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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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Beautiful Qashqai women in Iran. The Qashqai are one of Irans many ethnic minority groups (See below for more information).

Beautiful Qashqa'i women of Iran in their colorful traditional dresses. The Qashqa'i are one of Iran's many ethnic minority groups (See below for more information about them and other ethnic groups).

Greetings Everyone!

I don’t know how to thank you for all your kind messages, for forwarding these windows to others, and for recommending it. Over thirty names have been added to the list in the past two days alone. All I can say is I am delighted these windows have so many onlookers. Welcome to window number eight!

Current Issues

* On the last day of House legislative business, Iran sanctions advocates pushed through legislation ( HR 6198 ) strengthening sanctions and promoting a policy of regime-change in Iran.
Managing the bill on the House floor, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen made the
case that IFSA’s policies complemented US diplomatic activity.
“Sanctions target the Iranian regime where it is most vulnerable:
its energy sector,” said Ros-Lehtinen in her opening remarks.
Leading a bipartisan corps of members who spoke in opposition to
the measure, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) characterized the latest
version of the Iran Freedom Support Act (IFSA) as a “cruise
missile” and stated that, “the timing for this legislation could
not be worse.” Right he is. The most immediate impact of this
“cruise missile” — besides hurting ordinary people not the regime
— is weakening the moderates within the Iranian political sphere.
The hard-liners will loose no time in using this legislation to
remind the country that America is indeed Iran’s enemy.

Nothing heals like a good poem! In response to this aggressive move,
let’s read together a stanza from a great classic of twentieth century
Persian poetry by Ahmad Shamlu (b.1925), Shamlu, known as the “Poet of
Liberty,” faced hostility by the Shah’s regime and remained out of favor
with the Islamic Republic. He wrote some of the most poignant
revolutionary, as well as lyrical, poems of modern Persian language.
Here is an excerpt from a poem he dedicated to his wife Aida called
“Aida in the Mirror” translated by my good friend Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak
(University of Maryland):

Tempests play magnificently a tiny flute
in your grand dance
And the singing of your veins makes the sun of always rise
(Let me rise from sleep so that the lanes of the city
perceive my presence).

Your hands are reconciliation
and friends helping that hostilities may be forgotten

Suggested Reading: An Anthology of Modern Persian Poetry, selected and
translated by Ahmad Karimi Hakkak ( Westview Press, 1978 ) Still is
available through Amazon Books.

Science

* On a much happier note, Iran’s cloned sheep born yesterday is
alive and kicking, reported Iranian doctors in the Royan
research center in Isfahan. More significantly, a combination of
the cloning methods and the new progress made by Iranian
physicians in the field of spinal injuries has created
possibilities of curing those suffering from spinal damages,
Nasr-Esfahani said. Iranian specialists recently announced a
breakthrough in curing spinal injuries with the culture of Schwann
cells enabling those suffering from paralysis to move. For cute
pictures of the newly born cloned sheep click on the first link
below (here the text is Persian)
http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-799766&Lang=P

For more reading on the subject, click on this link:
http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-16/0610015225123117.htm and
http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1015.html

Social

* This is the Children’s week in Iran. Each day is devoted to a
topic such as “Children and Health”, “Children and Equal
Opportunities,” etc. The United Nations International Children’s
Fund (UNICEF) will participate in the events. Activists such as
Shirin Ebadi have been instrumental in drawing attention to
children’s rights in Iran. More needs to be done, particularly in
relation to minority children such as abandoned children of
Afghani fathers who have returned to Afghanistan after the
collapse of the Taliban regime.

