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Posts Tagged ‘u.s. elections’

Shahla Lahiji, who is the head of Roshangaran Publications and a promient activist, was given the 2006 International Publisher's Association Award. A celebration (pictured above) was held in her honor in the Pegah bookstore in Tehran (image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

Dear All,

Greeting! I hope you are enjoying a pleasant week. I cannot thank you
enough for all your sweet and supportive messages. The last painting
slide show was particularly popular. There is more to come! I hope you
enjoy them and find good use for them in the classroom.

I spent an intense time in the conference “Terrorism and the University”
held at CUNY which brought together a wonderful group of dedicated and
engaged scholars. It was both refreshing and frightening to hear from
authorities that the real WMDs are here in our very own nuclear arsenal.
It was also heartening to meet American scholars who teach these
subjects and take their students on yearly trips to Nagasaki and
Hiroshima to let them experience first hand whatever impact may still be
left. Most disturbing, and relevant to our discussion, was the
presentation by Daniel Ellsberg who, despite the recent election
results, estimates the possibility of an underground nuclear attack on
Iran over the next two years as very high. He put the initial estimated
causality of such a possible attack at 2,000,000 (yes, two million
people). The presentations of this panel were so chilling that at times
it felt like listening to fiction. But then he knew that we might be
afraid of taking his figures as real, so he spoke about other instances
such as the blanket firebombing of a large number of Japanese cities by
the American air force in the 1940s which only two people in the room
were well-informed about! I cannot express my gratitude to Mr. Ellsberg
for this eye opening panel.

Folks! I am not under any illusions that these e-mails can change the
American foreign policy – or public opinion for that matter, but if we
have a hope in the world it is in reaching every single person we can
reach. Americans need to know that Iranians are not crazy, they are not
anti-Semites, they are not a threat to the world. They need to know that
Iran can be talked to.

And now to happier and more hopeful issues in our Window number 13.

Current Issues

* On a very positive note, last week Mr. Robert Gates, the New
American Secretary of Defense visited Dr. Javad Zarif, Professor
of International Law and current Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister.
The two had lunch in Dr. Zarif’s house in New York. If this is an
indication of what is to come, may be the elections will impact
the American foreign policy on Iran in a meaningful way, after all.

* This is echoed in an article by Dr. Trita Parsi, President of NIAC, who predicts better days in the Iran/U.S. relations. Mr. Parsi observes: “It was Cheney and Rumsfeld who made sure that Washington dismissed Iran’s May 2003 offer to open up its nuclear program, rein in Hezbollah, recognize a two-state solution and cooperate against al Qaeda. Rumsfeld was also a driving force behind using the Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian terrorist organization opposed to the ruling clerics, to weaken Tehran.” To read the whole essay, click on: http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press484.asp

* The latest BBC report on the subject, indicates that President
Bush and Mr. Blair find themselves in agreement with the NIAC
president. However, while inviting Iran to help with solving the
Iraq problem, Mr. Blair did his best to be as insulting as
possible warning the country ” with the consequences of not doing
so.”  Sounds like an effective diplomatic gesture:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6141978.stm

Successful Iranian Americans

Nooshen Hashemi
Nooshen Hashemi (image courtesy of http://www.forbes.com)

* Iranian Americans continue to move to the main stream of American society with great personal achievements in various areas. Noosheen Hashemi, holder of a masters degree in science from Stanford, is a private investor and advisor to companies and nonprofits. Her approach to decorating and collecting, blending Japanese, Persian, and American arts has become a sensation: http://www.forbes.com/2000/12/20/1220CandC.html

Social/ Cultural (Iran)

* Last week Shahla Lahiji, one of the first Iranian women publishers
and a noted activist was honored in Tehran. Ms. Lahiji, who has
head the Roshangaran Publications for over 30 years, recently won
the 2006 International Publisher’s Association Award for
publishing a remarkable number of books by and about women. Many
feminists attended the celebration held last Monday in her honor
in Pegah bookstore in Tehran. Scroll down to see images of the
celebration and of the bookstore:
http://www.payvand.com/news/06/nov/1106.html

* This one is a riot! No one will believe this is happening in Iran
right now. Two Iranian siblings have revolutionized the way drug
addicts and HIV/AIDS-infected people are treated in Iran. Doctors
Arash and Kamiar Alaei now have clinics in 67 Iranian cities and
57 prisons and are a World Health Organization model for the
Muslim world. The brothers were interviewed on September 28 in
Washington after their visit to the U.S. National Institute of
Health:
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticleprint/2006/10/7a8ceb97-4fb8-4b22-b87c-ad2d304720cb.html

Visual Delight

Baharak Omidfard (courtesy of elahe.net)

Baharak Omidfard (image courtesy of http://www.elahe.net)

* In the last Window I had a slide show of contemporary Iranian painters who work in the classic style. This week we have another splash of color, the works a young female artist with a taste for lively abstract expression: Baharak Omidfard (class of 2000, Tehran University, School of Graphic Arts) (click here): Baharak Omidfard Show.

* For our concluding visual delight, the latest interpretation of the constitutionally sanctioned Islamic outfit, just scroll down.

Have a great week.
===================================
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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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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