excruciating image showing the process of burying a woman from waist down in the ground to be stoned to death circulated on the web. When the Iranian President visited Columbia University, the image was enlarged and carried by some protesters. It has now turned out to be a scene from a movie called “The Stone.”

A 1994 Dutch indie film entitled "The Stone." Director Mahnaz Tamizi, actress Smadar Monsinos and her photo is to the right.

This infamous picture is actually a frame from the 1994 Dutch indie film entitled "The Stone," directed by Mahnaz Tamizi. The woman in the ground is an actress named Smadar Monsinos and a real photo of her is to the right.

The actress Smadar Monsinos (above) is the woman featured in the frame (on the left) from the indie Dutch movie "The Stone." This particular frame from this movie is frequently used by critics of Iran as if it were a real image.

The actress Smadar Monsinos (above) is the woman featured in the frame (on the left) from the indie Dutch movie "The Stone." This particular frame from this movie is frequently used by critics of Iran as if it were a real historical image.

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Time out with Art work by Iranian Women

* Enjoying creativity of artists has a great healing quality. Let us move on from the fictional “stoning” image to actual art work by Iranian women, their creativity with clay. Here is an exhibit of amazing pottery work by Iranian women. Click on the link below…and enjoy: http://www.jadidonline.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Women_sofalgari_eng_test/sofalgari_high.html.

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Current Events

* The past ten days or so have been tense and rather worrisome with fiery statements and grim predictions of a possible military assault on Iran by the United States and/or Israel. Cooler heads seem to be at work to insert a note of sanity into the discussion.

* For those who think U.S. and Israel have no choice but attack Iran, I recommend a very insightful recent article written by Shlomo Ben-Ami, vice president of the Toledo International Center for Peace and former foreign minister of Israel and Trita Parsi president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US. The article, published yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor is titled: “The alternative to an Israeli attack on Iran.” Here is the link:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0702/p09s01-coop.html.

* Iranian top politicians sound more positive in the past couple of days as well. In an interview with the Associated Press, the Iranian Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was considering the package presented by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana on behalf of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. He praised as “very constructive” Solano’s response to Iran’s proposals on the subject. Mottaki said he saw “significant capacities” being explored in the latest round of talks that were not present earlier. Mr. Mottaki is in New York for talks at the United Nations. He hinted there has been diplomatic progress on easing tensions with the West at a time of heightened concern. To read the full interview, visit: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/5474.

* The truth is neither war nor sanctions solve problems. They both kill innocent individuals, and postpone processes of positive social change and evolution. It is time to realize that as a large, complex, and vibrant society, Iran has plenty to offer the region and the world. And that the country must be engaged in a serious and constructive manner.

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Women at Work in Iran

Despite what the mainstream U.S. media will often lead you to believe, women in Iran are very active in society and are well-represented in every major field of work. Above is a (female) doctor delivering a newborn in a Tehran hospital. Also included in the picture show (linked on the left) is Iranian women firefighters, computer technicians, factory workers, and artists.

Despite what the mainstream U.S. media will often lead you to believe, women in Iran are very active in society and are well-represented in every major field of work. Above is a (female) doctor delivering a newborn in a Tehran hospital. Also included in the picture show (linked on the left) is Iranian women firefighters, computer technicians, factory workers, and artists.

* Since we have been focused almost entirely on Iranian women in this issue, I would like to close this window with a slide show of very recent images of Iranian women at work in all segments of the society. Please click here: Women at Work in Iran.

Till the next window, have a wonderful summer and a great weekend!

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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Scott Ritter, former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector, will be in St. Louis this week speaking at both Washington University and the Saint Louis Ethical society. Please come join us!

Scott Ritter, former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector, will be in St. Louis this week speaking at both Washington University and the Saint Louis Ethical society. Please come join us!

Dear All,

I hope you are well. As many of you already know, Scott Ritter the former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector in Iraq will soon speak in St. Louis.  This is a rare opportunity to listen to a renowned and dedicated expert. If you are in the vicinity of St. Louis, please come and bring a friend, particularly someone who fears Iran and might favor military action.There will be ample opportunity for them to ask questions. Mr. Ritter will speak on three separate occasions:

* On Friday, April 4, at 2:00 p.m., he will speak on Washington University campus addressing the issue of Iran as a nuclear threat. The event is designed specifically for Washington U. students but it is open to public. Click here for the flyer: Scott Ritter Talk at Washington University.

