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Windows on Iran 30

A peek at the stunning natural beauty of Iran (please see below for much more!).

A peek at the stunning natural beauty of Iran (please see below for much more!).

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the summer. St. Louis summers are beautifully green. They can be toasty and wet too. We are enjoying a bit of both at the moment. The news from Iran has both good and disturbing parts. Among the disturbing parts are further American action to create unrest in Iran, as is the Iranian government’s move to tighten its enforcement of the ladies dress code in public and of course the continued anxiety over the arrest of Dr. Esfandiari. Good things include news of continued strong resolve among Iranian women to enhance their presence on the social and political scene by forming new coalitions as well as the usual great artistic and intellectual activity in the country.

One of my goals in these windows is to dispel the myth that reduces Iran to a culture of “villains vs. victims.” I would like you to see that regardless of the internal and global issues that Iran is dealing with, Iranians continue to be a lively, creative, humorous, and art loving people like any other in the world. Here it is in the words of one of the major contemporary Iranian painters Iran Darrudi
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1304.html. Or, read about the three-minute documentary that the renowned Iranian director and screen-writer Abbas Kiarostami made on the occasion of Cannes Film festival’s 60th year. Kiarostami included in his three-minute documentary, 24 top Iranian actresses whom he has worked with over the years: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1226.html.

Visual Delight

Nothing connects cultures like a visit. Let’s take a look at some
recent photos of Iran’s natural beauty (thanks to my friend Bahar
Bastani who sent the images). I have kept the slide show short so your
home computers don’t have large files to deal with. Click here: Iran Natural Beauty.

The colorful countryside of Iran.

The colorful countryside of Iran.

Recent Visit to Iran

While disturbing news about visits to Iran get a lot of attention, the
happy and successful ones find it hard to get any. My friend Judith
Ernst who visited Iran recently, had promised to share her experience
with us. Judith wrote a beautiful piece which provides a rare window
on Iran as few Americans make such a visits these days. Her
thoughtfully written piece about the trip received little attention
from the national papers. However, fortunately, it was greeted
enthusiastically by on-line news source Commondreams (thank goodness
for the alternative media). Judy was in Iran with her husband, Carl
Ernst
, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was invited to a conference on Rumi and
while there received an award for his most recent book, Following
Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World
.  I recommend the book highly for personal reading and/or classroom use.  Now, for Judy’s take on the trip to Iran click on:
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/18/1348/

Current Issues
* And now to the not-so-exciting current news:

According to ABC News, the CIA has received secret presidential
approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the
Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence
community say. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has
signed a “nonlethal presidential finding” that puts into motion a CIA
plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda,
disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international
financial transactions.
http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/05/bush_authorizes.html

* Though the majority of Americans many not readily connect the two, the
recent harshness on the part of the Iranian government toward Iranians
themselves as well as Iranian American visitors has much to do with
these “regime change” plans cooked here in the U.S. In a letter
recently written by Emaddedin Baghi of Defending Prisoners’
Rights Society in Tehran, Iran and circulated through the
International Society for Iranian Studies here in the US, Mr. Baghi writes:

In recent years, the government of the United States has announced
that it has allocated a yearly budget for the support of civil
society, democracy, and human rights in Iran. This so-called
“democracy fund” is approved by the United States Congress and
extensive media coverage of this financial endeavor has been
encouraged.

Given the existence of long-standing hostilities between the
governments of Iran and the United States, the government of Iran has
shown extreme sensitivity to the idea of individuals or groups
receiving funds to engage in activities that, in the public words of
at least some American officials, is intended for an eventual “regime
change” in Iran. I am sure the United States government would show
similar sensitivity if it was revealed that there were individuals or
organizations in the United States that were receiving funds from
hostile groups or countries intent on creating instability in that
country.”

