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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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An up-close look at the beautiful Safran fields of Khorasan. Please see below for many more striking photos of the annual Safran harvest in Northeastern Iran.

An up-close look at the beautiful Safran fields of Khorasan. Please see below for many more striking photos from the annual Safran harvest in Northeastern Iran.

Dear All,

I hope you have had a nice and restful Thanksgiving. If you have added a friend’s name to these windows, please give us a few days before we could add new names to our mailing list.

And now, let us open window 44 without further delay with recent images from Iran.

Visual Delight

* Iran is one of the major producers of “zafaran” or “safran” in the world. To see beautiful scenes of working on safran fields in the North Eastern province of Khorasan, click here to view them: Safran Fields of Khorasan. My thanks to Dr. Bastani for circulating these wonderful images.

An Iranian woman harvesting Safran in the fields of Khorasan (please click the link above from more beautiful photos).

An Iranian woman harvesting Safran in the fields of Khorasan (please click the link above from more beautiful photos).

Yahoo Removes Iran

* The people of Iran can no longer register as “Iranian” if they open a Yahoo account because the name of Iran as a country has been removed from its list. Of course, as in many similar actions, this has no effect or exerts no pressure on the Iranian government. It helps cut off the people of Iran from the outside world. Iranians are number four bloggers in the world. E-mail is also a very important way for them to keep connected. If you wish to object to this, please visit: http://www.petitiononline.com/yahoo07/petition.html

The Efforts to Prevent a Military attack on Iran have intensified

* Letter to Missouri Lawmakers: Here in St. Louis, my tireless activist friend and colleague Andrew Wimmer of the Center for Theology and Social Analysis at St. Louis University has formed a new campaign: SILENCE = WAR. Please visit the group’s emerging website: http://www.silenceiswar.org/ and support their efforts to speak up for peace. As their first effort, the group has written to the two Missouri senators asking if they would “take an unprovoked military assault against Iran off the table.” And if they would withdraw their support for the preparations for such an assault underway in Missouri as Boeing in St. Charles builds and delivers a new 30,000 pound bunker buster bomb that would be dropped by B2 bombers based at Whiteman Air Force Base outside Kansas City. The letter requests a written response by December 3. To see the content of the full letter, visit: http://www.ctsastl.org/Iran/bond_iran.pdf.

* Another dear friend Jack Renard of St. Louis University was one of the first St. Louisans to respond to the above plea for peace with a letter of his own. Jack’s letter is so balanced, sincere, and insightful that I have asked his permission to share it with you in the hope that many use it as a model: http://www.ctsastl.org/Iran/renard_iran.pdf. Prof. Renard is a distinguished scholar of Islam with numerous book titles to his credit. Some of his works such Seven Doors to Islam: Spirituality and the Religious Life of the Muslims published by University of California, Berkeley are now classics. For his other works, visit his site at: http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/theology/faculty_renard.php.

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* Another important piece on the dangers of an attack on Iran is called “Hands Off Iran” by Chris Hedges. In this brief and insightful piece, Hedges lays out the implications of an unprovoked war against Iran: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071210/hedges.

The Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial

* Let’s take a break from war talk by a visit to another visual delight. Many think sculpture is among the art forms not commonly favored by Muslims. Well, the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial, this week, has enthralled art critics world wide. To read a short description and see photos of the sculptures, visit: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/nov/1218.html.

Fifth Annual Sculpture Tehran

An exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more information on the event and check out some of the other interesting exhibits as well).

Another exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more on the event and more photos of the exhibits).

Another exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more information on the event and check out some of the other interesting exhibits as well).

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Creative Attempts to Prevent a War: A Direct Line to Iran

* Most people passing the Boston Common’s Park Street T stop shrugged at the display: a red telephone with a retro design, symbolic of the hotline established between the White House and the Kremlin during the Cold War. It sat on a small table with a white table cloth and a sign out front, which proclaimed “Direct Line to Iran.” An MIT student stood to its left, listened in on headphones and provided English-Farsi translation. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/11/14/5205/.

The Enough Fear Campaign

* If you want to join a group of vibrant Iranians and Americans who have started an international effort to prevent war between the US and Iran, just visit the bi-lingual site “Enough Fear” at: http://enoughfear.org/. The organizers of the site collect and post photos of Americans and Iranians to demonstrate the solidarity between the peace makers in both countries. Do join, and make your own contribution, every click counts! (my thanks to Robert Connolly for sending this wonderful site).

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Saber Rattling us to the Next Disaster

* Mr. Daniel M Pourkesali, a U.S. Board member in Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran expresses concern that the danger of a U.S. military attack on Iran is far from over. In a meticulously documented piece, he mentions – among other things- that “according to a report published by The Observer [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2209036,00.html], US military officials are pressuring interrogators questioning Iraqi insurgents to press for incriminating evidence that points to Iran.” For the full article go to: http://iranian.com/main/blog/daniel-m-pourkesali/saber-rattling-us-next-disaster.

Sane Officers Oppose a War on Iran

* Just so we don’t despair totally, there are still many voices of sanity, some from the U.S. army, working hard to prevent a military campaign against Iran. To read a very interesting article on this, sent by Matt Miller, visit: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20071115_sane_officers_oppose_cheney/.

