Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Justice for Iran

Saddam is on death row, the heads of Iranian and Iraqi states embrace amicably over talks to stabilize Iraq, America is still considering Iran to be the axis of evil, Israel insists that Iran is dangerous, and many do not recall (or mention) that the US supported Saddam in the war against Iran, nor that Israel sold weapons to both. Kamin Mohammadi reminds us of the forgotten victims of Saddam's chemical attacks on Iran

Iranians are the first civilians in the world to experience chemical bombs!

The mustard-gas bombs dropped on Sardasht on that afternoon were the first time a chemical weapon was used on a civilian town. In the following months, Saddam Hussein’s troops would drop these deadly bombs on several other villages in Iran as well as on Kurdish settlements in Iraq itself, including the infamous bombing of Halabja.
Mustard gas’s chief assault on the body is grave chemical burns. It affects the respiratory organs, eyes and skin within hours.
The bombing of Sardasht was at the start of a devastating campaign during the Iraq-Iran war. Saddam’s bombs claimed more than 100,000 Iranian civilian casualties. The gas agents had been developed to wipe out more people over a wider range than their predecessors. A by-product of this approach was that the noxious, insidious nature of the chemicals used ensured many of his victims died a very slow, very painful death.

Thus, those who have survived still live under the cloud of the bombs. The gas effected their DNA, caused long-term respiratory problems, eye and skin problems as well as immune system disorders, psychological disorders, genetic disorders, and probably cancers. There is also anecdotal evidence that some of the problems can be passed on to children.
Since Saddam Hussein was in direct violation of The Geneva Protocol of 1925, Iran complained bitterly to the international community, and though several UN missions were dispatched to Iran, only two UN resolutions addressed the chemical attacks, both weakly worded and failing to make explicit Iraq’s violation of the protocol. One of the resolutions didn’t even name Iraq as the originator of the attacks on Iran and another was not issued until after the ceasefire in the autumn of 1988.

It is this failure by the international community to support Iran against these illegal attacks that is in part responsible for Iran’s current defiance on the nuclear issue.
Although, in the standoff between Iran and the US that is currently taking place over the nuclear issue, Iran is seen as the potential aggressor, in reality, Iran’s experiences in the war have hardened its position.

But far away from these high-octane political wranglings, the people of Iran continue to try to live their lives within the uncertainty and psychological warfare employed by both sides, including those still physically devastated by the effects of the war and the unprovoked chemical attacks on innocent Iranian civilians. And what strikes them as ironic is that they are the only people in recent history to have directly suffered the effects of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and now they are painted as part of a country that is the West’s greatest enemy ...
Source of pictures
Also see AllBlog video post of Rumsfeld and Saddam in action

Jewish Voice For Peace

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Worst Brand Name

ALLBLOG posted a link to Wednesday's headline news in Israel Today

According to Simon Anholt, who conducted the study (National Brand Index)
Israel's brand is by a considerable margin the most negative we have ever measured in the NBI, and comes at the bottom of the ranking on almost every question

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ex-Intelligence officer and weapon inspector in Iran

Homeyra has provided a link to Scott Ritter's account of his Visit to Iran, in interview with Amy Goodman. Full transcript

Commenting on his experience in Iran, he states:
What an eye-opening experience to be on your own in a nation that has been called an Islamic fascist state. I have been to dictatorships in the Middle East. I have been to nations that have a high security profile. Iran is not one of these nations. I’m a former intelligence officer who has stated some pretty strong positions on Iran, and yet I had full freedom of movement in Iran with no interference whatsoever. And as a result, although I didn’t have the approved agenda, I had my own agenda, which allowed me to interview senior government officials, senior military officials, senior intelligence officials, and to visit sites that were deemed sensitive. The conclusion is that the American media has gotten it wrong on Iran.

