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A beautiful garden of modern Tehran. Please click on the link below to see many other terrific photos from Iran.

A beautiful garden of modern Tehran. Please click on the link below to see many other terrific photos from Iran.

Dear All,

I hope you have had a nice long weekend. I managed to salvage a few hours of the weekend to put together a new window on Iran for you. Let us get to Window 38 without further ado.

Musical Opening

Due to constant threat of a pending military strike on Iran, the Iranian American community is in deep stress. No one knows what is going to happen if the most powerful military force on the face of the earth really decides to strike. The example of Iraq is not reassuring. Lots of poems and songs about Iran and what it means to the Iranian American community get circulated everyday. Here is a one minute and twenty second slide show. Its name tells all “Iran: the Eternal Land of the Persians.” The melody in the background is asong called “Elahe-ye naz,” a big hit in the 60s and 70s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ0zx8XTEN8 (circulated by Daniel Pourkesali)

Haleh Esfandiari Leaves Iran

Here is a piece of important – and good – news which ought to help
cooling things down. However, I have not seen it in our popular media
yet. Iranian newspapers report that Haleh Esfandiari, who had been
freed from jail, has left the country last night. Great to know that
she will be reunited with her family soon.

The U.S. Official Reaction to Iran/IAEA Agreement

Last week, the International atomic energy agency ( IAEA) and Iran
reached an agreement about answering some crucial questions concerning
the Iranian nuclear program. The IAEA called it a breakthrough. This
agreement is particularly important not just because it gives the IAEA
access to certain documents that it has wanted to see but because a
timetable is set so the negotiations are not going to last
indefinitely. The U.S. government, which has used even a negative hint
form IAEA about Iran to push for more sanctions, dismissed this
agreement. In other words, if the agency reports anything negative, it
is evidence of Iran’s non-compliance. If it makes progress, they have
been fooled by Iran which is seeking time to make a bomb.

The Possible Attack on Iran

* None of the recent developments have brought a sense of relief to
those who follow the news of a possible attack on Iran. If anything,
this weekend papers have been particularly alarming. Matt Miller has
shared the UK Sunday times piece titled Pentagon “Three-Day Blitz”
Plan for Iran: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/090207A.shtml. The
supposed plan would involve hitting 1200 targets inside Iran with the
casualty figures (not often discussed by proponents of the idea) in
the millions. Here is an article that Paul Appell has shared. I do
hope that its findings do not reflect the reality of what the U.S.
government is up to. However, it has been written in a spirit of
activism for peace. It is in that spirit that I share it with you.
After all, this is the time to say that there are better ways to deal
with the Iran question that killing a couple of million Iranians and
sending the whole region up in flames. Here is the reference to the
article that Paul has kindly forwarded:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-a-rodman/how-i-learned-to-stop-wor_b_62830.html

* If you talk to individuals who have been alarmed by the “threat” that
Iran is posing to the world, remember:

1. Iran’s cooperation with the U.S. was crucial in overthrowing the
Taliban in Afghanistan
2. We have plenty of evidence to believe that the roadside bombs that
kill American soldiers are manufactured in Iraq. Starting as early as
a year and half ago, American troops have found many shops and
factories that make such bombs inside Iraq. Here is a U.S. Marine
Corps press release on the subject:
http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/templatereleaseview1/E017AB5105AC8A9D85257035004FC172?opendocument
3. The only countries in the region in which al-Qa’ideh does not have
freedom to operate are Iran and Turkey.
4. As President Karzai pointed out only a few weeks ago, Iran continues
to be a help and a support to Afghanistan in its efforts to stand up
to the Taliban (who are getting closer to power by the day).
5. President Ahmadinejad is an elected president who, as polls in Iran
show, stands zero chance of re-election. He is not a life-time
dictator who needs to be removed by military force.
6. Iran’s enrichment of uranium for its nuclear industry is not a breach
of the international law. What is important is to keep it under
control by IAEA. This is possible only if Iran stays in NPT (the Non
Proliferation Treaty) and its facilities get inspected regularly.

What did the Young Iranian Cyclist Say to Senator Lieberman?

Leslie Angeline, who had been fasting for twelve days, sits outside Senator Joseph Lieberman's waiting to meet with him about his aggressive stature towards Iran.