Mr. Baghi suggests in his letter that “Undoubtedly, not all these
pressures and arrests are reflective of recently developed government
concerns and suspicions. Forces that are against liberty also use the
U.S. budget allocation as a pretext or excuse to legitimize their
opposition to civil liberties and to discredit their critics.”
Nevertheless, he goes on to say: “It is not right for independent
individuals and institutions inside Iran to pay the price for
allocated funds that the United States government spends on
broadcasting from the United States into Iran or for the activities of
exiled Iranian groups that cooperate with various American
organizations.”
Mr. Baghi’s moving letter ends with “This is why I hereby make a plea
to you and your respected organizations to insist that the United
States government change its ways or, in case of its insistence on
allocating a yearly budget, make public and transparent the exact
amount and recipients (individuals and groups) of these funds.”

* On the brighter side, an Iranian woman member of the parliament,
Fatemeh Rakeii has announced a plan to form a coalition of women
political activists to help women gain all their rights in the
political and management arenas. Rakeii described the main goal of the
coalition as “abolition” of gender discrimination. At the same time, a
coalition of reformist women is also about to form in order to
increase women’s seats in the 2008 parliamentary elections. To read
more on these, please visit:
http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=490115

* In these windows, I am always talking about one-sidedness of the media
on Iran/Islam related issues. At the moment, Iran gets the worst
possible press. But the treatment is extended to all Muslims, as my
student Matt Miller noted recently in an e-mail (thanks Matt!). Matt
writes: “There was a poll by Pew that came out today that surveyed the
U.S. Muslim population. Here is the headline that appeared in U.S.
media outlets (via the Associated Press) about the poll: “Some young
Muslims approve suicide hits.”  While on the BBC this was the headline
about the same poll: “Muslims ‘well-integrated’ in the U.S..”  The
stark contrast in the headlines is incredible. The articles both go on
to talk about the same poll by Pew, yet the AP (U.S.) article focuses
almost exclusively on Muslims and terrorism (citing the 13% of young
U.S. Muslims who approve of suicide attacks to defend religion in
“rare cases”),while the BBC article talks about how U.S. Muslims are
well-integrated into U.S. life, reject terrorism in overwhelming
numbers, and like the U.S. although they don’t often feel welcomed in
the U.S.” Matt finds “incredible” how two stories about the same poll
portray the U.S. Muslim population in such vastly different lights. He
provides the link:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18797530/. Now compare
with:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6680939.stm

St. Louis Persian Music Event!

Monika Jalili and her Persian music group Noorsaaz.

Monika Jalili and her Persian music group Noorsaaz.

We just have to end on a happier note. What better than the news that my friend Behfar Dianati has sent. Behfar, with help from Iranian American Cultural Society of the Midwest, has organized a concert of Persian music by American musicians called Songs of Love from Iran by the artist Monika Jalili and her group Noorsaaz. The group will perform at the Missouri Historical Society, on Saturday, June 9, at 7:00. If you live in or near St. Louis, come to get a taste of Persian music performed by American artists. And, if you like more information, call (314- 746-4599).

Until the next window, I wish you 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 26

The Alborz Mountains of northern Iran, with Mt. Damavand (the tallest mountain in Iran) rising in the distance (see below for many more incredible photos of Irans natural beauty).

The Alborz Mountains of northern Iran, with Mt. Damavand (the tallest mountain in Iran) rising in the distance (see below for many more incredible photos of Iran's natural beauty).

Dear All,

Yes, we missed a window altogether! The semester is coming to an end with lots of activity including course preparations, visits by the last speakers of the academic year, departmental duties, etc. My friend Alice Bloch and I had a repeat performance of “The Watching Heart: A Journey in Peace,” our Dance/Reading for Peace, last Friday on Washington University campus. A wonderful audience gave us a great response.

A few of you approached me with e-mail addresses of friends to be added to this list. Anywhere I go now, someone has a kind word about the Windows on Iran. I cannot thank you enough for your enthusiastic support. If you handed me a friend’s address after our performance but they did not yet receive this window, I apologize. The safest way is to reply to this message and give me the addresses you want to add.

Let’s get to the first item on Window 26 without further delay. I am working on reducing visual attachments with links so as not to make it hard for your home computers.