He comments on the similarity between Bush administration's position with regards to WMD in Iraq and in Iran:

the Bush administration once again is putting the onus on Iran, saying, “It’s not up to the inspectors to find the nuclear weapons program. It’s up to the Iranians to prove that one doesn’t exist.” Why do we go down this path? Because you can’t prove a negative. There’s nothing Iran can do that will satisfy the Bush administration, because the policy at the end of the day is not about nonproliferation, it’s not about disarmament. It’s about regime change. And all the Bush administration wants to do is to create the conditions that support their ultimate objective of military intervention.

Look, we’re already overflying Iran with unmanned aerial vehicles, pilotless drones. On the ground, the CIA is recruiting Mojahedin-e-Khalq, recruiting Kurds, recruiting Azeris, who are operating inside Iran on behalf of the United States of America. And there is reason to believe that we’ve actually put uniformed members of the United States Armed Forces and American citizens operating as CIA paramilitaries inside Iranian territory to gather intelligence.

Ritter's report was published on November 3rd in the Nation Magazine the Case for Engagement

He duely observes:
Iran today is a fully functioning capitalist society, and in addition to the old rich, there is a larger population of wealthy Iranians who made their fortunes after the Islamic revolution and who owe their ability to sustain their wealth to the continued governance of the Islamic Republic. Likewise, those in the West who believe that the youth of Iran (more than two-thirds of the population today is under 30) share the same aspirations as the Western-oriented moneyed class will be disappointed. Those under 30 have no memory of the Iran that existed pre-theocracy and seem more willing to support a moderating change from within than a drastic change imposed from without.

Commenting on Western Media's obsession with Ahmadinejad:
For all the attention the Western media give to Ahmadinejad's foreign policy pronouncements, the reality is that his effective influence is limited to domestic issues. The citizens of Tehran I spoke with, from every walk of life, understood this and were genuinely perplexed as to why we in the West treat Ahmadinejad as if he were a genuine head of state. "The man has no real power," a former Revolutionary Guard member told me. "The true power in Iran resides with the Supreme Leader." The real authority is indeed the Ayatollah Sayeed Ali Khamenei, successor to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The Supreme Leader's powers are impressive, but they are not absolute. Iran has a system of checks and balances that is played out through two primary bodies: the Guardian Council and the Expediency Council. Until recently the Guardian Council had absolute veto power over parliamentary legislation and was unchecked in the exercise of its oversight responsibilities. However, in 1997 Khamenei beefed up the role and responsibility of the Expediency Council, and it was further strengthened last year; now the decisions of the Guardian Council, if challenged by the Iranian Parliament, can be overturned by the Expediency Council.

He also reminds :
In our haste to lash out at those who attacked us on September 11, 2001, we forget that Iran not only condemned the attacks, as did its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon, but that it nearly fought a war against Afghanistan's Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies in the late 1990s. There is no greater potential ally in the struggle against Sunni extremism than Shiite Iran, a point made over and over by everyone I talked to, especially those affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard.

He proposes that:
The solution to this problem is clear. The most logical course would be to put Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on a flight to Tehran, where she could negotiate directly with the principal players on the Iranian side, including Supreme Leader Khamenei. If Administration officials actually engaged with the Iranians, they would have an eye-opening experience. Of course, Rice would need to come with a revamped US policy, one that rejects regime change, provides security guarantees for Iran as it is currently governed and would be willing to recognize Iran's legitimate right to enrich uranium under Article IV of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (although under stringent UN inspections, and perhaps limited to the operation of a single 164-centrifuge cascade).

Rice would undoubtedly be surprised at the degree of moderation (and pro-American sentiment) that exists in Iran today. She might also be shocked to find out that the Iranians are more than ready to sit down with the United States and work out a program for stability in Iraq, as well as a reduction of tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.

For all crussaders ...

