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Windows on Iran 28

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

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

Dear All,

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

On to our Window number 28!

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

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

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

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

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

Time to Laugh!

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

Abadan, Iran.

Abadan, Iran.

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

Science

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

Social

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till Window 29, have a great week!

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

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Tehran at night.

Tehran at night (image courtesy of Arash Hamidi http://www.hamidi.ir).

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have all had a very nice holiday break and are ready for
2007. Thanks again for all your kind messages after window number 16.
I have finally managed to catch up with e-mail responding to your
personal messages. Please note that there was an unusually high volume
of bounced messages as Window number 16 was sent out to the list. This
may be due to full mail boxes over the holidays. If you did not
receive Window on Iran – 16, and would like to have it,  please write
a short note in response to this message and we will resend that
window to you.

Before we get to our  current issues which usually focuses on
conflict, I would like to share two beautiful seasonal images from
Iran:

Iranian Christians praying in a Tehran church on Christmas (image courtesy of www.iranian.com).

Iranian Christians praying in a Tehran church on Christmas (image courtesy of http://www.iranian.com).

To see some neat pictures of Iranian Christians celebrating this past Christmas in Iran click on:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jan/1006.html
Also, I have attached a very short slide show – about ten slides – of winter images from the famous Dizin ski resort in Iran. The photos are by Shahrokh Setudeh. Click here: The famous Dizin Ski Resort in Tehran. Enjoy.

Current Issues

Following American’s recent announcement of its readiness to deal with outside interference in Iraq (interesting language to use by a country which has sent its own forces about 10,000 miles to solve Iraqi inner problems), the American security forces kidnapped five Iranian nationals in the city of Erbil in Iraq early last Wednesday morning. These unnamed officials called “diplomats” by the Iranian government and “operatives” by the Americans are still in custody. So far, nothing other than a few local maps has been declared to be found on these individuals.
Iranian News sites reflect widespread criticism of Ahmadinejad’s
inflexible diplomacy on the developing Iranian nuclear industry amidst speculations that enrichment activity has been suspended at least in the Natanz site.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070113/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_nuclear_diplomacy

A major poll in Iran confirms that Ahmadinejad’s popularity is falling
dramatically since his election in June 2005. When asked “If the
elections were held today, what would be the chances of his election
to the office, 76.1% said “much less,” and 15% said “less.” Only 5%
said he would have a chance of getting re-elected. The total number of
respondents was over 43,000, a significant number in itself.

Sunday Times has revealed frightening plans of a possible Israeli
nuclear attack on Iran. The level of anxiety among the Iranians in the
country, and Iranian Americans in the U.S. is beyond description. All
we can do is hope and pray that a new Nagasaki and Hiroshima are not
in the making: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2535310,00.html

I received Robert Fisk’s article on Saddam’s execution from two
friends Bahar Hashemi and Adam Shriver. My general policy is not to
include in the Windows issues which are not directly relevant to Iran.
Here are some Iran-related excerpts from this article particularly
informative to Americans who wonder about anti-American feelings in
the region. These unfriendly feelings are often attributed to
religious hatred for western freedom. Fisk’s article describes a small
portion of what America signifies to many Iranians. On the American
support for the Iraqi attacks on Iran (1980-1988), Fisk quotes a
German arms dealer:

“Mr Fisk… at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I
was invited to go to the Pentagon,” he said. “There I was handed the
very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You
could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun
emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches
on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments –
thousands of them – all the way up the Iranian side of the border
towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I traveled
with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt
on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very
grateful!”
According to Mr. Fisk “the terrible cocktail” of nerve gas and mustard
gas used freely on Iranians and Kurds by the Iraqi dictator was also
“given to Saddam by the US. Washington denied this. But the Iranians
were right.” The most moving is Mr. Fisk’s personal encounter with
Iranian soldiers affected by these chemicals. I apologize for the
graphic nature: “I saw the results, however. On a long military
hospital train back to Tehran from the battle front, I found hundreds
of Iranian soldiers coughing blood and mucus from their lungs – the
very carriages stank so much of gas that I had to open the windows –
and their arms and faces were covered with boils.”  Rober Fisks full
article was published in the London Independent, in case you are
interested  http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article2114403.ece

More Visual Delight

All right, time for some nice friendly visual contact. Many of you
have told me that you like the visual information coming through these
windows. I think I have given you enough of historical monuments for a
while.  So, here is a power point slide show of just faces and places
in the city of Tehran. Just click here: The city and people of Tehran.

On that note, I wish you all a great week — and a great start to the
spring semester if you are in the academia. Again, please let me know
if you did not receive Window on Iran – 16.

Till the next Window, stay healthy and warm.

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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