Leslie Angeline, who had been "fasting for peace" for twelve days, sits outside Senator Joseph Lieberman's waiting to be granted an audience with him about his aggressive stature towards Iran.

Leslie Angeline 50, mother of two, member of CodePink spent two weeks in Iran this summer. She loved the country which she found warm and friendly. When Leslie returned to the U.S. to advocate for diplomacy with Iran, Senator Lieberman was suggesting to bomb Iran. Leslie went on hunger strike, lost ten pounds and fainted but did not give up her goal of getting her message to the Senator. You can read about her here:    http://www.newhavenadvocate.com/blogs/home.cfm?aid=1602
When, finally, she got 15 minutes the senator, she took Ali the young Iranian bicyclist for peace with him. I think I should let you read the rest, in Leslie’s words:

He then allowed Ali, one of the Iranian Miles for Peace bicyclists, to join us. Ali spoke from his experience as a young man in Tehran’s student movement.  He said, “There is a growing student and feminist movement in Iran.  70% of the population is under the age of thirty. Every time Bush refers to us as the Axis of Evil, or a politician such as you threatens war or sanctions, our government uses this as an excuse to clamp down. 90% of the Iranian people want a different form of government.  The Iranian people like Americans.  Lieberman responded to this by saying he’s heard that “the two countries in the Middle East that like Americans are Israel and Iran!”   Ali continued, “The U.S. has been a democracy for three hundred years and you still have problems.  Iran’s democracy is new and fragile; please give us some time and we’ll take care of our own problems.”

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The Biggest Non-governmental Charity in Iran

From here in the U.S., it is hard to imagine that Iranians think about
things other than politics and conflict, that they are ordinary human
beings with the same problems and aspirations as anyone living
anywhere in the world. I thought it’ll be nice to read about the
Kahrizak Foundation which supports disabled elderly who lack financial
resources: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jun/1240.html (Thanks to my
friend Parinaz Massumzadeh for circulating the information).

Iranian Women Athletes

Iranian woman race car driver.

Iranian woman race car driver.

Let us close this window with some beautiful images of Iranian women in sports:

* Iranian women drivers are back in the car race scene this September: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article490.
* In fencing, women are working to improve the training conditions so they can compete internationally: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article495.
* In soccer they have been training hard and have achieved success in Asia: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article496.

Let us hope that the peace is holding, and the news is good, when I
send you the next window.
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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The Art Gallery in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

The Art Gallery in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures of the modern Tehran that you will not see in the mainstream U.S. media).

Dear All,

Greetings! I am back in St. Louis now getting ready for the academic year. I hope you are enjoying what is left of the summer. If you have written recently, do please give me a few days to reply. I am getting back into the swing of things and have tackled the piled-up mail and e-mail only recently.

It is good to be back and to send you one of the regular large windows, Window on Iran – 35. So, let’s get started without much ado:

The Best in the World

Iranian Americans of all backgrounds and political persuasions take a
lot of pride in educational achievements in Iran. The latest clip of
film (one minute) circulating in the community quotes the chair of the
department of electrical engineering at Stanford as describing the
department of electrical engineering in Sharif University in Tehran to
be the best in the world!  http://youtube.com/watch?v=s957W6jomBc

Iran’s Role in Afghanistan

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN, President Hamid Karzai of
Afghanistan, in a feat of courage unprecedented for US-supported local
leaders,  contradicted the US claims that Iranian arms were helping to
erode the security situation in Afghanistan. He described Iran as “a
helper and a solution:”

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“Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan, in the peace process that
we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics
in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in the interview conducted Saturday. He
went on to say that Afghanistan and Iran had “very, very good, very,
very close relations. … We will continue to have good relations with
Iran. We will continue to resolve issues, if there are any, to arise.”

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Here is a brief commentary: If you have wondered why President  Karzai
should be so ungrateful as to make such  embarrassing comments about
his American friends, the simple explanation is that he is the one who
has to face the Taliban and the al-Qa’ideh on the ground. He knows who
in the region will come to his help. Furthermore, Iran rushes to
Karzai’s help in facing these extremist groups because they are its
sworn enemies as well. If that is not enough, they infest the region
with their narcotic trade. Iran loses about 300 soldiers annually
preventing drug dealers from crossing into the country. Finally,
instability in Afghanistan is not good for Iran which has ethnic
populations close to the border, and which would love to see economic
ties (rather than ethnic uprisings) on the two sides of the border.