Of all gods,
I worship the most invisible ones.
But I don't know what to tell this crowd,
who, -- out of concern or who-knows-what -- inveigle me
to the prayer of their emperor gods!
Of all temples
I'm content with the solitude of the blue dome of sky
But this army of faith
- out of concern or I-don't-know-what
entices me to the glory of the sky-scraping cathedrals
Leave me alone!
Is my silence breaking millennia of sleepiness
that you lure me to converse?
Leave me alone!
Have I desired the gold girdle of your monks
that you decoy my soul?
In the name of which God
can I purchase your trust
that I am free from heavenly desires?!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Humor of the week

okey I know, it is not weekend yet but I am afraid I will stop laughing by Saturday and forget to post this:

Iran to pursue human rights violation in Canada
This was the first time Iran submitted a resolution against Canada's horrible, yet modern violation of the rights of the indigenous residents of this country ...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"The House Murdered", (poem by Darwish Mahmoud)

In one minute, the whole life of a house ends.
The house murdered is also mass murder, even if vacant of its residents.
It is a mass grave for the basic elements needed to construct a building for meaning, or for an insignificant poem in a time of war.
The house, murdered, is the amputation of things from their relations and from the names of emotions, and it is tragedy’s need to guide eloquence to contemplate the life of a thing.
In each thing there’s a being that aches . . . the memory of fingers, of a scent, of an image.
And houses get murdered just as their residents get murdered.
And as the memory of things get murdered—wood, stone, glass, iron, cement—they all scatter in fragments like beings.
And cotton, silk, linen, notepads, books, all are torn like words whose owners were not given time to speak.
And the plates, spoons, toys, records, faucets, pipes, door handles, and the fridge, the washer, the vases, jars of olives and pickles, and canned foods, all break as their owners broke. And the two whites, salt and sugar, are pulverized, and also the spices, the matchboxes, the pills and oral contraceptives, elixirs, garlic braids, onions, tomatoes, dried okra, rice and lentils, as happens with the residents.
And the lease contract, the marriage and birth certificates, the utility bills, identity cards, passports, love letters, all torn to shreds like the hearts of their owners. And the pictures fly, the toothbrushes, hair combs, make-up accessories, shoes, underwear, sheets, towels, like family secrets hung in public, in ruin.
All these things are the memories of people who were emptied of things, and the memories of things that were emptied of people . . . all end in one minute. Our things die like us, but they don’t get buried with us!

—Translated by Fady Joudah
Source: The Progressive

Christian Identity: Pro-israelites and Anti-semites

Christian Identity is a label applied to a wide variety of loosely-affiliated groups and churches with a racialized theology. Most of them promote a Eurocentric version of Christianity. Their key commonality is British Israelism theology, which teaches that the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Scandinavian, Germanic and associated cultures are the racial descendents of the tribes of Israel. Thus, by extension, Americans and Canadians, are composed of the descendents of the ancient Israelites of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Furthermore, the teaching holds that these Israelites are still God's Chosen People, that Jesus was an Israelite and not of the tribe of Judah, and that modern Jews are of a separate, subhuman race.

Professor Michael Barkun's Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement. traces the origins of the "right" extremism in this movement. Barkun's research includes millenarian and apocalyptic groups; political extremism; religiously-based violence and conspiracy theories. One of his current projects, "The Contemporary Significance of The Protocols" researches the continued influence of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion a century after publication and more than eighty years after their exposure. It is claimed that the Protocols are the minutes of a meeting of Jewish leaders at the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897, in which Jews plotted to take over the world. It is also claimed that this was a hoax.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

El Baradei: Atoms for Peace

Excerpts from El Baradei's 2005 Nobel Peace Prize speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Fifteen years ago, when the Cold War ended, many of us hoped for a new world order to emerge. A world order rooted in human solidarity – a world order that would be equitable, inclusive and effective.
Consider our development aid record. Last year, the nations of the world spent over $1 trillion on armaments. But we contributed less than 10 per cent of that amount – a mere $80 billion – as official development assistance to the developing parts of the world, where 850 million people suffer from hunger.
Consider also our approach to the sanctity and value of human life. In the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, we all grieved deeply, and expressed outrage at this heinous crime – and rightly so. But many people today are unaware that, as the result of civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 3.8 million people have lost their lives since 1998.

... with the spread of advanced science and technology, as long as some of us choose to rely on nuclear weapons, we continue to risk that these same weapons will become increasingly attractive to others.
We must see to it that nuclear-weapon states take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament.

