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Posts Tagged ‘synagogues tehran’

A screen shot from the most popular Iranian soap opera, which,  Holocaust Zero Degree Turn.

A screen shot from the most popular Iranian soap opera, entitled "Zero Degree Turn," which centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman. Please see below for more on this show.

Dear All,

I hope you are all well. Here in St. Louis we are enjoying the slight cooling down of September while Washington University is now in full motion with the fall semester. New students, some new colleagues, lots of activity…it is all wonderful. I am off for a short trip to London to convene a conference/celebration of the 800th birthday of the great medieval poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi. You can read about the conference at http://www.iranheritage.org/rumiconference/programme.htm. The conference will bring together quite a few world scholars of Rumi.

Let us open window number 39 on Iran before I leave for London.

The Iranian TV Hit about the Holocaust

The Wall Street Journal (September 7) has a piece about a TV series it
describes as Iran’s Unlikely TV Hit and adds “the most surprising
thing about the wildly popular show is that it is a heart-wrenching
tale of European Jews during World War II.”  The truth is what is
surprising is not the Iranian series but the Wall Street coverage of
it. The presentation of Iranian society as being in denial of the
Holocaust is so bad that I was going to search bookstores on my next
trip to Iran to see what I can find on the subject. Last week, a
friend returning from Iran brought me four randomly picked magazines.
Two of them had clear (in one case extensive) articles in condemnation
of the Holocaust. Now, let’s get back to the TV series:
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The hour-long drama, “Zero Degree Turn,” centers on a love story
between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman.
Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi
detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for
the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian
Jews to their homeland.

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Shot on location in Paris and Budapest, the show stars Iranian
heartthrob Shahab Husseini and is so popular that its theme song — an
ode to getting lost in love — is a hit, too.

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Despite its positive subject, theWSJ article about Iranian TV show, is
still plagued with a negative language. It calls the series “unlikely”
and “most surprising” and describes other Iranian TV series as a “fare
of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men.” As a person who tries to
follow Iranian popular media, I can tell you that these statements are
exaggerations at best. Nevertheless, in these days of demonizing Iran,
the Wall Street Journal must be commended for allowing a positive and
heart-warming piece of information to come to light about present day
Iran: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118912609718220156.html?mod=loomia&loomia_si=1 (also, click on the video below to see the first episode!).
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Jewish Wedding in Tehran

All right, I dedicate this window to the Jews of Iran with this short and beautiful slide show of the wedding of Sanaz and Payman, two young Iranian Jews who got married three weeks ago in a beautiful synagogue in Tehran. Please click here: Jewish Wedding in Tehran.

Jewish wedding in Tehran (click the link on the right for more pictures from their wedding).

Jewish wedding in a Tehran synagogue (click the link above for more pictures from Sanaz and Payman's wedding).

Iran Depicted as a Sewer

* On September 4, the Columbus Dispatch carried a cartoon that depicted the entire map of Iran as a sewer with cockroaches running out of it and infesting  neighboring countries (see the cartoon I only reluctantly insert below): http://www.payvand.com/news/07/sep/Racist-Iran-cartoon-Columbus-Dispatch.jpg.  I wrote to the editor, asked if he realized the implications of turning 70 million people into cockroaches, and indicated that I was amazed – indeed speechless – that this kind of Nazi style dehumanization propaganda could be carried out by a respectable paper. The editor wrote back – referred to Mr. Ahmadinejads anti-Semitism – and suggested that the intention was only to caricature the extremists! Since he sounded very nice, I mailed him the beautiful wedding pictures of the newly wed Jewish couple Sanaz and Payman in case the paper would like to show Americans a dimension of Iran that most Americans do not see. I have not heard back yet.

Racist and dehumanizing Columbus dispatch cartoon depicting Irans as cockroaches.

Racist and dehumanizing Columbus dispatch cartoon depicting Iranians as cockroaches.

* National Iranian American Council (NIAC) protested the Columbus
Dispatch editorial page cartoon. Board member Dokhi Fassihian wrote to
the Columbus Dispatch editor: http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=880&Itemid=2

* The protest did not come only from the Iranian Americans. Many other
Americans have been horrified by the dehumanizing message of the
cartoon. Teach Peace did a special information sheet on it which you
can easily forward to others to prevent this kind of preparing the
public for a new war. (Thank you David Dionisi for sharing this):
http://www.teachpeace.com/WarPropaganda.pdf

US Sees Potential Merit To Iran Cooperation Plan

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/iran_nuclear_usa_dc;_ylt=AnkDEkaB3_.W2O0BsNtPT1FSw60A
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Visual Delight

Mahtab Abdullahi (or, Mahtab Abdollahi).

Mahtab Abdullahi (or, Mahtab Abdollahi).

