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A wedding in the Iranian village of Gilan, near the Caspian Sea.

A wedding in the Iranian village of Gilan, near the Caspian Sea (see the link below for more pictures from the wedding).

Hi All,

I hope you are all doing well. We are here at Washington University right in the heart of the semester which is why the windows have been coming your way more slowly. Still, hundreds (yes, I mean hundreds) of new subscribers have joined these windows in the past weeks. Welcome! I hope you find these enjoyable and informative.

If you know of anyone who signed up but did not receive the windows, do please e-mail me. And now, to window number 42.

The Iran that Smiles!

Thanks to my cousin Abe Massoudi, I can open this window with a colorful slide show of a face of Iran that smiles: a beautiful wedding in a village in Gilan. To see the show, click here: Wedding in Iranian village of Gilan.

Columbia University Visit

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s reception at Columbia continues to generate discussion particularly among the Iranian Americans here in the U.S. One favorite pastime has been looking up previous Columbia visitors who might be described as less than democratic. One of particular interest is another former Iranian leader (see the picture below). The caption reads: “A Petty cruel dictator in Columbia University, but wait he is receiving a Doctoral degree in Law!”

The Shah of Iran receiving an honorary doctoral degree from Columbia University.

The Shah of Iran receiving an honorary doctoral degree from Columbia University in 1955, only two years after a U.S.-CIA led coup overthrew the democratically-elected Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq and installed the Shah in power. The Shah went on to be a "petty and cruel" dictator (to borrow Columbia University President Dr. Bollinger's words), however, he was a U.S.-supported dictator, therefore it was acceptable for him to not only speak at Columbia but even be awarded an honorary degree!

Current Issues

* The U.S. Government will impose new sanctions on Iran. While there is doubt about the actual effectiveness of the sanctions, and the agreement of other nations with it, nevertheless the move is another step away from reconciliation. Here is yesterday’s N.Y. Times article on the new sanction: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/washington/25tehran.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin.

* A very interesting analysis of the catastrophic economic consequences for the world as a whole of a possible strike on Iran in today’s Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/25/AR2007102502840.html?wpisrc=newsletter.

* Reporting on Iran continues to be problematic. Words and images project images of religious fanaticism, or violence, even when the content of a report indicates the opposite. The coverage of the visit to Iran by Mr. Putin, the Russian president, in New York Times on Oct. 17 is a perfect example. According to the report, the Iranian, Russian, and other Caspian Sea nations oppose the possibility of a military intervension in Iran and call for a diplomatic approach to all conflicts – including the Iranian nuclear issue. The image used in the article (on the right), shows Mr. Putin and Ahmadinejad walking past a row of wall decorations depicting pre-Islamic Iranian guards symbolically escorting the two leaders. The caption to the image reads “Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran followed in the footsteps of Persian soldiers yesterday.”

* Here is a NY Times article with more details on the visit of the Russian President to Iran which was itself a historic event. The main purpose of the event was  discussing Caspian Sea resources including oil. Besides Mr. Putin, leaders from Azarbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan expressed objections to further military action in the region: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/17/world/17iran.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin.

* Matt Miller has shared a fascinating interview/article with the millitary historian Gabriel Kolok from Spiegel. It provides a very interesting analysis of a possible U.S. millitary attack on Iran. Thanks Matt: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,511492,00.html

* The identities of the six British Members of Parliament who were present at the meeting with Debra Cagan have now been revealed and yesterday, the New York Times reported a virtual re-confirmation by the MPs that Cagan did indeed say that she hates all Iranians.  The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on everyone to ask journalists why they have not covered the story of Debra Cagan and her outragous remark, “I hate all Iranians.” Take action here: http://capwiz.com/niacouncil/issues/alert/?alertid=10436826.

Cultural

* If you are in St. Louis on Wednesday, Oct. 30, come to Busch Hall, Room 100 at 7:00p.m. to see a film on ancient Iran by the award winning documentary maker Farzin Rezaeian. In this major new documentary called Iran: Seven Faces of a Civilization, Mr. Rezaeian uses the latest technology to showcase the 7,000-year history of Iran’s art and archaeology.

* Iranians look upon the recent Nobel Lauriete Doris Lessing as a daughter of Iran: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/oct/1138.html.

* Iranian men and women chess players maintained their lead in Asian Chess Championship held in Manama, reported Gulf News on Oct. 19: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=3588.

World champion Iranian chess star Ehsan Ghaem Maghami.

World famous chess champion Ehsan Ghaem Maghami competing in the Asian Chess Championship.

A rising Iranian chess star Ghazal Hakimifard, who is only 12 years old, also competed.

A rising Iranian chess star, Ghazal Hakimifard, who is only 12 years old, also competed in the Asian Chess Championship.

