Saturday, October 27, 2007

This Week in Peace & Social Justice (10-27-2007)

Clinton Receiving Unprecedented Support from U.S. Weapons Industry

The U.S. defense industry has joined big Wall Street businesses in their robust support for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. This reverses the defense industry’s traditional partiality towards Republicans. "The contributions clearly suggest the arms industry has reached the conclusion that Democratic prospects for 2008 are very good indeed," said Thomas Edsall, an academic at Columbia University in New York.

World War III

Bush, in the same week that he signed a new round of unilateral sanctions on Iran into existence and labeled part of Iran’s military a terrorist organization, also began using the term “WWIII” in reference to the situation with Iran. This scary escalation of rhetoric is reminiscent of the sharp escalation in administration rhetoric in the weeks and months before the Iraq War. (Please see the next article below for a better idea on what the real facts are).

Commentary: Stalin, Mao And … Ahmadinejad? (Fareed Zakaria)

“The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality…Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?”

Billionaires Up, Average Americans Down

This quote says it all: "The 25th anniversary of the Forbes 400 isn't party time for America. We have a record 482 billionaires - and record foreclosures. We have a record 482 billionaires - and a record 47 million people without any health insurance. Since 2000, we have added 184 billionaires - and 5 million more people living below the poverty line."

Guatemalan Labor Unions’ Leaders Killed

Marco Tulio Ramirez was the fifth Guatemalan labor union leader killed this year. "Masked gunmen dumped a Guatemalan banana picker's bullet-ridden corpse yards from fields of fruit bound for the United States, a grim reminder of the risks of organizing labor in the Central American country." Pay attention to the U.S. companies mentioned at the end of the article and make sure you select your fruit carefully next time you are at the grocery store.

Quote of the Week: At a Stanford University discussion, Gen. John Abizaid (Ret.), the former CENTCOM Commander, said, when asked about the Iraq campaign: "Of course it's about oil, we can't really deny that…We've treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations. Our message to them is: Guys, keep your pumps open, prices low, be nice to the Israelis and you can do whatever you want out back. Osama and 9/11 is the distilled essence that represents everything going on out back."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Veil of Silence: A New Play about Iraq

Veterans for Peace presents Veil of Silence: a new play about Iraq, by Andrew Michael Neiman and Suzanne Renard.

Performances Fridays & Saturdays November 2, 3, 9, & 10 at 8 PM, and Sundays November 4 & 11 at 2 PM.

At The Black Cat Theatre, 3810 Sutton in Maplewood. $15 General, $12 Students/Seniors/Veterans.

Tickets and information
314-315-5129 or

Ahmadinejad's Columbia 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. I have attached one image (the first attachment). The caption reads: " A Petty cruel dictator in Columbia University, but wait he is recieving a Doctoral degree in Law!"

Windows on Iran - 42 (Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz)

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.

I have three visual attachments this time. However, the content of each is fairly small. Let me know if your computers have problems downloading them.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 on the attachment "Gilan Wedding," the second attachment, then on view and then on slide show.

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:

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:

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 (p. A6), 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:

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:,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."

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:

Iranian men and women chess players maintained their lead in Asian Chess Championship held in Manama, reported Gulf News on Oct. 19:

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.

Have a great weekend, until the next window on Iran.


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

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Teach-In For Tolerance

As some of you may know, the College Republicans sponsored an event at the WashU campus this week as part of David Horowitz's "Islamofacism Awareness Week." In response, the College Dems and several other groups (including the Peace Coalition) organized a Teach-In to discuss just how dangerous Horowitz's extreme ideology is. Here is what the speaking lineup looked like:

Eric Reif, College Democrats, Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Howard Brick, Professor of History Professor of American Culture Studies, Washington University In St. Louis

Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz, Chair of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, Professor of Persian Language & Literature, Washington University In St. Louis

Rouhollah Rahmani, Muslim Students Association, Washington University in St. Louis

Becky Hufstader, College Democrats, Washington University in St. Louis

Thanks to a certain member of our group and our friends at the St. Louis Indy Media Center, we have the whole wonderful event recorded. The speakers were all excellent, so check it out here!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

T-Shirt Slogans

We're going to be screening some T-Shirts in the near future for our group that will probably involve something with a peace sign. Any ideas for a good slogan to put on the shirts?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


So, we've now had tombstone displays at UMSL, WashU, and SLU; and Fontbonne will be this Thursday. There was a cool slideshow posted today on StudLife about the WashU display and a photo (slide 1) with one of the world's most ridiculous quotes in the Post-Dispatch. What are people's thoughts about how the display went?