And we must put in place a security system that does not rely on nuclear deterrence.
I have talked about our efforts to combat the misuse of nuclear energy. Let me now tell you how this very same energy is used for the benefit of humankind.

At the IAEA, we work daily on every continent to put nuclear and radiation techniques in the service of humankind. In Vietnam, farmers plant rice with greater nutritional value that was developed with IAEA assistance. Throughout Latin America, nuclear technology is being used to map underground aquifers, so that water supplies can be managed sustainably. In Ghana, a new radiotherapy machine is offering cancer treatment to thousands of patients. In the South Pacific, Japanese scientists are using nuclear techniques to study climate change. In India, eight new nuclear plants are under construction, to provide clean electricity for a growing nation – a case in point of the rising expectation for a surge in the use of nuclear energy worldwide.

These projects, and a thousand others, exemplify the IAEA ideal: Atoms for Peace.

See the full text of ElBaradei's Nobel Prize speech.

Iran reaches out to expatriate scientists

Going to Iran Giving a Talk?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Daily Digest

Homeyra has a post about the The Upside of Down. A good Canadian read that seems to resonates with the philosophy of this blog.

Also, Sophia alerted me to Seymour Hersh's new (slightly catastrophizing) prophecy about an eminant American attack on Iran.

It seems that American journalists have vastly different predictions about Bushit's next act.

On the Sunday Nov 19, Meet the Press interviewed Tedd Kopell and Robin Wright. (Here's the transcript I don't know how to find the podcast, but apparently the entire edition is available for download.) Both of these Iranian-savvy journalists believe the US of A is best off to negotiate with Iran.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Iranian Jews: Choice between Iran and Israel?

In August, the Washington Post (thank you peoplesgeography) published an interesting report about the position of Iranian Jewish community in America with respect to the escalation of hostilituies between Israel and Iran.

Nahid Rahimian, 36, left Iran almost four years ago and is now in Great Neck. She said the Jewish community in Iran is allowed to worship freely, "but you could only go so far."

She dreams constantly about Iran but is getting used to life in America. For her, that includes helping Omidvar prepare Payam for his 1,000-plus subscribers. And it means wondering when the latest Middle East crisis will end.

At the end of the day, everyone just wants peace, she said.

What if the battle escalates, transforming itself from Israel versus Hezbollah to Israel versus Iran?

Some Iranian Jews refuse to entertain the hypothetical, saying it is too far-fetched. Others, apparently having heard this question before, pose one in return: "How can one choose between their mother and their father?"

Also see an older article by the Jerusalem Post on the experience of an Iranian Jewish immigrant who (even after Ahmadi-Nejad's wiping blunder!) prefers life in Iran to that in Israel!!

"I love the country [Israel], I don't like the people," stressed the young man dressed in jeans and a black kippa who said he came to Israel because of Zionism.

"I thought that here it was good. I thought that all the Jews leave their doors unlocked and no one stole. But the Israeli people are not cultured. They are rude and disrespectful. In Iran people trust each other and when they give their word they keep it. Here you need a lawyer to get anyone to keep their promise."

Related earlier post

Iranian Journey

The IRANIAN JOURNEY (Maysoon Pachachi,1999) is a documentary about Ma’soomeh, the first Iranian and perhaps the only long-distance female bus driver of the Middle East in the year 1999. Whether Ma’soomeh is the first female driver of the Muslim world is far less important than the fact that she is a bus driver in a presumably patriarchic society. This film was distributed by Women Make Movies. Read more of Offscreen's special issue on Iranian cinema.

Veil Power

Maryam Namazi is a UK producer of TV International English and Third Camp TV, Director of the Worker-communist Party of Iran's International Relations Committee and co-editor of WPI Briefing. She is also involved in promoting universal rights, secularism, and the Third Camp against US militarism and Islamic terrorism.

Her approach is more confrontational and militant than the method I espouse, personally. But some of her writings are reflective of women right movements that are going on in Iran as well. In the spirit of fairness, it is imperative that I present another representative view of "Women in Iran".