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Visual Delight

Time to close Window 42 with another painting exhibit. This time, the work of Vadjiheh Fakour, the painter from Tabriz. She has had many individual and group exhibits. And as you will see, she has a way with color. Enjoy: Vadjiheh Fakour Art.

Have a great weekend, 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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A fascinating watercolor painting by Hannibal Alkhas (see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his works).

A fascinating watercolor painting by Hannibal Alkhas (see the link at the end of this

Dear All,

Greetings after a long absence. I have been very busy preparing for the academic year and participating in St. Louis community events. In the second week of August, I spoke at CAJE (Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education) which held its annual meeting in St. Louis and on the campus of Washington University. It was a lively and well prepared event. My presentation in this conference was an important experience for me. I am looking forward to staying connected with educators in the American Jewish community to share information and work for better communication and understanding between our respective communities.

I also was very much involved in the three day annual convention of VFP (Veterans For Peace) held here in St. Louis last week. Together with my friend Alice Bloch, I gave two workshops. I also had a keynote address about Iran. Alice and I both felt very pleased and honored to have been a part of the VFP convention.

If you have written to me recently, please note that – emerging from these events and also preparing for the academic year – I will need a just a little more time to write back.

And now to our window number 36 on Iran:

A woman with velvet voice

Popular Iranian singer Elaheh, the woman with a velvet voice.

Popular Iranian singer Elaheh, the "woman with a velvet voice."

On August 17, the popular Iranian singer Elaheh passed away. As a pre-revolution Iranian woman singer, Elaheh’s songs have not been played on national Iranian radio and television. Nevertheless, Elaheh remains a very familiar and popular voice particularly for Iranians of my generation. She was known as “the woman with a velvet voice”. Here, I would like to share with you one her hits Rosvai Zamaneh Manam. Click to Listen.

Iranian Unit to Be Labeled ‘Terrorist’

U.S. Moving Against Revolutionary Guard.  The United States is
considering to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the
country’s 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a “specially
designated global terrorist,” according to U.S. officials, a move that
allows Washington to target the group’s business operations and
finances. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081401662.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Resolution Opposing Military Action Against Iran

The Democratic Party of the most populous state in the nation has
passed a strong resolution calling on US Congress to “oppose
unprovoked military action against Iran” and to “support direct talks
between the Untied States and Iran without preconditions.” This is
wonderful news! Read for yourself  the full text of the resolution
that was authored by the Bay Area Iranian American Democrats (BAIAD):
http://www.baiad.org/

Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran speak of Collaboration

A week after President Karzi embarrassed the current U.S.
administration by calling Iran a support and solution rather than a
problem, President Ahmadinejad visited Afghanistan and the two leaders
spoke of collaboration to improve the Afghan economy and help the
country out of its current crisis. The trip is intended to put the
seal on a range of Iranian-led reconstruction projects as well as
consolidate areas of cooperation such as combating drug traffickers.
Iranian aid – worth £125m – has been provided for three projects: a
water research center, a dental college and equipping Kabul’s medical
university. While local papers highlighted these projects, the western
media defined the trip in terms of another confrontation between Iran
and the U.S.  Guardian titled its report:

US feels heat as Iranian leader visits Afghanistan
http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,,2148964,00.html

About a week earlier, President Bush had to warn Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki of Iraq after seeing pictures of cordial meetings between
Maliki and top Iranian leaders in Tehran hoping that – despite the
pictures –  the prime minister was delivering a tough message. “If the
signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a
heart-to-heart with my friend, the prime minister,” said President
Bush. Here is the full article:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070810/ts_afp/usiraniraqbush_070810091315
I am not a Mid-East politics expert to give you full commentary on
these recent moves. However, as the U.S. led war is viewed more and
more as weakening the region, and the U.S. money arms the hard-liner
Sunni groups, looking eastward for cooperation and support seems to
have been an outcome. In the meantime, China and Russia are looming
larger on the horizon with ideas for regional cooperation (economic
and otherwise). These may explain, at least in part, the Iraqi and
Afghan leaders confidence in acknowledging the positive role of Iran
in the region.

Visual Delight

A painting by Hannibal Alkhas (click the link on the left for more of his terrific work).

Another painting by Hannibal Alkhas (click the link on the left for more of his terrific work).

I would like to revive our old tradition of closing these windows with a painting exhibit. This one is a very recent show of the watercolor works of Hannibal Alkhas (b. 1930). An Iranian Assyrian artist of great stature in the Iranian art community, Alkhas has worked with many different media and styles of painting. He has also worked with wood. I’ll leave the show to speak for itself. Since it is the only visual attachment, I hope it won’t be too large for your computers. Click here: Hannibal Alkhas 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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Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of www.tehran.ir)

Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of http://www.tehran.ir).