All right, call this one the happy window! I have more good news:

Americans Wage Peace on Iran

* It is unfortunate that we hear a lot more about war-mongers than those
who wage peace. The truth is a large number of peace loving Americans
are devoting their time and life precisely to that, chief among them
CodePink. When Leslie Angeline of CodePink started her fast to get the
attention of Senator Lieberman who had promoted a war with Iran,
little did she know that she would be unleashing a new campaign to
stop the next war now. But that’s precisely what has happened. Click
on the link below to read about CodePink’s Cities for Peace in Iran:
http://codepinkdc.blogspot.com/2007/07/codepink-launches-cities-for-peace-in.html

* Also, the Virginia Anti-War (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender Newspaper
organized a People’s Peace Delegation to Iran in response to a
suggestion by the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention
in Iran (CASMII). The five member delegation traveled over 1,750
kilometers during its 12 day trip in Iran and returned to the U.S. on
July 31. Here it is a picture and more details:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1343.html

Virginia Anti-War Network (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender newspaper organized a People's Peace Delegation to Iran recently.

The Nuclear Issue — a correction and some comments

* A dear friend who shared window 32 with his friends has brought a
couple of queries to my attention. Since they pertain to the nuclear
issue, I thought of sharing them – and my responses – with you. In
that window, I contrasted the U.S. and three other countries
(Pakistan, Israel and India) with Iran in that they have not become
members of the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty). The critic pointed out
that this is partially incorrect, the U.S. is a signatory to the
treaty. S/he is right. This is a mistake on my part, and it must have
occurred because of the abundance of discussions on the ways in which
the U.S. is in breech of that treaty. Here is the latest example of
that from N.Y. Times:
http://ploughshares.org/news.php?a=4&b=0&c=0&id=438
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the U.S. is officially a signatory
of the NPT. I’d like to correct the mistake.

* The same reader asks if we can be certain that the Iranians do not
have a weapon’s program. My answer is that our only means of gaining
that certainty is to ask countries to become members of the NPT and
stay open to surprise inspection. Iran has done that and no evidence
has been found. If our reaction to that is going to be “You have done
what is required but we still do not believe you because you are
Iran,” we are proposing to dismantle international organizations and
regulations and act on instinct. Others will do the same and the
result will be chaos. The way out is to examine uncertain situations
and to think of additional ways to get guarantees. This can be
achieved by staying at the negotiation table. Iran is still offering
to do this. Their only condition is “no pre-conditions.” The Iranian
chief negotiator Ali Larijani has said repeatedly that even enrichment
is open to negotiation.

* Third, I had said that “Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in
the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian
casualties.” The reader asks if this is not something that the Iranian
government should worry about? The problems with this view, in my
opinion, are:

1. these facilites were built over the years (some of them encouraged
by the U.S. government).
2. they were not built by one Iranian government and not during a time
of military tension. In other words, they cannot all be viewed as
President Ahmadinejad’s way of shielding weapons behind people.

* Even if we make that assumption, to say that it is all right to
endanger millions of Iranian lives because their government has used
them as shields would amount to accepting genocide (in the hope of
preventing a future genocide for which we do not have any evidence
besides our mistrust of the other side).

* I draw the attention of this reader to the fact that in many places in
the world, people have a different perception of Iran. Examples? Take
another look at what the President of Iran’s troubled neighboring
country, Afghanistan, has had to say yesterday.

* Before we leave this subject, I would like to clarify and reiterate
the points that I made in window 32 concerning Iran’s nuclear
controversy:

1. Iran has no history of military aggression against its neighbors in
the past two centuries (in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was attacked and
stopped at the old borders once the invaders were pushed out).

2. Iran is a signatory to the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) which means
its nuclear facilities are open to surprise inspections. That is why
El Baradei insists that Iran should be talked to, not threatened.
Please note that there are countries such as Pakistan, Israel, and
India which have not agreed to become members of NPT.

3. Surprise inspections have not yielded any evidence of a nuclear
weapon’s program in Iran to date.

4. Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of
suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything
(including suspension of enrichment).

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5. Iranian nuclear facilities – which were built over a period of time
starting before the 1979 revolution – are spread out in the country.
It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.

