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

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

Dear All,

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

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

Current Issues

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

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

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

Relief from Current Events

Cyrus the Greats Palace at Pasargadae.

Cyrus the Great's Palace at Pasargadae.

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

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

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

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

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Windows on Iran 23

The historical Persian King Xerxes(above), who bares no resemblence to the offensive depiction of him in the Hollywood movie 300. See below for more on this movie and its historically inaccurate portrayal of King Xerxes and the Persian Empire.

The real historical Persian King Xerxes (above), who, notice, bares absolutely no resemblance to the bizarre and, ultimately, offensive depiction of him in the Hollywood movie '300.' See below for more on this movie and its grossly historically inaccurate portrayal of Xerxes and the Persian Empire in general.

Dear Friends,

It is a pleasure to open another window, one that greets the Spring. Iranians everywhere in the world are now busy preparing for Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, 1386! For my Nowrouz gift to you, click here: Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration). I hope it gives you a fun visual tool for teaching about Nowrouz. Happy Nowrouz/spring to you All.
I receive daily requests to subscribe to this list. Thank you for your interest. Please allow us a day or two before getting your first window.  If you have been added to the list by mistake, please write us a short message and we will take you off.
Hollywood’s Nowrouz Gift to Iranians

A scene from the movie 300. Far from being a harmless Hollywood thriller, this movie is a blatant piece of propaganda that contains numerous historic inaccuracies that all conveniently serve to demonize the Persians and glorify Sparta (the symbol of the Western, free world). Please click on the link to Dr. Touraj Daryaees critique for comprehensive analysis.

A scene from the movie "300," with a utterly bizarre and distinctly 'othering' depiction of the Persian King Xerxes (right) and King Leonidas (left). Far from being a harmless Hollywood thriller, this movie is a blatant propaganda piece that contains numerous historical inaccuracies which all conveniently serve to simultaneously demonize the Persians and glorify the Spartans (the symbol of the Western, free world). Please click on the link below to read Dr. Touraj Daryaee's superb critique of '300.'

* If you are an Iranian, you will have a hard time deciding which misrepresentation of yourself to expose! This year it has been made easy for Iranians. They get their New Year’s gift in the form an ominous movie called “300” that portrays Persians / Iranians as “inarticulate monsters, raging towards the West, trying to rob its people of their basic values.” The movie “demeans the population of Iran and anesthetizes the American population to war in the Middle East” in the words of Touraj Daryaee, Professor of Ancient History (Californian State U., Fullerton). In a review essay called: “Go tell Spartans How “300” misrepresents Persians in history,” Prof. Daryaee critiques the movie eloquently. For example, in the movie, the historical quote “We are the mothers of men,” is addressed to a Persian brute (obviously blind to gender issues). According to Daryaee, this sentence had nothing to do with Persians, but rather was part of a completely Greek debate on the position of women, regarding the fact that Athenian women were forced to stay in the andron (inner sanctum of the house) so that their reputations would not be tarnished. Spartan women were different than the Athenian women, but Persian women of this period had more freedoms than either the Spartans or Athenians and not only participated in politics, but also joined the army, owned property, and ran businesses.

1-21).

A more historically faithful depiction of the Persian King Xerxes (or, also a times referred to as 'Ahasuerus' ) with his Jewish wife Esther (of the 'Book of Esther' in the Hebrew Scriptures fame, see Esther I: 1-21).

As a New Year’s gift to the Iranian Community, please share Prof. Daryaee’s excellent critique of the movie with students, friends, and relatives. It might feel as if we are trying to carve a tunnel in a huge mountain with a plastic spoon. But every single person counts. My thanks to Zari Taheri for sharing this valuable link:
http://www.iranian.com/Daryaee/2007/March/300/index.html

A Threat to All of us!

Perhaps influenced by movies of the above kind, a couple of days ago Senator Obama gave his Nowrouz gift to the Iranians by calling Iran “a threat to all of us.” An astonishingly vague, and dangerous, assertion. Please note that in the past fifty years or so, American politicians have worked to persuade the public that: Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Panama, Nicaragua, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq were all threats to American and world security. Magically, Saudi Arabia, which produced the majority of the 9/11 hijackers, sponsors Wahhabism, and prevents its own women from driving on the streets, appears not to be a threat.