My ideological difference with Namazi is on the question of veiling/unveiling.

in Unveiling the debate on secularism and rights she writes:
When it comes to the veiling of girls in schools, though, children's veiling must not only be banned in public institutions and schools but also in private schools and everywhere. Religious schools must also be banned. Here the issue extends beyond the principle of secularism and goes straight to the heart of children's rights. While adults may 'choose' veiling, children by their very nature cannot make such choices; what they do is really what their parents tell them to do. Even if there are children who say they like or choose to be veiled (as some media have reported), child veiling must still be banned - just as a child must be protected even if she 'chooses' to stay with her abusive parents rather than in state care, even if she 'chooses' to work to support her family in violation of child labour laws or even if she 'chooses' to stop attending school. States must intervene to protect children no matter what.

First, I do not believe in the legitimacy of state over personal rights and personal choices; in replacement of the tyranny of culture with the tyranny of state.

Second, I think to ban Hijab or to legislate Hijab is to give it political power. In Iran, during Reza Shah's modernization period, women were forced out of Hijab (this led to marginalization of all those hijabed women who played an important role in constitutional revolution), then 50 years later women were forced back into hijab (this led to marginalization of those who played an important role in all sectors of the public life.) And in both cases, "the right to dress" is galvanized into a political tool.

If banning hijab is, as Namazi suggests, to immunize the secular society to inflitration of fundamentalism, the history has shown that this ban is more likely to mobilize resistant forces that will polarize into fundamentalism.

picture from Ali Khaligh's photoblog

Islamic Extremism as Protector of Church!

Banning and burning books in Iran is something like earthquakes. They come and go, kill and destroy, and then something new gets built on the ruines and if there is luck the next eartquake will happen a few miles farther. But this time there is something amusing about book-bashing in Iran.
Guardian reports that among others books, The Da Vinci Code banned in Iran because of upsetting clerics within Iran's tiny Christian community.

Also in "September the reformist newspaper Shargh was closed after publishing a cartoon depicting President George Bush, disguised as a horse, debating with a donkey under a halo, widely seen as representing Mr Ahmadinejad.

okey this is a weekend post, and I plan to make them humorous ...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quiet Revolution

Deborah Campbell, Middle East lecturer, author of The Heated Place and an adjunct professor of literary nonfiction at the University of British Columbia visits Iran and writes about Iran's Quiet Revolution.
" American threats serve the current political system and weaken the opposition, Razzaghi believes.

As water boiled for tea, he continued. "I'm not so optimistic about the future of things we hear regarding American threats and plans for a "Greater Middle East.' You can look at history and the interference of the US in Iran fifty years ago, which caused the Islamic revolution twenty-five years later. We don't know how American actions will affect the future, but I don't think they will bring democracy to Iranians in the long term."

Nor does Shirin Ebadi, a human rights lawyer and the most powerful woman in Iran. In 2003, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming Iran's first-ever Nobel laureate and the only Muslim woman to receive the honour. At her office in Tehran, she wielded a letter opener like a sabre as she described the human rights issues for which she has endured arrest and imprisonment. While she vocally opposes many of her government's actions, she is even more vocal in her opposition to regime change and military intervention. Change, she believes, must be internally generated, as has been the case in parts of the former Soviet Union.

"I never believe in foreign pressure," she told me, her hair protruding from beneath a white scarf. "I believe in Iranian public opinion. Look at Iraq and look at Kazakhstan. In Iraq it was foreign pressure and in Kazakhstan it was people pressure, from the bottom up. How much have they hurt Iraq Yet with no casualties, the people in Kazakhstan won."

See her interesting pictures

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Argentina, Iran, and "The Bomb"

Argentine Report Casts Doubt on Iran Role in '94 Bomb

and Iran to sue Argentine prosecutors

Signs of Times alludes to an Israeli link behind the 1992 bombimg of the Israel embassy and the 1994 attack on AMIA; warning of the conspiracy of a third attack on Argentina as a response to south american rejection of organized zionism.