* The larger public speaking event is held at the St. Louis Ethical Society on Friday April 4, at 7:30 pm. Mr. Ritter will address the possibility of a U.S. military assault on Iran.  In this event, two distinguished panelists, Professors Leila Sadat (Washington University) and John Renard (St. Louis University), will briefly add their insights to Mr. Ritter’s presentation before the floor is open for Q & A.  Click here for the flyer: Scott Ritter Talk at Saint Louis Ethical Society.

Professor Leila Sadat (Washington University in St. Louis) is an internationally-recognized expert on international and human rights law.

Prof. Leila Sadat (Washington University) is an internationally-recognized expert on international and human rights law.

Professor John Renard (Saint Louis University) is a distinguished scholar of Islam.

Prof. John Renard (St. Louis University) is a distinguished scholar of Islam and the author of the classic "Seven Doors to Islam."

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* Finally, on Saturday April 5, he will speak and participate in a workshop on peace from 9:00 to 12:00. For details, you can call (314) 723-4991.

These should be very informative events about Iran. I look forward to seeing you there.

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 47

Happy Nouruz Everyone!!! Persian families throughout the world right now are celebrating Nouruz (Nowrouz), the Persian New Year. Above is an example of the a "hafsin," which is a special table prepared for Nouruz (please see the link below for much more information about Nouruz).

Happy Nouruz Everyone!!! Persian families throughout the world right now are celebrating Nouruz (Nowrouz), the Persian New Year. Above is an example of a "haftsin," which is a special table prepared for the Nouruz celebration.

Dear All,

Greetings and a very Happy Spring to you! We are in the first week of Nouruz, the Persian New Year. How can I not come out of sabbatical to open a new window, even the ground hog is out. I’ll make this a pictorial essay as far as possible (Usually I attach one slide show only. Hope it wouldn’t be too hard on your computers).

Nouruz (Nowrouz)

* Persian speakers call the Near Year Nouruz (literally A New Day) to highlight the refreshing and life-giving nature of the season. Linked below is a power point show on how Nouruz is celebrated in Iran and other Persian speaking parts of the world. If you are a teacher, I hope it will help in the classroom. Please click here: The Nouruz (Nowrouz) Celebration.

Love

* Let me start with my favorite picture of the year taken by an Iranian youth last year (below). The picture won a photography contest in Japan. The young photographer called it “love.”

A young Iranian photographer took this award-winning and heart-warming photo, entitled "Love."

A young Iranian photographer took this award-winning and heart-warming photo, entitled "Love."

Recommended Reference Source

* If you like to look up information about Iran or Persian traditions, one of the best reference sources available in major libraries is Encyclopedia Iranica edited by a prominent Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater. To read about him and the encyclopedia visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehsan_Yarshater.

Distinguished Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater with Iranian Nobel Peace Laurette Shirin Ebadi and the prominent Iranian author and womens rights activist Mehrangiz Kar.

Distinguished Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater with Iranian Nobel Peace Laurette Shirin Ebadi (left) and the prominent Iranian author and women's rights activist Mehrangiz Kar (right).

Things are Looking Scary Again

* I had thought to leave any discussion of political conflict out of this particular window. After the NIE Report released in December, which demonstrated the Intelligence community’s confidence about lack of nuclear weapons in Iran, the chances of an American military confrontation with Iran seemed very slim. In recent weeks, particularly since the resignation of Admiral Fallon from the Central Command, rumors of a possible confrontation have been revived. A number of developments contribute to these rumors:

1. Vice President Cheney’s extended tour of the Middle East: here is an interesting essay by Micheal Klare, professor of peace and correspondent for The Nation: http://www.agenceglobal.com/article.asp?id=1515.

2. According to Japan Focus, an Asia Pacific Electronic Journal,  a unit within the US Treasury Department, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), issued a March 20th advisory to the world’s financial institutions about transactions with Iran. Apparently, this is an important economic move to further isolate Iran: http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2707.

3. So far President Bush had described Iran as a threat to its immediate neighbors. This seems rather unusual since four of Iran’s neighbors have substantial   U.S. military bases on their soil and two of them or are invaded by the U.S. It now appears that the French President Sarkozy has joined the heads of states who feel threatened by Iran. Speaking Friday in the northern French port of Cherbourg, President Sarkozy described Iran as a threat to Europe. In light of the fact that the U.S. army is sitting on three sides of Iran, not to mention the U.S. full presence in the Persian Gulf, most observers will find this claim exaggerated at best. However, the substance of this claim is less important than the hostile tone that the French president has adopted.