* Many of you have been asking questions about ethnic minorities in
Iran. I will keep an eye open for material. Iran’s ethnic
diversity is truly amazing. Of course, like everywhere else, all
kinds of jokes and stereotypes are attached to each group. In
general, however, people are fairly used to hearing different
languages and seeing different costumes on the street. The nomadic
Qashqa’is, for example, still wear their very colorful dresses.
Click on this link to see a beautiful young Qashqai girl in
festive outfit (center of the page):
http://www.11iran.com/Z2INDEX.HTM . To get a general idea of
Iranian ethnic diversity and its geographical distribution click
on:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_minorities_in_Iran

Prominent Iranian Americans:

* This week’s personality is Google’s senior vice president for
global sales Mr. Omid Kordestani, 42. He joined  the company a
year after its establishment as its “business founder” and is
viewed as a force behind Google’s success. Here is the link if you
like to read more (courtesy of my friend Bahar Bastani):
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1187475,00.html
Also, I must apologize for sending the wrong link on the Harvard
Scientist Nima Arkani in the last window. Instead of just a
picture, I meant to send this brief description of his impressive
work:
http://www.physics.harvard.edu/people/facpages/arkani-hamed.html

Art and Culture

* If you are off to France, don’t miss the exhibition of more than
200 items from the last major pre-Islamic Persian empire the
Sassanians on view at the Cernuschi Museum Paris (15th September
to 30th December 2006). By the way, art historians would tell you
that these pre-Islamic objects — and many more — survived
because Muslim conquerors of Iran did not destroy them. Click on
this link to get a brief preview:
http://www.irandokht.com/editorial/index4.php?area=pro&sectionID=9&editorialID=2143

Suggested Reading:  Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian
Painting by Oleg Grabar
. A more general art history, The Golden Age of
Persian Art 1501-1722
by Sheila Canby both available through Amazon.
And Western art is exhibited in Iran. Check this one out:

* Last summer Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art held a major
exhibit (June-October 2005) called “Modern Art Movements,”
bringing together a historic number of contemporary world
masterpieces owned by Iranian Museums.  Barbara Rose who writes
about the exhibit for “The Wall Street Journal on Line” observes:
“The unprecedented show was a huge success.”  “The first gallery”
she says ” was filled with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist
paintings. There was a Gauguin still life, a rare Léger from 1913
and Picasso’s synthetic cubist masterpiece, “Fenêtre Ouverte sur
la Rue de Penthièvre,” as well as his late cast bronze of a baboon
cradling her baby, which is also in the Picasso Museum in Paris.
There were circus performers by Georges Rouault as well as a
daring watercolor by the German Dadaist George Grosz. Other
European and American modern masters were on view with a special
section devoted to Pop artists Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol,
David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Claes Oldenburg and Jim Dine.
Also in the collection are sculptures by Magritte, Henry Moore and
Giacometti; paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró and Georges
Braque; and three important Toulouse-Lautrecs.”

Now, check out Ms. Barbara Rose’s tone in her write up:

*”Most remarkably,” she observes “an entire gallery was devoted
to Abstract Expressionism, the art movement that proclaimed
America’s cultural primacy.”  She is even more shocked at the
Iranian Museum of Contemporary art’s “continuing to list the works
of modern Western art, including a number of prominent Jewish
artists, as part of its permanent collection, which is presumably
open to the public [can the museum be making this up?]. A more
recent, “ironic” exhibition, she adds :” is that of paintings by
the well-known Jewish painter Marc Chagall also opened in Tehran
this summer.” [2006].

*Here is what she concludes: “No one knows what will happen to
the masterpieces of modern Western art in Tehran. They are said to
be worth billions of dollars now and are too expensive to be
destroyed.”  And finally, concerning a painting of a female leg,
owned by the museum, which has not been on display, Ms. Rose
speculates: “Did some fanatic realize it is a woman’s and throw a
cloth over its offensive nudity? Is it being held for ransom to be
exchanged for a valuable Persian manuscript or an important weapon?”

* All right, we need more antidote. Let’s just visit a few of our
concluding Visual Delights, some recent exhibits of the works of
Iranian painters and art-lovers who — no doubt — enjoyed the
above exhibit tremendously (and luckily won’t have to read Ms.
Rose’s review). I have particularly enjoyed the portrays by Nemat
Lalehei
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=316 . Lalehei is an
artist from the northern city of Rasht. Be sure to double click on
each portraits to see the enlarged version. Another male artist,
and one very different in style and temperament is:  Masoud
Dashtban
http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3416 . Finally,
please take a look at the works of the young photographer, Salomeh
Manouchehri
. Here too, you must enlarge the photographs to see the
subtleties of her work. Enjoy:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=313

Have a great week. I hope to be opening another window in about a week.
Best,

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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