Now, to replace dry political discussion with a bit of fun and introduce a healing note, I would like to invite you to meet a very young Iranian painter: Mahtab Abdullahi who seems to enjoy playing with orange and blue in particular. Please click here: Mahtab Abdullahi Painting Show.

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 28

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

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

Dear All,

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

On to our Window number 28!

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

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

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

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

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

Time to Laugh!

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

Abadan, Iran.

Abadan, Iran.

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

Science

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

Social

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till Window 29, have a great week!

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

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Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami meeting with Hakham Yousef Hamadani Cohen, the chief Rabbi of Iran, in Yousefabad Synagogue on Feb.8, 2003.

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami meeting with Rabbi Hakham Yousef Hamadani Cohen, the chief Rabbi of Iran, in Yousefabad Synagogue on Feb.8, 2003.

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all very well. I have good news — which is becoming a tradition. A brave soul has offered to archive all the windows on Iran on line. This is fantastic. I won’t mention his name yet as he is currently looking into the situation. Only a week ago, a friend asked if I would consider doing this and I said it is just impossible. Well, not so anymore. We might soon have these windows blogged and made available on the internet. The windows are already posted on the online magazine, the American Muslim, courtesy of my friend Sheila Musaji. But this one will be an independent site. I will, of course, make the address available if and when this happens.

Tomorrow, I am off to a very interesting conference in New York called
“Terrorism and the University.” I got invited because the organizers saw
a piece I wrote for the Bulletin of the American Association of
University Professors, Academe (Jan-Feb, 2006). This is a relatively
short essay called: “Making the Silence Visible.” Since its topic is
very relevant to the significance of access to information related to
the Middle East, and the sensitivity of teaching the subject, I provide
the link here, in case you are interested in reading it:
http://www.aaup.org/publications/Academe/2006/06jf/06jfkesh.htm

Now, window number 12 on Iran!

Current Issues:

* A nasty rumor has begun to circulate again: the Iranian government
is planning to force the Iranian Jews to wear a uniform. This is
part of an attempt to compare Iran to Nazi Germany and is totally
unfounded. The Canadian National Post reported it on May 19.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Israeli Internal Security
Minister Avi Dichter, and the American Democratic Senator Chuck
Schumer all issued strong statements of condemnation, based on
Post’s report comparing Iran to Nazi Germany. On May 21, an
offended Maurice Motamed, the Jewish representative in the Iranian
Parliament, said to Financial Times “We representatives for
religious minorities are active in the parliament, and there has
never been any mention of such a thing!” Again, there is no way to
know how many Americans found out that the rumor was unfounded. I
sent information, in previous windows, on the Iranian Jewish
community, their synagogues in Tehran, Yazd, Shiraz, Isfahan, and
other cities (Tehran alone has over twenty synagogues).

* As you can imagine, last night I was totally glued to the TV for
the emerging results of the mid term elections. I guess you were
too. If you like to read about the possible impact of the life
changing mid-term elections on US-Iran relations click on the link
below. The article came out a few days prior to the election but
it is still relevant.
http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press480.asp

*Last week, Iranian ex-President Mohammad Khatami visited Great
Britain and was given an honorary doctorate at St. Andrews. In
relation to the recent  veil related controversy in England,
Khatami had an interesting message for British Muslims: obey
British law! He validated Britain’s fear of extremism in an
interview with the BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6108600.stm

Iranian British CEO Lady

* While we are on the subject of Britain, I would like to introduce
you to a grand Iranian British lady: Shirian Dehghan, CEO of UK
telecommunications firm Arieso. Shirin Dehghan took top honors at
the Blackberry Women & Technology Award in London. Dehghan who
runs Arieso, a Newbury UK Company that helps mobile operators
around the world keep their networks running optimally and their
customers connected, was named outstanding woman in technology,
2006. http://www.payvand.com/news/06/nov/1084.html

Visual Delight

* In my last Window I presented a modest homemade slide show on a
handful of contemporary Iranian painters. Well, I am now going to
give you a much more extensive and skillfully constructed slide
show of paintings by Iranian artists – including Iman Maleki –
complete with music in the background. For this wonderful visual
treat, you have to thank my wonderful high school friend Zari
Taheri.  http://www.persianfineart.com/home.asp?domain

* Just so we are not all focused on contemporary issues this time,
let me leave you with another very interesting piece. A home
preview of a documentary called “In search of Sirus the Great” (Cyrus the Great). If you don’t mind the slightly over dramatizing soft voice of the narrator, particularly at the beginning, the documentary is in
fact full of very interesting details and more rooted in
scholarship than it appears at first. In case you want to use it
in the classroom, it is about 12 minutes. And, before I forget,
this one too comes to you courtesy of my loving friend Zari Taheri
(Zari currently teaches Persian in Japan.) Here is the link:
http://www.spentaproductions.com/cyruspreview.htm

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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