Continued Military Threat Against Iran

* The Cheney camp pushes for war with Iran. Once more, the Iranian
government’s offer of its willingness to hold a higher level dialogue
with the American government gets rejected:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/aug/1040.html

* More on the defense authorization bill that mentions Iran:
http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=834&Itemid=2

Iranian Women in Sports — American women athletes in Iran!

Iranian Womens volleyball team.

Iranian Women's volleyball team (click on the link for more pictures).

Believe it or not, as you read this window, the American women’s softball team is in Iran preparing for a competition with Iranian women softball players. Shirzanan, the Iranian women’s sports weekly which reported the news provided no pictures (unfortunately). I have another sports picture for you, though. Click on the link below and, even if you don’t read Persian, scroll down for images of Iranian women volleyball players: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article375

Visual Delight

I won’t give you a painting show this time either. This window has simply grown too large. Instead I’ll attach a slide show of Tehran that a dear friend has forwarded. It is different from all the previous shows in that it combines some really old and some very recent pictures of Tehran. The combination is quite fascinating. Just click here: Tehran, A Modern Metropolis.

Another new building in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

Another new building in modern Tehran (click the link above for more pictures Tehran).

A new building in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

A new building in modern Tehran (click the link above for more pictures from Tehran).



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Have a great week!

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

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Windows on Iran 32

A snowy day in Tehran (see below for more recent images from Tehran).

A snowy day in Tehran (see below for more recent images from Tehran).

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the summer. If you signed up to be on Windows on Iran this weekend in Boston, there will be a few days before you are added to the list. Also, Meghan, Richard, Mehdi, Matt, Prinaz…and a million others, thank you so very much for writing and sending vital Iran-related information in the past week or so. Please forgive me for not being able to write back personally. I do appreciate your help.

I had a great weekend in Boston, a book signing at the Harvard Coop bookstore, and an interview with WZBC, Boston News. I very much appreciated the opportunity to discuss with John Grebe, the host of the show, the mindlessness of talking about an attack on Iran as if it were morally acceptable and practically doable. In these frightening times, when people you think know better –  such as Senator Lieberman – propose violence against Iran, it would be crucial to keep certain facts in mind. I will summarize these below under the headings “Concerning the Nuclear Issue” and “Consequences of a Potential Military Assault on Iran.” Before we get into that topic though, I would like you to see more pleasant things:

Images of Peaceful Life in Iran

Thanks to Joy Martin who sent me these beautiful recent images from Tehran, we can start this window with a colorful show of images from ordinary life in Iran. We think the photographer is Sharam Rasavi (the images have been forwarded by various people and it is hard to determine who is the photographer). Click here: Recent Images from Tehran. There are twelve slides and the transition time between them is five seconds.

Contrary to the images that you will most often see in the mainstream U.S. media, Tehran is a major metropolitan city with all the same things you will find in major capital cities throughout the world (click on the link above for many more images).

Contrary to the images that you will most often see in the mainstream U.S. media, Tehran is a major metropolitan city with all the same things you will find in major capital cities throughout the world (click on the link above for many more images).

Miles For Peace

//milesforpeace.org .

"Miles for Peace" group in Paris. Please visit their terrific website at http://milesforpeace.org (image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

On the subject of peace, I have great news for you. A dozen Iranian
men and women cyclists who had started cycling from Iran, and across
Europe, have now arrived in the United States. Their message: Iranians
are a peaceful people,  they love other nations,  and would like to be
a constructive member of the International community.

If you live in the St. Louis area, come to greet the Iranian men and
women cyclists for peace on Thursday, June 21st, at the Arch at
6:00pm. Don’t forget to  bring your bicycle if wish to cycle with them
around the Arch.

You can have dinner with the cyclists at Talaynas Restaurant (Four
Seasons Shopping Center, Chesterfield MO 63017 Tel # 314-956-0451) at
8 pm if you like. To learn more about Miles for peace, please visit:
http://www.milesforpeace.org/home.php.

Concerning the Nuclear Issue:
Now to the crucial facts that should not get masked by the flow of misinformation on Iran :

Iran has no history of military aggression against its neighbors in the past two centuries (in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was attacked and stopped at the old borders once the invaders were pushed out). Iran is a signatory to the NPT (None Proliferation Treaty) which means its nuclear facilities are open to surprise inspections. That is why El Baradei insists that Iran should be talked to, not threatened. Please note that there are countries such as the United States, Pakistan, Israel, and India which have not agreed to become members of NPT. There is no evidence of a nuclear weapon’s program in Iran. Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything (including suspension of enrichment). Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.