Chaharshanbe Suri

We need a break. How about watching a ‘dangerous’ Iranian family
celebrating a pre-Nowrouz event in their neighborhood? It is done on
the last Wednesday of the year by jumping over fire while asking for
its symbolic “color and warmth.” Click here: Chaharshanbeh Suri.

Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration) Haftsin (click on the Nowrouz link above for more details).

A Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration) Haftsin (click on the Nowrouz link above for more details).

Regime Change

* I know this is supposed to be a New Year Window. Still, Iranians are
celebrating it with talk of regime change in the background. The
concept is familiar. The people of Chile experienced it. In fact, they
had their own September 11 tragedy with an almost similar number of
casualties (3,000). On September 11, 1973  a CIA sponsored General
Augusto Pinochet conducted a coup, seized total power, and established
a military dictatorship which lasted until 1990. At the time of his
death in 2006, around 300 criminal charges in Chile were still pending
against Pinochet for human rights abuses and embezzlement during his
rule.

* I want to share an Iranian regime change with you that took place in
early 1950s. A democratically elected Iranian prime minister Mohammad
Mosaddeq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mossadegh)  worked to nationalize
the Iranian oil industry that had been under the control of a British
company. The contracts gave Iranians next to nothing while the British
were laughing all the way to the bank. Mosaddeq was overthrown in a
joint British-American coup. Here is what the American people read on
August 6, 1954 in a New York Times’ editorial: “Underdeveloped
countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy
cost that must be paid by one of their number [Iran] which goes
berserk with fanatical nationalism.” There is another lesson in the
overthrow of Mosaddeq, one that the New York times editorial does not
mention. Be skeptical when people are presented to you as “fanatical.”
They may simply be trying to take control of their own resources. Here
is a suggested reading on this regime change if you like to see a
detailed analysis:

Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953
Coup in Iran: A Joint U.S.-British Regime Change Operation in 1953
that Holds Lessons for Today
(Syracuse University Press, 2004).
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB126/index.htm

Iranian Americans on Stage

* You have not been really integrated into a culture unless people can
laugh at you! Iranian American standing comedians are working on that.
Here is a clip from Maz Jobrani sent by my friend Hayrettin Yocesoy.
Thanks Hayrettin, this is culturally interesting, and funny too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADU1lhEb1X0&mode=related&search

* Iranian Americans are getting themselves on another kind of stage too,
that of American politics. Beverly Hills eyes Jimmy Delshad, an
Iranian American, for mayor. Here is the report, if you like to read
more: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7770255&ft=1&f=1003

Headlines in Iran

Iran has been ready to suspend uranium enrichment, although, not as a
pre-condition to negotiations. The former Iranian president Mohammad
Khatami urged Iran to compromise on the nuclear issue to avoid further
crisis: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070312/wl_afp/irannuclearpolitics_070312113740

Visual Delight

A painting by Nilufar Baghaei (click on the link to the left for more!).

A painting by Nilufar Baghaei (click on the link to the left for more!).

Let’s see if we can revive the spirit of Nowrouz through meeting another delightful visual artist. This is a young Iranian painter and graphic artist, Nilufar Baghaei (b. 1969). Nilufar’s work is heavily inspired by children’s drawings the themes of which she explores creatively and colorfully. There you are, three themes most relevant to Nowrouz: children, creativity, and color.  To Watch Nilufar Baghaei’s art show, click here Nilufar Baghaei Art, enjoy!

Have a great spring, and see you next week.

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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Traditional Iranian Tea House in Shiraz

Traditional Iranian Tea House in Shiraz

Greetings again!

Many thanks for all your kind messages and for forwarding to friends.
Within minutes of sending out a new “Window,” I receive thank you
messages from a wide range of places in the world! I feel amply rewarded
for the work I put into each window. Sometimes, you write with a
specific query about a book or a film you want to use in class. Given my
current teaching and departmental responsibilities, please allow
approximately two weeks for a response.

I number the windows so we have a simple way to keep track. Please let
me know if there are missing numbers in the windows you have received,
JoAnn or I will forward them to you.