Iranian Musician Nominated for the Grammy Award

Grammy-nominated musician Hussain Alizadeh.

Grammy-nominated Iranian musician Hussain Alizadeh.

* Here is a good way to open any window! Listen to Lisa Mullins of PRI, The World, talking with Hussain Alizadeh the Iranian musician who was nominated for a Grammy Award for the third time. The clip is about 8 minutes long and includes a discussion of music as well as actual playing. The clip was sent to me by my friend Fariba Azarpour:
http://www.theworld.org/?q=taxonomy_by_date/2/20070404

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani protesting for womens rights in Iran.

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, winner of the "Best Research Book on Women" in Iran award, is an activist, journalist, and translator. She is an editor of the journals Jens-i Dovom and Fasl-i Zanan and helped establish both the Women's Cultural Center and the Feminist Tribune.

The Iranian Women’s Movement

* Despite pressure from the Iranian government, the feminist movement in Iran is alive and well. So are its chroniclers inside and outside Iran. My friend Nayereh Tohidi has just sent word on this year’s winner of “the Best Research Book on Women” in Iran. Thank you Nayereh Jan! The prize has gone to the Persian translation by Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani – herself a noted feminist – of the book The Women’s Rights Movement in Iran: Mutiny, Appeasement, and Repression by Eliz Sanasarian Professor of Political Science, USC College. Congratulations to the author, translator, and the tireless Iranian feminists working in Iran! I have an additional reason to be delighted. Years ago Eliz and I were highschool friends in Shiraz.


More Visual delight on Iran, on the occasion of Nowruz

* The Iranian New Year celeberations usually end on the 13th day of the first month in the Iranian calendar Farvardin (Farvardin 1st usually corresponds to March 21st). The 13th day of the New Year is called Sizdah Bedar. On that day, the entire country is out picnicing. Here, the Iranian American community holds onto the nostalgic feelings revived with Nowruz celeberations for some time. Slides and clips about Iran keep circulating. Here is a short video of scenes from Iran: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpdkC0XuSaY

* Since our last window, Iran has released the 15 captured Britons. You
know all the news there is to know about this incident by now. So,
instead of news headlines, I give you an interesting analysis of the
situation written jointly by Vali Nasr, a professor at the Naval
Postgraduate School and author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts
Within Islam Will Shape the Future
, and Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow
at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Hidden Iran:
Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic
. Both authors are very
familiar with the region and have impressive academic credentials.
They have called their essay “What We Can Learn From Britain About
Iran?” here is the link:
http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/iranian-question/38127-what-we-can-learn-britain-about-iran.html

More Visual Information about Iran

* A nice slide show of natural scenery distributed by my friend Bahar
Bastani: http://youtube.com/watch?v=oHEkSFPB9nk&mode=related&search=

A beautiful garden in Esfahan (Isfahan) (click on the youtube video above to see many more breath-taking photos from Iran, from the Persian Gulf to the Alborz Mountains).

A beautiful garden in Esfahan (Isfahan) (click on the youtube video above to see many more breath-taking photos from Iran, from the Persian Gulf to the Alborz Mountains).

* A clip on an exhibition in the British Museum about the ancient
Persian empire. The film underlines cooperation between Iranians and
Britons…perhaps a good antidote to the recent movie “300”. The clip
was sent by my friend Behfar Dianati:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9tBfD-d2fc&mode=related&search

The Cyrus Cylinder--the worlds first declaration of human rights.

The Cyrus Cylinder (539BCE)--the world's first declaration of human rights, which among other things allowed for religious freedom in the territories that he conquered.