Consequences of a Potential Military Assault on Iran:

Iran has five times as many people and resources as Iraq. Hundreds of thousands (Daniel Ellsberg says millions) of innocent Iranian civilians will die if Iranian nuclear centers are targeted with the so-called bunker busters. Iran can retaliate with thousands of missiles targeting American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if a few of these missiles are intercepted, the rest can inflict major casualties. Iran can make the narrow Straits of Hormuz an unsafe place for the oil tankers to pass through, in effect cutting a substantial part of the oil supply of the world. If desperate, Iran can hit oil tankers in the gulf causing major fuel shortage, and environmental pollution. As of now, al-Qaedeh does not have any sympathizers in Iran. Individual members trying to escape through Iran have been arrested. In the unfortunate event of an attack on Iran, a new front will open for al-Qaedeh recruiters. Iran sympathizers inside Iraq, Afghanistan — and elsewhere in the world — will find themselves engaged in a war with the U.S.

Current Issues (more on Iran)
Some of the misinformation spread against Iran gets refuted later but often the major media – which has carried the original “news” – overlooks the corrective statements. One such topic is the alleged help Iran is providing to the Taliban who fight the U.S. military in Afghanistan:

NATO commanders in Pakistan have long been aware that the Taliban has been dependent on Pakistan for its arms and ammunition. The Telegraph reported Sunday that a NATO report on a recent battle shows the Taliban fired an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shells and had stocked over one million rounds of ammunition, all of which came from Quetta, Pakistan during the spring months. Despite all of this, and despite the fact that the Taliban have been hostile to Iran from their very inception (in 2005, they killed 11 Iranian diplomats in Kabul), the hawks in the current American administration are still working on presenting Iran as supporting the Taliban to justify a possible military campaign against Iran. As Matt Miller who sent me some recent reports on this topic noted, these claims (most probably generated by Vice President Cheney’s supporters) appear to have been rebuffed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeil, who issued unusually strong denials.
Thanks a lot Matt:
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/12/1832/

Art and Culture

* I will not include a painting slide show in this window. Instead, I will introduce you to an Iranian woman story-teller who is already gaining a reputation as the first Iranian woman Naqqal  (a performer of who reads/enacts stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings by the 10th century poet Firdowsi of Tus). Naqqals usually did their story telling in coffee houses (in fact, tea houses because they serve tea rather than coffee!). Do watch the clip, even if you don’t know Persian. It is about four minutes, and does not require much explanation. Her voice recites the epic poetry in the background while you see images of her story-tellling, and of coffee houses in Iran: http://www.jadidmedia.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Gordtest/gordafarid_high.html

Fatemeh Habibizad (above)--the first Iranian woman Naqqal--a performer who reads/enacts the stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings (see the link above for a terrific video of one of her performances).

Fatemeh Habibizad (above)--the first Iranian woman 'Naqqal'--a performer who reads/enacts the stories of the celebrated Persian epic "The Book of Kings" (see the link above for a terrific video of one of her performances).

* I will close this window, introducing you to an American woman story-teller, a writer friend I have not met yet, though we have corresponded for some time and read each other’s work: Meghan Nuttall Sayers. Meghan writes and weaves in Eastern Washington where she lives with her husband, three children, two sheep and a cat. Meghan has recently published  a delightful novel Anahita’s Woven Riddle (selected ALA’s top ten best books for young adults). This is an historical novel that weaves together rich details of 19th century Persian culture, Sufi poetry, romance and adventure. Meghan has kindly kept in touch since reading my book on Rumi a number of years ago. Following my critique of the May 27th NY Times essay that presented Iran as devoid of bookstores with readers who only read books that lend themselves to discussion with psychiatrists, Meghan sent a link to a very interesting piece called Colors of Iran: Images From Iran’s First International Children’s Book Festival, Kerman, March 2005: http://www.meghannuttallsayres.com/mideast/iran-icbf/. She is currently working on another book about the positive experiences of non-Iranians traveling to Iran.

I hope these rich and interesting cultural pieces have compensated for the unpleasant news we have have to refute on these windows. In the hope of leaving these frightening times behind, I wish you a very pleasant week.

Until the next Window on Iran.

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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