4. Finally, the most troubling recent development of all is the report by Egyptian sources that an American nuclear submarine has crossed the Suez Canal to join the US fleet stationed in the Persian Gulf: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/4439.

Could all of these be coincidences? One would disparately hope so…and no one can be sure. But – if you are among the people who feel you must work to prevent another disastrous war- this is the time.

A beautiful painting by the very talented Iranian painter Sepideh Farzam (please click the link to the right for more of her outstanding paintings).

A beautiful painting by the very talented Iranian painter Sepideh Farzam (please click the link below for more of her outstanding work).

Visual Delight

* If you are a regular reader of “Windows on Iran,” you know that we have a tradition of following unpleasant political events with art work from Iran. So, traditionally I close each window with a power point slide show of a recent painting exhibit in Iran. I hope it washes off the bitter taste of political conflict but also demonstrates the creativity and vibrancy of the current Persian culture. For this reason, I pick most of the paintings from the works of young artists and mostly women.

* Today’s artist is Sepideh Farzam, she was born in the city of Tabriz in north east of Iran.  Unlike most artists featured in these windows, she is not a graduate of and an art program. Sepideh, is an electric engineer by profession, an engineer who has followed her interest in painting quite seriously. She has had many group exhibits in various galleries in Iran. To See Ms. Farzam’s latest show, please click here: Sepideh Farzam Paintings. It is a fairly small exhibit. Enjoy.

Let us hope that the joy of this Nouruz will not be tarnished with the news of another war. Till our next window, have a great spring.

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 oil painting by the young (and talented!) Iranian artist Adel Younesi, depicting a scene from the streets of Iran (please see the end of this 'Window' for more of his works).

A beautiful oil painting by the young (and talented!) Iranian artist Adel Younesi, depicting a scene from the streets of Iran (please see the end of this

Dear All,

I hope you are all well. This window must have surprised you. I apologize for the very long delay, and thank you all for the kind messages of inquiry that you have sent me during this time. If you wrote to me recently, you know that I am on leave of absence from the university, and that I have been trying to spend the time for research and my next writing project.

So many of you have had questions about Iran, and particularly the new set of U.N. sanctions imposed on the country that I feel I must come out of hibernation and send out this special window:

* The new set of sanctions make it harder and harder for Iran to maintain normal trade relations with the world. And even though it is usually presented as an alternative to military action against Iran, it in fact gives the U.S. Navy the right to inspect any “suspicious” cargo that would go in and out of Iran. In other words, it could very well pave the way for further confrontation.

* Unfortunately, the message sent by the U.S. media is a repetition of the old line: Iran is getting a slap on the wrist because it continues to defy the “will of the international community” which wants it to abandon its ambition for nuclear power (possible to be used for producing weapons down the road).

* In fact, the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)- which the members of the Security Council do not seem to have payed any attention to – appears to provide the opposite picture. The report indicates that the Agency considers the major questions they were investigating ” no longer outstanding at this stage.” Furthermore, the IAEA Director Mohammad ElBaradei said in Q&A with reporters: “we have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues, including the most important issue, which is the scope and nature of Iran’s enrichment program.” The question for the world to ask at this point is: Why would this conclusion not lead to the easing of sanctions and a change of the interactive mode with Iran from confrontational to cooperative?

* In many places in the world, people are asking this very question. Here is an excellent article by Siddharth Varadarajan published in The Hindu, the on-line version of India’s national newspaper. In his perceptive and carefully argued essay, Varadarajan expresses amazement at the U.N. for escalating a problem which seems to have in fact been resolved: http://www.hindu.com/2008/03/05/stories/2008030554841000.htm.

* The latest IAEA report, and the fact that Iran has been cleared of all outstanding charges, can indeed be a chance for starting a new relationship with Iran and ending the nuclear crisis by implementing the additional protocol which would guarantee the country will not use its nuclear resources for a weapon’s program. Here is another interesting analysis: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/4185.

Iranian artist Adel Younesi (click the link on the right for more of his oil painting renderings of scenes from the streets of Iran).

Iranian artist Adel Younesi (click the link on the left for more of his oil painting renderings of scenes from the streets of Iran).

* Before I close this very brief window, I must honor our tradition of sharing a visual delight with you: a slide show of a recent exhibit of a very young Iranian painter Adel Younesi who paints with oil on canvas and has an eye for people on lively street corners. Please click here: Adel Younesi Oil Paintings. Enjoy!

Until the next window,
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 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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