Dear All,

Greetings! I hope you all had a very nice Thanksgiving. Mine was extended by the snow storm that followed the holidays. Many people in Missouri suffered extensive power outage late last week. My family were to get it back on Sunday. There were close to 200,000 people still without power as of this morning. On a much more exciting note, last week at Washington University we hosted Orhan Pamuk the talented Turkish writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. Later in the same week we hosted Shabana Azmi, the Indian actress/activist and her poet husband Javed Akhtar.

And now to Window number 14 on Iran. Please note that the current issues
are a few days older due to the delay in sending this window to you.

Current Issues:

* A concerned friend, sent me the T O D A Y ‘ S   N E W S

“Religious leaders in Iran have started a campaign to end all
university programs that educate men and women together, The
Guardian reported. The push follows the release of statistics
showing dramatic gains for women at Iranian universities, where
they now outnumber men in key programs. The Guardian quoted a
cleric as saying that universities were turning into “fashion
shows.” I called Iran, and had a long conversation with a trusted
university professor friend. There is no factual basis to the
above report.  From time to time, there are discussions in Iranian
papers about the disproportionately higher number of women in
Iranian universities (about 70% of the students). No official
comments have been made about an attempt to reduce the number of
women university students.

* Mostafa Tabatabainejad, an Iranian American student at UCLA, was
repeatedly stunned with a Taser by the campus police and then
taken into custody. He had been asked to leave the computer lab
after he failed to produce an ID during a check at around 11:30
p.m. Many terrified students videotaped the incident on their cell
phones. The videos show Tabatabainejad screaming in pain as he was
stunned several times with a Taser, each time for three to five
seconds. He was told repeatedly to stand up and stop fighting, and
that if he did not do so he would “get Tased again.” He is heard
screaming on the video “I’m not fighting you” and “I said I would
leave.” Carlos Zaragoza, a third year student of English who
witnessed the incident said Tabatabainejed was also stunned with
the Taser when already handcuffed. Zaragoza said. “(He was) no
possible danger to any of the police.” One troubling point is
that, according to eyewitnesses, Tabatabainejed was already
leaving when the police entered. The other that according to a
study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2001, a charge of
three to five seconds can result in immobilization for five to 15
minutes, which would mean that Tabatabainejad could have been
physically unable to stand when the officers demanded that he do so.

*According to Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney at the ACLU of
South California, “It is a real mistake to treat a Taser as some
benign thing that painlessly brings people under control.”
Eliasberg said: “The Taser can be incredibly violent and result in
death.”

Second Slide Show of Isfahan

* Time for nice, healing, beautiful images to look at! My good
friend Bahar Bastani has just sent out a gorgeous series of
pictures from the historical city of Yazd in central Iran. I will
turn them into a power point slide show and send them out in the
next window. Here is a sample:

Beautiful view of the city of Yazd at Sunset (courtesy of www.letsgoiran.com)

Beautiful view of the city of Yazd at Sunset (courtesy of http://www.letsgoiran.com)

* I do have another slide show for this window from the city of
Isfahan. This is my second slide show of Isfahan in these windows.
I have deliberately blended historical as well as modern scenery,
art work, etc. Click here: Isfahan slide show. Enjoy!

Iranian Annual Book Fair

* The Iranian Annual Book Fair is a major event that brings together
thousands of volumes published in various subjects. Thousands of
people travel to the capital to simply visit the book fair. This
year, the book fair attracted two million Iranians. My good friend
Behrooz Ghamari, who wrote a piece for Illinois International
Review after his recent trip to Iran, has a picture of the people
attending the book fair in June. While critiquing aspects of life
in present day Iran, Behrooz – a historian and sociologist who
takes special interest in Iranian current issues – presents an
overall positive and hopeful view of the country. Do take a look
http://www.ips.uiuc.edu:16080/io/iir.shtml. Click on fall 2006
issue, and go to page 2 and 3.

Another photo from the Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of www.flickr.com)

Another photo from the Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com)

Iranian Cinema

Nikki Karimi, famous actress and director of A Few Days Later (image courtesy of www.ashreshteh.com)

Nikki Karimi, famous actress and director of "A Few Days Later" (image courtesy of http://www.ashreshteh.com)

* Iranian cinema continues to produce internationally acclaimed, often critical, films. A great feature of this cinema is the presence of women before or behind the camera. Nikki Karimi, the actress whose talent was, early in her career, overshadowed by her beauty  (http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1083.html) is now making it big as a director.  Last month, Karimi presented her second long feature film “A Few Days Later,” in the Italian film festival at Rome.  Karimi has acted in some the sharpest feminist statements by the prominent woman director, Tahmineh Milani. “A Few Days Later” tells the story of a young  woman who has to make serious decisions about her life.
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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