Also, check out these awesome photos by Dale!

Update: So now that Fontbonne is finished, I can report some of the results from the week. Overall, over 150 students signed up for peace groups during the displays at UMSL, SLU, WashU, and Fontbonne. We had media coverage from Fox 2 News, Channel 4 News,, the Post-Dispatch, and several of our student newspapers.

Two new student groups were formed that did not previously exist at UMSL and at Fontbonne. Fontbonne, in fact, did not have *any* student group on campus that worked on peace and justice issues (not even a College Dems) until Kathy started organizing the display.

We had hundreds if not thousands of students (and parents) come by our tables and wish us well. One woman called after seeing her grandson's name on the news to thank us for putting up a display honoring the troops.

Anyway, there were a lot of positives from the week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Windows on Iran--41

Dear All,

Greetings after a relatively long break. I hope you are very well. I have been wrestling with computer problems in preparing this window. A number of housekeeping issues before opening window number 41.

First, if you cite these windows, please remember that they are my personal work. Their goal is to supply the community that nurtures me with as much information that I can provide about intellectual, artistic, social, and political life in Iran. I hope these lead us to understanding and away from another war.

Second, a warm welcome to a very distinguished scholar of Persian language, literature, and culture who is joining our list from Italy. It is my pleasure to tell you about Professor Riccardo Zipoli's art of photography. I had always known Professor Zipoli for his literary work, now I know he is an equally accomplished photographer. With his exquisite photography, he shares images of beautiful scenery and of ordinary Iranians. Do please visit:

Also, it is my pleasure to welcome a group of awesome women from our own community in St. Louis who are interested in learning more about Iran through these windows. A warm welcome to Barbara Eagleton, Jean Carnahan, Robin Carnahan (and about 40 more I cannot list here fully). I hope you find these windows informative and fun to read.

Rumi on NPR
On October 5, I was guest of NPR' s Tom Ashbrook on the show On Point. My good friend Professor James Morris (Boston College), and the famous translator of Rumi Coleman Barks were also on the show. We had a great conversation on Rumi's mysticism, personality, and poetic art. Here is the link if you like to listen:

The Song of the Reed
Still more on Rumi! Our celebration of his 800th birthday last Saturday in Maryland with Afghan, Tajik, Iranian, and American friends was absolutely delightful. A master Iranian flute player and a young American vocalist performed verses from Rumi's Opus Magnum the Masnavi. This was all thanks to the vision and the hard work of Prof. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Center for Persian Studies he has founded at Maryland University. Unfortunately, I don't have a recording of that performance to share with you. But do I have another treat for you. Professor Jawid Mojaddedi of Rutgers University, who has been translating the Masnavi of Rumi into English verse, has just shared with us a pod cast of his own reading of the introduction and the first 18 verses of the book known as "The Song of the Reed." Enjoy! and share with Rumi lovers:

Mr. Ahmadinejad's Visit to Columbia University

In the last window I promised to tell you about Mr. Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia. Since you have read a lot about this end of the trip, let me tell you a bit about the reactions in Iran.
The initial reactions to Mr. Ahmadinejad's visit, and the insulting remarks by the President of Columbia University, was a statement of support issued by the Iranian university presidents in which Dr. Bollinger's remarks were condemned. Ironically, this rare expression of support for Mr. Ahmadinejad by the Iranian university community is practically a gift from Dr. Bollinger.
In response to Dr. Bollinger's suggestion that American academics would not be permitted to speak freely in Iran, five Iranian Universities have issued invitations to him and the Columbia faculty for unrestrained visits to the country and exchanges with Iranian students and faculty. If the initial responses in the U.S. are any indication, the invitations will not be taken seriously.
Iranian bloggers engaged in extensive and interesting debates about the pros and cons of Mr. Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University. While most debaters felt frustrated by the remarks of the Columbia President, the debates did not lend full support to the Iranian President either. Mr. Ahmadinejad's Visit to Tehran University

The sympathy expressed for Mr. Ahmadinejad's mistreatment at Columbia does not seem to have lasted very long. His visit to Tehran University yesterday met with protests from more than a 100 students who criticized him for his lack of openness to criticism from the Iranian academic community. While the Iranian president spoke to a selected group of students inside the hall, riot police prevented the demonstrators from entering. Later, his car had to avoid the crowd and leave through the back door. The students' banners read "Free the jailed students." I have attached the picture of one banner that reads "Why Speak in Columbia. We have questions for you here!"

