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A beautiful painting by the young Iranian artist Krista Nassi (see the link at the end of this post for more of her work).

A beautiful painting by the young Iranian artist Krista Nassi (see the link at the end of this post for more of her work).

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all enjoying the arrival of spring. These are happy and festive times for Iranian Americans. Some visit the country. Others just send gifts and make phone calls. I wish I could send you many more visual represenations of Nowruz. I hear, however, that some modems (particularly with home computers) have had a hard time importing the visual data that I send with each slide show. I’ll try
to keep them shorter and not go beyond 20 or 25 slides.

Visual Delight

* Last week Iranian Americans took their colorful Nowruz to the streets of New York. The parade has now become an annual event. Color has always been important to Nowruz celeberation. This year, to counter the dark images of Iran put forth by the popular media — and the movie 300 — the decorations were made even more cheerful and imbued with color. To watch scenes from the parade click here: Nowrouz Parade in New York City.

Nowrouz Parade in New York City (click on the link above to see more photos from the event).

Nowrouz Parade in New York City (click on the link above to see more photos from the event).

* Speaking of the movie 300, which Iranians find a direct assult on
their culture, I have a review (thanks to Dr. Bahar Bastani) by a
rather unusual reviewer: Dr. Kaveh Farrokh, a student of ancient
Greece and a child born to Iranian parents in Greece.  Dr. Farrokh’s
review is extensive and contains many interesting observations such
as:  “In the course of their historical intercourse, Greece and Persia
have created breathtaking works in domains such as the arts,
architecture, sciences, music and of course, democracy and human
rights. It is interesting that many modern Greeks acknowledge and
appreciate ancient Iran as a civilization as worthy as their own, yet
the same is not necessarily true in northwest Europe and North
America. ”  Here is the link to the full reiew if you like to read it:
http://www.ghandchi.com/iranscope/Anthology/KavehFarrokh/300/index.htm.

Current Issues

Two British soldiers being interviewed on Iranian television.

Two British soldiers being interviewed on Iranian television.

* There is a whole lot of action going on outside the silver screen as well. The latest: 14 British Service men and one woman arrested by Iranian border patrols about a week ago (picture on right). An important piece of information either not mentioned or not emphasized in the U.S. media is that the British quote the global position of their helicopter which appears to have been not in Iranian air space while Iranian authorities quote the global position of the boat which according to them has been in Iranian waters. Whatever the initial positions, it now seems that both sides would like to put the crisis behind them. Initially, Iran had suggested that it would put the British soldiers on trial. The most recent headlines in Iran quote Ali Larijani, the cheif Iranian negotiator, suggesting that there is no need for a trial. Another important development is the arrival in Tehran of a British negotiator to end the crisis.

* While this crisis has been given a most serious dimension – comparing the British soldiers to American hostages – the British daily Guardian has published a piece that blasts the bashing of Iranians who according to the writer don’t look bad compared to the West’s own Guantanamo and Abu Ghuraib records. The piece written by the film director and Monty Paython member Terry Jones was sent to me by my dear friend Richard King, himself British. The article is a plea for the media to maintain independence and refrain from demonizing the enemy. It is refreshing that while the Britons are in custody in Iran, a British paper and its readership are able to rise above the crisis and publish such a humorous and critical piece: http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2047108,00.html . Finally, it is months now that the five Iranian diplomats arrested in Iraq are in American custody.

Final Visual Delight

Iranian Painting Krista Nassi

Iranian Painting Krista Nassi

Having promised not to cause indigestion to modems in home computers, I can’t now add a whole new painting show, can I? All right, I compromise. Here is a really short slide show of the paintings of  the young artist Krista Nassi, born in 1970. The main theme of this show is scenes from under the sea. Click here: Krista Nassi Paintings.

Have a great 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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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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