* And a neat short film on paragliding by an Iranian pilot posted on
youtube from Tehran:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=co5Tg6Utyd8&mode=related&search=

More on Current Issues:

* My friend Nadir Sadeqi – of CASMII – continues to disseminate
information in an effort to stop sanction and/or military action
against Iran. Here is a list he has put together on recent attempts by
the British and the U.S. to conduct covert operations in Iran (of
particular interest to those who migh have wondered why the Iranians
might have felt defensive about the British in Iranian waters):
http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/1810
* On a different note, the US seems to be working to build a
relationship with Iranians:
http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2007&m=March&x=20070330105645ndyblehs0.7631647&id=nl20070404

* Can the release of the Britons help us understand the political moves
of the current Iranian government?
http://www1.wsvn.com/news/articles/world/MI43786/

Last Visual Delight:

A Painting by Nargis Chalak (click on the link below for more of her work).

A Painting by Nargis Chalak (click on the link below for more of her work).

* I said there will be fewer attachments. But we can’t close this window without the time honored tradition of visiting a young Iranian painter. Click here for some beautiful works by Nargis Chalak: Nargis Chalak Art Show.  I wish you all a very nice 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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Beautiful painting by contemporary Iranian artist Parvaneh Ghasemi of a young Iranian woman.

Beautiful painting by contemporary Iranian artist Parvaneh Ghasemi of a young Iranian woman.

Hi Everyone,

Late again!  Walking out of a lecture this afternoon, two wonderful friends commented casually “don’t let being late put pressure on you!” I thought that was great advice, particularly if I want to keep these windows going. So, I am not going to apologize for being late this time. And, I have exciting news: yesterday we got featured on the front page of my university’s student publication Student Life, how cool is that? The article is called “Professor’s
writing aims to reshape view of American Muslims
.” The paper found us on the web where a good friend Sheila Musaji posts these windows on her website The American Muslim. Thanks Sheila! Kind mentions of the write up in Student Life have been coming in.

Now without further ado, Window number 11 on Iran, on the eve of Halloween with trick-or-treaters in the background!

Current Issues

* The spooky subject of  “nuclear threat” suits the Halloween
atmosphere. But before I get to Iran, you must listen to an
anecdote. I was sitting in our local Border’s bookstore with a cup
of coffee and twenty-five papers to read when my eyes caught the
cover of what I think was a September issue of the Newsweek.  It
had a catchy title about the North Korean nuclear threat with a
grim picture of the country’s leader wearing a pair of dark
glasses, a mushroom cloud reflected in each. I should have known
better, but read the report which said more about the leader’s
inferiority complex and hair style than North Korea’s nuclear
technology. A few days later, a friend quoted his colleague (in
the hospital where he works) as saying he would shoot as many
North Koreans as necessary to rid the world of their threat. Only
then I realized that the North Korean leader’s menacing look —
and the official line that Koreans “pretend” to negotiate to buy
time —  had worked on me too. The bigger shock came a week later,
reading a book that actually discussed North Korea’s breaking of
its promise and developing nuclear capability. The book attributed
it to the current U.S government’s breach of its earlier promises
to N. Korea, first by including Korea in the “axis of evil,” and
then terminating its pledged shipments of fuel oil and the agreed
construction of alternate power plants in that country. The writer
of the book was not Noam Chomsky but Jimmy Carter. Since I am
always going on about American media’s shortcomings, I should tell
you that the courage and forthrightness of this American brought
tears to my eyes. He wasn’t being partisan either. Here is what he
had to say about the real nuclear threat in our current world:
o “While claiming to be protecting the world from
proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea,
American leaders have not only abandoned existing treaty
restrictions but also assert plans to test and develop new
weapons, including antiballistic missiles, the
earth-penetrating ‘bunker buster,’ and perhaps some secret
new ‘small bombs.’ They have also…reversed another long
standing policy, by threatening first use of nuclear weapons
against non nuclear states.” ( p.138 )
o And here is another quote from President Carter. If you want
to read more, I cite the reference below:
“The ABM Treaty prohibited space-based weapons, but our
government’s abandonment of the treaty in 2002 opened the
door on this extremely destabilizing project. The new
Defense Department doctrine defines our goals as “freedom to
attack as well as freedom from attack” in space. The goal is
to strike any target on earth within forty-five minutes. As
described by the U.S. Air Force, one method, named “Rods
from God,” would hurl cylinders of heavy metals to strike a
target at seventy-two hundred miles per hour, with the
destructive force of a small nuclear weapon.” (p.143)