Here is an NY Times piece sent to me by Matt Miller on the student response to Mr. Ahmadinejad's visit to Tehran University:

Iraq Will Have to Wait
The anxiety concerning the possibility of a military attack on Iran continues inside and outside Iran:

The Iraqi President Jalal Talebani objected to the arrest by the American forces of an Iranian in Kurdistan saying "I express to you our outrage for these American forces arresting this Iranian civil official visitor without informing or cooperating with the government of the Kurdistan region, which means insult and disregard for its rights." He called for "his release immediately in the interest of the Iraq Kurdistan region and the Iranian-Iraqi relations." This is not the first instance of an Iraqi official expressing support for Iranians. You will find the full article at:

In a disturbing piece, in Truthdig, Scott Ritter discusses the fact that our full attention to Iraq may distract us from the fact that a more serious situation is brewing with Iran. He writes: " Here’s the danger: While the antiwar movement focuses its limited resources on trying to leverage real congressional opposition to the war in Iraq, which simply will not happen before the 2008 election, the Bush administration and its Democratic opponents will outflank the antiwar movement on the issue of Iran, pushing forward an aggressive agenda in the face of light or nonexistent opposition."
Of the two problems (Iraq and the potential case of Iran), Ritter suggests, Iran is by far the more important. "The war in Iraq isn't going to expand tenfold overnight. By simply doing nothing, the Democrats can rest assured that Bush’s bad policy will simply keep failing. War with Iran, on the other hand, can still be prevented. We are talking about the potential for conflict at this time, not the reality of war. But time is not on the side of peace." Thanks to Paul Appell for this article which you can read the rest at:

Seymour Hersh's recent article in the New Yorker is not reassuring either: (thanks to Amir Amini for sharing this article).

Reading "Guernica" in Tehran
Jahanshir Golchin has shared this interesting article by an American woman married to an Iranian and writing from Tehran: Rosa Schmidt Azadi. What adds to the complexity of Rosa's perspective is that this long time activist anthropologist who has traveled between Tehran and New York for many years, witnessed the falling of the twin towers:

Iranian Women Golfers Earn Second place
Iranian women golfers acquired the second place in the ninth international women's golf competition in Cyprus: Delight

To close window 41, I would like to share with you the painting of Niloufar Ghaderinejad, a painter with a style of her own. Ms. Ghaderinejad, who has had 35 national exhibits in Tehran and other Iranian cities was selected this week by a prominent gallery as artist of the season. To see a slide show of her most recent exhibit, please click on the second attachment, then on slide show and then on view. Until the next window, I wish you a very pleasant 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

This Week in Peace (10-14-2007)

This Week in Peace (10-14-2007)

New Resistance Group Emerges in Iraq; Seeks Ouster of U.S. and "Al Qaeda"
This week a new group, the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance, was established with the aim of “bringing together the main non-al-Qaida Islamist groups in the Sunni areas;” “rejecting sectarianism and attacks on ‘the innocent;’” and “declaring the armed resistance against illegal foreign occupation to be the legitimate representatives of the Iraqi people.” This group includes some groups that have previously been working with the U.S. military.

Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations
While the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, in 2005 the Justice Department secretly promulgated another opinion which constituted “an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the CIA.” “The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.”

Most in Poll Want War Funding Cut
Nearly half of Americans want President Bush’s $190 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “cut sharply or entirely” and 7 out of 10 want it at least reduced. Furthermore, over 55% of Americans want the Democrats to do more to challenge President Bush on his Iraq policies. Despite this, congressional democrats are still moving ahead with plans to continue to fully-fund President Bush’s wars.

Chris Matthews Says Cheney Pressured MSNBC Brass to Influence Content
Free Press? Chris Matthews revealed that Vice President Cheney's office “called MSNBC brass to complain about the content of his show and attempted to influence its editorial content.” This is not an isolated incident, which is why it is so important to read independent media ( , ,, etc).

Educate Yourself about the Military-Industrial Complex: What is The Carlyle Group?
Hint: It is an investment group that has included former U.S. President Bush I, current U.S. President Bush II, Former British Prime Minister John Major, members of the Bin Laden Family, former U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense, and it is intricately tied to global war industries and is currently profiting handsomely from the drastic increases in defense spending in many countries after 9/11….