Current Issues

* Since you are likely to read this message tomorrow, I would like
to share with you a beautiful and moving piece of music written by
the Iranian musician Kourosh Taqavi for the traditional Persian
instrument setar, dedicated to the victims of 9/11 tragedy. Setar
is a small long-necked lute, an intimate instrument known for its
ability to express emotion. You will see a picture of it.  Please
be sure to listen to the whole excerpt (5 minutes):
http://www.iranian.com/Music/2001/September/Kourosh/index.html
* Last week I criticized NPR for misrepresenting a speech in
persian. This week I must commend the station for the very
informative program “Speaking of Faith” on Islam (touching on Iran
as well) aired this morning, 9:00-10:00. The panorama of voices
and views was refreshing. Among the Iranian American scholars
interviewed were Omid Safi (UNC), and Seyyid Hossein Nasr (George
Washington).

Suggested Reading: in relation to discussions surrounding the
anniversary of September 11, I would like to recommend a volume edited
by Professor Safi,  good for personal as well as classroom use:
Progressive Muslims: on Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Oxford:
Oneworld, 2003).

* Iran continued to be in the papers.  LETTER FROM IRAN: A
Different Face of Iran
(Steven Knipp) in last Sunday’s Washington
Post is notable. Knipp observes: “what astonished me the most
about Iran were its women. I met and spoke with scores of them
from all parts of the country. And everywhere they were
wonderful: vivid, bold, articulate in several languages,
politically astute and audaciously outward-looking. While some men
demurred, the women weren’t afraid to voice opinions about
anything under the sun.” Not surprisingly, Knipp feels the need to
explain: ” In fact, women in Iran can work and drive and vote, own
property or businesses, run for political office and seek a
divorce. The majority of Iran’s university graduates are women.”
Sadly, the negative language that usually characterizes all media
reports on Iran surfaces in this well-intentioned letter as well
when the author expresses hope that:  “this once noble nation will
one day return to its tolerant roots.”  Similarly, the subtitle
for the letter reads: “An American finds hope in the Forbidden
Land.” Why forbidden land? What is forbidden? It is not clear. The
reader might assume (wrongly) that getting in and out of Iran is
not possible.

* Last week, Iran was in the news for a specific reason: a visit by
the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. He was here to
deliver the keynote address during the three-day annual event that
brought together approximately 40,000 Muslims: Islamic Society of
North America convention in Rosemont. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of
Defense Gordon England, Ingrid Matteson, the Society’s first
female president, and Robert Fisk, the celebrated British
journalist were among the speakers. Khatami’s address titled,
“Achieving Balance in a Troubled World,” focused on the complexity
of human identity and the need for American Muslims to acknowledge
the American as well as the Muslim component of their identity.
Chicago Sun-Times had a report on the convention if you like to
read more:
http://www.suntimes.com/output/religion/cst-nws-islamic01.html

* In a news conference held at the National Cathedral, Khatami
condemned committing violence in the name of any religion as a
double crime — one against humanity, and one against religions
which are “based on faith and love.”

Art/Culture

* Let us use the subject we are on to transition from politics into
art! In Iran, Khatami is best known for his support of arts,
particularly performing arts. Last year, the young Iranian super
star, actress Pegah Ahangarani
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegah_Ahangarani

staged a show about Khatami in December 2005 to mark the ending of
his presidency. The show called ” A Night with the Man with a
Chocolate Robe” drew a large crowd and many reviews in the Iranian
media. Khatami joined the ladies on stage and spoke about the
significance of supporting and furthering his legacy of reform:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Khatami

* I know, I know my “windows” have often focused on women. It isn’t
my fault, as Knipp observed, there are many bright articulate
Iranian ladies making their artistic/intellectual statements. I
promise more attention to male contributions soon! For now, I
would like you to meet one more of my favorite Ladies of current
Iranian Cinema: internationally acclaimed writer and director,
Tahmineh Milani. Last time I went to see one of her films “Two
Women” in Iran, the wait in line for the ticket was one hour.
Milani has addressed many social issues, most of all those related
to women, family and gender. For a short bio and list of her
films, visit:
http://www.iranchamber.com/cinema/tmilani/tahmineh_milani.php

* And one more lady from Iranian cinema: Niki Karimi. Karimi started
with acting, worked closely with Milani, and moved into script
writing, documentary making and most recently directing. She has
won national fame, and many awards, for all of them. You may read
more about her and her films in:
http://www.nikikarimi.ir/biography.htm

Suggested Reading: Since we focused mostly on cinema, let me suggest a
good reading on the history of Iranian cinema and its recent
developments: The New Iranian Cinema: Politics, Representation and
Identity. The volume is edited by Richard Tapper and has contributions
from various scholars of Iranian cinema including Hamid Naficy.