Suggested Reading: Our Endangered Values: American’s Moral Crisis by
Jimmy Carter (New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2005)

* Now, against this background, look at the Iranian situation
about which this week you have read alarming news of further steps
toward uranium enrichment. Look past headlines, mushroom clouds
reflected in sunglasses, and it turns out that Iranian plants —
even if they become fully operational — are currently configured
to produce low enriched uranium (LEU) rather than the
weapons-grade highly-enriched uranium (HEU). Even the CIA experts
put the chances of making the first bomb — if Iran decides to
make one — at 10 to 15 years ( here is the full essay although
the less alarming part comes close to the end):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4606356.stm.  In addition,
here (courtesy of my friend Seth Graebner) is a thoughtful and
fairly detailed analysis from the Foreign Affairs magazine on the
possibilities of negotiating with Iran concerning its nuclear
technology. It is by Scott Sagan professor of political science
at Stanford. Though the essay is a far cry form the alarmist
mushroom cloud images, it does call Iran the “rogue” regime,
“hostile,” etc. I suppose, that is the standard language these
days. One thing I really respected about President Carter’s book
was his dignified manner of speaking about other countries.

*I guess it is time to wrap up politics and attend to some more
interesting matters. Before that, however, I have had a request
from a very dear friend Cynthia Richards to distribute a
nonpartisan information sheet about the voting process in the
upcoming election, please click here to open it: Voting Information Sheet.

Cultural

* A hot cultural topic this week in the news concerns two legal
cases ruling the fate of a number of very important ancient
Persian artifacts held at US research universities. These legal
disputes, being heard at the United States District Court level,
revolve around 2,000-year-old Iranian items controlled by the
University of Chicago and Harvard University. If these cases
produce conflicting judgments, they may be taken up at the Supreme
Court, meaning there won’t be swift resolutions. In the meantime,
more Iranian artifacts are likely to be targeted. To read more,
click on:  http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press476.asp.

* On October 18, The Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization declared
the house of the prominent woman poet Parvin Etesami (1906-1941)
to be named a national monument.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parvin_Etesami.  A charming house of
over 1,000 square meters, located in the neighborhood of
Sarcheshmeh on the outskirts of Tehran, Etesami’s house is nearly
a century old.  Etesami who has been somewhat overshadowed by the
powerful later female poetic voices of 20th cent. Iran, has had a
gentle, yet firm and lasting presence. Her poetic themes range
from celebration of motherhood and descriptions of nature, to
strong advocacy for social and political reform. You can find a
good deal of Etesami’s poems, in the original Persian, on the web
at: http://www.anvari.org/iran/Poetry/Parvin_Etesami/ though I
have to confess to ignorance about the quality of the edition. For
a more reliable source, see the reading below.

Suggested reading: Once a Dew drop: Essays on the Poetry of Parvin
Etesami
. Edited by Heshmant Moayyad as well as A Nightingale’s Lament:
Selections from the Poems and Fables of Parvin Etesami
also by Heshmat
Moayyad are both available from Amazon Books.

Visual Delight

* To honor the trick-or-treat tradition, I have a special treat
this week. My friend Bahar Bastani sent four paintings by a
contemporary Iranian painter Iman Maleki that were just exquisite
images of young women, oil on canvas. Not only was the quality of
Maleki’s paintings almost breathtaking, I was astounded at the
fact that I had never heard of him. And I consider myself
interested in the art of painting, not to mention annual visits to
Iran. So, I put together a small slide show for you of a handful
of contemporary Iranian painters working with human figure in
their work. I call it “portraits” but they are not all portraits.
I provide the artists’ name but don’t always have their pictures
or other details. All the painters currently live in Iran.  As
usual, click here to view the slideshow: Iranian Contemporary Painting “Portraits”. Enjoy!

Have a great week!

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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Jewish wedding in beautiful synagogue in Iran.