Why, you may ask? perhaps because some consider zionism a failed ideology

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fundamentalists' dresscode!

Bob Gates & Iran Contra

I crossed path with blogger Curt (and if you ever read this Curt, sorry I didn't get your joke: but but but ...the hate our freedome :) ) who pointed to a CounterPunch article by Lawrence E. Walsh (the independent counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation from 1986 to 1993.) This is an excerpt from his book Firewall: the Iran/Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up..

In a wikipedic nutshell:
The Iran-Contra Affair (also called the Iran-Contra Matter and Iran-gate) was one of the largest political scandals in the United States during the 1980s. [1] It involved several members of the Reagan Administration who in 1986 helped sell arms to Iran, an avowed enemy, and used the proceeds to fund the Contras, an anti-communist guerrilla organization in Nicaragua. [2]
After the arms sales were revealed in November 1986, President Ronald Reagan appeared on national television and denied that they had occurred.[3] But a week later, on November 13, he returned to the airwaves to affirm that weapons were indeed transferred to Iran. He denied that they were part of an exchange for hostages. [4]

(REFERENCES in comments)

Bush's new challenge: To Talk or Not to Talk

It seems that Mr Bush and Mr Blair are getting into a bit of conflict regarding Iran. Apparently, Blair has urged open talks with Iran and Syria regarding Iraq! _(Nov 13)_. On the one hand, BBC reports that Bush maintains tough line on Iran_(Nov 13)_. But, according to Reuter, US leaves door open to talks with Iran about Iraq._(Nov13)_
So, what do Iran and Syria want? Iran wants a wholesale transformation of is relationship with the United States; simply put, a respectful relationship. After all, the tyrany of Iranian regime is not much worse than the other ones (e.g Russia and China) that US overlooks or supports (e.g. Pakistan and Israel).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Does Iran want Israel extinct?

When an Iranian hears of Iran's desire to "wipe Israel off the map", he can't help bursting to an annoyed laughter. Truth is Iranian culture is not much condusive to "extermination" policies. For thousands of years it has not been so and there is in fact a certain level of pride in Iranians that when the ancient world exterminated Jews, the Persian kings were those who aided the Israelites (see the book of Ezra). Iranians know there is a wide gap between Islamic Republic's rhetoric and the reality of its interests and ideology. The Iran Israel Cold War is an excellent article by Trita Parsi, a scholar in advanced international policy, explaining why.

Iranian fundamentalists allow stem cell research

American ones don't!

Iran looks at science as a source of pride . "In the cutting-edge field of human embryonic stem-cell research, the scientists work with a freedom that US researchers can only dream of: broad government approval, including government funding, to work on the potent cells from early-stage embryos that researchers believe hold the promise to cure many diseases.
In 2002, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave his blessing to research on surplus embryos created for fertility treatments -- work sharply restricted in the United States under pressure from religious conservatives -- calling it a ``lofty" effort that fit his goal of making Iran the scientific leader of the Muslim world."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Disrupted Democracy

For the crocodile tears of those neo-conservative Americans who wish to import their freedom and democracy to Iran:

Meet Dr. Mosadegh , Democratically elected prime minister of Iran, removed by an American coup in 1953.

Pictorial Truth about Iranian Women

If you are an Iranian woman, I am sure you have been asked this question: "Are women allowed to go to university in Iran?" Of course that question may come after they have gotten over initial shock that an Iranian woman can look like you, can be world-savvy, can be fun-loving, can drive manual shifter cars, ... well yes ... perhaps they have assumed that it is the living in the West, for as long as you have, that has transmuted you into what you are, what you express, what you look like. But at some point, I got sick and tired of people's stereotypical views about Iranian women and I spent 48 hours gathering any women-related picture I could get my hands on, from internet and posting them here . If your browser works well, the photos are sorted narratively. "Some are sad, some are interesting, but all fascinating", said the professor for whom I made the collection. He had a bet with me to show him a picture of Iranian women playing soccer ... well, as you see I won!

Take a look, and send me anything interesting that comes your way.