Visual Delight

* It has turned into a tradition to close the window after a stroll
in a painting exhibit. Let us visit a 2006 exhibit by Neda Chaychi
born in 1971. In addition to her training as an artist, Neda has a
degree in clinical psychology. She has had many exhibits in the
last few years in Iran. As you see, women images are prominent in
her work:  http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=317

Until Next Window!
Fatemeh

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

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The Real Faces of Iran

The Real Faces of Iran

Dear Friends,

In the past few months, the U.S. media coverage of Iran has gone from bad to unbelievable. It used to emphasize the negative and leave out the positive. It now appears to be inventing information that those of us in close contact with Iran are unable to trace. For example, in May 2006 there was a report in the papers here that the Iranian Jews will be
forced to wear a uniform. Last weekend, another breaking news was: Ahmadinejad is imposing a ban on the use of foreign words. There is no
truth to either of these (I won’t list more).

Some of us in the Iranian American community feel that, due to the
explosive conditions in the Middle East, we must provide our American
friends and family members with possibility of access to reliable
information, small as its impact might be. This is why I have put this
e-mail update together to keep you informed of events in contemporary
Iran. Its frequency would be once a week — unless there is significant
breaking news. I have made contact with friends who will monitor the
news in Iran, and I will try to follow reliable publications here.
Needless to say,  I will not be able to be comprehensive.

If you feel you don’t need these updates, please let me know to take you
off the list. If you wish to check how informed you might be about Iran,
take a look at the following questions:

On the issue of the Iranian nuclear program, did you know that:

* The Iranian supreme religious leader issued a legal decree (fatwa)
on November 6, 2004  in which all development, production, and use
of nuclear weapons is considered against the Islamic principles
and should not be undertaken under any circumstances.
* Iranian nuclear facilities have been inspected over 2000 time
during the past three years (some surprise inspections) by the
IAEA and nothing illegal has been found. The IAEA’s report has
specified “to date, there is no evidence that undeclared material
are related to any weapon’s programs.”
* Iran is home to tens of thousands of people affected by Saddam
Husain’s chemical weapons, and people have a strong feeling
against the use of such weapons (I know some of these people
personally).
* Iran has described the package of incentives from the west as
potentially acceptable and announced a while ago that there will
be an official and detailed reply by August 22nd, 2006.

On the issues related to the local politics, did you know that:

* the Taliban are an enemy of Iran and have engaged in regular
assassinations of Iranian diplomats.
* The Iranian regime considers al-Qa’ideh a terrorist organization.
* Iranians held night long vigils to commemorate the victims of 9/11.
* Iran does not support the Shiite extremist Moqtada al-Sadr, and
prefers peace, stability, and democratic elections in Iraq because
it does not wish its own Kurdish population to aspire to
separatist ideas and because a democratic election in Iraq will
give a prominent role to the Iraqi Shiites.
* According to all major historians of the region, in reality, Iran
exercises little influence on the Hezbollah.

On the social and cultural front, did you know:

* the latest best-selling titles in Iran are the DaVinci Code and
Hillary Clinton’s My life in (Persian translation)
* according to the latest statistics, close to 70% of the Iranian
university students are women
* IVF, and gamete donation, as well as transsexual operations are
legal in Iran.
* Iranian cinema produces critically acclaimed films (often openly
critical of the regime).
* Iranian women golfers, race car drivers, and polo players compete
internationally.

I hope my next messages will be much shorter. Please let me know if you
wish your name to be taken off this list, or if you wish to add
someone’s name to it. I will send out my first update message soon.

Best,
Fatemeh Keshavarz

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

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