Jewish wedding in beautiful synagogue in Tehran.

Hello Everyone!

We are officially a listserv now. Welcome to the “Window on Iran”
listserv!  It took just a bit longer than I thought. Now that the list
is up and working, the weekly updates should be back on track. Let us
move to the updates:

Current Issues:

* This week, Iran responded to the package of incentives
aimed at suspending its nuclear program with a 30 page
document which is not public yet. Comments from various
European and American officials point to the fact that the
Iranian government has given signs of interest in starting
“serious”  negotiations while at the same time, it wishes to
save face by not suspending enrichment as a “pre-condition”
to the start of the negotiations. Some experts in Washington
warned against a hasty rejection of the Iranian response and
suggested to open up to Iran’s indication of readiness for
negotiations. Such negotiations should ideally include:
enrichment suspension, the Iranian role in the region, and
keeping Iran accountable for its own human rights record.
You may read more on these at:
http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press423.asp

* In the meantime, a key House committee issued a
stinging critique of U.S. intelligence on Iran yesterday,
charging that the CIA and other agencies have failed to find
information on Iran’s true intentions for its nuclear
program and its ties to terrorism! It is not clear how the
committee knows about these “intentions” and “ties” if
intelligence agencies are not able to find any information
about them. Here is the article on this in Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/23/AR2006082301309.html?referrer=email

Cultural/Social

A lot questions are asked about Iranian religious and ethnic
minorities in the west. Many people think, for example, that
Jews cannot freely worship. Some even wonder if Jews still live
in Iran. Again, I don’t wish to present ideal conditions for
minorities in Iran. Iranian activists will tell you that legal
reform is needed with regard to minority rights. Furthermore,
modern nation-states are built on nationalistic ideologies that
— despite their rhetoric of national unity — marginalize
racial difference. The 1979 Iranian revolution further
emphasized such differences by fore grounding religion as one of
its organizing principles. Despite all of that, the answer to
the above question is: yes Jews — and other minorities — do
live in present day Iran and are very much a part of the social
and cultural scene. The main problems that the Iranian Jews face
at this point is the antagonistic relations between the two
countries of Iran and Israel. Not being able to travel between
the countries affects their personal lives.

The Jewish Community in Iran:

The current population of the Iranian Jews is estimated
approximately 30,000 (one of the oldest and largest in the
Middle East). The official web page of the Iranian Jewish
Association
says:

Synagogues

There are about 100 synagogues in Iran of which about 26 are in
Tehran. Iranian synagogues in terms of the history and place of
construction have a variety of architectural styles. There are
several synagogues in Tehran, Yazd and Isfahan cities, which
because of their antiquity and beauty of architecture have been
ear marked as national historic sites by Cultural Heritage
Organization

The most widely known Iranian Jewish Scholar is Solomon Haim the
author of Persian-Hebrew Dictionary.
This dictionary is compiled by “Solomon Haim” (1889-1968), one
of the most famous Jewish scientists of Iran. He has compiled
the most well known French-Persian, Persian-English, and
English-Persian dictionaries and for this he is of high respect
and prestige among the people of Iran.

You can visit the site at:
http://www.iranjewish.com/Essay_E/Essay_e1.htm to read about
cultural organizations, schools, libraries, journals, community
centers and more.

Suggested Reading:

Esther’s Children: A Portrait of Iranian Jews (Hardcover) by Houman
Sarshar (Editor)
<http://www.amazon.com/s/002-3695249-7660814?ie=UTF8&index=books&rank=-relevance%2C%2Bavailability%2C-daterank&field-author-exact=Houman%20Sarshar>

This week’s visual delight:

The paintings of  Yacob Amamepich, a Jewish painter from
Tabriz, was on display in July 2006 in the Elahe Gallery in
Tehran. Please click on:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=38 to view the paintings.

And please click here to read more about some young members of the
Iranian Jewish Community: http://www.mfjc.org/board_briefings/dec2005.htm .

Fatemeh
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, 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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