A painting by Farah Ossouli (please see the link on the left for more of her work).

A painting by Farah Ossouli (please see the link on the left for more of her work).

More Visual Delights

* Let us close this window with a slide show of recent paintings by a young Iranian woman artist Farah Ossouli. You have seen another of her exhibits in these windows. But this one is different. Please click here: Farah Ossouli Paintings. Enjoy.

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 in the city of Yazd, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhimpanah www.iranian.com).

A beautiful garden in the city of Yazd. See below for more pictures from the beautiful historic city of Yazd (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhimpanah http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

I hope you are doing well. Please publicize the information provided
through this window as widely as you can. While the information coming
out of the media here is alarming, in Iran the atmosphere is calm.
There is even hope that a joint proposal by Russia and Iran would find
a way to would to the lifting of the U.N. Sanctions and the halting of
the enrichment. Despite celebrating the anniversary of the revolution,
the Iranian government has been sending a conciliatory message
basically: give us a chance and we will negotiate.

Let me share a fun discovery I made only last week! Iranians are one
of the top ten blogger nations in the world.

With that, let us attend to our Window on Iran – 19.

Current Issues

* A chilling article Charging Iran with Genocide before Nuking it, Gary
Leupp, Professor of History at Tufts writes predicts a U.S. nuclear
strike on Iran by this April. “Within weeks from now,” he writes
quoting a Russian military analyst, “we will see the informational
warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under
pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria,
new information leaks, disinformation, etc.”  My comment:  there will
be visual warfare as well using images of flag waving Iranians
celebrating the 27th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution  as proof of
national support for Ahmadinejad and evidence of mass anti-western
hysteria. Leupp’s article is available here: An Existential Threat: Charging

Iran with Genocide before Nuking It by Gary Leupp.

* All the flag waving youth will line up behind President Ahmadinejad if
there is a war on Iran. Take a look at this article in the Guardian
“Only the US hawks can save the Iranian president now” sent to me by
Jamal Rostami:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2001703,00.html

* The American Public still wants the government to directly talk with
Iran, say 71% of the Republicans and 81% , a wide ranging analysis by
WorldPublicOpinion.org of polls from numerous organizations reveals.
According to a wide range of polls, there is substantial agreement
across party lines on many of the most contentious issues facing
policy makers today:
http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/295.php?nid=&id=&pnt=295&lb=hmpg1

* Certain tendencies within the media work to change the above
consensus. An unlikely contributor to that is he History channel. On
Friday, Feb. 9, the History channel aired a program called “Iran : The
Next Iraq?” Adding disclaimers such as “perhaps” and “may be,” the
show described Iran as “perhaps  the most clear and present danger to
American security.” The program “explored” claims as laughable as
Iran’s attempt “to gain a place among the world’s super powers.” And
looked at “evidence” for Iran’s secret pursuit of a nuclear weapon
which it “may intend to use on the United States or its allies.” The
fact is that Iran is nowhere close to becoming a World’s super powers,
the IAEA reports reveal no evidence for any weapon’s program . All
they say is that the absence of such a program cannot be proven
(sounds familiar?).
* Very important: Last week, Iranian authorities arrested two al-Qa’idah
suspects who were trying to cross Iran on their way out of Pakistan.
Shouldn’t this be a positive sign?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/09/AR2007020902294.html?referrer=emai

Finally please note that  the Iraqi government has distanced itself
fully from the American accusations against Iran’s involvement in
Iraq, the major newspaper asharqalawsat  reports (in Arabic)
http://www.asharqalawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&issue=10303&article=406005

Cultural/Social/Aristic

We all need a break from all the above, don’t we? Here is a second
slide show of the small, ancient, and beautiful city of Yazd in
central Iran. Please circulate the slide show as widely as you can.
Bleak and frightening images of Iran are distributed, to present the
country as a suitable target. Click here: Ancient and Beautiful City of Yazd. Enjoy!

Yazd architecture (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhimpanah www.iranian.com)

Yazd architecture (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhimpanah http://www.iranian.com)

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Rakhshan Bani Etemad

Here, I have another break for you from political myth making and scare mongering: The Iranian Annual Film Festival Fajr. The award for the best director went to my favorite director, one of the grand ladies of the Iranian Cinema: Rakhshan Bani Etemad.  Bani Etemtmad is most outspoken screen writer and director whose films highlight the problems of poverty, gender, and social inequality. She became known with Nargis the story of a young girl from a disadvantaged family who got involved with a trio of two thieves and a prostitute. For slide show of the final night of the Fajr Festival, click here: Iranian Annual Film Festival Fajr.

Baran Kowsari receiving her award for best actress at the Iranian Annual Film Festival Fajr (image courtesy of Arash Khamooshi, ISNA).

Baran Kowsari receiving her award for best actress at the Iranian Annual Film Festival Fajr (image courtesy of Arash Khamooshi, ISNA).

Scientific

No, it is not about nuclear technology. On Monday February 5, Iranian Scientists at the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Center announced the use of a new technique in treating spinal cord injuries. According to Houshang Saberi, director of the center, while in case of full paralysis the recovery has been about 15 percent, in partial injuries up to 85 percent recovery has been achieved: http://tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=2/5/2007&Cat=5&Num=001

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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