4. Best Thing to Watch on the Military Industrial Complex in general: ‘Why We Fight’ documentary. Trailer at:

Commentary of the Week: The Mega-Lie Called the "War on Terror": A Masterpiece of Propaganda
Yes, I am including this again because this is an absolute must read! Please read the whole thing—it is quite enlightening!

US-made 'Censorware' Aiding Oppressive Regime in Burma and Beyond
While the popular revolt of monks and other brave citizens was gaining ground a few weeks ago in Burma, their military junta decided to censor its internet and eventually decided to shut it down because it was unable to control the images of oppression and revolution that were pouring out into the rest of the world via the world wide web. What was not discussed is that OpenNet Initiative (ONI) testing in 2005 indicates that “Burma censored the Internet using software made by Fortinet, a Sunnyvale, Calif., company.” Other U.S. tech companies such as Websense, Secure Computing Corp., and Blue Coat Inc. provide censorship technology to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Tunisia. Should U.S. companies be supplying technology that stifles free and democratic expression? Is our government’s highest concern for “freedom and democracy” as they claim, or for the expansion of U.S. business interests?

Monday, October 1, 2007

This Week in Peace (9-30-2007

Spotlight: Blackwater Scandal
“In last week's incident, Blackwater guards shot into a crush of cars, killing at least 11 Iraqis and wounding 12. Blackwater officials insist their guards were ambushed, but witnesses have described the shooting as unprovoked.” However, Iraqi eyewitnesses insist that the Blackwater guards fired completely unprovoked.
A U.S. general said that the Blackwater scandal is worse than Abu Ghraib in the damage it has done to the U.S. image in Iraq. This scandal is particularly important because there are currently more U.S. contractors (circa 180,000) than U.S. troops (circa 163,000) in Iraq. These contractors were granted immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rice successfully pressured the Iraqi government into withdrawing their demand for the expulsion of Blackwater from Iraq and Blackwater was rewarded for their exemplary behavior with a NEW government contract this week from the Pentagon.

Private Security Puts Diplomats, Military at Odds

More Contractors than U.S. Troops in Iraq

TPM: Blackwater

Pentagon Gives Blackwater New Contract

Eyewitnesses Insist Iraqis Didn't Fire on Blackwater Guards

Congress Quietly Approves Billions More for Iraq War
“The Senate agreed on Thursday to increase the federal debt limit by $850 billion - from $8.965 trillion to $9.815 trillion - and then proceeded to approve a stop-gap spending bill that gives the Bush White House at least $9 billion in new funding for its war in Iraq.” Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) was the only Senator to vote against it; and among the fourteen “no” votes in the House were Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Lacy Clay (D-MO) voted “no.”

[General] Petraeus Admits to Rise in Iraq Violence

Senate Endorses Plan to Divide Iraq
Reporting for The Washington Post, Shailagh Murray says, "Showing rare bipartisan consensus over war policy, the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a political settlement for Iraq that would divide the country into three semi-autonomous regions." This was a non-binding resolution, but it will initiate the diplomatic efforts at the regional and national level to make this plan happen.

U.S. Is Top Arms Seller to Developing World
“The United States maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world in 2006, followed by Russia and Britain, according to a Congressional study to be released Monday. Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia were the U.S.’s top buyers.” Russia came in second, and it is noted in the article that they have sold weapons to Iran and Venezuela.

Highly Recommended Commentary of the Week: 'The Mega-Lie Called the "War on Terror": A Masterpiece of Propaganda'

Quote of the Week:

“We have this wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We had Hitler, and since Hitler we've had about 20 of them. Khrushchev and Mao and of course Stalin, and for a little while Gadhafi was our Hitler. And now we have this guy Ahmadinejad. The reality is, he's not nearly as powerful inside the country as we like to think he is. The Revolutionary Guards have direct control over the missile program and if there is a weapons program, they would be the ones running it. Not Ahmadinejad.”

-Seymour Hersh (In interview: ‘Bush Has Accepted Ethnic Cleansing in Iraq’ at:

Peace and Social Justice Suggestion of the Week:

Independent Media. I highly suggest that if you don’t already, you start getting your news from independent media sources. The big media outlets, NBC, Associated Press, CNN, Fox, CBS, ABC, etc., are all controlled by big corporations and therefore do not offer fair nor balanced news. Here are some of the independent media sources I suggest: